CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

SUMMARY OF CHAPTER FIVE

In chapter five, Paul continues the metaphor of Jewish Law as slavery.  Since this was a large part of Chapter four, he feels pretty strongly about this. He’s not going to let go until he’s convinced his listeners into agreeing with him.  In contrast, to the legalism and harnessing of the Law, Paul tells the Galatians that the Anointed One represents freedom.

We can divide Paul’s letter to the Galatians into three parts. Chapters 1 – 2 focus on Paul’s biography, including his qualifications to represent the Anointed One as an apostle. Chapters 3 – 4 deal mainly with doctrinal theology, explaining that justification comes by faith in the Anointed One and not by following the works of the Law. Chapters 5 – 6 focus on the practical theology of these truths. Paul does not start applying all these truths in chapters 5 – 6 until the reader knows all he taught in chapters 1 – 4. The main point is this: those who are freed by the Anointed One should live in freedom with the Anointed One.

Paul begins chapter five by stating point-blank that the Anointed One set us free so that we could be free. Freedom, though, requires resistance against a return to bondage. Those in the Anointed One must stand firm against anyone who would try to drag them into slavery under the Law (Galatians 5:1).

Paul also has in mind the issue of circumcision. A group known as the Judaizers were pressuring the Galatians to submit to physical circumcision in order to be acceptable to God. Some of the Galatians may have been willing to do this, simply to cover all possible needs: “Why not believe in Jesus and be circumcised?” they may have thought. “What harm can that do?” Paul insists, however, that faith in the Anointed One must be faith in Him alone and nothing else. In fact, he writes that to insist on following the Law cuts us off from direct contact with the Anointed One because we are asking God to judge us by our works and not by the work of the Anointed One on the cross (Galatians 5:2–11).

Paul is confident the Galatians will reject this false teaching and that the ones responsible for teaching it will be held accountable. They also must reject a rumor that he was teaching circumcision behind their backs. If that were so, why would they be persecuting him? In fact, he writes that he wishes the false teachers would go past circumcision to cutting themselves off from the Galatians (Galatians 5:12).

Paul then turns his focus to another way Christians are in danger of wasting the freedom the Anointed One won for us. There might be some who think: I’m justified, saved, filled with the Spirit in my soul, so now it doesn’t matter what I do in the flesh; it can’t change anything. So why should I not indulge in all the things that satisfy me here on earth? However, Paul wants them to know that is not the freedom we have in the Anointed One. Instead, we should use our freedom to serve God and each other (Galatians 5:13–15).

But how can we overcome our sinful tendencies and focus on serving others? We can only do so by the power of God’s Spirit, given to us when we trusted in the Anointed One for our salvation. The Spirit of God is powerful and gives believers the supernatural ability to love as the Anointed One does instead of serving self. The battle for Christians is to allow the Spirit to lead instead of shutting Him down to go our way. Our way always leads to sin and then to destruction. Paul provides a list of sinful lifestyles. Those who live in that way without ever turning back should not think that they are in the Anointed One. They will not inherit God’s kingdom, along with those who have God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16–21).

Then Paul offers a second list. This one reveals what comes out of those who allow God’s Spirit to lead the way. It is one “fruit” – Love, with nine characteristics: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humbleness, and self-control. The Spirit does not deposit those in our hearts for us to use at our leisure. Instead, the Spirit assists our reborn spirit to bear this fruit to God’s glory.

By definition, those who trust in the Anointed One’s death on the cross for their sin chose to crucify their sinful desires along with Him. That doesn’t mean we’ll never sin again, but it does mean that when we keep in step with God’s Spirit, we don’t need to sin. In that way, we stay free from sin’s power, as well as its penalty (Galatians 5:22–25).

The most reasonable conclusion to draw from all of this is that the Galatians had become subjected to an attempt to “convert” them into becoming “Jewish Christians” in the manner of the Jerusalem Assembly.  Already in 1:6, we are warned of “another gospel.” In fact, Paul said that living by the dictates of the Law means we have fallen out of God’s grace.  What, exactly, does he means by that is an open question. Actually, the Greek word that Paul used, in this case, means “favor.” Now, technically, falling out of grace, and falling out of favor can refer to identical situations. It can be taken as the loss of God’s favor in this world as far as our work, family, or standing in society is concerned. On the other hand, it can also imply that God’s protective shield against temptation and sin is removed, and we constantly find ourselves having to confess and ask forgiveness.

There is one more thing to consider. Should verse twenty-two read “spirit” or “Spirit?” I have chosen “spirit,” referring to it as the reborn spirit. It doesn’t mean the Spirit is shutout of the operation. Rather, the Spirit provides the nutrients and ability to our reborn spirit to bear this fruit. In other words, you can’t have one without the other. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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POINTS TO PONDER

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While I was still in high school, I worked part-time at a “Frontier Savings Stamp” redemption center in Roswell, NM. People would come in and say they wanted to redeem the stamps they were given at the grocery store. They were pasted in a book, we would count them, and then we would tell which items they were eligible for. Little did I know at that time what redeem and redemption meant other than saving stamps.

Psychologist Alex Lickerman defined redemption this way: Whenever a news story breaks about someone committing a terrible crime, we may wonder about the possibility of redemption and how it can be achieved. We may also wonder if most of us don’t carry around some secret harm we once did to someone, the type of harm that, if we allow ourselves to ponder over it, risks losing faith in our own goodness and even the health of our self-esteem.

Dr. Lickerman goes on to ask, “Why did we do what we did? Was it for self-gain or because we were trying to do what we thought was right and either inadvertently or regretfully injured the person we were trying to help?” If the latter, we must embrace the fact that our intentions were good and that sometimes the most compassionate action looks, and even is, more harmful than good. We may find ourselves tripped up in our attempts to reach this perspective by the complicated situation in which we acted, finding it sometimes hard to figure out exactly how pure-hearted our intentions were. But if we can focus on those intentions rather than on their results, we may learn we have nothing to regret at all. In this case, you’ve redeemed your self-esteem.

Then licensed clinical social worker Linda, and her master of social work husband Charlie Bloom, write about longing for redemption. They say that to the degree that early unhealed wounds and unmet childhood needs we carry into adulthood, we seek someone with the power, even the responsibility to rescue us from the remaining pain from these experiences by providing us, finally, with the quality of love that we never received. What we desire from this person is love that is healing, affirming, all-encompassing, unconditionally accepting, and empowering—in short, salvation.

They go on to say that this then is the redemptive longing; the hope of being saved once and for all from the inherent suffering in a life in which we feel ourselves to be unworthy of real love, which is by nature, unconditional. All too often, relationships that begin with dreams of divine bliss deteriorate into the hell of unrelenting frustration, bitterness, and unfulfilled longing. The person whom we had hoped would keep us from suffering becomes the source of excruciating emotional pain. What we gain from this is redemption from being ignored as unneeded or unworthy of love.

To this, we add the thoughts of Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson, who starts by noting that some people are possessed by a question and its part of our nature to ask, “Why are we looking for redemption?” People often ask themselves this question in relation to their circumstances as they search for meaning and to understand what it might mean. But they also might ask themselves, “Why do I feel redemption is needed?” It is uncharacteristic of animals; they don’t seem to question their existence. There is something about the very nature of human beings that makes them feel as if something needs to be set right. When that has been discussed historically, it’s been associated with the term redemption. People are in need of redemption. In this case, it is redemption from always feeling bad about things that we did to others.

