Especially the Family

November 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Mark, The Family of Faith | 8 Comments
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We have many relationships in our lives: friends, co-workers, acquaintances. But “family” is a special relationship.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In the original language the word translated as “household” meant family and those who live together under the same roof. It is used three times in the New Testament, and it refers to Christians who are related as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible says we are to do what is good to people in general. Jesus taught His disciples to love their “neighbor,” and he criticized the religious hypocrites for failing to love their neighbors.

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:28-31

This is essentially what Galatians 6:10 is saying when it says, “let us do good unto all men.” Should we be nice to people that are easy to be nice to, and mean to people who rub us the wrong way? No, of course not – not according to the Bible. Should we be nice to Christians, but ambivalent toward the unsaved? No! We are to love even our enemies, and even those who persecute us! In fact, that is one of the great indicators (to a lost and watching world) that we belong to Jesus. Anybody can be nice to people who are nice to them first, or when there’s a reward at stake. Jesus loved, and died for, those who HATED Him.

We must bless those who hate us and pray for those who despitefully use us. However, Galatians 6:10 does have a warning word – something of a qualifier. It doesn’t say forget about doing good to all people, but it does say to do good ESPECIALLY to those who are part of the household of faith: fellow Christians – brothers and sisters in Christ – and, in the context of Galatians 6, doing “good” (“the good” in the Greek) means bearing one another’s burdens and sowing to the Spirit (which results in reaping everlasting life) instead of sowing to the flesh (which results in reaping corruption). In other words, we are commanded to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) in dealing with our spiritual family members. So, since the Holy Spirit emphasizes the importance of serving in the household of faith, next time we will look at exactly what it means to be a part of this household/family.

Beware Faithless Freezing

March 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Posted in The Fives | 2 Comments
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Did you ever play the childhood game “freeze tag?” Picture a bunch of kids running around, some chasing and others being chased. When a chaser touches a “chasee,” the one who is “tagged” must “freeze” and not move from that spot until another chasee touches him, setting him free to run again.

freeze tag

It’s a fun game, but it’s also, sadly, an illustration of the spiritual life of many Christians. You know the cliched jokes about the “frozen chosen” and those who attend church only to “sit, soak, and sour.” These are believers who understand that they have been chosen by God unto salvation in Christ Jesus, but who then wrongly believe that this calling to new life is the end of the journey rather than the beginning. All that is left to do, they mistakenly think, is to wait for Jesus to bring them home.

Why is this such a popular notion? One reason is that there is some partial truth to it. Those who are born again are waiting for the fulfillment of the glorious promise of having our faith become sight, and being brought into the presence of Christ’s eternal sanctification, to be free once and for all from the cares, trials, and sin of this world and our mortal flesh. However, this “waiting” is not a sedentary killing of time, nor an inchoate longing for better days to come. It is waiting through the Holy Spirit.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Galatians 5:5

And it is a waiting that should be accompanied by a tireless pursuit to put into practice the positional righteousness we have received through faith. If the Holy Spirit chased you down and “tagged” you with the Lord’s salvation, don’t freeze in your babyish state of “just-born-again” Christianity. Instead, chase after the One Who chased after you. Follow the Spirit as He leads, reading His Word, doing what it says, magnifying your Savior, serving your neighbor, and glorifying your Father as He lovingly watches over you from your future home in Heaven.

Galatians at a Glance

September 29, 2014 at 10:17 am | Posted in Galatians | 2 Comments
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In the Book of Galatians we learn about the liberty that comes from grace, as opposed to the bondage found in works, but we also see that grace emanates from a source: the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In the Cross there is:

Freedom from self-worship

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Freedom from the flesh and our own desires

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Freedom from the world

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Galatians 6:14-15

There is also the freedom from having to keep a list of religious rules, such as whether to be circumcised or not. Rules become a secondary consideration next to the real issue: Are you a new creature?

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

The Apostle Paul was “marked,” but he was not referring to the mark of circumcision. He was referring to the scars of persecution, and he was telling his critics that those marks marked him as being on God’s side more than their marks of circumcision. Beware of any outward show of piety that keeps you from persecution.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12

True freedom comes by paying a price, but it is not the price of self-inflicted wounds. It was the price that Christ paid on the Cross, so that He may freely offer His freedom to us.

