Summary: BIG IDEA: The formation of Christ in us should be our life’s desire and work BIG RESPONSE: To see the formation of Christ as our TOP priority
Have you ever noticed how all of the recent blockbuster hits at the cinema have at their core a battle of good vs. evil. In Harry Potter its Potter vs. Voldamort, in Narnia its Aslan vs. the White Witch, or going back in Star Wars we see Skywalker vs. Darth Vader.
Here in Galatians we are at the scene of a battle, a war is raging, not one involving guns or blood, but of far greater importance. It is a battle over the truth of the gospel, a battle over the true message of salvation quite literally a battle over the way to get to heaven. And as we will see this morning, this is not some Hollywood fantasy, but a battle that each of us must also face.
With any battle there is always some background, some history leading up to it. Battles do not come out of nowhere - there is a story behind every battle fought. So before we get to the battle over the good news itself - let me tell you the story.
Galatians was written by the apostle Paul - who was formerly a Christian hater - desiring them to be killed. He went around persecuting Christians for their faith. He was a Pharisee who wanted Christians dead Yet through a miraculous vision of Christ he became a Christian, and spent the rest of his life living for Jesus and seeking to share the message of Jesus with as many people as possible.
One of his missionary trips took him to the region of Galatia which is now Southern Turkey. Here he shared the good news of Jesus. Lets look at verses 12-15. We don’t know exactly what had happened to Paul but it appears that he caught some sort of infection or illness which detained him in Galatia - and when he arrived in Galatia he was in the grip of a great fever. Whatever the disease was it had disfigured him on some way. In verse 15 we can see that it appears that his illness affected his eyesight, so that if it had been possible the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him.
Yet despite all these things the Galatians accepted the message with joy, They were converted from their old way of life into a living relationship with Jesus (v8-v9). Who are these foreign Gods they were serving, well again we are not sure. They would have either being serving the Roman God Caesar or they would have been Jews who had been living for the Law, believing that is what would save them, or even pagan cults. But whatever they were they were rescued from them..
Christ himself said "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over righteous persons who do not need to repent." Galatia was the cause of much rejoicing in heaven. They had accepted Jesus as their Saviour and were on their way in the journey of faith. Paul stayed with them for a while ministering to them and then left to continue his missionary work.
But then "the enemy entered" - seeking to turn them way from the truth. The message was subtle - "All that stuff about Jesus is well and good, but you also need to be circumcised - all good followers of God are circumcised, and all good followers of God obey special days and ceremony - if you don’t do these things you can’t be a real follower of God. The Jewish believers were seeking to force the non Jewish believers that they needed to be circumcised. the Galatians were in the process of accepting the Judaizers’ teaching that circumcision and dietary laws and holy days should be used to show God that they are worthy of blessing.
And you may say what’s the problem with that. Well they were relying on something other than the cross. They were saying that these things were what was needed to get right with God. By my own effort I will receive a blessing and acceptance from God.
It is not that the Galatians were confronted with a totally new spiritualism, but that they were just told to add to it.
You can almost hear the voices
It doesn’t really matter if you do this - it’s a good thing - God won’t mind - he wants you to.
Do you really think its as simple as trusting in Jesus - you need to do this as well.
The path of temptation is often a subtle one. I believe here in this letter we have a classic example of how the world and the devil work together.
A picture which comes to mind is a landslide. If you have ever seen one – the foundations are weak and insecure and slowly the earth slides down the mountainside – not quickly, but with devastating consequences.