Galatians 3: 1-5

GALATIANS 3: 1-5

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

 

Before starting this passage in Galatians 3, take a quick look at how Paul ended chapter 2.

Galatians 2: 20-21 >>>  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

And now take a look at the opening of Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:1 >>> You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

The crucifixion of Jesus is central here.  As followers of Jesus, we share in the death of Jesus.  Forgiveness of sins did not come cheaply for Jesus, and neither can we cheaply accept it.

Paul wants his reader to understand the magnitude and visibility of what Christ went through.  When Jesus offered himself up to be nailed to the cross on our behalf, the effects were far reaching.  Only through death could the payment for our sins be fully satisfied.  Only through the blood of Jesus could our lives truly be changed.  We are foolish to think our human effort will accomplish what Christ’s death did for us.

Both salvation and sanctification — the process of growing to be more like Christ — are a work of the Spirit.  And the way for both was opened through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Look at Paul’s rhetorical questions to make his point in this passage, and circle all the places where Paul talks about the Spirit.

Galatians 3: 2-3, 5 >>>  Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? … So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

 

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

Do you need to stop trying so hard?  When you start to worry that you don’t measure up, or you’ve done something (or too many things) wrong, remind yourself of this truth:

God is WITH YOU and WORKING IN YOU not because of anything you do or don’t do, but because he has promised!

God’s presence and activity in your life depend on him, and not on you!

In which of the following areas of your life do you struggle with feeling like you’re not enough?  Check any that apply, or write your own in the space provided.

__ Job/career

__ Finances

__ Friendships

__ Family

__ Dating/Marriage

__ Parenting

__ Body image

__ Social media

__ Possessions

__ Other 

 

What would it look like to walk in the truth that you don’t have to strive to be good enough in these areas — God is with you anyway?

 
What are 3 ways you can remind yourself this week of the truth that your worth and God’s work in you are dependent on the Spirit, and not in how well you perform?

Advertisements

Galatians 2:11-21

GALATIANS 2:11-21

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

 

As the early church was learning to integrate Jews and Gentiles into one new multi-ethnic family of God, one of the problem areas was sharing meals.  One of the distinctives of what it meant to be Jewish, much like the mark of circumcision, was a strict dietary code.  To Jews, sharing a meal with a non-Jew was viewed as potentially problematic because in doing so they could compromise their own dietary laws.  This is why, out of Peter’s fear of judgment from other Jews, he compromised the truth of the gospel when he went back to living under the law by refusing to share a meal with Gentiles.  Peter’s compromise then led others astray, so Paul confronts Peter in front of the the group.  Paul wants Peter and all of those refusing to share life around the table with their new Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ to repent.  In this instance, Peter’s influence led people in the wrong direction as he folded under peer pressure.

Paul continues to emphasize what it takes to be justified before God.

Galatians 2:16 >>>  [We] know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases. Circle all the times when “justified” and “faith” appear in the passage

To be justified is to be declared righteous before God.  It means we are put into right standing and right relationship with God.  Paul clearly emphasizes that no amount of following the law will fix us or bring us into right standing before God.  Only faith in Jesus Christ can do that.

However, if our works can’t save us, does that mean we can do whatever we want?  Paul answers that question next.

Galatians 2:17-19 >>> 17 But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.  19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.

Justification by faith does not mean we just don’t worry about the law and keep sinning.  Christ’s death fulfilled the law.  If anything, Christ’s life on earth gives us a perfect model of how to live and love the way God intended.  Christ simply freed us from having to rely on the law in order to earn God’s approval.  If we still want to hold up the law as essential to earn our righteousness, all we will end up proving in the end is that we can’t live up to those standards.  Christ presents us a new option: we can say goodbye to our old way of life and learn a new way of life in him!

Galatians 2:20 >>> I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We have died to our old way of life and have been invited to live under a new law — the law of a Savior who loves us so much he would give his life for ours.

 

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

In this passage, Peter’s influence led others astray and needed to be called out.

Where do I have influence?  Where is my influence leading people?

 

Faith is trust in what we have reason to believe is true.  It’s taking what we believe and then living as if it’s really true.  Faith in something should show up in our actions.  Our faith is not in the law.  We don’t need to act as if we are dependent on the law.  The law isn’t bad — it’s just not what determines our worth or our salvation.  We live out the truth that Christ has already completed our work of salvation.

Is there an area of your life where you feel anxiety over not being good enough?  What would it look like to claim and live out the truth that Christ has already declared you loved and redeemed in that area of your life?

 

We have been crucified with Christ and our old habits and harmful patters have been put to death — but sometimes we live as if they still run our lives.  Sin no longer has any hold on us except what we choose to give it.

Is there an area of your life God might be asking you to continue putting to death?

 

 

 

Galatians 2: 1-10

GALATIANS 2: 1-10

1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

One question the early church had to address was how to integrate Jews and Gentiles into one multi-ethnic family of God.  (“Gentile” simply refers to anyone who is not Jewish.)  For thousands of years the Jews had been following the Torah, or the laws of the Old Testament.  The question they faced was how these new Gentile believers would relate to the Torah.  For example, one of the laws of the Old Testament that was a point of tension was circumcision, and in Galatia some Jewish Christians were teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised.  Paul argues in Galatians 2:3 that not even Titus, a non-Jewish believer, was compelled to be circumcised.  Read Acts 15: 1-21 to see more about how this discussion went.

Acts 15: 7-11, 19 >>> 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” …  19 [James spoke up] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

Peter and James, both present at the discussion in Acts 15, were two of the most important leaders in the early church.  However, three times in this passage in Galatians Paul calls out “those who seemed to be leaders” (2:2), “those who seemed to be important” (2:6), and “those reputed to be pillars” (2:9).  While acknowledging the position these leaders have, Paul cautions that position and appearance are not the most important — the truth of the gospel is the most important!

Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases.  Go back and look for repeated phrases like the one above about those in positions in leadership.  (Hint:  There are several references about Paul’s mission to share the Gospel with the Gentiles.)

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

Look for the four times in this passage that Paul mentions his mission to share the gospel with the Gentiles.  Paul’s purpose and mission are connected to his passion that nothing be added to the gospel.  He is adamant that no extra burden get in the way of Gentiles accepting Christ Jesus.  Paul is willing to fight in order that nothing gets added to the purity of the gospel.  When purpose, mission, and passion align like it did for Paul, it creates a powerful force!

What is something you are passionate about and willing to stand up and defend?

How does your passion point to a mission or responsibility that God has entrusted to you?

 

Paul was willing to stand up to other leaders because he believed so strongly in the gospel and knew the mission God had called him to.

Are you more concerned with position and appearance or with the truth of the gospel?

Is there anyone you’re trying to impress right now that results in you compromising how you live out the gospel?

 

 

Galatians 2_5

Galatians 1:13-24

GALATIANS 1:13-24

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

 

In writing this letter to the Galatians, Paul is trying to counter the false teaching of those who came after him and preached a different gospel.  Let’s take a look at what Paul has said already about the origin of the gospel he shared with the Galatians:

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The true gospel is the gospel that comes from God and not from human origins.  Paul is concerned the Galatians have been deceived by a false, human-made gospel.  He’s writing to persuade the Galatians to return to the true gospel that is revealed from God.

Paul continues on to share the story of how his own life was radically transformed by the true gospel.  He continues developing the idea that the gospel he preaches is revelation from God alone, and not something he learned from another human:

15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

Paul was not dependent on anyone else to learn and grow in his faith.  He didn’t have the faith someone else handed to him.  He didn’t wait around for someone to tell him what he should believe.  He had a life-changing encounter with Jesus, and then he devoted himself to searching and studying the Scriptures to learn more!

 

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

Go back to Galatians 1:11-12 and 1:15-16 and look for the words “revelation” and “reveal” in how the gospel came to Paul.  Look how the gospel is similarly talked about in Romans:

Romans 1:16 >>> For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Receiving the gospel is categorically different than learning a history lesson.  As the gospel acts on your life, it comes with the power of God to bring about life  change!  It’s not something to be learned; it’s something to be received and responded to.

How did you first receive the gospel?  Can you relate to the idea that the gospel is supernatural and not just another idea man came up with?

 

Read Acts 9:1-31.  When Paul received the gospel, he spent some time away studying.  He wanted to be sure the gospel he believed and the gospel he preached were not influenced or led astray from another human, but purely the revelation of the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Is there anything you believe that might be from a human source in regards to the gospel?

What would it look like for you take time to get to know God better for yourself instead of relying on what someone else has told you about God?Have you come to know God yourself

Galatians 1:10-12

GALATIANS 1:10-12

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

We can’t serve Jesus freely and fully if we are preoccupied with people pleasing.  Paul declares that he is free from needing to earn the approval of others.  He knows his worth is already secure in Christ.  It’s not something he needs to earn—from God or from others.  Read verse 10 again:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

If we put our worth up for grabs, and think that we have to earn the approval of others in order for them to confer worth on us, we get sucked into a vicious cycle of people pleasing.

When we realize our worth is not not on the table, it frees us up.  All the energy we expend worrying about what others think and working to impress them can now be redirected.  Instead of being compelled by people pleasing, read what Paul exhorts us to do instead:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 >>> For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Now let’s take a closer look at verse 11:

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.

The gospel is not something humanity would ever come up with on our own!  Every other religion teaches how we can save ourselves.  Only the gospel recognizes the root problem of sin and that we can’t save ourselves.  We need a Savior!

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

On a scale of 1-10, how much of a grip does people pleasing have on your life?

 

People Pleasing Scale

What is the danger of people pleasing?  In what area of your life are you most tempted to give in to earning the approval of others?

People pleasing is all about motivation.  You might struggle with people pleasing, or there might be another motive you struggle with.  As followers of Jesus, we’re called to be motivated by the love of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14 >>>  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 

What is one specific situation you want to be more motivated by the love of Christ?  

 

Galatians 1 10

Galatians 1:6-9

GALATIANS 1:6-9

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases.  Go back and look for all the times “gospel” appears in this passage.

Paul is defending the true gospel — the good news that salvation by grace alone and by Christ alone is available for all.  Other teachers have come to Galatia and added works to the gospel, and Paul is furious!

Look at the following verses about the good news that salvation is for all people.

Luke 2:10-11 >>>  But the angel said to [the shepherd], “Do not be afraid.  I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Galatians 3:8 >>> The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced THE GOSPEL in advance to Abraham:  “ALL NATIONS will be blessed through you.”

The Gospel is the good news that all peoples of the earth might be saved by the grace of God by placing their faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

We can’t earn it.
We don’t deserve it.
We simply have to receive it.

Here’s a few questions to think about:

The gospel is all about GRACE.  Paul is furious that others are trying to add to the requirements of how we can be reconciled to God.

Is there any area of your life where you are living to earn God’s approval instead of living by grace?

You already have God’s approval.  How would it feel to live in a state of grace instead of a race for approval?

The gospel is for ALL THE PEOPLE and ALL THE NATIONS.

Is there anyone you’ve given up on, thinking they’re outside the reach of God’s grace?  

How can you extend grace to all people you come in contact with today?

 

We can't earn it