Monthly Archives: February 2011

Galatians 3:15-29 – Idols; February 16, 2011

Galatians 3:15-29 – Idols

 

Here again in our discussion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians we are going to try and get to the heart of what Paul is trying to communicate to the Church.  In this passage, Paul is showing the Galatians how following the Law was never meant to bring anyone to salvation but was instead to point those under the Law to Christ.  In essence Paul was warning the Galatians not to make the Law their “god” even though they were also “worshipping” Christ by trying to save themselves through the Law.  Paul is trying to show the Galatians that Christ is the only way that we might be saved.  As we talked about last time, it does not matter how “good” something is, if we are not following and pursuing Christ as our salvation we are lost.

 

As we talked about last time, most of us are most likely not walking around believing that we are going to save ourselves by obeying the letter of the Law of Moses.  Most of us believe we are saved because we go to church every now and then, we don’t kill anyone, and we are basically “good” people.  At the risk of sounding redundant, check out last week’s post for more on that topic.  What I want to get at in this discussion is more in regards to our misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him.  Most people believe that Jesus doesn’t care anything about what you do, He simply showers down love on everyone like Tinkerbell sprinkling pixie dust.  And all we have to do is accept that love and believe things about that love and then we are saved.  The problem with that is actually the Bible.

 

Don’t worry though, people at every stage in the history of mankind have misunderstood what Jesus was about.  The Jews believed Him to be a political leader who would reestablish Israel as a world power and free them from Roman rule.  Muslims believed Him to be a good prophet who encouraged others to live moral lives in order to earn their way to heaven.  Hindus and Buddhists believe Him to be a moral teacher whose message encourages us to seek enlightenment by loving our fellow man and giving up the desires of the flesh.  Catholics tend to believe Him to be a gateway by which they can earn their way to Heaven.  Jehovah’s Witnesses believe him to be a means of attaining the status of a god. Mormon’s believe Him to be His own separate god who taught us how to live so that our works could save us.  On and on we could go.  The bottom line is that mankind when looking to his own understanding cannot grasp who Christ is and what it means to truly follow Him.

 

Most of us have at some point in our lives made up our own version of who Christ is.  Often we don’t mean to “create” our own version, but we’ve trusted so long in our own understanding that we automatically create one by default.  Many people who confess to be Christians, do not read the Bible or try and understand it.  Many who do read it occasionally or regularly give their own interpretations of Scripture, changing things that are said or adding to what is being said.  All of them have created their own image of who Christ is.  The ones who do not read the Bible cannot have a clear picture of who He really is, so they’ve made one up for themselves.  The ones who do read the Bible but give it their own unique interpretation take what they read and mold it into a shape that better suites them and their lifestyle.  All of these, according to Scripture, are idols created by man out of the sinfulness of his heart.  All of us at some point in our lives have worshipped (or are currently worshipping) an idol that we have named “Jesus.”

 

Unfortunately for many people professing to be “Christians,” we do not get to define who Christ is or what it means to follow Him.  He does.  So if you believe that you can be a true follower of Christ without reading the Bible and surrendering to its authority, you are wrong.  If you think that somehow you, in your infinite wisdom, have the right to change or twist Christ’s definition of Himself and what it means to follow Him, you are wrong.  Most of us, and historically mankind as a whole, don’t want the Jesus that we find in Scripture.  Jesus calls us to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), lose our lives (Matthew 10:39), love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), just to name a few.  All of these things are unpopular and counter-cultural and go against our sinful hearts and desires for ourselves.  Instead of pursuing and following these commands we would rather disregard them and follow the Jesus who said these statements: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14), “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7).  So often these statements are taken out of context (meaning they are misused to mean something different) and abused, but people use them to turn Jesus into some heavenly slot machine who only exists to make us happy and comfortable.