Here are links to the previous lessons in Galatians:

1. Grace vs. Works
2. That Man Was Certifiable!
3. Confronting the Issue of Law and Gospel to Its Face
4. It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is
5. Our Part with God
6. The Doctor Who Never Fails
7. From Cursing to Blessing
8. The Freestyle
9. Going to Extrem(iti)es
10. Don’t Love Yourself
11. Dependent Freedom
12. Is it Animal, Mineral, or Tomato?
13. How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage
14. Getting Full (Part 1)
15. Making the Proper Comparisons
16. Different Types of Burdens *
17. The Warning to the Weary
18. The Family of Faith (Galatians 6:10)
19. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)

* most-read post in category

The Warning to the Weary

September 26, 2014 at 8:48 am | Posted in Galatians | 4 Comments
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After the Holy Ghost had spent most of the first five chapters of Galatians driving home the point that Christians are saved, and set free from the law of sin and death and destructive fruitless rule-keeping, by God’s grace through faith in His Son, Jesus, He wanted there to be no confusion about the outworking of this great doctrine in our lives. Therefore, He plainly and passionately tells us in Chapter 6 that God’s grace is a motivation to work hard, not a license to lapse into sin.

If you are involved in active ministry at your local church, or anywhere else ordained by God, you will be tempted to get weary in well doing, because doing is hard work. Our encouragement is in the reminder that “doing” something in response to God’s calling is doing something that is “well,” something that is “good.” And that, eventually, if we faint not – if we don’t quit – we will reap from the good that God has allowed us to sow.

When my wife and I were first married, our pastor used to quote Galatians 6:9 all the time. Back in those days, when I was doing more pew-sitting than faith-walking, I could not understand why a preacher, of all people, would need encouragement not to get weary. Many years later, I can tell you from experience, and, more importantly, from the Truth of God’s Word, that fatigue brought on by doing well for God is more refreshing to my spirit than a seven-day vacation at the beach is to my flesh.

Making the Proper Comparisons

September 22, 2014 at 11:34 am | Posted in Galatians | 4 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 6 deals with the troubles that the legalists were causing. Obviously, they were trying to corrupt the Gospel, but they also interfered with, and hurt, the spiritual life of the church.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

Legalists are interested in adding to burdens instead of alleviating burdens. People in church will fall into sin. We can use that as on opportunity to pick them up, or to step on them and try to make ourselves look higher. Meekness preserves love and causes God to help us resist sin. Pride alienates others and provokes God. A good indicator of my spirituality is not how I measure up to others (Can I carry a heavier load than him?), but “Am I bearing my own burden when it used to be too heavy for me?” In other words, the test is how I measure up to what I used to be.

There are burdens which are not meant to be carried alone, and then there is the soldier’s pack, which it is his responsibility to bear on his own as he serves a greater cause.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In giving help to others, we are also helping ourselves, but the secret is to give in love: not giving to get.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galtians 6:8

Sowing to the flesh reaps corruption.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

Remember, the reaping is in “due season.” Not every day is harvest day. Remember to pray to keep from fainting (Luke 18:1). Remember to eat (read the Bible) for spiritual strength.

Near the end of Galatians we are reminded that freedom brings responsibility.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12-13

We have a responsibility not to brag about our freedom, or what it allows us to do.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14

We should “brag” on the Redeemer, rather than the “elite” status of being redeemed.

Dependent Freedom

August 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Galatians | 10 Comments
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The evidences of a flesh-driven life are works – dead things which produce nothing living.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Galatians 5:19

The evidence of the Spirit-led life is fruit. Fruit does not come about by “working.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:22

Fruit has life. It brings joy. It feeds others, not the plant that produces it. This is, practically, how to walk in the Spirit:

1. Admit that the flesh is stronger than your will power.
2. Go where the Spirit wants to go. The Spirit wants to go to church, to Sunday School, to the Bible, to prayer time, to go soul-winning, to visit the nursing home. The Spirit doesn’t want to go to the nightclub, the worldly party, the gossip session.
3. Don’t go easy on the flesh. Crucify it.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Don’t try to beat the flesh on your own. You will only strengthen it even more. Do not go where the flesh wants to go – where it gets fed. Stay with the Spirit, having a grand time of joy. Starve the flesh. Make it weak. Remember, at the moment of salvation you were “baptized into Jesus Christ.” He died for you, and you died with Him. Your flesh was crucified, buried, and you were raised with Christ – to walk in newness of life. You became something fundamentally different: a new creature. You were rescued from hell.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking grace is insufficient. We can’t add to it with our show-offy, better-than-the-next-person rule-keeping or legalism. You weren’t saved by the Law; don’t act like you were. God will never be fooled into thinking you’re more holy than anyone else. Attempting to do so is just a form of self-worship.

Don’t fall into the other trap, either, though. Don’t “presume” upon grace as an excuse to sin. Grace brings freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The freedom to act like an idiot and destroy myself, or to bring shame to the very thing that helped me to get free, is not the kind of “freedom” that grace delivers.

Ours is a paradoxical freedom of dependence (upon God), rather than independence. He’s the Master with free servants. He’s the Father who makes His servants His children.

Fellowship / Faults

August 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Two Sides to Every Comfort | 2 Comments
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Fellowship

Aren’t you glad to be part of a church fellowship? I hope you are. There may come a time when you need the help of a brother and sister in Christ. God made us for community – and not just in the good times, but also in the bad. That’s one reason fellowship is so comforting.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

The law of Christ is loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself. It can be extremely comforting to have someone to help you bear your burden, or to bear it for you. But, there is a flip side to the comfort of fellowship, which is:

Faults

Faults are not precisely the same thing as sins – although the faults certainly can be sins. Take someone who talks too much, for example. That’s not necessarily a sin, but it is a fault. Or someone who gets sick every time it’s her turn to work in the nursery – or his turn to help count the offering. Those are not sins, but they can be faults. Some people are really clumsy. It’s not sinful to be clumsy, but being clumsy and volunteering to carry a crystal tray of punch across the foyer carpet is a fault.

Faults are comforting because they help to integrate us into Christian fellowship, and because they remind us that: (1) we’re part of a Christian fellowship; (2) as fellow Christians, we’re all in this together; and (3) we need each other.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

The comfort of fellowship is like a body. All the parts are important and all are supposed to work together. But when one part’s not working right the other parts pick up the slack. They bear burdens in fellowship and bring comfort in faults.

Don’t Love Yourself

July 31, 2014 at 11:43 am | Posted in Galatians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 7 Comments
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For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14

Contrary to the inane “Christian” song I heard my daughter listening to the other day, this verse does NOT command us to love ourselves, nor does it tell us that we can’t love if we don’t love ourselves. Our natural default setting is to love ourselves, which is sinful. God made an extreme correction to that perverse way of thinking when He commanded us to love Him with everything we have, and to love our neighbors in the way we are accustomed to loving ourselves when we are in the flesh. That’s the summation of the moral law of God in all its specific expressions.

For example, how can I idolize anything while loving others? For, if I love them, I must want what’s good for them, and the only true good for them is to point them to the One True God. How can I steal from my neighbor, kill my neighbor, lie about my neighbor, take his belongings, sleep with his wife, if I love him “as myself?”

Look at how practical and realistic this is. Don’t say, “I can’t attain it. It just seems ‘right’ for me to love myself. What about my self-esteem?” Forget about your self-esteem. The last thing in the world you need is a boost to your self-esteem. When you “love yourself” you are stealing what God has entrusted you to give back to Him and others. If we surrender to the Spirit, He takes our self-love and redirects it off of self, and onto God and others. What freedom! No more “I’ve got to get mine;” “I’ve got to get at least as good as him or her;” “I’ve got to get ‘my’ share.”

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Galatians 5:15

When we believe the lie that we have to love ourselves before we can love anyone else, we will become like a pack of wild animals. We’ll bite each other to bits, and we won’t even see the destruction in it – just as long as we get our fair share of bites.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Almost all Christians say that walking in the Spirit is a good idea, but hardly anybody does it. I suspect that few of us even know how. First, admit that your flesh is not redeemed, and it is very, very strong – stronger than your will.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Galatians 5:17

God is not going to share His glory with you – at least not in the battle against sin. If you’re going to fight your own battle, He knows you’re looking for a chance to boast, and He’s not going to come in and fight for you. So admit it. You don’t have anything in you that’s going to win the battle against the flesh. That’s a job for the Holy Spirit.

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

Two, let Him lead. Go where He goes. How do you know if you are going where the Spirit goes? He does not go into sin, and He does not lead you close to sin. If you were going to hire a delivery driver, would you hire the applicant who interviewed for the job by showing off his skill in skidding to a stop inches from the edge of a cliff? Or the the applicant who parked 500 yards away because he didn’t want to risk the owner’s property? God is not interested in how close we can get to temptation and avoid it. He has given us His Spirit to lead us not into temptation and to deliver us from evil.