However, a group of Christian psychologists from Wheaton College has this to say,[1] What is a professional psychologist to do when a client brings up the concept of sin? To some, sin may seem like a depressing religious relic that has no place in contemporary psychology. But viewing sin from within the Christian faith, and linked with the doctrine of grace, psychologists can better understand why sin is such an important concept for many of their Christian clients. The misunderstanding by many Psychologists about sin and grace may contribute to relatively low rates of referral from Christian leaders to secular clinical psychologists, and may sometimes hinder therapeutic progress.

They go on to tell us that for many throughout the world, certain forms of emotional anguish are handled by going to confession where a priest offers the sacrament of reconciliation. Others go to professional psychologists to learn behavioral, mental, or relational strategies to live healthier lives. If the story ended here, with a clear junction between religion and psychology, then both clergy and professional

psychologists would have simpler jobs – and those seeking their help, simpler choices – than is currently the case. The dividing line is not so clear, however. Religious leaders end up seeing people with significant mental health issues, and professional psychologists work with those facing religious and spiritual questions. In earlier times, the fuzzy distinction between religion and psychology caused conflict and vigorous debate among clinicians.

After reading this, we can almost hear the Apostle Paul crying out, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will redeem me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” [2] In the Christian faith, redemption is based upon the early teachings of the Israelites as revealed to them by God. It involved how a person who was taken captive by a foreign power could be redeemed and brought back home. That redemption always involved paying a ransom, often of an enormous price. Furthermore, only a fellow Israelite, and preferably, a member of the tribe or family was considered eligible to pay that price.

God gave Isaiah a lesson on redemption to share with the Israelites. He told Isaiah to tell them: “Thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” [3] But time and time again, God would need to remind them, “I have taken away the dark cloud of your wrong-doings, and removed the heavy fog of your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you and set you free.” [4]

No wonder the Psalmist exclaimed, “He sent redemption to His people; He stamped His covenant as everlasting. Holy and awesome is His name![5] O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord, there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption.[6] Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble.[7]

For centuries Israel waited for redeemers. God redeemed them from Egypt through Moses at the cost of a lamb for every Hebrew family. But God told them that He would send another Redeemer in the pattern of Moses, and He would be called the Messiah.[8] Then God used Jeremiah to redeem the exiled Jews in Persia to return back to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.[9] But still, they awaited the promised Messiah to redeem them from all foreign powers so they could rule themselves as God’s people.

Then the Messiah came! It was because God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son born of a woman so that all who believe in Him would not die without hope but have everlasting life.[10] Unfortunately, when He arrived, the Jews refused to recognize and accept Him as the Messiah.[11]

However, God called one of His worst enemies, Saul of Tarsus, to go out into the world as the Apostle Paul and tell them there were justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in the Anointed One Jesus, whom God put forward as a ransom by His blood be received by faith.[12] As the Apostle Peter put it, “Knowing that you were redeemed from the useless ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of the Anointed One, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

So the next time you become unsure as to your salvation, or doubts creep into your mind of whether or not God really loves you or wants you as one of His own, just remember that you have been redeemed and that the Redeemer who paid the ransom price for your freedom is standing by to help you remain free from those awful chains that held you bound to ways that were offensive to God. Just look up and tell the Lord that you know you’ll make it all the way because you have been redeemed. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Mark R. McMinn, Janeil N. Ruiz, David Marx, J. Brooke Wright, and Nicole B. Gilbert

[2] Romans 7:24

[3] Isaiah 43:1

[4] Ibid. 44:22

[5] Psalm 111:9

[6] Ibid. 130:7

[7] Ibid. 107:2

[8] Deuteronomy 18:15

[9] Ezra 1:1-4

[10] John 3:16

[11] Ibid. 1:10-12

[12] Romans 3:24; See Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Titus 2:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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PICTURE THIS!

MaryEsther was suddenly spending countless hours at the hospital after her 2-year-old son, Cole, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. The time spent just waiting was painfully tedious. It was obvious, Cole needed a miracle and MaryEsther needed to stay busy to keep herself from spiraling down into depression. But most importantly, she needed God.

The odds against Cole surviving seemed insurmountable, and bad news seemed to lurk at every turn. Aside from a tumor on his liver, cancer also metastasized to the little boy’s lungs. Due to the rarity of this particular type of cancer – Hepatoblastoma, – there was no standard protocol for his treatment. So, the doctors moved immediately into “attack mode,” which meant intense chemotherapy, followed by surgery, followed by more chemotherapy.

Members of a Bible study group MaryEsther attended, knew how much she loved to draw. And so, Rachel, one of the women in the group, introduced MaryEsther to “Bible journaling” — the practice of drawing artistic interpretations of verses and passages on the sides of the pages. There were Bibles designed for this exact purpose, and Rachel suspected it would be the perfect way to help this worried mom pass the time.

And it was. MaryEsther spent every day studying God’s word, drawing her thoughts in the margins, and praying for a miracle for her son. “During this period of time in my life, said MaryEsther, I needed God so desperately, and journaling provided a way for me to communicate with Him daily.” And it soon became clear to MaryEsther that, in addition to comforting her during this time of darkness, God had an even greater purpose for her artwork. He was using her gift as a unique way to spread the Good News to even more people!

Nurses would ask MaryEsther about her Bible, and she would use this as an opportunity to tell them all about Jesus and what he had done for them. Interest in her drawings grew and grew, so she finally began posting them to her Facebook page. And from there, God worked a miracle!

Cole endured all of his treatments like a champ. It was an emotional rollercoaster for MaryEsther and the family, but one year later, 3-year-old Cole is cancer-free! He still needs prayers, the doctors told her, because his type of cancer can come back. It’s most likely, they said, to occur within 18-24 months. But MaryEsther continued to put her trust in God, rejoicing in the miracle He already sent.

God is also continuing to use MaryEsther’s art to minister and inspire so many more than she ever imagined. In His timing, the Facebook album of her Bible journaling has gone viral. So far, it has resulted in more than 32,000 “shares.”

What a beautiful example of God’s great power. He’s given each of us special gifts — gifts He can put to use even during our darkest hours.

The Apostle Paul saw this opportunity for the Galatians. So, he wrote them, when you have an opportunity, do something good for somebody, and especially to those who are fellow believers. (Galatians 6:10) He also told the Ephesians, stop moaning, groaning, and complaining. Find something that works in encouraging others, no matter what the occasion. This will give them hope and trust. (Ephesians 4:29). And the writer of Hebrews urged everyone not to neglect the good they can do. Share what you can give because sacrificing your time and effort is always pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16).

Like me, you may not be into drawing. But certainly, God has given you some talent you can use to bring joy and comfort to those who are hurting. Posting a motivational message every day on your Facebook page is a start. Then there is “Messaging” that can be used as a tool for cheering people up and brightening their day. You may have even greater talents in the area of artwork, creating posters, montages, collages, or even writing. In any case, you know what you do best. So, ask God to help you transform that talent into something He can use to share His love, comfort, assurance, hope, and Word for encouragement. You may be surprised how well it will turn out! – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXI)

Most believers learn early in their walk with God that when the spiritual oneness with the Anointed One is well-fed and full of the good things of the Spirit, the sinful-self ends up like a sleeping dog.  But when the spiritual unity with the Anointed One gets hungry and agitated, it wakes up the sinful-self that starts howling for attention. So, it befits every believer to keep their spiritual oneness with the Anointed One satisfied with food from God’s Word. Community worship, prayer, interaction with other believers, meditation in the Scriptures, sharing the Gospel with those who are lost, daily talks with Jesus, communion with the Holy Spirit, and so on, is spiritually refreshing. Commit yourself to do these things every day; just don’t wait for them to happen, or expect the Holy Spirit to do them for you.

Preacher Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) sums up this chapter by pointing out the Apostle Paul’s remarkable use of the word “fruit,” indicates that we should regard all the results of the indwelling Spirit in the reborn spirit as supernatural growth. The foundation of all is, of course, Love fulfilling the Law. It scarcely needs to be pointed, says Maclaren, how transformed-Love is the primary element of the first three fruit. But it is no less important to note how Love as Joy and Peace, naturally influences the other fruit. It is essential to spend time on these understanding truths since many temptations face Christians at home, at work, in church, and society.

Maclaren also notes that the ten letters on the two tablets of the Law were not etched so far apart that their unity was unseen. Many good people restrict their notions of religious duties to being occasionally involved in church ministries. They spend little time worshipping and praying, reading and studying the Bible, or listening to challenging sermons. Even while they are doing good deeds, they do not feel it is just as much a spiritual duty to suppress the wish to retaliate as it is to sit in the sunshine of God’s love and feel the joy and peace of the Anointed One filling the heart. I’m not sure how popular Maclaren would be as a preacher in today’s religious community.

Furthermore, Maclaren notes how Paul’s first three fruit naturally connects to the last three. When the spiritual life has realized its deepest secret, it will be more than able to manifest itself as vigorous in dealing with life’s difficulties. When that heart feels blessed in its own settled love, abounding joy and untroubled peace, faithfulness and humbleness will both be possible, and self-control will not be hard to develop.[1]

Joseph Beet (1840-1924) gives us another view to consider in grasping the message that Paul is sending to the Galatians. Beet points out that the flesh is the visible flesh of man – his living matter. And mysteriously permeating and preserving this living matter, keeping it from corruption and giving it growth and well-being, is the invisible spirit. As a result, each person meets at every point of interaction between the visible and invisible worlds. One is destined to crumble and fall back into its original dust, the other was created for endless life.

Beet closes by asking us to notice the monumental simplicity and grandeur of Paul’s double foundation of Christian morality. First, He lays down the one precept of love, in the very words of the ancient Law – “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind,” a doctrine including all others. But even this, if it stood alone, would but reveal our inability to do what God requires, and thus condemn us. Secondly, Paul invokes the precept of the Spirit, the divine seed planted in our hearts from which grows, by its unseen and mysterious vitality, the fruit of Love and all its transformed virtues.[4]

Grant R. Osborne gives an excellent summary of how to be guided by our reborn spirit instead of our human desires. When our reborn spirit is the guiding presence in our lives, we will remain focused on it rather than on ourselves. It means that we will not allow ourselves to “become conceited.” Our outlook is no longer to be inward (focused on ourselves) but outward (focused on our service to God).

Following the crucifixion of our sinful tendencies on the cross through the Anointed One, our egotistical trinity – me, myself, and I, can no longer be free to dictate our behavior, words, and deeds. The Anointed One and His Spirit are now on the throne of our lives. We must do away with arrogant pride. It is incredible how easily people with a bit of talent or wealth can elevate themselves to the status of a god. The only thing truly good in us is that which glorifies God rather than self.

Osborne goes on to say that a conceited person almost invariably causes conflict in a community. The proud, by elevating themselves over the others around them, all too often end up “provoking and envying one another.” The focus is on the cause (envy) and its result (provocation). Pride leads to envy, which produces conflict. “Provoke” (Greek – prokaleomai, “call forth” as in issuing a challenge) is a word used in athletic contexts with the idea of challenging another to a contest of speed or strength. When our focus is on self and earthly glory, we never can have enough and are always dissatisfied and envious. The athlete with the bronze medal envies the one with the gold medal, and the athlete with one gold medal craves the one who has two or three.[2] As Christians, we should never envy a brother or sister that God uses in ways we are not gifted to do. Instead, we should rejoice with them because, for ourselves and them, all glory, honor, and praise go to our Father in Heaven.

We have the unseen world within us, says Beet, actually filling our inmost consciousness. Now each of these two elements claims to rule our entire action and to form our inner life. However, they are in absolute opposition to one another. The flesh, acting out through desires aroused by material objects around, tends to generate various kinds of actions, many of them indisputably wrong. Such actions will exclude us from the glory of the coming kingdom. But in absolute opposition to the flesh is the one Spirit of God, whom God gave to dwell in the hearts of His people so that their spirit may have immortal life, and to be in them an all-wise guide and comforter.[3] The Spirit is the living and divine seed from which springs a harvest of moral excellence. This excellence is all that the Law requires. Consequently, for those under His influence, the Law has no terrors. And in proportion, as they follow the Spirit’s guidance, is the vibrant and vigorous life which He imparts.

Nonetheless, the evil influences of the flesh are still a power against which Christians must be forever on guard, warns Beet. But the believer’s warfare is shared by the Spirit of God, against whom even the flesh is powerless. The presence of the Spirit in our heart ends, as we abide in faith, the reign of our fallen human nature. Let us declare that through the death of the Anointed One on the cross, our sinful-self is dead. Our old life lies buried in His grave. It is sufficient for complete self-surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will inspire that love, which is a fulfillment of the Law, and which alone will save Christian liberty from degenerating into hurtful permission for immoral living.

Lutheran theologian Paul E. Kretzmann (1881-1965) sees Paul assigning a mission to all those who feel led to preach the Gospel. He notes that Paul transitions from living in the Spirit to going forward in the Spirit. Don’t get sidetracked into wanting attention, to enter disputes just to show how smart you are. And don’t become envious of others on how to succeed in becoming more well-known than you. The life that the power of the Spirit brings into a person will make an impression on the believer’s conduct. It must be so for them to make any progress in their spiritual life. As a result, they are neither to turn to the right nor the left off the highway of holiness. They must continue following the leading of the Spirit through the strength of the Spirit.

And one way in which Christians can show their progress in the spiritual life is this: that they did not become conceited, that they do not strive for personal honor and glory, as every person is inclined to do by human nature. Everyone wants to exceed their neighbor in their ability and social position. False ambition has brought untold misery upon the assembly of the Anointed One. For it is due to that attitude that people provoke one another, assume challenging positions, question the ability and the motives of one another, are jealous of one another’s success in any line of effort, seek to minimize real accomplishments by adverse criticism. If a prideful ego rules in a person’s heart, the result will be the rapid loss of brotherly love, followed by discord, quarrels, jealousy, and hatred.[5]

END OF CHAPTER FIVE

[1] Maclaren, Alexander: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Osborne, G. R: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 196–197

[3] Romans 8:10

[4] Beet, Joseph: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 161-162

[5] Kretzmann, Paul E., The New Testament, Vol. 2, Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXX)

As current Jewish commentator David Stern explains it, in contrast to the fruit of the reborn spirit, the product of legalism and Judaizers’ teaching has led to “feuding, fighting, becoming jealous, getting angry, selfish ambition, dissension, intrigue, and envy.[1] [2] With the Church being a light in the world, the salt of the earth, and a window into the heart of God, maybe we can see why the world is not overly anxious to join us and adopt our lifestyle as children of God. They see enough of this type of behavior in their own culture. There is no need for them to add the burdens of mandatory church attendance, Bible reading, and self-help or feel-good sermons, especially when those who preach it don’t practice it themselves.

