Archive for the ‘galatians’ Tag

It’s Not a New Struggle   Leave a comment

Since the moment Adam rejected a relationship with God so that he could be “like God”, human beings have been kind of stupid. We really don’t know what we’re doing, but like toddlers we demand to be allowed to do it “ourselves”. God gave Israel the Law as a revelation of His character — singular, personal, exclusive, worthy of worship, faithful, true, needs nothing outside of Himself. It was meant to provide a means to reveal the impotence of morality and to evidence the inability of natural, fallen, sinful man to express the character of God on our own.

After he became a Christian, Paul could still see the Law as good, holy and righteous (Romans 7:12-13) because it flowed from God, not because it makes anyone “good” or “righteous” because in reality, it only shows how unrighteous we are. Paul denied that the Law could ever express the goodness of God.

Truth be told, the natural religious man doesn’t like “grace” and “freedom”. It takes away our control. Even in the 1st century, the Christian churches had to deal with moralists attempting to impose Judaic religious guidelines on the Gentile Christians, trying to supplement the gospel of grace with external morality. Paul stood against it loudly, insisting they were teaching “another gospel” that was “not gospel at all”. (Galatians 1:6-10).

The early Church fathers (the Apostolic Fathers in some traditions) wrote in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the earliest extant writings of the post-New Testament churches. Regrettably, just one generation away from the apostles, their primary concerns were moralistic conformity, emphasizing external conduct rather than the internal spiritual guidance of God’s grace.

“What occupied the foreground of their (Apostolic fathers) thought was how they were going to walk in the way of this life, and conform to its high standards. So concerned were they about right and wrong behaviour that everywhere they were driven into legalism and formalism. The Christian ethic was codified, and the charismatic life under the constraining love of Christ reduced to rules and precepts. Law and obedience, reward and punishment, these were the themes of their preaching. The centre of gravity was shifted from the mainspring of the Christian life in the person of Christ Himself to the periphery of outward conformity and daily behaviour.” (Thomas F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 1948. pg. 139.)

In the early 4th century, the church began to integrate with the state, resulting in authoritarianism, with hierarchial leaders issuing absolute decrees of moral formulations that they themselves did not follow.

The Reformation may have started out as a faith movement, but quickly reformed the moralism, John Calvin’s very rigid system of moralism shows the failure of reformers to fully grasp the redeeming nature of God’s grace through the living Jesus.

So when we relate to the world, we tend to foist our social moralism upon society rather than introducing them to the free gift of salvation that has the power to transform our lives.

“[P]erversion of making the gospel into law in order to respond to the challenge of successive outbursts of immorality and ethical disorder. Naturally Christians and the church could not fail to react to violence and sexuality and corruption. The mistake was to deal with these on the moral and legal plane instead of following the example of Paul, who always works through the moral question to the spiritual question, gets back to the essence of the revelation in Christ, and from this derives some models of conduct that are consistent with faith and love. The church did not do this. It set itself on the same level as the world and treated moral matters on the moral plane. When a political question is treated merely as a political question, and a social question merely as a social question…the gospel becomes morality with a whitewash of theological terms.” (Jacques Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity. pg. 89.)


Independence   2 comments

Liberty is a Biblical concept. The notion of freedom in Christ would eventually lead to the American experiment in liberty.

“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)

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:23-29)

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:3-7)

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Look, I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagarly wait for the hope of righteousness.” (Galatians 5:1-2)

“For you were called to freedom, brothers, Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fullfilled in one word: ‘You should love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Galatians 5:13)

The Galatians were Gentile Christians who had been listening to Judaizers, possibly Jewish Christians, more likely heretics who sought to undermine the Christian “experiment” in liberty. They had come to believe that they had to follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. Paul sought to disabuse them of that belief.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 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 8:1-4)

“That the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:1-23)

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:11-22)


Posted July 4, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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