Galatians in 6 bite size bits – part 2 Doug Floyd The Gospel gives an all-encompassing identity in Christ.

(Galatians 1:6-2:21) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. The good news that Paul proclaims is too good to be true. God has acted to defeat evil completely in our lives and the life of our world. We are invited to enjoy the fruit of this wondrous act by simply trusting in God’s mercy and grace. Unfortunately, this news is simply too good to be true. Instead of simply trusting in God’s faithfulness to work out His salvation in their lives through the power of the Spirit, the Gentile Galatians are turning to Torah observances. From circumcision to observing certain days and months, they are entering into various Torah observances that might help their faith seem more authentic. Certain people from Jerusalem entered among the Galatians and began suggesting that Paul provided a good introduction to the gospel, but he didn’t have the whole story. Yes, Jesus’ death on the cross does prepare the way for salvation, but this great and wondrous gift is given to the Jews. The Gentiles can partake but they must enter into the Jewish covenant via circumcision and other acts of Torah observance. Paul realizes that this gospel they preach is really no gospel at all. By adding Torah observances onto the promise of Jesus, the Galatians are actually leaving behind the grace of God. The end result will be more sin, more brokenness and more fragmentation. If the gospel is to heal all nations, it must address the sources of fragmentation. The poison of sin infects every part of a person. It spreads through the whole person causing division and fragmentation at every level. All the characteristics that make each person unique will become the very places where sin will separate them from God, from other people and even from the earth. Qualities such as gender, race, intelligence, physical shape, and even name make each

person distinct from every other person. While this can be a cause for celebration, revealing the unlimited mysteries and wonders of God in each person, sin turns these particularities into causes for division. This sense of separation results in feeling of inadequacy, superiority, loneliness, isolation, shame and more. The very gift of God that makes all persons unique becomes the source for petty striving, jealousies, fighting, and even murder. As a result, humans seem doomed to break relationships, to suffer, and to cause others to suffer. As a devout Pharisee, Paul in his devotion to God, used Torah to attack Christians because they appeared to threaten the purity of Torah. In other words, in his devotion to God, Paul was opposing God. This is the nature of sin. In the midst of his crusade, the Spirit awakens Paul to the truth of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Torah and as the promised blessing of God for salvation. This encounter so totally transforms Paul, his identity is no longer Pharisee. Paul has become a slave of Jesus Christ. The Hellenistic culture surrounding Paul and the Galatians despised slaves. The slave has no power of personal choice over their lives. Paul uses the term to indicate his complete submission to the will of Jesus. He gives up his identity, his dreams, his goals, and embraces Jesus Christ. In Christ, Paul finds the healing and transforming power to touch and restore all the areas that sin had infected. In fact, these unique characteristics are so deeply touched by grace they are transformed from being a cause of division to being a cause of healing. Subjected to Christ, Paul’s training as a Pharisee becomes a gift to help him unveil the full implications of the Gospel within the law. Paul realizes that Torah was moving toward Jesus all along. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles can equally partake of the blessings promised by Torah. While his revelation came independent of the brothers in Jerusalem, Paul presents his understanding of the gospel to them. They affirm his understanding as true. Yet, when the brothers from Jerusalem visit Antioch, they fail to act on the basis on this gospel. Peter rejects table fellowship with the gentile Christians in Antioch and other Jewish Christians follow him. For Paul, this act is a direct rejection of the gospel because it reinforces the divisions caused by sin and suggests the healing between peoples has not occurred in Christ. Paul points to the new identity of Christ followers: the cross alone. All cultural distinctives, even Jewish ones such as Torah, are now submitted to the cross of Jesus. As a result, these distinctives that once were sources for division and oppression, now become places for serving one another in love: a visible outworking of cross love.

1. Paul’s identity as a Pharisee gave him a source of vision and mission. At the same time, this identity also became the driving force in Paul to oppose the work of God. Think about your own unique characteristics. List words that might describe you. Start with general terms like gender, race, nationality, birthplace. Continue developing a list that includes family traits, your personality, strengths, weaknesses, and any other words that might be used to describe you. 2. Using this list as a guide, consider ways that your unique characteristics have at times reinforced sense of inadequacy or superiority in relation to other people. Consider other ways, you can see sin infecting your personal story causing broken relationships and wounding you as well as other people. 3. Now consider how the gospel of Jesus Christ is a call to slavery. You have one identity now: the cross. The cross is a revelation of Jesus’ absolute surrender to the Father in love. In the cross, Jesus’ life and death becomes a source of salvation for all who will believe. Consider what the cross might look like in your own life as it works its way out through all your unique characteristics.