It is so easy to be sucked into the vortex of self-righteousness. We are crazy, just like the Galatians, if we really think and behave as if being good and being better at being good, is what it takes to get us closer to God and set us right with God! Stop it, right now. If being good, (and we cannot be good enough, measuring up to Christ who is perfect), following all the religious laws, doing all the right things, making sure we follow all the rules God laid out as well as those added by man, then what was the reason for Christ’s coming to earth?
Paul sets the Galatians (and us) straight about doing good versus being faithful. No one is good, not even Paul. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus, who knew no sin, could become the perfect sacrifice, once and for all, for our sins. We could not do this for ourselves. Only Jesus.
I love how Paul explains and ties together the Old Covenant Promise (Law that protected and guided) with the New Covenant (Jesus fulfilling the Promise of salvation forever). Jesus set things right with God through his sacrifice for all our sin. Because of Jesus we can boldly come to God, no middleman, In Jesus Name. This is all because of God’s amazing love, great grace and wonderful mercy. God so loved us he sent His Son to save us and set us back into a right relationship with Him. Believe and be saved, the apostles cry out. Believers are a redeemed people! Free to now be and do what GOD wants us to be and do. And what God wants is His very best for each of us.
Watch as the excitement and passion builds in Paul as he explains the redeemed life of believers, complete with examples, to the crazy Galatians trying to work their way back into God’s graces…as if…it was all up to them. Crazy.
Galatians 3, The Message
Trust in Christ, Not the Law
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a spell on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
2-4 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!
5-6 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.
7-8 Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.”
9-10 So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”
11-12 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”
13-14 Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.
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15-18 Friends, let me give you an example from everyday affairs of the free life I am talking about. Once a person’s will has been signed, no one else can annul it or add to it. Now, the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. You will observe that Scripture, in the careful language of a legal document, does not say “to descendants,” referring to everybody in general, but “to your descendant” (the noun, note, is singular), referring to Christ. This is the way I interpret this: A will, earlier signed by God, is not annulled by an addendum attached 430 years later, thereby negating the promise of the will. No, this addendum, with its instructions and regulations, has nothing to do with the promised inheritance in the will.
18-20 What is the point, then, of the law, the attached addendum? It was a thoughtful addition to the original covenant promises made to Abraham. The purpose of the law was to keep a sinful people in the way of salvation until Christ (the descendant) came, inheriting the promises and distributing them to us. Obviously this law was not a firsthand encounter with God. It was arranged by angelic messengers through a middleman, Moses. But if there is a middleman as there was at Sinai, then the people are not dealing directly with God, are they? But the original promise is the direct blessing of God, received by faith.
21-22 If such is the case, is the law, then, an anti-promise, a negation of God’s will for us? Not at all. Its purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God, and therefore to show us the futility of devising some religious system for getting by our own efforts what we can only get by waiting in faith for God to complete his promise. For if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would certainly have gotten it by this time.
23-24 Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.
25-27 But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.
In Christ’s Family
28-29 In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS
Am I working hard to be good enough for God? How and why?
Am I living redeemed and free, accepting God’s grace, exploring the wide-open spaces of God’s destination for me? Or am I still in chains to sin and/or crazy religiousness?
Is my faith based and proven in my mind by my works? Or do works flow from me based on my faith in the One and Only who saved me? There is a huge difference.
Dear Friends, yes, we can be crazy at times, chasing after goodness as if that was what God wanted most from us. Jesus said, “no one is good, only God.” We are not God. Only God is God. When we realize it is not up to us and accept what Jesus has done for us, we will be set free to live truly redeemed! That burden was lifted at the resurrection of Jesus to life everlasting! Whew! It’s not up to us!
God’s central focus is that we love Him with all our hearts, all our minds and all our souls. (Deuteronomy, quoted by Jesus) Repent and be saved from all sin by Jesus Christ, not by our measure of being good. Wake up and ask God what He wants daily and then do it. But BE with Him first. God just wants us to BE in relationship with him, to love Him back. He takes care of the rest!
From Genesis to Revelation, God wants His people to love Him back. That is the main theme and focus. (And isn’t that what most loving parents want from their children?)
Thank you, Paul.
Thank you for Paul’s explanation to your church, groups of people learning to grow in your character, in your love, mercy and grace, in Your Name, for Your glory, all because we love you back. We love you because you first loved us and sent your Son to save us. Thank you, Lord. I am redeemed!
In Jesus Name, Amen