Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: By Faith from Beginning to End
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
By Faith from Beginning to End
Paul moves from sharing about his confronting Peter to addressing the reason those in Galatia are straying from the gospel – they have been deceived, having come under a spell. They started the Christian life by faith but have been led to believe that they need to also adhere to what Paul calls ‘works of the law ’ to be members of God’s covenantal people, the church. This amounted to mingling faith and works to be justified before God. So Paul makes clear that trusting Christ is the issue for the whole Christian life, from beginning to end. Faith is how we start the Christian life and faith is how we live out the Christian life.
1. The Christian Life is a Fight of Faith (v. 1)
The Christ followers in Galatia had been deceived by Judaizers, with a form of works righteousness, the mingling of faith and works for justification. Paul has said that our justification is grounded only in the work of Christ not by any form of human achievement. Remember that the default switch of the human heart is works. If you are a Christ follower you are prone to mingling faith with works as the means of your being acceptable with God. The only remedy for this is the one Paul points out to the Galatians, Christ crucified – the gospel message. It is a daily fight to reject works righteousness and rely solely on faith. But God has given us weapons to fight this fight. There are three weapons we can utilize daily to fight.
Daily communion with God.
Our faith is fundamentally relational and so we need to cultivate that relationship with God. Every relationship is based upon communication. So we seek to hear from God through his word. As God speaks to us through his word, we respond to God through prayer. When we do this, we are acknowledging that we look away from ourselves to God for spiritual strength, encouragement, and food. You spend time daily with God because you need and are looking for spiritual strength and encouragement.
Daily appropriate the gospel.
Appropriating the gospel means acknowledging and reminding ourselves that we are accepted based upon the work of Christ and not our own work or efforts or present experience. We need to daily look away from ourselves and turn to God for our righteousness. If you don’t do this daily you will lean toward performance which will ultimately lead you toward despair and discouragement.
Seek out encouraging relationships
You cannot thrive spiritually alone. You need to decide where you are going to get the most encouraging relationships. Some of us have lots of relationships that are not encouraging and not going anywhere.
2. The Christian Life is Lived by Faith (vs. 2-5)
Paul then appeals to these struggling Christ followers based upon their experience.
Justification by faith (2)
Remember back when you heard the gospel and put your trust in Christ and how you experienced the power of the Spirit in your life prior to coming under the influence of the Judaizers (2). You are foolish to think that having begun your walk with God by faith that you can now finish it by your own efforts. God supplies the Spirit by faith not works! This is the irony of it all - not only do we all receive the Spirit when we come to faith but the Spirit is the one who works in us to bring us to faith in Christ (John 3:1-8). Law /Gospel
Sanctification by faith (3)
Sanctification is separate from justification. Justification is our position or standing before God and is completely the work of God; sanctification is the progressive work of both the Spirit of God and us that makes us more and more free of sin and like Christ in our lives. Justification refers to our righteous standing before God that comes by faith whereas sanctification refers to our growth in righteousness that comes by faith. Sanctification, by necessity, flows from of our justification.
And remember the primary weapons for spiritual growth – God’s word speaks to us, prayer as we respond back to him and encouraging relationships. That leads us to work of the Spirit in the corporate community.
Body Ministry by faith (5)
When we gather, God promises that the Spirit is here working in and through us.