CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLI)

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” But legalists come along and say: Yes, He’s the Way, but we improved the Way with centerlines, street lights, stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, drive only on the right side, and how to use the passing lane. But if you violate any of the restrictions, we’ve put in place, you’ll be ticketed and taken back to start all over, or end up in prison if you can’t pay the fine. Yes, He is the Truth! But let us explain the Truth more clearly. Yes, He did save you but you must do a lot more to keep yourself on the right way. There are toll booths you must pass through, special insurance only the church issues, and you must obtain a driver’s licenses issued from us to drive on the Highway of Holiness, not just anybody. Yes, He is the Life!  But we must determine what is allowed in the Life. So, by the time you get to the pearly gates, instead of telling Peter that you got there because Jesus prepared the way, you also tell him that you did all these other things required of you in order to get you in.

2:19-20 When it comes to these religious rituals and regulations, as far as I’m concerned, they are obsolete. In fact, these religious rituals and regulations don’t apply to me anymore. In other words, I stopped trying to meet all their requirements in an attempt to live for God. To put it another way, when the Anointed One died on the cross the old Saul died with Him. Therefore, the old Saul is no longer alive; it’s the new Paul made alive in the Anointed One who lives in me. Consequently, I now live in this earthly body by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Here’s Paul’s answer! He aims at his main target and shows no sign of giving up. Paul states emphatically that our salvation, through the faithfulness of the Anointed One, supersedes anything man does in achieving salvation by obeying religious rituals and regulations. As far as he’s concerned, the Anointed One annulled those religious rituals and regulations by becoming all they were meant to be. They no longer pertain to His followers since He replaced them as a living Passover Lamb. The Anointed One did not nullify Mosaic Law; He combined all of its values and virtues as the believer’s guide to live right with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Anointed One did not invalidate it as being a means to obtain salvation, because it was incapable of offering salvation. He became the only Way, Truth, and timeless Life.[1]

When Paul wrote to the Romans, this message was still on his mind. He told them that when the Law speaks, it only speaks to those who still live under its power. And those who hear what the Law says, learn what sin is. They also find out that they stand guilty before God as sinners. Yet, no one is made right with God by doing what the Law says, The Law only shows them how sinful they are but cannot offer forgiveness or salvation.[2] What a dilemma! Is there any way out? Yes, through faith in Jesus the Anointed One.

Paul knew from personal experience what it was to be trapped in the hopeless prison of sinful bondage. He believed that through obeying the Law it would guarantee him new life, but instead, it only brought him spiritual death. As Paul put it, “Sin found a way to trap me by working through the Law. Then sin killed me by using the Law.”[3] But Paul sent good news to tell the Romans that even though sin spread everywhere the Law was implemented, God’s grace spread even wider and deeper.[4] That’s why Paul could now tell Jew and Gentile alike that the death sentence that awaited all prisoners of sin was lifted. Because of the Anointed One’s sacrifice, death, and resurrection, the price to live in freedom is paid.[5]

As a result, for believers in the Anointed One, the Law became a dead thing. They no longer must live under the authority and threat of the Law because they received a new life in the Anointed One. So the Law no longer tells them what they should or should not do in order to please God, the new life they were given is guided and guarded by God’s grace.[6] Just like a spouse who’s freed from any obligation to their dead husband, so believers are free from any obligation to the Law. They are now married to a new spouse. He is God’s only Son, the One He raised from the dead after He gave His life as a ransom for our souls and paid the price for our redemption so that we could be free to be one with Him. We got off the old path that led to destruction and planted our feet on the new way to timeless life.[7]

When Paul wrote the Colossians believers, he repeated this same message, only in a different context. He told them that even the way they used to worship God was no longer of any value. Most of the rules they followed back then were made by the priests and rabbis, not by God. Such things as don’t touch this, and don’t place your finger on that. Even when they used to obey, it still didn’t take away their desire to do it anyhow.[8] That all belongs to their former life. But they died to all of that and God raised them to life again so that they could enjoy and obey the things the Anointed One taught them to do. Not only was He their spiritual resurrection, but He is also the One who gives them life. Without Him, they are dead again.[9] Paul was not alone in spreading this message of hope, the Apostle Peter wrote the same thing to his readers.[10]

