Sunday, February 10, 2013
When Paul was writing to the churches in Galatia, he didn't mince words with them. He went straight for the target and rebuked them for abandoning the gospel in favor of a works-based help-yourself salvation program. You wanna see an evangelist-apostle-church-planter ex-Pharisee flip out? Tell him Jesus' cross wasn't enough.
By the time Paul gets to chapter 5 he's all worked up, and blurts out this amazing truth and challenge in 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." It seems that the sentence should have a few explanation points at the end, with some underlines... "For freedom Christ has set us FREE; stand firm therefore, and DO NOT submit again to a yoke of slavery!!!" (maybe shouted out by William Wallace).
Think about that... Truth? Christ has set us free. Application? Don't go back to being a slave. Amen! Now let's examine the surface meaning, and then the deeper interpretation based on the context.
Surface Meaning: You're Free from SIN: Christ has died on the cross to set us free from sin. The curse is broken, the old man is crucified WITH Christ, and we are now new creations. Free from sin! So stand firm in that freedom, and don't go back to your old slavery to sin. FIGHT your sin!
Deeper Interpretation: You're Free from RELIGION: If you look at the context of Paul's letter, and the surrounding verses (chapter 4 about the freedom of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the rest of chapter 5 about the freedom from circumcision-based righteousness), it is clear that Paul is mainly talking about the freedom of salvation by FAITH apart from the LAW! Or in other words, Christ has set you free from religion, meaning a human effort work-your-way-to-heaven salvation plan that performs to earn God's favor. So stand firm in God's grace! Stand firm and don't go BACK to the endless performance-treadmill slavery of religion. FIGHT to remember the gospel!
Pay attention, because this distinction is tricky, but VITALLY important: The fight to live in the freedom from religion comes before the fight to live in the freedom from sin. Do you see the order? Read it again if you have to. Because this distinction makes a WORLD of difference for how we live our lives. What might it look like? Maybe it looks like singing worship songs in joy and faith right after a failure as you are amazed at the GRACE of God in the gospel, instead of groveling before God and putting yourself on probation for a few days as you sulk in guilt, promising God you'll fight harder next time.
So yes, keep fighting your sin. But even deeper, and more primary is the fight to remember and believe the gospel! That is the relentless fight. Fight to remember the gospel, and once you do, you will have the strength, joy, and reason for fighting your sin. Your forgiven sin. The very sin that you are now free from because of the gospel.
The Relentless Fight