"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and give Himself for me" (Gal. 2;20).
On the first tour of evangelism, Paul and Barnabas came into the regions of Galatia. The people were quick to receive the truth, but fickle in their emotions. The sixth chapter of the book of Galatians reflects the nature of the brethren there and the problems they faced due to the Judaizing teachers. This section of the New Testament contains clear-cut logic and dramatic wording calculated to get the attention of these Galatians and stamp out error that plagued the church. There is a lot of intensity in the dynamics of this epistle that tends to keep our attention riveted to its pages.
In this memorable letter, we learn that the Law of Moses had been replaced by the message of Christianity, the gospel, and that Paul's true apostleship overwhelmed the claims of the false teachers who tried to undermine his great work. Those who "claimed to be somewhat" (Gal. 2:6) could not withstand the certified gospel, nor could they deter the peerless apostle to the Gentiles. Paul gloried in the cross (Gal. 6:14) and challenged opponents of Christianity to disprove the message he preached (Gal. 2:21). Let us look at the entire letter to the Galatians.
Chapter One: -- In the first chapter of this book, we learn that neither angels from heaven nor the apostles on earth had the authority or right to change the certified message of glad tidings which Jesus had commissioned (Mk. 16:15,16; Acts 1:8). Striving to please men did not enter Paul's concept as an "ambassador for Christ" (Gal. 1:10; 2 Cor. 5:20). He was now preaching the system of faith, the gospel of God's beloved Son, which he had previously tried to destroy (Gal. 1:23). Though he had once persecuted the church of the Lord zealously, the very message he hated contained power enough to convert him and make him a Christian (Gal. 1:13,14). The good news of redemption is verily the dynamite of heaven (Rom. 1;16), capable of changing its opponents! The "one gospel" of Gal. 1 reminds us of several salient passages:
2 Cor. 4:3 -- We must not hide it
lest men be lost.
1 Cor. 9:16 -- Woe is us if we do not preach it.
1 Tim. 1:11 -- It is the glorious gospel of Christ.
1 Thes. 2:4 -- We are entrusted with this message.
Acts 20:24 -- It is the gospel of God's grace.
2 Thes. 2:14 -- Men are called by that gospel.
2 Thes. 1:9 -- Our eternal destiny is involved.
Chapter Two: -- In this chapter we learn that Paul became an apostle, not bey the plans of men, but the power of Christ. Not only did the other apostles have nothing to do with his apostleship, he rebuked one of their leaders who was to be blamed for an act of hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14). From that passage, we learn several pertinent points:
1. We should rebuke puplic error
2. Peter was not infallible on faith and morals.
3. His influence had an adverse effect on Barnabas and others.
4. Genuine love corrects those in error.
Later, in 2 Pet. 3, Peter refers to Paul as "a beloved brother." In Gal. 2;16, we read: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law; but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law; because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." This is a great commentary on Rom. 117 and the phrase, "from faith to faith." Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul meshes these two verses to teach us the following exciting point. Since the gospel of Christ is a system of faith -- that is, based on faith -- it causes us to want to believe. Since it is predicated upon faith we desire to believe it! No wonder, then, that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). We just naturally ought to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
By far, though, the beauty spot of Galatians is Gal. 2:20, where Paul makes it clear that the crucified Savior is the heart and core of his sojourn upon the earth. Christ living in me was the theme-song of that wonderful Christian's life. So should our emphasis be!
Chapter Three: -- This chapter shows that the life which is centered in Christ demands the best of us:
1. Christians seek the things above.
2. They set their affections on heavenly matters.
3. They cease living for worldly pursuits.
4. They do all to the glory of God.
5. They submit to the authority of Christ.
6. They do not desire worldly popularity.
7. They fill their lives with spiritual beauty.
In view of the certified gospel (Gal. 1) and the crucified life (Gal. 2), it is easy to see that the 3rd chapter of Galatians speaks of the coveted relationship. From Gen. 22:18 onward all Jews desired to be Abraham's seed. But by the first century A.D., they had perverted this promise. They boldly bound the law of Moses, begun at Sinai, upon the Gentiles. But the discussion of Acts 15 dealt with this, and made it clear that all men stood on level ground at the foot of the Cross. In Acts 10:34,35 and Rom. 10:12, we are clearly taught, "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek." Truly, anyone in any nation that obeys the Lord and works righteousness is acceptable to heaven. In the brilliant finish of Gal. 3, we learn these salient points:
1. Through faith we become children
of God (v. 26).
