Today I commence my studies in the book of Galatians. As a brief overview of this amazing letter from the Apostle Paul to the church if the Galatians, it is worthwhile just noting what Paul wrote in his first few introductory words.
These few verses really tell a story and set the tone for the rest of Paul’s letter. And it is not a good story as far as the church of the Galatians is concerned.
So let’s just examine his opening words and see where Paul is coming from and what he intends to speak about to the Galatians.
The first thing to note in these verses that open Paul’s letter is the issue of sin, especially in regard to what Jesus did in his death
Jesus set us free from sin. He died so that we could be set free from sin and so that sin would be taken away from us. Paul points this out in verses 3 to 5 which say:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Look at what these words are telling us.
Grace has come to us, along with peace, and it is being given as a gift from God the Father who is above all, over all and the greatest of all, greater even than Jesus Himself. God is pleased to give us His grace, as too does Jesus Christ, so that we may be reconciled to them both and have our sins taken away.
Reading on we see that this work of Jesus was to give Himself up for our sins, which He did at Calvary. He died so that we may live, the perfect sacrifice for the imperfect world.
And we note even more than this because in Jesus sacrifice He delivered us from this evil age we live in. How did He do this? Again, through His death and the faith that we hold in Him with the grace of God, we have stepped out of the kingdom of this world and into the kingdom of God. We do not yet see the kingdom of God because it is a spiritual kingdom, but in Jesus Christ we have already entered into it and are being transformed into His image by the Holy Spirit.
But the Galatians failed to recognise this.
Freedom From Bondage
The Galatians fell into the trap and stumbled in the same way that many Christians today have stumbled. They began their walk in Christ based on the teachings of the Gospel of salvation, and then wandered back into bondage to the law, and as a consequence the bondage to sin.
The Galatians were hoodwinked into believing that the only way to God was through works of the law and so they were deserting the faith and mushing together the teachings of the Old Covenant law, trying to keep the law, while also trying to follow the teachings of the New Covenant freedom from bondage to the law and to sin that comes only by faith in Jesus Christ, not by works of the law.
This is the same trap many Christians and churches find themselves in today. They are told you MUST keep the law (e.g. keep the Ten Commandments, tithe, worship on the Sabbath, etc.), and then they throw in the teachings that the are set free from sin and set free from the law by faith in Jesus Christ and by the grace of God.
How is it possible to be under law and set free from it at the same time? How is it possible to be a sinner and be set free from sin at the same time?
These sorts of teachings are not truth. They are impossible to uphold because they are diametrically opposed to each other.
And that is the message of this letter from Paul to the Galatians. The whole of this letter is about how they have abandoned freedom in Jesus Christ in order to go back under the law, and Paul is both astonished and heart-broken by their lack of understanding.
Let me make this perfectly clear.
You CANNOT be a sinner and set free from sin at the same time.
You CANNOT be under the law and set free from the law at the same time. Now read these last two sentences again.
Can you be in two places at once? No! Then ask yourself how you can be in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world at the same time. You have to be in either one place or the other…not both.
And indeed to try and be in both at the same time means you are really in neither because the ministry of one is different to the ministry of the other. And if you are not in either, where exactly are you? Lost?
This is the message of Paul to the Galatians, so stay tuned as we go through this important and amazing book and you will see what Paul was trying to get the Galatians to understand. It may surprise you.
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The Great Commission Part 3
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Are You A Sinner
The Truth Will Make You Free
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Why Jesus Died
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Keeping The Law Of Moses
A Letter To The Church
It Is Not The Hearers Of The Law Who Are Righteous
Christians And The Law
Why You Are Freed From Law
The Reign Of Grace
You Are Not A Sinner
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The Law Ends At Death
How Freedom From Law Works
Mystery Of The New Covenant