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 XLV)

In another work, Owen also addresses this principle of assigning divine honor to the person of the Anointed One who lives in us.  Paul made it clear, here in verse twenty, that the life which he now lives in the flesh, he lives because of his faith “in” the Anointed One. But that’s not all, it is by that same faith Paul now lives “for” the Anointed One. In other words, you don’t accept forgiveness for your sins from God because of the Anointed One’s work on the cross and then go sit down in the pew and watch the service as a performance celebrating what the Anointed One did for you.

For Owen, the Son of God is the author, object, and finisher of our faith.[1] This provided Paul the reason and motive for saying that this faith he lived by was a continual exercise of faith because the Anointed One “loved him, and gave Himself for him.” This is what so powerfully influences our hearts to fix our faith in Him and on Him. And that person who so loved us is the same One in whom we believe. If believers themselves were the object of their love, it would thereby be the object of their faith.

But where would that get them? Nowhere! The object of our love is the Anointed One and, therefore, He is the object of our faith. Not only is it our duty to love Him but also to serve Him. If this proves not to be the case, then you are not alive in the Anointed One but dead to the Anointed One. But, says Owen, there is no reason to provide multiple Scriptures to prove the point that it is our duty to believe in, love, and serve the Son of God. The greatest minds could search the world over for a substitute for having faith in the Anointed One. It doesn’t exist.[2]

There is another important factor that Owen believer must be taken into consideration. Because of our near relationship with the Anointed One living in us, living for Him, and serving Him it must be considered a permanent principle in our mind and affections. The life we now live is tied to Him and derived from Him. It is to be understood as the Anointed One Himself living out our lives. Therefore, even though we live, it is more of the Anointed One living than it is of us, as Paul says here in verse twenty.

Owen suggests we look at the reason for this conclusion. Did not Jesus say that He was the vine and we are the branches? That we get our spiritual life from Him. So that means, without Him we do nothing.[3] He and He alone is our spiritual life. Not only in this life but in the life to come.[4] As it resides in believers, it is a permanent principle of spiritual life, light, love, and power, being projected from the soul in harmony with the mind, enabling every believer to cling to God with purpose of heart, and to live for Him in everything they say and do as part of their spiritual life. But they don’t do this on their own, they receive help. Jesus said that it will be like a fountain of living water that springs up to give them strength, and that fountain never stops flowing.[5] Owen believes this is a reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit. After all, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[6]  This spirit that is born of the Spirit possesses a divine nature. And it is that divine nature that makes believers partakers by the promises of God. It is a principle of victorious faith and love, with all the virtues and graces needed to holy living. It influences the manner of the believer’s performance, enabling their soul to be involved in living for God with delight, joy, and satisfaction.[7]

Matthew Poole focuses on what Paul says in verse twenty about “The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.” Poole feels that it would not be proper for a believer to say that it is “I” that now lives. That’s because our actions no longer run according to our natural tendencies and inclinations but in keeping with the Anointed One by His Spirit that lives in us. That’s because we are renewed and changed. We’ve become a new creation in the Anointed One, and when we became a new creature, we received new tendencies and inclinations. So, even though we still live in our human bodies, we are only spiritually kept alive by the life of the Anointed One in us and our faith in Him as that life. Therefore, all our natural moral virtues became principled in our faith the Anointed One’s power to help us do what pleases God through Him. So, the Law is no longer our guide, but our faith in what the Anointed One said we must be and do now that we are children of the Most High.[8]

Many people today know John Bunyan (1628-1688) as the author of his famous work “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But Bunyan wrote many other books which you don’t hear much about. It is quite remarkable that Bunyan became one of the most successful English writers in the days of Richard Baxter and John Milton. These men, who were well off, could afford to write because they didn’t need to earn a living. But Bunyan, a traveling tin-smith, that they called a “tinker,” who made household utensils like his father, was nearly penniless before becoming a most famous author. His wife was also destitute. In those days, when women were selected for marriage, their families would show their joy and respect for the groom by giving her a dowry to take to her new husband. The only thing she brought were two books written by Puritans. But they were worth much more than they cost because it affected Bunyan’s life in a marvelous way.

Once he was converted, he began to preach and draw large crowds. But Bunyan was not part of the State Church of England, he began to worship and preach in the independent congregations that sprang up in the spirit of the Reformation. But when King Charles II took the reins of government, he shut down these separatist congregations and Bunyan was hauled off to prison where he sat for the next 16 years. But just like the Apostle Paul, Bunyan took the time to read and write. While in prison he wrote nine books. He was granted his freedom for a short while but was soon imprisoned again for six months. It was after that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress.

In one of his earlier books, he dealt with the resurrection of believers. He stated emphatically that any person who denied the resurrection of the Anointed One is worthless to Christianity and His Church. He was making reference to some churchmen in his day who did question whether or not the Anointed One was resurrected from the dead or was revived after being in somewhat of a coma for several days. Says Bunyan, they cause many believers to doubt, which leads to the destruction of the congregation. He calls them cankerworms. These are a caterpillar-like insect whose newly hatched larvae eat the soft tissue of young leaves at the tips of branches, giving them a skeletonized appearance. And the older they get the more destructive they become.

For Bunyan, it proved that such individuals were ignorant of God’s power, faithfulness, and His Word. He points to where God said to Abraham and his descendants that He would be their God [9] So we who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are counted as part of the living under a threefold consideration. First, being that they are in the Lord and He is in them; that He is the head and they are part of the Body of the Anointed One, all of the elect may be said to be alive in the Anointed One. They were from eternity chosen by Him who also is their life, although possibly many of them are yet unconverted. Yet they say that the Anointed One is their life, by the timeless purpose of God. Secondly, the children of the new covenant live here in the flesh by faith and in glory, they will live in the spirit because their eyes were open and they remain in communication through grace with the Anointed One who is in their souls. Thirdly, Bunyan anchors all that he said on the words of Paul here in verse twenty.[10]

John Bengel sees Paul saying to all those critics who claimed that the Anointed One he was describing was the minister of sin and death, that they are so wrong because the Anointed One is the founder of living right for God and being spiritually alive. In other words, Paul declares all that I am I am in Him. This is the sum and substance of Christianity. Furthermore, although Paul says that he is dead to the Law, he is not depreciating the Law but simply relying on a new Law more divine. the Anointed One’s death on the cross made this all possible. Bengel feels that if verse twenty were rendered this way: “It’s not I that now lives in the flesh but it is the Anointed One who lives inside me,” it would bring out more clearly what Paul is trying to communicate here.[11]

Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards believes that before any person comes to their senses and realizes that they possess no strength to help themselves, they first must be made aware of the danger of hell. This is especially true that they realize they cannot work out their own deliverance and salvation. They try to make themselves better only to reveal more and more faults. It is only when they throw themselves on the mercy of God and put their trust in the Anointed One that they will be enlightened as to what it means to be born again. So, it is only until a sinner is convinced and convicted of their sin and misery and the punishment that awaits them in hell will they be prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God. They don’t plead for this on their own, the Anointed One is the one and only Mediator. So they must be drawn by the Spirit to Him so He pleads their case before His Father in heaven.[12]

In another place, Edwards says that it is the nature of the Covenant of Grace that shows God’s design to make ample provision for the saints given an assured hope of timeless life while they are still here on earth. To this end, God made promises to prove His chosen with all the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and perseverance that they found in the Anointed One will never dry up. This will allow them to face anything that comes their way that may try and challenge their faith. He gave the Holy Spirit to be their guide as a personal counselor. So, the bottom line is this: stay true to what the Word of God says and what the Holy Spirit tells you and nothing will ever separate you from the love of God[13].[14]

Joseph Benson believes that to better understand Paul’s point here, we should expand what he says in verse twenty to read that it is no longer I that lives in sin, because I was delivered so that the Anointed One may live in me. That way, my living is no longer under the condemnation of death by the Law, but under the justification through the Anointed One to everlasting life. He was now animated by more nobler views and hopes than the Law could possibly give. That allows him to be engaged through love to God, be part of His people with a more generous, sublime, and extensive obedience than the Law was capable of producing through obedience to its precepts.[15]

[1] Cf. Hebrews 12:2

[2] John Owen: op. cit., Vol. 2, Christologia, p. 172

[3] John 15:5

[4] Colossians 3:4

[5] John 4:14

[6] Ibid. 3:6

[7] John Owen, Vol. 5, Gospel Grounds and Evidences of the Faith of God’s Elect, pp. 152-153

[8] Matthew Poole: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., Kindle Location 701-716, Kindle Edition

[9] See Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10-11

[10] John Bunyan: Vol 1, The Resurrection of the Dead, pp. 251-260

[11] John Bengel: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., p. 583

[12] Edwards, Jonathan: On the Bestowment of Great and Signal Mercies, 1834, III.3 Kindle Location 73881-74141

[13] Romans 8:38-39

[14] Edwards, Jonathan: A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Part II, Sect. XI, 1834, Kindle Location 11941

[15] Joseph Benson: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

About drbob76

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