2. Baptism "clothes" us with Jesus Christ (v. 27).
3. There is no respect of persons in the Lord (v. 28).
4. If we are Christ's, we are Abraham's seed (v. 29).
5. This makes us heirs of God (v. 29).
Christ, not the nation of Israel, was the Seed of Abraham: "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). This clear statement forever ruined the prejudicial view of Judaism and made access to God both personal and individual. Fellowship and acceptance with God was no longer inherited by physical birth, but by the new birth (Jno. 3:1-5). One of the best Bible arguments on this distinction between the Old and New Covenants is Heb. 8:6-13. The inspired writing of Paul in Gal. 3 was devastating material that crushed Judaism.
Chapter Four: -- In chapter four, we have perhaps the grandest of all Bible allegories: two mountains, two women, two sons and two covenants dominate this terrific section of Scripture. This section is similar to Rom. 9-11 in its depth and purpose. Many of the Jews misunderstood the purpose of Abraham. It was not enough to be tied to that notable patriarch only in the flesh. Abraham not only was attached to Sarah and Isaac, but also to Hagar and Ishmael. The former arrangement was a spiritual matter that had to do with "the seed" that would result in a Savior. However, the second arrangement dealt with physical things that resulted in Hagar and Ishmael being cast out as slaves rather than as heirs.
Paul was not their enemy for telling them the truth (Gal. 4:16), because the fulness of time that caused God to send His Son (Gal. 4:4) had now come, and Judaism had been superseded and replaced by the more excellent glory of the New Testament (2 Cor. 3:6- 16). The law gave through Moses (Gal. 3:19) could not compare to the covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:20). Moses' law did its work in checking sin until the system of faith -- authored by Jesus Christ -- arrived (Gal. 3:24), but under the gospel of Jesus Christ, both Jew and Gentile must answer today.
Chapter Five: -- As the eloquent and piercing fifth chapter of Galatians opens, we see the buoyant liberty which Christianity brings. It must not be used as an excuse for sin (Gal. 5:13), but it does make us free indeed (Jno. 8:36). Yes, free to do the will of the Lord Jesus as we crucify our own desires and take up our cross to follow the Redeemer. In this notable section, we have a vivid contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:15-24). There is to be a vast chasm between the camp of the saints and the den of iniquity. We cannot allow sin in our lives and the devil's dainties to be our provisions. We must take a stand for purity, integrity and righteousness as we live soberly and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12).
Led by the Spirit's instruction in Scripture, we put off the old man of sin and become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). As we "perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord" (2 Cor. 7:1), we disdain the beggarly elements of the world and strive daily to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18). We will not "bite and devour one another" (Gal. 5:15), but will cherish forever our relationship as members of the body of Christ. In fact, at least half of the "works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19-21) deal with attitudes and thoughts within our hearts that must be corrected if purity would prevail.
In Gal. 5:11, we read of "the offense of the cross." To some in Corinth, nothing was as distasteful as the preaching of the crucified Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 1:18-24). To be honest, Christ was a "rock of offense and a stone of stumbling" to many in the Roman Empire (Rom. 9:33). Why was Jesus "despised and rejected of men" (Isa. 53:3)? The Master offended the Pharisees by His blunt rebuke of their traditions (Matt. 15:7-12). His absolute authority (Matt. 28:18) caused a sword of separation, even within families (Matt. 10;32). When Christ comes on the stage of life, the human scene must give attention to His claims. One just cannot remain neutral in regard to the Man of Nazareth. Jesus plainly reminds us that men are either "for" Him or they are "against" Him (Matt. 12:30).
We should love the cross of Christ Jesus, our Friend, went to Golgotha because of our sins (Gal. 1:4) and bore our iniquities there (1 Pet. 2:24). To too many people, the shadow of the cross is offensive, but sincere Christians are like Paul: "Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).
By Johnny Ramsey in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 54, No. 8, Feb. 25, 2005.
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /