Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Galatians 5:13-15 (Christian Cannibalism)

Paul reiterates his theme: we have been saved for freedom. The Gospel is not about a law or rules, but living in freedom as we were created to live. It is about Love not Legalism. The suspicion the legalist always has here is: isn’t all this “freedom” talk just an excuse to sin? Paul anticipates this argument, and is quick to destroy it. The Christian is a new, spiritual being and as such, sin goes against the Christian’s spiritual nature. Freedom should not become an opportunity for the flesh.

In Love, we are to live freely and (super)naturally as we have been created to live. Love not legalism is the guide.

Before Paul proceeds to the next part of his teaching, where he exhorts the Galatians not to live by the flesh, he has one more thing to say to the religious legalist: “Do not engage in cannibalism!”

That is the nature of legalism. When we live by rules and try to avoid sin in our own strength, we eat each other up. Think about it. We do not demand perfection from the great heroes of Biblical history. They were flawed, but God was working on and through them. The same is true for us. We are to hold each other accountable and help each other grow, but the legalist tears people apart. They do not build up.

Some people act like they are after some “Holy Spirit Award.” They are constantly trying to convict and change people and do the job of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Have you ever met someone who always seems to begin every conversation with: “I have something to tell you ‘in love.’?” Or “God told me to tell you something.” These are people we quickly learn to avoid. Great friendships have been destroyed because one friend decided to correct the others personality or character flaws—“in love.”

To be sure, there are sins and serious dangers that we have to help each other see. The problem is when we start to think we are responsible for every little doctrinal difference, personality flaw, or thing that bothers us about our fellow Christians. Paul warns us that that will destroy the church. Satan has used it more than any other tool in his war against the Gospel.

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