Friday 01 July 2016

Bible Book:

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (v. 1)

Galatians 5:1-6 Friday 1 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm107:17-32


This passage is part of Paul's longdiscourse regarding the Judaisers in Galatia who were insistingthat Gentiles be circumcised. In chapter 3 he used the example ofAbraham and explained that God's promise to Abraham was fulfilledin the coming of Christ. In chapter 4 he takes this argumentfurther. Those who insisted on circumcision were taking a stepbackwards. The last verses of chapter 4 deal with theexample of Sarah and Hagar, two women by whom Abraham had sons.Isaac was the son of Sarah, born to her after she had passedchildbearing age and in fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham thathe would have descendants. Ishmael, Hagar's son, was born of theflesh because Sarah was barren and never imagined that she wouldbear a son. Hagar was a slave and was driven from Abraham'shouse.

Now Paul once again refers tocircumcision and slavery. His readers would have understood theconcept of slavery. The Israelites had been freed from the bondageof Pharaoh when they had left Egypt (Exodus 13-14) andjourneyed to the Promised Land where they were freed from bondage.Circumcision was an outward sign which identified people as Jews,that is, people of the law. And people of the law were obliged toobey the whole law, something which was almost impossible.

Yet, if someone comes to Christ,circumcision no longer counted. Circumcision and obedience to lawdepended on human beings. Freedom in Christ, depended only on faithworking through love. When someone joins the armed forces, theywear a uniform which tells others that they are soldiers along witha badge which would indicate their rank; an outward sign whichidentifies a particular group of people. But when a person choosesto follow Christ, there is no need for an outward ritual, no needfor a uniform or badge. All that is needed is faith working throughlove and an acceptance of Christ's grace, which is unconditionaland not dependent on circumcision or obedience to law.

As this letter progresses, Paul haschanged his tone somewhat. In chapter 3 he called his readers"foolish" (Galatians 3:1). Later, he calls them "friends"(Galatians 4:12) and even "little children"(Galatians 4:19). Now in verse 2 he says"Listen!", as if he is desperately trying to make his point: don'tgo back to where you were; move forward and accept Christ's freegrace, no strings attached. Paul's readers then, as his readersnow, might have found it difficult to accept that there was nocatch, no extra requirements, simply accept this free offer.

To Ponder

  • What are the things that enslave you?
  • How would you explain freedom in Christ to someone who does notknow Christ?
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