I remember during the first weeks of Army boot camp at Fort Carson, Colorado, our platoon sergeant took us out for the first time to march in formation. At first, we looked like a prison gang with everyone out of step and, in some cases stepping on each other’s feet. But the sergeant taught us to keep in step with his cadence of, “Left … left … left-right-left; left … left… left-right-left; hut, two, three, four; hut, two, three, four.” Each time he said “left or hut,” our left foot was supposed to hit the ground. Before long, we began to look more disciplined and less confused.

That was until we met another platoon of recruits coming the opposite way. Their sergeant was also calling out cadence, but not in sync with ours. So, as we passed each other, we needed to tune out the other sergeant to stay in step with our own. It was a daily event, with more and more platoons passing us in the opposite direction. Therefore, our platoon leader got an idea. One of the soldiers in our squad was a drummer in his high school band. The sergeant secured a drum for him.

After that, whenever we marched and encountered another group, our drummer would beat the cadence we all recognized, and we had no trouble staying in step. I can still hear it to this day: “tat-ta dum, tat-ta dum, tat-ta dum, dum, dum; tat-ta dum, tat-ta dum, tat-ta dum, dum, dum.” There was another aspect to our marching, not only to stay in step but stay in line. Each soldier was to follow the commands from the sergeant to keep in step and in line with the soldier beside him but also to remain in step and in line with the soldier in front of him.

To blend this illustration with Paul’s admonition to the Galatians, he was encouraging them to disregard the cadence called by the old sinful-self, and stay in step with the tempo of the Holy Spirit. He is our guide, our counselor, our companion on this journey. Not only march to the rhythm of the Spirit but stay in line with our fellow Christian soldiers.

Geoffrey Bingham (1919-2009) envisions Paul now drawing the threads together of his whole comparison of Law and grace, of flesh and Spirit. “If we live in the Spirit” – the “if” is not that of doubt, but rather “because.” The Spirit is the new principle of freedom.[3] We have crucified the flesh and its sinful tendencies – then we are done with it, and let us live as those done with it! Now, it is only the life of the Spirit. Thus, it naturally follows that we will walk in union with the Spirit. His is a new way of living. It takes walking, that is, behaving, obeying, performing under the influence of the Spirit. By the Spirit of sonship, led by the Spirit.[4] Notice that the thought here is corporate “us” – it is walking in line, in a file, keeping one behind the other, and being of necessity in step with each other.[5]

It requires active participation in the guidance and discipline offered by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word. We may see other paths to follow, and even want to set our own pace; we may want to speed up or slow down, do a right-left, instead of a left-right turn. God gives us free will to make that choice. But you can stay in line when you tune out other voices and focus only on the cadence of the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows where you are going and the best way to get there; He knows God’s purpose for your life and how to get you in step with God’s will.

Paul addresses this tendency of getting out of step with the Spirit by cautioning the Galatians not to give in to self-pride and become spiritually conceited. Looking back at verse fifteen, it appears that this was one of the biggest problems challenging the Galatian congregation. It came when each believer tried to outdo the other in their quest for self-imposed holiness. They attempted to put on outward purity while festering with sinful pollution inside. This type of spiritual haughtiness could only lead to provoking anger and jealousy among themselves.

The grammar Paul uses suggests that he saw this as a form of provocation. It didn’t happen by accident or some casual encounter. It was pursued vigorously as a challenge to others. It was as though they were in a contest and wanted to be declared the winner. They wanted to demonstrate their spiritual superiority and thereby cause others to feel morally inferior. The believers in Galatia saw each other as rivals, each one trying to surpass the other on God’s exclusive list of “Saints.” As a result, they all became honorary members of the devil’s list of “Aints.”

I agree with what C. S. Lewis said about how the devil laughs when we become proud. “He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride.” [6] When sinful-self still has a seat at the table, still has a vote on decisions to be made, and always gets attention when it cries about being neglected and not treated fairly, such falls can occur. Our sinful-self cannot be appeased or soothed into obedience. Instead, we should prevent it from giving any input whatsoever.

I once watched an episode of “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on the National Geographic Channel. He showed an elementary method of instilling obedience in a dog by achieving submission to basic commands. It starts by creating a positive learning environment, so the dog enjoys pleasing its master by obeying the commands it receives. The owner is then able to attain many goals with their dog over a short period of dedicated training.

Cesar noted that all dogs need an active lifestyle, which allows the owner to exercise their dog’s mind and body properly. It is just as crucial for small breed dogs as it is for large breed dogs. Sometimes, because of their smaller size, many owners overlook their little dog’s bad behavior. Also, they do not put in as much time and energy into training their small breed dogs as they should. This lack of training can lead to many behavior problems that include aggression, disobedience, and incessant barking.

If this is true of animals, how much more does it apply to human beings? To grow and mature, we need to be in a positive learning environment with an active lifestyle. Our spiritual oneness with The Anointed One loves to worship, praise, and honor God; it wants to show how serving the Father and our Lord Jesus The Anointed One out of love is exciting. It desires to be like Jesus and adopt His characteristics and virtues.

When this is ignored, just like an animal, the believer will revert to the old ways and develop behavioral problems. Paul’s heart was aching over this development among those he preached to and taught even while fighting illness and physical handicap. No wonder he refused to give up until he helped them see the truth.

Once the old nature knows who’s in control and that you are determined to stick with the Spirit, it will bow and become obedient to your commands. It can be brought under control, but only by a made-up mind and a spiritual oneness with The Anointed One that will not give in to temptation. Remember, even if we do fail to meet God’s expectations for our lives, as Christians, we are not breaking Mosaic Law. If anything, it only makes God more determined to help us win the victory by providing more and more opportunities to do so.

Think of it this way: if a runner doesn’t complete a race, the runner didn’t break any law; he or she simply didn’t have the strength or will to finish. He or she may be smart enough to go to the coach and confess, “I didn’t have what it took; I can see, now, I didn’t fully commit myself; I lacked the will power to give it my best, and give it my all.” If the coach can work with them and help them become more devoted to winning, how much more will our Heavenly Father treat us with love and understanding when we go to Him and confess our need for more spiritual strength and resolve?

[1] See 5:20-21

[2] Stern, David H. (1992-10-01). Jewish New Testament Commentary

[3] 2 Corinthians 3:17

[4] Romans 8:14

[5] Bingham, Geoffrey C., The Epistle to the Galatians, New Creation Publications Inc. Adelaide, Austral, 1982, p. 50

[6] Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, Published by Samizdat, 2014, Bk. II, The Great Sin, p. 69

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXIX)

5:26 We should not give in to pride and thereby bring disharmony and jealousy to the body of The Anointed One.

Since it makes sense to be guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul thinks it’s foolish for the Galatians to turn around and give in to the temptation of doing everything to save themselves so that they can brag about their good works. That will get them nowhere except into trouble and strife. Perhaps Paul should tell them what he told the Philippians: Think about what they have in Jesus The Anointed One: the encouragement He brings, the comfort of His love, sharing in His Spirit, and the mercy and kindness He shows. If they desire these blessings, then do what makes Paul’s joy complete. They should also agree with each other, and show their love for each other. Be united in their goals and in the way they think. In whatever they do, don’t let selfishness or pride be their guide. Be humble and honor others more than themselves.[1] The Apostle James agrees: Stop bragging about all you’ve done; such arrogance never pleases God.[2]

If they don’t do that, then they will end up in ongoing disagreements and fights, doing anything to provoke one another into angry fits because they envy what the others have. It seems as though the Apostle James experienced the same dilemma in his congregations. He even wrote to them: If you are selfish and have bitter jealousy in your hearts, you have no reason to boast. Your boasting is a cover-up for the truth. That kind of “wisdom” does not come from God. Such “perceptions” drip from worldly minds. It is not spiritual; it is from the devil. Where there are jealousy and selfishness, there will be confusion and all kinds of dissatisfaction.[3]

 Unfortunately, some of the Galatians became so full of vanity that they bragged about their progress in putting away all sinful desires and achieving unparalleled holiness. As Avery Ramsey put it, “Both the continuous war against the sinful-self and the perfect execution of the sinful-self must be kept in mind if we are to have the full picture. Perfectionists who talk of themselves as incorruptible in this life have lost sight of the need to fight the war every day. The pessimists, who are halfhearted in battling the flesh because they never expect victory, have lost sight of the victory that is theirs through active identification with The Anointed One on the cross.” [4]

Paul now challenges the Galatians to actively deal with both defeating the old sinful-self and nurturing the new spiritual oneness with The Anointed One. He combines something “we must know” with something “we must do.” As believers, “we must know” that sets us free in Jesus The Anointed One from trying to save ourselves as a gift from God; we are no longer slaves under house arrest by Mosaic Law.  Furthermore, as believers, “we must do” what’s right to protect that freedom, so we no longer exist like prisoners but live as children of God whom the Son set free. I like the way the contextualized version of Galatians renders this text: “If we are living this new life by God’s Spirit, let us be led by Him in every part of our lives, let us put to death our “old self” completely by our faith. Then we won’t be egotistical, self-righteous, or try to look pious or “spiritual” in front of others. These things are what lead to jealousy and feelings of superiority.”

Chrysostom adds his thoughts by noting that in the kingdom of God, His laws govern earth-bound Christians. Therefore, Paul is more or less telling the Galatians: “Be content with the power of the Spirit, and seek no help from the Law of Moses.” Chrysostom goes on to advise the believers that when they continually point back to the Law, they end up trying to be more holy than the others. Such conduct will only lead to provoking one another until envy and jealousy lead to an all-out conflict involving all sorts of bad behavior.

Haimo of Auxerre seems to have gained a better understanding of just what was threatening to rip the congregations apart in Galatia. He points out that many of the Galatians were led astray by false apostles and Jews. It led to quarrels over genealogies and legal questions. Some were saying that circumcision is better than baptism, whereas others, to the contrary, that baptism is better than circumcision. Moreover, some were saying that allegory is superior to history because spiritual understanding allegory brings to life what literal interpretation kills.[5] In opposition to this view, others were insisting that historically speaking, where the truth is exposed, it is better than shadowy and empty allegory. It appears that in this latter part, Haimo was referring to some scholarly conflict relevant to his days, such as the scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, and scholars in Antioch, Syria, and their interpretive approaches.[6]

Martin Luther also comments on this factor of self-righteousness. He mentions that boastfulness has always been a common poison in the world. There is no village too small to contain someone who wants to be considered wiser or better than the rest. Those bitten by the serpent of pride usually claim their higher status based on their reputation of education and wisdom. Conceit is not nearly as bad in a private person or even in an office as it is in a minister of the Gospel. When the venom of boastfulness gets into the Church, it’s impossible to conceive of how much contention it can cause.

People may argue about education, art, money, countries, and the like without doing particular harm. But they cannot quarrel about salvation or damnation, about eternal life and eternal death without grave damage done to the Church. No wonder Paul exhorts all ministers of the Word to guard against this venom. He writes: “We must let the Spirit be our guide.” Where the Spirit is, people, gain new attitudes. Where formerly they were proud, spiteful, and envious, now they’ve become humble, gentle, and patient. Such people are not interested in promoting their glory, but the glory of God. They do not provoke each other to anger or envy but prefer others to themselves.[7]

Adam Clarke (1760-1832) notes that Paul must have heard of the erratic behavior among the believers throughout Galatia that distressed him, so what he says here is more of a revelation than merely a list of dos and don’ts. He admonishes them not to boast in their attainments, conceited about being superior to others and seeking honor from those things which do not possess moral goodness such as their genealogy, wealth, eloquence, position, etc.

The result of such actions then provokes others to respond the same way. For Clarke, Christians, in general, should be content with the honor that comes from God. If they are not careful, it may provoke arguments with fellow Christians. Not only that, but if they ceased being envious of those on whom God, or their fellow believers, bestowed honor or offered privileges, it would promote greater harmony with each other. It is far better to see the Church under those conditions than Clarke saw it then.

Christianity requires us to esteem each other better than ourselves, or in honor to prefer one another. Had not such a disposition been necessary to the Christian character, and to the peace and perfection of the Church of The Anointed One, it would not have come so highly recommended. But who takes this to heart, or even thinks that this is indispensably necessary to their salvation? Where this disposition lives, there are both the seed and fruit of the flesh. Evil tempers are a curse and contrary to Christianity.[8]

Charles Spurgeon asks an important question: Should Christians be talked to this way? Oh yes they do, he says, for the best humans are, but human at best, and the godliest saint is liable to fall into the most affectionate sin unless the grace of God prevents it. Oh, says Clarke, if we could only cast out all the vanity provoking of one another, and envying one another from the Church! How often do others ridicule a Christian brother or sister who accomplishes a little more than they do? They begin to find fault with them and speak about them with little respect! This spirit of envy is, more or less, in us all, and though perhaps we are not exhibiting it just now, it will manifest itself when given the opportunity. No person ever has any real idea of how bad they can be. You do not know how good the grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how evil you might become if they leave their critical tendencies unattended.[9]

[1] Philippians 2:1-3

[2] James 4:16

[3] Ibid. 3:14-16

[4] Aiyer, Ramsey, op. cit., loc. cit.

[5] 2 Corinthians 3:6

[6] Many scholars attribute the problem of the Christological formula concerning the nature of our Christ “Miaphysis” [one nature] and “Dyophysis” [two natures] to the controversy between the Alexandrian and the Antiochian theology.  While the Alexandrian school adopted the “hypostasis union” [combination of divine and human natures in a single person] of the Godhead and manhood to assert the oneness of Jesus our Christ, the Antiochian School accepted the “indwelling theology,” that is, the Godhead dwells in manhood, as if Jesus our Christ were two persons in one, to assert that no confusion had occurred between the Godhead and manhood, and to avoid attributing human weakness to His divinity.  The starting point of the Alexandrian School was John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh,” while that of the Antiochian it was Colossians 2:9, “For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily”

[7] Luther, Martin: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] Clarke, Adam: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[9] Spurgeon, Charles H., Exposition on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXVIII)

Adam Clarke (1760-1832) gives us his thoughts on the accumulation of these Fruit in the life of the believer. It all starts with putting sinful tendencies of the flesh on the cross with Jesus. Also, wanting to stay as far away as possible from the dictates and influence of these harmful tendencies. It means that whatever sensual appetites a person might have are being starved to death. In that way, they died on the cross of The Anointed One. By not giving in to such affections and longings, it might destroy the whole body of sin. That means, no catering to sinful tendencies no matter how small or innocent they may seem. It means making up one’s mind to reject anything which feels contrary to love and purity. These things, even in moderation, tend to stain and spoil one’s sanctified Christian character.[1]

David A. Brondos states that the purpose of The Anointed One giving Himself for the sins of others is to deliver them from the “present evil age.” It is important to note that Paul does not say that this deliverance has already come about or that the evil age is no longer a present reality for believers. Instead, this was The Anointed One’s objective in giving up His life: he sought that others might attain the life of the new age and delivered from their sins. One can also say it freed them from the present evil age in the sense that they have certainty regarding their future deliverance. Furthermore, they received many blessings associated with the new life, such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that provides the nurture for the reborn spirit to produce this fruit.[2] Strictly speaking, however, their deliverance from the present age still awaits them.[3]

5:25 So, now that the Holy Spirit is leading us, let’s get in step with Him.

 After leading the Galatians through the quicksand of sin’s swamp, he now tells them that they are not on their struggle to survive. They have gotten in step with the Holy Spirit as their guide, so not stay in step with Him. It is undoubtedly in line with what Jesus told His disciples: It is the Spirit that gives life. The body is of no value for that. But the things I taught you are from the Spirit, they bring more abundant life.[4] And it sounds like Paul is quoting our Lord in his letter to the Romans.[5] The key is that if The Anointed One is in you, then the Spirit gives you life because He made you right with God.[6]

Paul explained it to the Corinthians in another way. He told them that the Scriptures say the first man, Adam, became a living person until they died. But the last Adam gave a life-sustaining spirit that is everlasting.[7] The Apostle Peter agrees, those who died long ago heard the Good News so that they now live forever with God in the Spirit. So, what was good enough for them back then it is good enough for those living today.[8] That serves as a message for us today that people who spend their time following their sinful tendencies think only about what they want now. But those who spend time with the Spirit are thinking about what the Spirit wants them to be and do until they meet Jesus face-to-face.[9]

Vincent of Lérins (circa 390-456 AD), a French Monk and early Christian writer, in his Commonitorium – the orthodox teaching of Christianity, mentions Paul’s warning to the Galatians here in verse twenty-five, as a warning to all. However, in this case, he intended this warning for the Galatians only. If that is so, then those other exhortations which follow in the same Epistle were designed for the Galatians only, such as, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other. But that would limit the scope of Paul’s instructions. Then it follows, that these admonitions which relate to morals are also warnings about faith. So, Vincent implies that if it is unchristian to provoke people into envying one another, as Paul states, likewise, it is unchristian to receive any other Gospel than that which the Catholic Church preaches.[10]

Philip Schaff (1819-1893) takes the term “live and walk” as expressions of attitude and action. That involves our inward condition and outward conduct. If we claim we are living in the higher element of the Holy Spirit, we must demonstrate that by staying away from the lower component of the desires of the flesh. It is not just a suggestion by the Apostle Paul; he intended it to be the rule for Christian living.[11]

Then, William Kelly (1821-1903) hears Paul telling the Galatians: Let your outward life agree with the inward life. If they are moved and directed inwardly by the Spirit of God, it will control the outer life by the same divine influence. But that influence does not operate without regard to human freedom. No Christian will be kept on the straight and narrow way unless it is by his consent and choice. The exhortation means watchfulness, prayerfulness, and effort. The Greek verb stoicheō translated as “walk” here in verse twenty-five, is not the same as the Greek verb peripateō translated as “walk” in verse sixteen. The word “walk” used in verse twenty-five here suggests the idea of an orderly procedure, perhaps of moral and religious conduct regulated by a settled purpose. The word “walk” used in verse sixteen is talking about how one adjusts their life as they progress, using the opportunities given to them.[12]

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), wrote several daily devotions, and one of them fits nicely into understanding what Paul says here in verse twenty-five about walking and living in the Spirit. Spurgeon wrote that the two most essential things in our Christian faith are the life of faith and the walk of faith. Anyone who can fully grasp these two principles is not far from being an expert in experimental theology, for they are vital points to any Christian.

You will never find true faith, says Spurgeon, without the accompaniment of true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which does not spring from the root a living faith in the righteousness of The Anointed One. A warning to those who seek one without the other! Some cultivate faith and forget holiness. Such individuals may appear as standing high morally in keeping all the rules and rituals, but they will be standing very low in condemnation, for they believe that what they are doing makes them right with God. And others have struggled to maintain holiness in life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were “whitewashed-sepulchers.” [13]

For Spurgeon, we must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the building. Of what service is the mere foundation of a building to a person on a stormy day? Can they hide inside? They lack a house to cover them, as well as a foundation for that house. Even so, we need the structure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But do not seek a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house that can never offer permanent shelter because it has no foundation on a rock. Let faith and life merge, and, like the two support points of an arch, they will make our right living last longer. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessings. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holy fire; two olive trees watered by heavenly care. O Lord, give us this daylight inside, prays Spurgeon, and it will reveal itself outside to Your glory.[14]

Current Bible scholar Vincent Cheung points out that Paul begins a sharp contrast, and even sets the flesh against the Spirit. Their desires are “contrary” to each other, and they are “in conflict” with each other. If you agree with one, you automatically disagree with the other. Paul says that “living by the Spirit” is having the “leading by the Spirit,” which then leads to “keeping in step with the Spirit.” It is an essential application of developing holiness in living. It is to avoid being misled by our sinful tendencies to gratifying the passions of our flesh. To follow the Spirit is to prevent a legalistic mindset. So instead of thinking, “I have to do this for God to be right with Him,” we say instead, “I want to do this for God because I’m already right with Him.[15]

[1] Clarke, Adam: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Galatians 3:3; 5:22-23

[3] Brondos, David A., Paul on the Cross: op. cit., (Kindle Locations 1815-1820)

[4] John 6:63

[5] Romans 8:2

[6] Ibid. 8:10

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:45

[8] 1 Peter 4:6

[9] Romans 8:5

[10] Vincent of Lerins: A Commonitory, Ch. 9, p. 274

[11] Schaff, Philip: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 346

[12] Hovey, Alvah: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 71

[13] Matthew 23:27

[14] Spurgeon, Charles H., Morning and Evening Daily Readings, September 18 – AM, p. 526

[15] Cheung, Vincent. On Galatians, op. cit., (Kindle Location 2555-2563)

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXVII)

The Apostle Paul gave this advice, says Hilton, when he wrote the Galatians: Get rid of your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is stained by greed and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Dress up in your new spiritual nature, created to be like God – truly living right and holy.[1] Paul wanted the Galatians to destroy all these false images they worshipped. But who can break them in-two? Of course, our Lord Jesus The Anointed One. With the fruit of the reborn spirit and in the Name of Him who redeemed us, we will break down these idols of sin. All we need to do is sincerely ask Him and desire His help, and He will be there to help every time.[2]

Martin Luther was not reluctant to apply this teaching to the church in his day. He warns them that when the poison of boastfulness gets into the Church, they have no idea what havoc it can cause. You may argue about knowledge, art, money, countries, and the like without doing particular harm. But you cannot quarrel about salvation or damnation, about eternal life and eternal death, without grave damage to the Church. No wonder, Luther says, that the Apostle Paul exhorts all ministers of the Word to guard against this poison. We must all let the Spirit guide us. Where the Spirit is, people, gain new attitudes. Where formerly they were proud, spiteful, and envious, they now become humble, gentle, and patient. Such people seek not their glory, but the glory of God. They do not provoke each other to anger or envy but prefer others above themselves.

 As dangerous as this detestable pride is to the Church, yet it seems all too common, says Luther. There is a problem with ministers who look upon the ministry as a stepping-stone to fame and glory. There you have the seed for all sorts of egotistical discord. Because Paul knew that the conceit of the false apostles caused the churches of Galatia endless trouble, he makes it his business to suppress this awful frailty.  In his absence, the false apostles went to work in Galatia. They pretended that they were on intimate terms with the Apostles in Jerusalem while Paul never saw Jesus The Anointed One in person or was in close contact with the rest of the Apostles. Because of this, they shunned him, rejected his doctrine, and boosted their own. In this way, they troubled the Galatians and caused quarrels among them until they fought each other out of envy. It shows that neither the false apostles nor the Galatians was being guided by human thinking, not the Holy Spirit.[3]

William Perkins (1558-1602), a clergyman and Cambridge theologian, wrote concerning the subject of whether our conformity with The Anointed One stands for the framing of our inward spiritual life or in the practice of outward moral duties. He points out that compliance of our spiritual life is not by doing that which The Anointed One did upon the cross, but of being willing to give our all for Him as He gave His all for us. This conformity comes in four parts, says Perkins. First is our spiritual offering. When The Anointed One went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and later upon the cross, He prayed earnestly with groans and tears. He did this as He presented Himself as a sacrifice to die for our redemption. We must do the same on the altar of service in prayer as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the service of God even unto death.

The second is conformity in the cross. He carried His cross to the place of His execution and so we too must be good disciples and deny ourselves to take up our crosses and follow Him in spirit and truth. [4] This is what Paul is talking about here in verse twenty-four, says Perkins. If we want to belong totally to The Anointed One, we must be willing to crucify our sinful affections and tendencies to the cross. It’s not enough to just say we’ve put to death our sinful tendencies; we must feel the hurt that comes with it. We must work hard in smothering these sinful passions until we sense them die in us. And if it’s possible, conduct a burial service for them, committing them to the ground never to rise again. Does this sound like a difficult thing to do? It is! We may need to have such a service every day of our lives.

The third thing, says Perkins, is the spiritual resurrection by which God’s grace means that we may every day more and more come out from under the burden of these sinful tendencies to live in the newness of life in Jesus The Anointed One. It was for this reason that God raised Him from the grave. And since this is a hard thing to do, this work of sanctification cannot be done all at once, but by degrees as God gives us grace. When we consider that we once lay spiritually dead in the quicksand of sin, but the Word and message of Jesus The Anointed One revived us.

He is now living within us so that we can take responsibility for keeping our spiritual life alive and well. Once this takes place, we no longer need to live with one foot in the swamp of sin and the other on holy ground, we were called to live in freedom! So, we can see how puzzling it was for Paul, who saw the Galatians going back to the prison of sin and bondage.[5] Therefore, we must raise our minds to a better state and condition, as we build our bodies: after this, we must extend out of the grave, one hand and then the other. Then, we must do our best to completely exit the tomb, as it were, on our knees, so that in the day of judgment, we stand wholly delivered from all links to corruption.

The fourth part is a spiritual ascension to the heavenly realm of the Spirit, by the continual elevation of the heart and mind to The Anointed One, sitting at the right hand of the Father, as Paul told the Philippians.[6] Conformity in moral duties is unique. The uniqueness is that we can be holy as He is holy.[7] Those He knew, He predestinated to be like the image of His Son, that is, not only in the cross but also in holiness and glory.[8] [9]

John Owen (1616-1683) says that it is the very work of the love of the Holy Spirit. His whole work on us, in us, and for us consists of preparing of us for obedience, enabling us to be holy, and bringing forth its fruit in us. He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He revived us by renewal through the Holy Spirit.[10] So with the fruit of the reborn spirit available to us through the Holy Spirit, we have a twofold reason for the necessity of our obedience and personal holiness. God has appointed it, He requires it; and it is an essential factor in the work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the work of our salvation. If God’s sovereignty over us is to be recognized, if His love towards us is to be regarded, if the whole work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for us, in us, and continuously at work in us, our obedience is necessary.[11]

John Flavel (1628-1688), in a sermon with his text on verse twenty-four, concerning our crucifying the flesh, says that our interests in following The Anointed One involves several trials, and one of them is putting the sinful desires of the body to death. What bothered Paul the most was that this interference by the Judaizers shattered the brotherly love among the Galatians, no doubt pitting those Gentiles who went over to these false teachers against those who remained loyal to Paul’s Gospel. Flavel says that there were four great arguments against their continued fighting and discord.

First, Jesus’ great commandment that they love one another, which, if they really wanted to fulfill the Law, loving each other was sufficient to do so. Furthermore, until their love for each other was restored, they could progress no further with any hope of reconciliation. Secondly, they must stop and consider where this path of disharmony and disparagement was leading them. There would be no winners; both sides would end up in ruin. Thirdly, it is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit sent to be our comforter and guide. And if they claimed that the Holy Spirit dwelled within them, then they certainly were not obeying His leading.

And then fourthly, from their inconsistency of loving one another and other desires of the flesh that interfered with their union in The Anointed One, they failed to crucify their fleshly desires. It’s as if Paul was saying: Hey, you all profess to be members of The Anointed One’s body and loyal followers of Him. But look how inconsistent you are in practicing what you preach. Is this the fruit of the dove-like Spirit of The Anointed One? Are these the fruit of your faith and professed self-denial? Will the sheep of The Anointed One fight like furious beasts of prey? Your willingness to harm one another is proof positive that you need to revisit the cross and crucify your sinful tendencies with the One who died in your place. You cannot serve two masters; you must choose one or the other – the Spirit or the flesh.[12]

 American Puritan revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) in referenced what Paul says here in verse twenty-four about that which belongs to Jesus The Anointed One have crucified their sinful tendencies and corrupt affections. He points out that the Apostle John – the same Apostle that writes the account of Nicodemus’ visit with Jesus where our Lord told him that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[13] Our Lord was referring to a second and new birth, which is from a divine source and holy nature, exerting itself in a principle of divine love, which is the sum of all Christian holiness. That means loving one another as The Anointed One commanded us to do. So, by doing so, it is obvious that we dwell in Him and He in us.[14]

Furthermore, since none of us has seen God, if we love one another, we can see God in each other. Then becomes our confirmation that we live in Him and He lives in us.[15] So in a spiritual sense, this principle in us is, in a way, the Spirit of God communicating to us. In other words, that’s how God speaks to us through His Spirit.[16]

[1] Ephesians 4:22-24

[2] Hilton, Walter: The Scale of Perfection, pp. 109-110

[3] Luther, Martin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27

[5] Perkins, William: A Declaration of the True Manner of Knowing Christ Crucified, p. 630

[6] Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1

[7] Romans 8:29

[8] 1 John 3:3

[9] Perkins, William: Knowing Christ Crucified (Kindle Locations, 139-165).

[10] Titus 3:5

[11] John Owen: Of Communion with God, Part 2, Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ, Ch. 8, pp. 233-234

[12] Flavel, John: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 378-379

[13] John 3:6

[14] 1 John 3:23, 24

[15] Ibid. 4:12-13

[16] Jonathan Edwards: The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended, op. cit., Part 2, Ch. 3, Sec. 1, p. 595

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POINTS TO PONDER

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! There are hundreds of quotes about fathers and fatherhood. Many, many books have been written about and to fathers. There is story after story about fathers who exhibited virtues and characteristics of being a good father. And I’m sure there are tens of thousands of Father’s Day cards that have gone out for this occasion.

But the one book I look to is the Bible. The collective wisdom and instructions found in the Holy Book are not based on the customs of those ancient days, but on the principles that apply to fathers back then and now today.

Here are just a few:

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are an inheritance from the Lord. Think of it this way. God wants you to invest in them the same way He has invested in you.

Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who reverence Him. I don’t think the Psalmist would mind if we invert this saying to read: As the Lord shows compassion to those who reverence Him, a father should show compassion to his children so they will respect him.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it. It doesn’t mean you choose your children’s career for them. What it does imply is that you train your child to know right from wrong, good from bad, holy from evil, truth from lies, honesty from dishonesty, etc. In other words, the Biblical principles of right living.

Proverbs 23:24 The father of those who live right will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise child will be glad to see them in action. You cannot impart intelligence to a child, but you can help them learn how to use the intellect they have to succeed. Don’t expect more out of a child than they can deliver, but take what they are able to do and help them improve on it.

Luke 11:11-12 What father among you, if his child asks for a fish, instead of a fish will give them a snake, or if they ask for an egg, will give them a scorpion? Jesus chose the most disgusting items a father could give a child to make His point. The principle here is that fathers should never give a child anything to keep them quiet just because they don’t want to take time to find out what the child really wants or needs.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not aggravate your children till they become angry, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The question always seems to be, “How should I discipline my children?” One thing is for sure, abuse is not discipline. Discipline calls for balance. Children will often resist correction. But the last thing a father wants to do is make their child mad in the process.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not pick on your children, they will become discouraged. There is a big difference between pointing out a child’s need for learning and pointing out all their faults. Sadly, the phrase, “You never do anything right,” or, “You’ll never amount to anything!” is heard in too many homes. As the old saying goes, “If you keep telling a child they aren’t worth anything, don’t be surprised if they end up feeling they are worth nothing.”

Titus 2:1-15 But as for you, teach what agrees with sound doctrine. This may sound simple enough on the surface, but there’s more to it than just having a Bible study with your family. The way a person can judge whether or not a doctrine is sound is, first of all, what does the Bible say, and secondly, do you practice what you preach?

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God. If we can be proud of the fact that God loves us so much, He calls us His children, then any parent should be happy when a boy or girl boasts about being your child because of the way you love them.

There is only one perfect Father, and He is in heaven. But there is no reason we cannot emulate His virtues and characteristics. There are no two fathers alike because there are no such things as identical families. But we do have the family of God. Learn this: If you treat your wife and children at home the same way you treat your spiritual family in Church, you may find out that one will help you grow to be better in the other. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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TWO HEARTS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

Some time ago there was a story about a special little girl named Virsaviya. She was born in Russia with an extremely rare disease with her heart outside of her chest. But that’s not what makes her special. God gave this 6-year-old girl an incredible spirit and purpose that impresses everyone who meets her.

This precious girl was already blessed with a loving mom and a profound understanding that Jesus made her the way she is for a reason. But even so, only one in a million babies are born with Virsaviya’s unique medical condition, and most don’t survive. So, the brave girl was bound to feel a certain amount of loneliness in being “one of a kind.” No one could understand exactly what she was going through or what it was like to have such a special heart.

However, since God allowed her to be born this way, He wasn’t through with Virsaviya, so He gave a very special gift. She got to meet another little girl with the same disease and who is just like her! Like Virsaviya, 3-year-old Audrey is a miracle. When she was born and doctors found her heart outside of her body, they told her mother, Ashley, that there was very little chance she’d survive. Doctors at the Texas Children’s Hospital performed an incredibly delicate surgery where they implanted Audrey’s heart back inside of her body and covered it with a thin layer of skin. This procedure was not available to Virsaviya in Russia.

Though the surgery was a success, Ashley was warned that babies who survive the operation usually die three days later. But like Virsaviya, Audrey defied the odds. Her mom said, “She’s a miracle baby, she has proven everybody wrong. Watching her run, and walk and talk, I am very proud, very blessed because I see that God loves her so much.”

So, when the two girls — Audrey in Texas and Virsaviya now in Florida — learned of each other, they begged their moms to let them meet. They were friends in no time, and spent the day enjoying a picnic, playing doctor, using toy stethoscopes to listen to each other’s hearts, and finally visiting Build-A-Bear together.

Ashley says, “Audrey knows what she’s going through, and to see another child with the same condition is just amazing.” But the meeting also meant a lot to the moms. “It gives us courage that Audrey will be six years old,” says Ashley, Audrey’s mom.

What a beautiful blessing for God to bring these two special girls together! We will continue to pray for their health, and for the new friendship they’ve found in each other. Can you say, along with these Moms, we serve an awesome God!

King David asked God “Give me a chance, O LORD, and see what I’m made of; test my heart and my mind.” (Psalm 26:2) We can say that these two little girls have had their hearts tested and they’ve come out as champions. That’s why later on another Psalmist said to the LORD, “With my whole heart I look to you; don’t let me stray from your will for my life.” (Psalm 119:10)

King Solomon also knew the value of one’s heart when he said “Pay attention to your heart, that’s you source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Furthermore, he said we are to trust in the Lord with all our heart…In everything you do give Him the honor and He will see that you get to where He wants you to go.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

No wonder Jesus said “We should love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

And the Apostle Paul prayed that the peace of God, which we cannot fully understand, will be a guard at the door of our heart when we keep our minds on Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Sometimes it might be helpful if we think of our hearts on the outside so all can see what kind of person we are. God can look at it on the inside, but people don’t know what things you are keeping in your heart. Let them see the “real” you. If you get a good reaction then you can thank God for giving you such a heart. Just keep in mind, like Virsaviya and Audrey, there may be someone else with a heart just like yours. And when you meet them, you’ll know it right away! Then, rejoice in the Lord for bringing you together. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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