Going to Extrem(iti)es

June 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Galatians | 7 Comments
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I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Galatians 5:12

This is extreme language (about as extreme as it gets, at least in the New Testament). It shows how serious the Lord is about this circumcision issue. It’s as if the Apostle Paul told the Judaizers, “If you are so fixated on circumcision – if you enjoy circumcision so much – you should just go all the way. Stop “cutting around,” and, well, just “cut off.” The King James translation preserves the pun – the play on words. Paul is indicating that if the Judaizers would just go ahead and completely mutilate themselves, they wouldn’t be in any condition to bother him and preachers of the true Gospel any more.

There is a deeper issue here, though. People who are so zealous for rule-keeping are often trying to divert attention from their own fixation. They are not only teaching falsely – that keeping rules means greater spirituality – but they know their own lack of spirituality and their own perversion, and they believe that, by pointing at everyone else, the guilt and suspicion they feel will be deflected away from them. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the hypocritical accuse others even when no one suspects them.

Now, we go into a section of Galatians where it’s as if Paul knows that the Judaizers are going to argue (and surely they had been already) that, if people walk in liberty, if they are set free from God’s law, then what’s going to stop them from sinning freely?

In a sense, it’s the same old argument: “Grace? Grace? What’s going to keep us in line after we’ve been forgiven for all our sins?” The proponents of this argument act as though they have forgotten that we are called by God unto salvation. They sound like they think that God was just annoyed that there were some people who had to be judged, so He waved His hand, and said, “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook. I’ll stop being God for a minute. There, you’re free. Now go do whatever you want and leave Me alone.” Such a doctrine would be heresy.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13

Liberty frees us from the bondage of the flesh – not the existence of the flesh. The “calling” of salvation is a calling to liberty. It’s a “setting-free” from the unconquerable power that sin has over an unbeliever. Christians are set free from the position of sinners: those that must answer for their own guilt.

Christians are also set free from the eternal pain of sin, as well as the judicial guilt of sin. They are set free from the penalty of sin, which is the punishment for sin: the specific retribution of God against sinners for sinning against Him!

Here is freedom: Jesus came and fulfilled (not destroyed in the natural sense) the Law for us. Now He, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in us, and He causes us, too, to obey the Law. This is not the bondage of the Law, not the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law – the Truth of the Law.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14

Our Part with God

June 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Galatians | 5 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 3 contains some of the strongest writing in the whole Bible. It has the logic and language of a brilliant lawyer who is arguing for his own life. It combines the truth about what happened to Jesus and the readers’ own experiences with Old Testament Scripture, and then combines the two together in a masterful closing argument.

Experience

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Galatians 3:1

The Greek word translated as “foolish” is the word for a barbaric fool, and it would be similar in our day to calling someone an illiterate blockhead. When Paul says “who has bewitched you?” he is asking them, “Who waved a shiny little trinket before your eyes, and led you over a cliff? Who led you into this ridiculous state by tricking you? The fact of Jesus’s crucifixion was placarded (“evidently set forth”) before your very eyes! Why do you think He had to die like that if there’s still something you can do to save yourself?”

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:2

As we read this today, we need to ask ourselves the same question. In your own experience, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive Him by being sprinkled with water? By paying money? By joining an organization? By keeping rules? By jerking or twitching or rolling on the floor or barking like a dog? No! It was by the hearing of faith! You heard the truth, and you believed the truth, and you received the Holy Spirit! What makes you think you are going to become more spiritual, or more “complete” by working? Or by keeping rules? Or by following the traditions of men? Foolish! The Apostle tells them that they’ve been suffering for nothing, if that’s what they were suffering for!

Scripture

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Galatians 3:6-7

The Gospel came from God; it came through the Jews; but it was intended for all men, or else God was lying.

Recap: The Galatians’ experience was that they were saved, and received the Spirit, through faith. The Scriptures – God Himself – said it was through faith. Therefore:

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Galatians 3:22

No one is righteous by birth, by nature, or by deed, but anyone can believe.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Romans 3:24

The purpose of the Old Testament Law was to teach people that they were lost. The purpose of the whole Bible is to point people to Jesus Christ. Not so we can start working for Him. Rather, so He can start working in us.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26

Apart from Christ, we have no part with God. We are utterly alienated – not related by birth or adoption. But in Christ, we have a part with God – and not a distant, academic part – we are His children! We are servants, yes, but more than just servants. We are friends, yes, but more than just friends. Children. Beloved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.

Children serve their parents, and that is right, but when children disobey, they are still children by birth of those same parents.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Your nationality, social status, gender, or skin color do not matter a whit to God in the sense of your justification. If you are truly a Christian, you stand before God on the same level as Queen Esther, Billy Graham, and the Apostle Paul. God is a loving Father, and He has more than enough love for every one of His children.

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