Because of this, life and living take on a whole new meaning. We no longer live just for what we get out of life, now we live in a way that gives honor, praise, and glory to the One who saved us. So, it doesn’t matter how long we live or how soon we die, we belong to the Lord. We are His property. And He plans to keep us as His treasure for all eternity.[11] Paul sent a similar message to the Corinthians when he reminded them that one reason why the Anointed One died was so that those He ransomed and redeemed could live for Him. So, don’t become selfish and life just to enjoy life by yourself. Remembered who died for you on the cross and whom God resurrected so that you may receive everlasting life.[12]

That was not only a good message for the Corinthians, but for the Thessalonians as well. He reminded them that the Anointed One died so that whether we are still living or go to our rest to await the resurrection, when He returns we still belong to Him so we spend eternity with Him to share in His glory.[13] And we are not only to live for Him, but we are to work for Him. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit after Jesus returned to heaven to prepare a place for us. So, there is no reason to feel guilty because we are participating in all those old dead rites, rituals, and ceremonies in our former life that were worth nothing. Now we are working for a living God.[14]

But just in case the Galatians still don’t see clearly what Paul is driving at, he uses the illustration of a person dying named Saul and was brought back to life as Paul. Not only did this person become known by a different name, but they gained a whole new personality. The things he used to love that satisfied his sinful tendencies of his flesh he now hated, and the things that infuriated him about people who claimed to be close to God because of their faith in His Son, he now loves. This is the same truth that Paul later would share with the Romans.[15] The reason this transformation was able to take place is that the Anointed One’s death on the cross gave Him the authority to save sinners. This is something the Law never possessed. So, the Law’s power to awaken a person’s sinful tendencies is neutralized because the power of the Anointed One living in the believer exceeds the power of sin.[16] Apparently, the Colossian believers needed to hear the same message.[17]

However, the Holy Spirit did not perform this spiritual transformation so that the believer no longer desired or accepted any responsibility of putting their hands to the plow and breaking up the hardened ground of unbeliever’s hearts so the seed of the Word could be planted. They now live to promote the kingdom of God and do everything possible to show their gratitude for being redeemed from sin’s prison by living their life for His honor, praise, and glory.[18] And we are not motivated to live for Him because of His promises or what gifts we will receive from Him for being good. Rather, it is His love for us and our love for Him that drives our soul, heart, mind, and spirit to yield everything to Him as a way of saying, “Thank you Lord for saving my soul.”[19] As Paul said to the Colossians, don’t become fascinated with the temporary things you may acquire here on earth but concentrate on the things of God waiting for you when you join the Anointed One in his shining-greatness to receive all that God planned for those who love Him, and are willing to give their lives for him.[20]

Paul was teaching the same truth that Jesus taught, that it is not we who live apart from Him, but it is He living in us.[21] This unity with the Anointed One also brings the believer into unity with their heavenly Father.[22] But Paul goes another step further. Just as Jesus was wounded for us, so likewise we expect to be wounded for Him, even to the point of death.[23] Those wounds do not necessarily need to be physical marks on our bodies, but wounds that go to the heart, our emotions, our mind through criticism, verbal assaults, and efforts to shame us. But Paul was quick to tell the Corinthians what it would take to keep them going, it was the power God gave to the Anointed One that He passed on to them by being in union with them.[24]

[1] John 14:6

[2] Romans 3:19-20

[3] Ibid. 7:9b-11, See 7:22-23

[4] Ibid. 5:20

[5] Ibid. 8:1-2

[6] Ibid. 6:2, 22, 14

[7] Ibid. 7:4, 6, 9

[8] Colossians 2:20-23

[9] Ibid. 3:1-3

[10] 1 Peter 2:24

[11] Romans 14:7-8

[12] 2 Corinthians 5:15

[13] 2 Thessalonians 5:10; cf. Titus 2:14

[14] Hebrews 9:14; Cf. 1 Peter 4:1-2, 6

[15] Romans 6:4-6

[16] Ibid. 8:3-4

[17] Colossians 2:11-14

[18] Romans 8:13-14

[19] Ephesians 2:4-7

[20] Colossians 3:1-4

[21] John 14:19-20

[22] Ibid. 17:21

[23] 2 Corinthians 4:10-11

[24] Ibid. 12:4

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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