Why did Paul write Galatians?
Friends in Danger!
If you had led someone to Jesus and they were going well, but suddenly the JW’s or the Mormons started teaching them a different way of salvation would you just sit around and hope they didn’t go down that road? I’m sure you wouldn’t. You’d be up like a shot to visit them or, if they were a long way away as in Paul’s case, you’d write them a letter to warn them of the dangers and help them get back on track. What was the problem then, with the Galatian believers? (Galatians 1:6-9)
“More” Than Just Being Saved
The problem was about how to become a Christian and how to live the Christian life. (Galatians1:4). On reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians I get the impression that it wasn’t just written to explain that to become a Christian we need to be forgiven and justified from our sin by faith in Christ. Unfortunately, some people think that that’s the sum of Galatians and the limit of our salvation. How wrong and deceptive that idea is because it basically looks back to what I was before believing and what I deserved as a sinner and rebel against God – punishment for my sin, and getting forgiven! And that’s where it stops; in the past!
What Else Does Jesus Save us From?
But what about today with its temptations and my old habits and tendencies to sin that I inherited from my old, independent way of life? Does Galatians have anything to say about setting me free from them, because that’s what I need? Absolutely! That’s the second reason Paul wrote Galatians; to prove that the same Saviour who sets us free from guilt, condemnation and punishment is the same One who can set us free from the tyrannical dominion of our old self-centred, “fleshly” habits and the attractions and temptations of the world around us. (Galatians 2:19-20)
Being Saved to Be Like Jesus
But how does he do it? Well, he doesn’t do it by sticking the 10 commandments in front of our nose and saying, “Keep these, my friend!” That would be a sure way to failure because the “Law,” as it’s called, doesn’t offer any resources to help us obey – it just sets the standard and shows us up when we fail. We need some resources that will “EMPOWER” us to live God’s way and – wonder of wonders – that resource became available to us when we repented, believed, surrendered to Christ as Lord and became new people (2 Cor 5:17). Right there and then the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) took up permanent residence in our lives as He did in Adam before he rebelled and sinned. The exact location of his residence doesn’t matter but as spirit, He is active in every area of our body, soul and spirit to lead us on the Highway of Holiness. See Romans 5:1-5.
The Spirit of Christ At Work!
Now, get this: He is the Spirit of Christ, the very same divine Spirit who indwelt and empowered the man, Christ Jesus, to live a holy life and do the Father’s will with joy – even the hard things. Amazing! Now He lives in us to do just that all over again or, in other words, to reproduce the beautiful, godly, obedient and fruitful life of Jesus in you and me. (See 1 John 2:6; Rom 8:29; Jude 1:24-25)
The Law of Freedom
The Holy Spirit certainly hasn’t taken up residence in us to “bring us into captivity” again by giving us the Law to obey. To the contrary has set us free, as expressed in Galatians 5:1. So, what “Law” or principle is He going to use to guide our behaviour now? Don’t we need some guidelines, a roadmap for the journey? We certainly do and the Lord Jesus, Paul and the other Gospel writers knew that. That’s why our Master said, “A new commandment I give unto you; love one another, as I have loved you,” and Paul goes into a detailed explanation of what love is and how it behaves in 1 Cor 13:4-7. Now that love, which we so need, has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us on the day we were born again into God’s family. (Romans 5:5)
The Way of Love
So now the Holy Spirit uses the love of God as the measuring stick and applies it to every situation in our daily lives. We could call it the law of Christ, the law of Liberty or the law of Love in action. With this law in operation by the Spirit, we need nothing else to please God. Idols, lies, stealing, covetousness, killing or doing anything that will not bless our neighbour and delight God’s heart have no place because LOVE doesn’t practise those things! And that’s real liberty because there is no law against love in action! (See 2 Cor 5:14)
The Stirring of Desire
So, reflect often on how God loves the world and YOU, and how the Lord Jesus demonstrated that love in His relationship with all kinds of people. And let’s pray Paul’s prayer for each another in Ephesians 3:14-21 – every day, until it sinks deep into our very being and takes root there. Here, then, is the secret of true freedom to live as a new creature made in the image of God: Christ indwelling, the Holy Spirit guiding, love controlling and God being glorified. That’s the “more” of Galatians and the life Paul wanted for them. I want it too, don’t you? (John 10:10)