Crucified and Risen With Christ!
Scripture reading for November 30th: Galatians 1-6
I hate legalism! Some people, calling themselves Christians, make rules for how we must live and judge others by how they do or do not keep their rules. They mean well but end up giving true Christianity a bad name. Some think that they are right to condemn others for the length of their hair, wearing make-up, or certain clothes. Some judge others for having tattoos or body piercing . Others are thrown out if they don’t believe in eternal security or baptism in the name of Jesus only. The religious police are always out enforcing their version of “true” Christianity!
The Apostle Paul dealt with some people who tried to add the Old Testament Law to faith in Christ. His approach to that subject is laid out in this letter to the Galatians. He wasted no time setting this group of believers straight. Paul taught that any addition to the simple Gospel of salvation by grace through faith was a perversion that was no Gospel at all! (Galatians 1:6-7) Paul warned these believers that anyone, even if it was an angel from heaven or himself, who tried to preach another Gospel should be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8-9) That is very strong language! It is very serious business because it affects our eternal salvation!
This mixing of law and grace even affected Peter and Barnabas some 14 years after Paul’s conversion. Paul found Peter withdrawing from the Gentiles and eating only with the Jewish believers who were teaching that circumcision was needed as well as faith. (Galatians 2:11-16) Paul rebuked Peter in front of them all for their hypocrisy! They had given in to peer pressure and false teaching and moved away from the simple Gospel given them by the Lord Jesus. This show us how easy it is to be taken in by legalism and false teaching. If it could happen to Peter the Apostle and Barnabas, it could happen to us!
Paul made a statement that is one of my favorite as he tried to counter these false teachers. I used to sing it in a Scripture song that has stuck with me even today. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” (Galatians 2:20-21)
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not earthly things. for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-3