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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

15 November 2012

Week 46 Review - November 15

November 14
     Galatians 1-3
November 15
     Galatians 4-6

Most scholars date Galatians right around the time of the Jerusalem Council in 49 A.D.

Jesus had died in 33 A.D., only 16 or so years previous. Amazingly, there were already false teachers who were saying that any Gentile converts would have to become Jewish and agree to submit to the Law before they could become a follower of Christ – and the people of Galatia bought into it! Paul condemned legalism (which is simply adding requirements, ceremonies or standards to a person’s salvation – “salvation-plus”)  and made it clear that the essential doctrine of the faith is justification by faith.

This letter is similar to the letter to the Romans.

Theological Point
Found in Romans
Found in Galatians
The law is unable to justify us
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16

Believers are dead to the Law
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. Galatians 2:19

Believers are crucified with Christ
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Abraham was justified by faith
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Galatians 3:5-6

Believers are Abraham’s spiritual children
How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11  He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well. Romans 4:10-11

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:7

Because believers are Abraham’s spiritual children, we are blessed
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:23-25

So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:9

The law doesn’t bring salvation. It brings the wrath of God.
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.  Romans 4:15
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Galatians 3:10

Believers – the righteous -- live by faith
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11

Sin is universal
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Romans 11:32
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22

Believers are spiritually baptized into Christ
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

Believers are adopted as God’s children
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:14-17

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

Love fulfills the law
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

We must walk in the Spirit
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

The Spirit wars against our flesh
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:22-23

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17

Believers must bear one another’s burdens
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

It’s interesting to note that even Peter was involved in this deception! After Peter had met with Cornelius, he knew that he was free to fellowship with all believers. This freedom had been approved at the Jerusalem Council, but Peter’s own fear threatened his freedom in Christ. Peter was a leader in the new movement, but he was also a man – bold one moment and fearful the next. Somehow both Peter and Barnabas were led astray into the legalism swirling around them.

What does that have to do with us? Well, it’s very easy to get sucked into a vortex of legalism. Do you celebrate communion on Sunday because that’s what the denomination does, or because you want to honor the Lord’s command? Is Good Friday, or Easter, or any other day for that matter, so important that it almost seems your entire salvation rests upon it? Are you required to “do” something other than repent and believe in order to be saved? Those man made rules are legalism. We’re not talking about the laws that God gave to Moses, or to the writings of the New Testament which clearly state what God sees as an abomination. We’re talking about the “stuff” that everyone can add to their Christianity. In the case of the Galatians, it was “to circumcise or not to circumcise”, “to become a Jew before a Christian”. They forgot grace. They forgot justification by faith alone in Christ alone. There’s nothing you can do that will make God love you any more – or any less. There’s one way to salvation – faith in Christ. Any other denominational rule is legalism.

As you continue on your Christian walk and review Paul’s words to the Galatians, ask yourself these questions:

Have I been saved by the grace of God? Any other gospel is false (Galatians 1:6-9). Do you trust your morality, works, or denomination for salvation?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

Am I trying to mix law and grace? Law means you must do something to please God. Grace means God has finished the work for me and all I need to do is believe on Christ. Salvation is faith alone in Christ alone.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6 (ESV)

Do I rejoice that I am justified by faith in Christ? If we have accepted the free gift of salvation, we need not fear judgment because Jesus took the punishment already and we are no longer condemned.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (ESV)

Am I willing to defend the truth that is the Gospel? Many people think that salvation is “doing good work”, or “keeping the Ten Commandments”, or “obeying Jesus’ words” when salvation comes through faith alone.

Am I walking the talk?  If you talk like a Christian but walk like an unbeliever, you will be counted a hypocrite. You can’t change the standards God set forth in the Bible. You can’t justify away stuff you don’t like by claiming that it’s a cultural thing, or that it can’t apply now because __________. You must be obedient to the ENTIRE Word of God, whether you personally like it or not!

It’s really easy to slip into legalism. Please examine yourself carefully and make sure that you are living in the freedom of Christ and not bound to something that man has come up with as a “salvation plus”.

Paul has a lot to say in these few short chapters. They rate more than just two days to study, and I pray that someday you will have the opportunity to study the things Paul said to Galatia – and apply them to your life today.

See you tomorrow as we study two more chapters in the book of Acts.

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