Our Union with Christ – Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The Galatians had received the gospel by faith, but now were seeking to add law-keeping to their faith in order to gain more acceptance with God. In Galatians 2:15-19, Paul demonstrates that the law which distinguished Jews from Gentiles could not be kept fully in order to justify a guilty sinner before God; hence God provided a righteousness apart from the keeping of the law – namely, Christ’s righteousness, that is received by faith in Him. In His death on the cross, Christ satisfied the just demands of the law; and since we died with Him, we are released from the bondage and condemnation of the law.

Paul then goes on to give us this beautiful verse describing our union with Christ. One writer puts it this way:

“When God declares the ungodly sinner just, He makes no mere legal and lifeless imputation of righteousness apart from a real and deep life-union of the believer with Christ.  God has indeed declared righteous “the ungodly,” but not apart from Christ, not outside of Christ.  We are justified only in Christ; that is, having come into vital life-union with Christ through faith in His atoning death.  Those whom God declares righteous are “created in Christ Jesus.” We are actually new creatures “in Christ.”

Our old man in Adam was crucified with Christ on the cross. We now have a new man that is inseparable from Christ. He lives in us and we in Him. We were chosen in Him, we died with Him, we were buried with Him, we rose with Him, we live in Him, and one day He is coming back to take us to be with Him forever. Hallelujah!

The implication of this truth on our lives is enormous. It will affect how we view God’s acceptance of us; we will know more victories in our battle against sin; our joy will be less disturbed by our circumstances; and finally, our love for and communion with Christ will be deepened. May the Holy Spirit apply this truth to our hearts daily.

Galatians 5:19-26 Spiritual Fruit

We found last time in our studies in Galatians 5:17 that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. These words describe the warfare between two enemies battling each other – a war of life and death.

In our text this week the company of this war are described. First depicted in verses 19-21, we find the idle, useless, and barren flesh, which yields no fruit, contrasted to the fruit of the spirit described in verses 22-23. In essence these are images of what the enemies of God look like in verses 19-21 – adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; and what the friends of God resemble in verses 22 and 23 – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Paul then argues that such spiritual fruit is only borne in those who are Christ’s [who] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Philip Ryken has written,

“The Holy Spirit does not produce fruit in the Christian life without our cooperation. There are two things every Christian must do to remain fruitful. The first is to mortify the flesh (Gal. 5:24). Mortification is one of the most neglected doctrines of the Christian faith, but also one of the most important. Mortification is what Paul was talking about when he told the Romans, “consider yourselves dead to sin” (Rom. 6:11).  The spirit is engaged in mortal combat with the flesh. The desires of the regenerate wage war against the flesh. In this war there will be no truce.”

The new man makes no peace pacts with the flesh. Sin must be put to death. To the cross, with the works of the flesh!  Escort the POWs out of their cells; it’s time for their crucifixion! This is how John Stott explains mortification,

“To take up the cross was our Lord’s vivid figure of speech for self-denial. Every follower of Christ is to behave like a condemned criminal and carry His cross to the place of execution. Now Paul takes the metaphor to its logical conclusion. We must not only take up our cross and walk with it, but actually see that the execution takes place.  We are to take the flesh, our willful and wayward self, and nail it to the cross.”

This week study Romans 6 in order that you may learn and understand the forgotten doctrine of mortification.

Listen to this message here:

Galatians 5:13-18 The Law of Love

As I have addressed the matter of freedom many times in our teachings in Galatians, one might come away with the idea that the Christian life was one glorious victory after another. We do have freedom not to sin, as vs. 16 of the text says, “You shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” We have freedom to serve, as vs. 13, says “By love serve one another, and as vs. 14 says, “We have the freedom to keep the law of love, the whole law is fulfilled, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” With all of this freedom though, why is it that we continually see ourselves coming up short in these areas and continually falling?

Such failings caused Martin Luther to question his salvation. Do you question your salvation due to constant falling into sin?  Luther was helped with this problem by meditating on Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Luther used this verse to preach to himself. Martin, you will never be completely without sin, because you still have the flesh. Therefore, you will always be aware of its conflict. According to Paul, the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. Do not despair, therefore, but fight back, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

As long as we live we will be continually pulled by the body of death (the flesh) and the Spirit; there is a battle taking place which will continue throughout your Christian life. Be encouraged, for when you are most aware of sin is when the Holy Spirit is most active in you. Your struggle with sin is a mark of your genuine Christian faith. The question to ask yourself is found in vs. 17, “And these are contrary one to another, so that you cannot do the things that ye would. Is the desire there to do the things that you would? This then I say then,” walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

This week think of ways to love your neighbor as yourself. May you have the mind of Christ in this matter: neighbor how may I love thee and bless thee?

