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

Catechism Question 5

April 30, 2014 at 11:58 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 13 Comments
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Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:31

Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Prove it.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

It is important to teach the relationship of sin to death. This is also a good opportunity to explore the question, “Why are we paying the price for what Adam did?” In response to this question we can discuss the idea of “federal headship,” and explain that, while it was Adam’s sin that is the origin of our sinful condition, he was an accurate representative for our race, in that all of us have sinned (and do sin often and regularly) of our own volition.

This is also a good opportunity to explain what God was working out in allowing one man’s sin to bring death, and one “Man’s” (the Lord Jesus Christ, the “God-man”) obedience and sacrifice to bring life and salvation for all who would believe.

Another obvious question is, “Why did just one sin affect the whole universe and the whole human race?” Here is where we can highlight the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

God sent the curse, but He is not the author of sin. He gave Adam and Eve fair warning, and He keeps His word.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

God is not determining “guilt” on a sliding scale. One sin is one sin too many, and God is righteous and just in condemning every single sin and every single sinner – which is why everyone needs a perfect Savior!


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