Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 24, Gal 4-6.

Today's readings are Gal 4-6. Tomorrow's reading is Acts 17.

Gal 4 reveals that the false teachers mentioned in the first three chapters have turned the Galatians against Paul and, more importantly, his teaching. The church has returned to the teaching of the world and legalism, embracing teachers who "make much of them (the Galatians)" in order that they might "make much" of those teachers. Apparently, this has worked because Paul has become the enemy for telling them the truth. In this, we can see that the church can be seduced by teaching that "tickles the ears" and is man-focused instead of being centered on Christ and the gospel.

The primary issue, as we see in Gal 5, is, once again, circumcision. The false teachers are teaching circumcision as a way of satisfying the law. Paul encourages the church to "walk by the Spirit". Through the false teaching, they have been led to "gratify the desires of the flesh." In other words, the primary focus of the Galatian church has become getting their desires and needs met. These false teachers have presented a man-focused gospel that says, "There are things you can do (circumcision and such) to become a good person and get what you're looking for out of this Christian life! It's all about you and getting what you want out of your relationship with Christ and the church."

The result of the false teaching is contention with the truth and tension against the Spirit (Gal 5:17). The Galatians are now bickering over minor things while the truth is abandoned. This exposes legalism for what it is, a man-centered, self-righteous teaching that is divisive. Paul contrasts those results with how the Spirit should impact the church in love, joy, peace, patience, etc (Gal 3:22).

The solution to the problem afflicting the Galatians is to "bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2) instead of anyone thinking they are something when they are not (Gal 6:3). The church is to share the load, not demand that their burden be carried by someone else (Gal 6:5), nor to impose their burden for legalism on others.

Paul encourages them to "share all good things with the one who teaches". The implication is "with the one who teaches the truth". This if followed by a warning that what one sows, one will reap. If one sows the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc), one will reap it. If one sows the works of the flesh (legalism, self-righteousness, etc), that's what will be reaped.

This is an ancient example of how easy it is to come to church expecting your needs to be met. This can become a demand to be satisfied and served. Paul urges the church to come to serve rather than be served, to come to carry someone's burden rather than to demand someone carry yours.

The real reason the Galatian church has slipped back into legalism is that they are looking for a fast and easy way to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Nothing is quicker or easier than a list of "how-to's" in order to get what you want. Some folks have risen up and begun teaching the "how-to's". The church has embraced it. The gospel is lost in meeting the desires of the people in the pews instead of meeting the need for the lost world to hear the gospel. 

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