Richard Burgess, 06.05.2022
In my last post I spoke about the fact we are justified by faith in Christ alone. That Jesus plus nothing truly equals everything! Too good to be true? Not at all, it is the gospel, the Good News!
That is the magnificence of the gospel! It’s done. As Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is now (and neither can there ever be) any condemnation whatsoever for those in Christ.” We are not waiting a future judgement to prove that we are saved. That empties the gospel, and means there is no assurance this side of heaven.
We have been set free from sin and the curse.
We have been set free from the law as the basis for life.
“It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Don’t whisper it, declare it!
But a question arises, how then shall we live?
Paul in the last chapter of Galatians says, “For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; What matters instead is a new creation…” 6:15. Or as the NLT, “What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”
For Paul, this was the gospel, not self-improvement, or self-annihilation, or improving your self-image, but a new creation wherein we have died to who we were and been raised to newness of life in Christ, a life that results in Christ being formed in us… “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in this body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Gal 2:20.
We were in the flesh, in old Adam, now we are in Christ – our history has changed! Paul has what appears to be a strange saying in 2 Cor 5, where he says that he no longer thought of Christ after the flesh. In other words to do so is to take us backwards before Calvary and Christ’s finished work.
Not only that he has called us into his family, where there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male and female.” A family that is essential to our growth and joy in Christ. We don’t do this alone, he has graced others to help us on the journey. Who are you connected to?
The Galatians had lost sight of Jesus and the Gospel, got into works and lost their joy, and become anything but a true demonstration of the Gospel. In fact Paul is blunt and wants to know who has “bewitched them” or “put a spell on them” among who Jesus was “clearly portrayed as crucified.” Have you lost sight of Jesus? Has someone or something put a spell on you?
Paul begins his book with grave concern and in answer to them and his accusers affirms his apostleship, the gospel he preaches and how we are not justified by works of the law but by faith alone – Jesus, plus nothing = everything.
A gospel that means that God is happy to be with us, and we are filled with joy in being with him! Such joy and happiness removes any apprehension or fear at being with him. Any gospel that is performance based, rule oriented, religious rather than relational, robs us of joy, the bond of relationship, and deprives us of the energy to live as God intends.
In Galatians Paul addresses two main issues, works, and the law.
The answer to the first is justification by faith alone, the answer to the second, life in the Spirit.
Being a Christian is more than a mental assent to some facts about ourselves and Jesus, it is also an experience of the Spirit. We are “Born again of the Spirit… Born from above…”
And again he empasises their experience of the Spirit was because of their faith, not works or how well they were doing. But they had gone back.
He goes to great effort to point out that the law has served its purpose, that they are dead to the law as the basis of salvation and sanctification, that it is now a new life in Christ, life that is lived in the Spirit, and it is this life that manifests itself in changed/transformed behaviour, manifested in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Gal 5:22,23.
Unfortunately many still live in Romans 7:14-24. Some would even teach it is the normal Christian life, I would have. No longer, Romans 8 is the norm. For too many the Flesh is seen as the stronger aspect. Not so Paul. The Flesh desires to frustrate the believer, but it no longer has the dominant role it used to have before we came to Christ. What we must not do is put it on a par with the Spirit, or worse to suggest that the Flesh is stronger than the Spirit, as is the case when Romans 7 is interpreted as a Christian. Paul makes it abundantly clear that the believer is not helplessly exposed to the flesh.
We are new creations.
We are in Christ.
We have died to sin and the law.
We are indwelt and enabled by the Spirit.