Galatians 5:1-6 Fallen From Grace

Up to this point in Paul’s epistle to the churches of Galatia, his emphasis and essence of His message has been freedom from the curse of the law. When one turns to Christ, he turns away from the Law of Moses as a means of salvation and begins living under the dominion of Christ and the Holy Spirit whom the Father has sent into his heart. Paul argues that those who are in Christ are then free from the law. But what we need to understand is that often our view of freedom and Paul’s are very different. While many think of freedom as being left alone, Paul’s understanding of freedom involves slavery to God and His will. Many believe freedom to be the liberty of will to determine one’s goals and direction in life; but for Paul freedom meant interdependence, not independence. The unredeemed understanding of freedom is in fact bondage to the powers of the world, the flesh and the devil, while true freedom involves gladly accepting the bond of slavery to the Father. True freedom then is liberation from the bondage of self-will and self-living, and involves the capacity to live for God and neighbor. So the irony is that you are truly free when you become a bond-slave to God; you become free to be whom God wants you to be. God’s bond-slaves have been set free to serve God, to follow Jesus, and to walk by faith in the spirit. This is the freedom for which Christ has set you free. The person who is truly free is a person who trusts, loves, and obeys God through Christ and in the Spirit loves and serves others. The child of God who has this freedom lives before God with a clear and free conscience, as he or she grows before God in holiness and love. This is the freedom that the father has for His children. God has made us free indeed, so that all can see the His glory, and also, so we are capable to relate to God and others authentically and clearly. You are to know this freedom; you are to enjoy this freedom, and you are to experience this freedom.

This week memorize Galatians 2:19,20 and stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.

Listen to this message here:

Galatians 4:21-31 The Great Contrast

Remember that the way that one becomes acceptable to God and enters heaven, is not by the law, nor by the works of goodness, but by the promise of God. Paul illustrates this point by considering the two sons of Abraham to prove this point.

Abraham had two sons. But only one son had been promised by God to Abraham through his wife Sarah. However after many years passed without Sarah having a child, it seemed as though she was incapable of conceiving. Discouraged, Sarah asked for her slave girl, Hagar, to bear them a child.  Abraham listened to his wife and went in to Hagar and she bore him a son, Ishmael. God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would bear a son, but they were both well beyond the years of child bearing. Sometime later however, God kept His promise and the impossible happened – Sarah, well beyond childbearing years, bore a son and named him Isaac. Isaac was a miracle child, wonderfully born by the working of God, all because God had promised Abraham a son.  Isaac was therefore, a promised child. 

Ishmael was born after the order and process of nature, and as such, he was born into slavery, being born of a slave girl; born because of the work, effort, human reason and will of Sarah. He was born because of fleshly impulses, urges, and attraction of Abraham. Isaac however, was born as a freeman, born of a free woman, Sarah, born by the promise of God alone. 

The point for you to meditate upon this week is: Abraham had two sons – Ishmael was the child born by human ingenuity, energy, and effort and he was born into slavery; but Isaac, the child promised by God, was born miraculously by the promise of God, by His electing love and power alone, because He alone had made the promise and He alone was faithful to fulfill it. 

This week study Genesis chapters 16, 17, and 21 and discover whether you are you a child of the flesh or a child of promise!

Listen to this message here:

Galatians 3:26-29 Children of the Most High God

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Verse 29 of Galatians chapter 3 calls the children of God “heirs according to the promise.” This divine promise has always been the chief inheritance of the people of God. Their earthly state can be nothing but inferior, limited, and unsatisfying; their hearts constantly desiring something beyond the earth. Accordingly, they have always held the divine promise as their comfort and most prized possession. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all of the Old Testament saints looking forward, not having received the promises in their fulfillment, are heirs together of the same promise with us. The great promise to them was that of a Savior and it is ours as well – a Savior to us who is salvation – a personal Savior – who in proper time was born to be the man Jesus Christ. The possessions of man consist of his attainments and his expectations. A Christian’s earthly attainments are very little; however, it is his expectations which constitute his main and most important wealth. These are divine promises of which you have become an heir! We are all partakers of the same great and precious promises. For the accomplishment of these, we wait, and look, and labor.

Are you an heir according to the promise? This week meditate upon your inheritance very carefully. Consider first, that it is all of grace; as such secondly, your condition is a sure one, which should fill you with an overflowing joy. Thirdly, consider that your state is a most exalted one; you are seated in heavenly places, so you ought to be holy. Lastly set your affections upon your sure inheritance looking forward to the day of its consummation in faith. Take to heart the four traits just mentioned – grace, joy, holiness, and faith; are these traits distinctive in your life?

Listen to this message here: