Summary: In Galatians 4:12-20, God shows: 1) The Godly Example. 2) The Godly Focus. 3) The Deadly Distraction. & 4) The Godly Objective
Dr. Yoel Abells in his article this week, Avoiding the failure trap of New Year’s resolutions wrote this: (A New Year) is an opportunity to reflect on days past and to consider the future. Typically at this time, each of us makes resolutions --commitments to change something (or multiple things) about ourselves. Unfortunately, just as typically, our resolve lasts for a few days and then -- once again -- we find that we are linked to patterns we swore we would abandon.
Why is it that we tend to forgo these resolutions so easily? Dr. Abells noted that he suspects the answer lies in the incongruence between our intent and the realities that impose themselves upon us. The new year marks a new beginning, buttressed by new hopes and renewed energy. We feel compelled to make radical changes and probably lose a bit of perspective, forgetting (albeit briefly) the parameters that govern our lives and the demands that compete for our attention. Once reality sets in, we can become easily discouraged. (http://www.nationalpost.com/arts/story.html?id=1130610)
In Galatians 4 it is easy to see such bewilderment and discouragement from the Apostle Paul. The Galatians has started so strong in the things of the faith. The reality of external pressures from the Judaizers occurs, and they so quickly abandon the godly resolve they once had. They backslide into old habits.
Paul has scalded them for their folly; he has explained patiently the difference between law and faith; he has shown them the panorama of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ; he has stirred up memories of former times, when they had embraced the true gospel. Now he makes an impassioned personal appeal (Edgar H. Andrews. Free in Christ: The Message of Galatians. Evangelical Press. 1996. p. 222).
Last week we looked at leaving behind the old unproductive ways and embracing helpful spiritual disciplines. This week we look at the essentials of the how this can be done. How can we become what God wants of us in 2009? How can 2009 be a productive, fruitful year for you? It won’t just happen. It needs a particular direction and objective. Without this, we will be adrift from distraction, interruption and business.
In Galatians 4:12-20, God shows: 1) The Godly Example. Galatians 4:12a. 2) The Godly Focus. Galatians 4:12-16 3) The Deadly Distraction. Galatians 4:17-18 and finally: 4) The Godly Objective: Galatians 4:19-20
1) The Godly Example. Galatians 4:12a.
Galatians 4:12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. (You did me no wrong). (ESV)
Paul’s appeal to his Brothers/brethren in Christ was for them to recognize and live by the spiritual freedom all believers have in God’s grace.
He is not speaking theoretical teaching from a type of removed doctrine, but as a fellow brother of one who struggles and aims.
Paul says, I entreat/beg of you, … become as I am, he pleaded, free from trying to earn salvation by keeping the law and free from having to live by its outward symbols, ceremonies, rituals, and restrictions.
• The Greek present middle imperative means that they should keep on becoming as he was. Don’t give up grace for law, but get all the way out from under the law and come all the way under grace (KJV Bible commentary. 1997, c1994 (2392). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)
o Don’t settle with where you are with Christ. Complacency is the death to growth. Paul is implying that we need to keep on becoming like Christ. We are not to fall back into a life of doing things to try to make God happy, but embrace His grace as a means of growing in Christ.
As we go through each of these points this morning, instead of external illustrations, poems or stories, I just want to draw out practical application points to help each of us take what God is saying from His word and apply it to our own lives.
Paul had said previously (Galatians 2:19) that he “I died to the Law, that I might live to God,”. This is a very important key in purpose and direction.
Paul could point people to become as he was, because of a faithful testimony for Christ. Paul frequently encouraged his readers to imitate him as he in turn imitated Christ (1 Cor. 4:14-16; 11:1 ; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:6).
• One of the most powerful factors of a witness is to how Christ can work in us.
Please turn to Philippians 3
The reason for Paul’s appeal is also personal: because he says: I also have become as you are. When he came to Christ he had torn away every shred of legalism, in which he had been enmeshed more tightly than perhaps few other Jews of his day (see Phil. 3:4–6).