 

Paul in his letter to the Galatians is constantly going to draw us back to the true Christ and the true Gospel.  Our challenge then is to change with way we view the Word of God and allow our hearts to be changed.  We allow the Scriptures to read us and where we have fallen short.  For as we allow the Holy Spirit to help us understand the Scriptures, we will come to realize how often we fall short of holiness and how desperately we need a savior.  The Gospel will always call us to repentance as long as we are in this broken and imperfect world.  Allow the Spirit to convict you of sin.  Perhaps you are worshipping an idol that you call “Jesus.”  Maybe you’ve allowed your pursuit of Him to falter and you’ve decided to start pursuing things for yourself.  It is my prayer that the Spirit would draw us to the truth.  That is the journey I am on.  I know nothing, I am nothing.  Love y’all more than you know.  Grace and peace,

 

JOT

 

Galatians 3:10-14 – Pursuing Holiness; February 9, 2011

Galatians 3:10-14 – Pursuing Holiness

 

In this weeks discussion we are going to look at what is truly at the heart of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and ultimately what is one of the biggest struggles in the Christian faith.  Paul in this short passage points us back to Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, without which we have no salvation and no hope for being saved.  The law or doing good things cannot bring true salvation or reconciliation with God.  Most of us in our daily walk struggle with this seemingly simple distinction, and in it we find a very costly pitfall.  That pitfall is when we pursue or accept things that are “good” but not holy.  Paul of course in this context uses the Law as a “good” thing that people pursue in order to be saved or find right standing with God.  The Law is indeed good, but its purpose was never to bring salvation.  The purpose of the Law was to point us to how sinful we are and to Christ’s power to save.  Although the Law is good, if we make it the soul focus of our walk, if we simply try to just be a good person, love people, and don’t kill anyone, we will never reach salvation or right relationship with God.  Holiness is not attained by us just trying hard enough or following a set of rules.  It is attained by our daily surrender to God and His will for us, allowing Him to work in us.

 

Let’s try and bring this more into a modern context.  Most of you, I’d imagine, don’t walk around with a list of good things to do and bad things not to do.  Most modern Christian’s believe the Law of Moses to be dead and unnecessary to begin with, so I’m guessing most of your aren’t trying to be good little Jewish boys and girls in hopes that it might save you.  My guess is that most of you believe that as long as you don’t kill anyone, steal anything really big, sleep around, do drugs, get drunk, and don’t see too many rated R movies that you should be able to get to Heaven.  Most of you at some point in your lives probably walked an isle at a church, disciple now weekend or church camp, said a prayer and now all you have to do is live a “good” life and God will let you into Heaven.  So you spend your life pursuing things that you have deemed “good” and avoiding the things that are “bad.”  To be honest, that’s exactly where I found myself three years ago.  Most Christians who have truly walked with the Lord and listened to His call for them to be holy have been there.  What we need to realize is that God is not calling us to be “good,” He’s calling us to be HOLY.

 

Being holy is uncomfortable for the modern, American Christian.  If we truly decide to take up the call of being a disciple of Christ or a Christian, we may be called to give up things that we have decided are “good” things. God may call you to give up television, Facebook, a certain group of friends or a friend.  He may call you to save yourself from dating until your life is fully surrendered to Him.  He may ask you to give up the rights you think you have and start respecting your parents, teachers, or boss.  He might even ask you to give up the music that you listen to, the movies that you watch or the books that you read.  This is the picture of pursuing holiness instead of just “good” things.  Two years ago God called me to give up watching TV after work and listening to certain types of music so that I could focus more on Him and His Word.  God was changing me in that.  He was wooing me, drawing me to Himself, to be more like Him.  I wasn’t watching “bad” shows or listening to “bad” music.  I was very careful in what I chose to watch and listen to, but God was calling me to holiness, not just being “good.”  Being holy is going to look different for each person.  Some of you will be called to give up forms of entertainment like I was, some of you will be asked to give up material things, some of you will be asked to give up fears and anxieties like how people look at you.  Being holy is not easy, and it takes a sensitivity and strength to really hear from God on what you need to give up in order to follow Him.  I pray that you would seek Him out.  And if you get confused, I pray that you will seek out someone who can help you, someone who is pursuing holiness.  Sometimes it’s hard to find those people, but I promise you they are out there.  And as I’ve said before, please feel free to ask any questions of me.  I don’t have all the answers and I am by no means holier than anyone else.  But I am allowing the Lord to work in me.  I am seeking everyday to die to myself and what I believe to be good so that God can create holiness in me.  I would love to walk with you.  I love y’all more than you know.  Grace and peace,

 

JOT