SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (October 26, 2013)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love”Galatians 5:1-6.
“FOR IN Christ JESUS NETHER CIRCUMCISION OR UNCIRCUMCISION HAS ANY VALUE. THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS IS FAITH EXPRESSING ITSELF IN LOVE”Galatians 5:6 (NIV).
Paul started Galatians chapter five emphasizing the point he has been making throughout the epistle that salvation is by grace through faith alone. Here in verse one, he mentioned the fact that Christ has set us free (from the bondage of sin, Satan, the Law and death) and for that matter we should see ourselves as people who have been given freedom in Christ. He warned the believers not to allow themselves to be taken back into slavery. By this, Paul meant that going back to the law as the means of salvation was a form of slavery for the believers and warned them not to do so. He was very passionate about this because the law imposed many ‘dos’ and don’ts’ on the people and kept them in bondage until Christ came. He therefore warned them not to jeopardize their freedom by going back to the law.
This is still relevant to us today. Many of us lived in lifestyles which made it difficult for us to get close to God. We were separated from God because of the burden of sins and the curse which was laid upon us. You and I know where we are coming from and where Christ has brought us. It will therefore be unwise, if not foolish, for us to go back to the sins from which Christ has saved us. This is also an indication that even though Christ has bought us with his precious blood and saved us from the bondage of sin, Satan, law and death, we have the choice to remain in this freedom or not.
But which of us reading this will love to go back into prison after being set free? I believe that only those who are not led by the Spirit of God will like to go back into sin after being set free. However, a better understanding of spiritual warfare will help us to know that we are all vulnerable if we allow Satan to deceive us into believing his lies. He will take us back into his bondage if we so allow him. We should therefore be aware of this and stand firm in this era of false teachings and deception in order not to be taken into bondage again.
Paul continued to warn strongly against those who were beginning to believe that their salvation depended on circumcision and were prepared to be circumcised. He warned that allowing themselves to be circumcised as the means of salvation would imply that Christ was of no value to them. How sad it will be to make the one who came to suffer and die to save you of no avail to you? Won’t it be more painful to do this to Christ than those who crucified him? Won’t you be telling Christ he had been so stupid for coming to die because his death meant nothing to you?
Beloved, this is something we all need to think about every day. What are the things we do to show that Christ is of no value to us? Anytime we sin, and remain in it is another way of saying that Christ is of no value to us. This is because he came to die to save us from sin but we have chosen to remain in sin. Is it not the same as telling Christ “I did not ask you to come and die for me because I did not tell you I don’t like my sins”?
Beloved in Christ, Paul was talking about circumcision as part of the law not because circumcision is bad in itself, never. There is nothing wrong with circumcision. What is wrong is coming to the point of believing that our salvation depends on it. This is an act of self-righteousness. It means our salvation does not depend on the finished work of Christ but in our own works.
This is spitting on the face of Jesus Christ. We should therefore not allow ourselves into believing in any teachings which emphasize on our works as the means of salvation, for we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. We are not saved by our works. Our prayer, Bible reading, payment of tithe, offerings, baptism, Sabbath observations, circumcision among others are all good but cannot save us. Only Christ has the power to rescue us from death, Satan and sin. Paul says that if we try to be justified through our works, we have fallen away from God’s grace. Do you want to fall away from the grace which has kept you till now?
The Apostle Paul does not leave us hanging in the air by telling us not to believe in justification through our works as if the law was bad. He stresses that circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing in Christ. What is more important is the expression of our faith through love.
He meant that those who practice circumcision could continue and those who did not practice it could remain uncircumcised because they meant nothing as far as salvation is concerned; what matters most is the expression of faith through love. Unfortunately, Christians spend so much time arguing about trivial issues which do not have eternal significance. In many cases we have allowed such issues to lead us into committing the sin of division and hatred. This is something we ought to take a second look at as believers. What issues do we spent time and energy on? Do they help us to express our faith in love? If not, we should regard them as elementary issues and move on in unity and love as one children of God.
The most important thing for all Christians to do is to express our faith through love. We are to show our love to God and His son by our obedience to His word. Jesus said that those who love him should show him their love by obedience to his commandment (John 14:15). The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is the love for the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and strengths and to also love our neighbors as ourselves (paraphrased).
How much love you have for God is determined by how much obedience you are to his word. How much love do you show to people who are in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How about those who are in need of physical, financial, emotional or psychological help? Are you really expressing your faith through love? May the Lord help us all!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.