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Archive for January, 2014

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Just so that everyone is clear about what sin actually is, Paul makes a list for the Galatians in chapter 5.  Herein, he also lists the fruits of the Spirit.  Again, this is not so much intended to be a list of dos and don’ts (although it is), rather, a plumb-line to gauge where we really are in regards to Christ.  

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~Galatians 5:16-24

Little wonder why Paul begins and ends with sexual sin.  Think about that for a moment.  Really let it sink in and consider the implications.  

Four of the actions listed are related to the 7th commandment.  You shall not commit adultery.  We are so severely inclined to do so that Paul wanted to ensure that we could not miss this in regards to our spiritual health.  He wanted Christians to understand that our very salvation hangs in the balance of the choices we make about our sexuality – not just in deed, but most certainly in word and thought as well.  He isn’t just pointing at homosexuality or fornicators here like so many Christians seem to do.  He’s pointing at each and every one of us enjoined in holy matrimony as well.  Surely, nowhere are men and women more impure than inside our own minds.  This warning is sobering, heavy news for the culture in which we live. The sexually impure will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Paul didn’t stutter.  Hear him.    

Two of the actions listed (idolatry and witchcraft) are related to the 1st and 2nd commandments.  Clearly, one cannot worship God if he is actively worshiping something else – namely self, Satan, or stuff.  Again, quite sobering news for we who live in this self-serving, indulgent generation of surplus.  The idolatrous will not inherit the kingdom of God.  

The rest of Paul’s list has to do with offense given to others by us (save drunkenness which is primarily against oneself but can and does certainly lead to offense against others as well.)  We who claim to love God cannot hate our brothers.  Hate-filled abusers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  

These are fearful, sobering warnings.  Oh, how we need the Lord who saves and keeps us to enable us to heed them!

 Matthew Henry writes, “It is not enough to cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well.”  

Paul gives us the alternative to these actions.  We are not simply to avoid sin.  We are to exhibit spiritual fruit in its place.  The question is not “Why?” or “What?”  The question is, “How?” How do we love like Jesus?  How do we have peace in strife?  How do we do good when we are altogether bad?  How do we offer kindness when we are angry?  How

As pleasant and beautiful as they are, these actions and attitudes are neither automatic nor blissfully easy.  Paul tells us to live by the Spirit; walk by the Spirit.  These are his instructions.  It isn’t do and don’t; it’s live and walk.  The only way we can live and walk in the Spirit is by daily death to ourselves.  It is a bloody war complete with compound casualties and corporate crucifixion.  Therefore, the answer is only through Christ.  We cannot do these things apart from him.  We cannot do anything apart from him.  Nor can we stop sinning.  

Live by the Spirit.  Walk by the Spirit.  These are Paul’s instructions regarding proper human behavior, complete with his referral to Our Counselor.  But doing it Paul’s way takes faith, prayer, and a whole lot of full on fighting with a side of blood, sweat, and tears.  Without the Spirit of God we will fail despite any future victories in morality.  With the Spirit of God we will succeed despite any past failures in morality.  

The proof is in the pudding.  Let us consider which list characterizes the gist of our lives and run to our Savior.

 

 

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Midway through week three of learning to box, I’m starting to look a little less like a moron and a little more like a fighter.  Truth be told, I’ve always been a fighter.

“You keep working.  I’m just gonna watch.”

Coach watches while I shadow box.  I hate when he watches.  As if it’s not enough that I’m make-upless with bed head braids, sweating in places I didn’t know I had pores.  Now, I’m punching out a solo performance for the one person who can correct and critique my every wrong move.

“I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”

Now, this is the point where, if I were the coach I’d say something like, “Of course you’re not doing it right, Einstein.  If you were, you wouldn’t need me now would you?”  No such harshness from Mr. Cindric today, though.  

“Don’t worry about that.  It shouldn’t matter to you whether I’m here or not.  It shouldn’t matter if this room is full of people or empty.  Focus.  Keep working.  I have to see what we need to work on.”

“Why does it matter?  I want to not care who’s watching.”  

Must be vanity, I think to myself.  I try to focus on my jabs and lift the weight of his stare off of my vain conscience.  We begin to spar.

“Don’t tire yourself out swingin’.  You’re way too aggressive.”

I try to suspend my disbelief long enough to catch my breath and stammer a half-hearted protest.

You told me to be aggressive!”

“Yes.  But you’ve got wild aggression; reckless aggression.  You gotta get rid of that.  I want to see controlled aggression.  Only take the good shots.  If you have a shot, always take it.  But keep doin’ what you’re doin’ and you won’t last one round.  I can see you’re tired.  I’m waiting.  When you’re spent, I’m gonna blast you.”

He’s right.  I’m wildly aggressive.  I have a way about me that says, “Try me.  I don’t care if I lose.  I’ll die trying to pay the debts my mouth daily makes.”  Yes, I’m the five foot three inch white girl who, when asked by the six foot fight-a-day biggest bully in school if I was afraid of her, stood up in her face and said, “No! I’m not afraid of you.”  Yeah, I got punched.  

It is, I believe the heart of a fighter – a fighter, that is, who is about to be stomped.  Because it takes more than unbridled passion to win.  It takes skill, agility, balance, timing, and precision.

Don’t get me wrong.  Fighters must possess passion.  It’s just that that passion must, like Coach said, be under control.

He tells me not to be so predictable.  “When your opponent expects you to move one way, move another and take ’em out.  Never stand still; always keep moving.  Be a puzzle.  Stay in it.  Don’t ever show me that you’re tired.  Never hunch to catch your breath.  Draw from the sun.  Lift your head.  Keep your hands up.  Don’t advertise your weakness ’cause the second you do, I’m comin’ for you.”

Meanwhile, the dental hygienist in me is just wondering how many days until my two front teeth turn grey from those last two hits I failed to block.  

We cool down and stretch and he continues to offer his wisdom.  “Always wear the white belt.”  He proceeds to instruct me on humility.

I review the session like a ticker tape and hear the voice of God drawing me towards a repentance I’d not understood before.  The charges?  Vanity.  Reckless, wild aggression.  Unbridled passion.  Self-inflicted fatigue and fall out.  Careless lack of self-protection.  Pride and arrogance.  

Always wear the white belt.  I’m half-tempted to tattoo those words on the back of my aching, over-punching hand.  Then again, I’m thinking that might fall under the reckless carelessness I’m trying to put away here.  *Sigh*

What a God I serve!  So willing to stutter and coo at a should-be-grown-up infantile child like me through the aspects of life I can most easily relate to.  

 All this time I’ve been fighting battles in his name.  Right battles!  But with the wrong attitude.  I’m pretty sure he created me to be a fighter.  If nothing else, my track record will prove that much; confrontation is a pill I swallow without a chaser.  No doubt he’s groomed me my entire life to be his full out, no holds barred, freedom fighter.  He’s just now teaching me how I might learn to be a fair one.  I will succeed when I learn to lift my head and only ever draw my tired breath from the Son.

 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. ~1 Timothy 6:12

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul has warned and exhorted the Galatians extensively concerning legalism, liberty, and in-fighting.  He goes on to make himself even clearer.  He calls out specifically what they are to do and how they are to do it.  Notice, as a gracious good leader, Paul starts by telling his people not just what to do, but how to do it.  

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. ~Galatians 5:16-18

Paul has just finished telling these guys not to fight with one another.  He gives them a specific alternative: fight sin.  If these guys would just put half the effort they had invested in disputing with one another into disputing with their own hearts, they would be on to something.  He tells them specifically how to fight sin: walk in the Spirit – the Holy Spirit that is.

At first glance, Galatians 5:19-23 may seem like a simple list of do’s and don’ts.  Look carefully and it is obvious that this is not the case.  Notice Paul does not say, “do this list of things” or “don’t do this list of things.”  Surely, that is his hope and prayer, but it is not his instruction.  Rather, his instruction is only this: walk in the Spirit.  Walk in the Spirit.  

Walking involves action; movement; forward motion.  Christians cannot sit around passively waiting for God to make them holy any more than obese people can sit around the gym passively waiting for God to make them fit.  Instead, we are called to move forward through his power by actively obeying his Spirit.  And, yes, that takes effort and willingness on our part.  It takes blood, sweat, and tears just like physical fitness does.  No, that is not a works mentality; it is a Biblical exhortation given and demonstrated by both Jesus and Paul repeatedly.

If we do this, Paul says we, consequently, will not do what is contradictory to it.  It is not, “Do this, don’t do that.”  No.  It is, “If you do this, you won’t do that.”  Ceasing to sin is a natural outflow of submitting to the Holy Spirit.  Because sin is antithetical to the Spirit’s every prompting, our submission to Him trumps our inclination to sin.  It is simply more desirable; more powerful; more influential; more able to lead us than the empty, fleeting desires we used to obey.  Considering the magnetic force and draw of sin, I’d say this should give us great encouragement and comfort.  We are in able hands.  “It is our duty and interest in this struggle to side with the better part, to side with our convictions against our corruptions and with our graces against our lusts.” ~Matthew Henry

Because the Spirit’s works and sin’s works are in diabolic opposition, doing one automatically cancels the other.  The best part, Paul adds after his painstaking discourse on “legal” troubles within the church, is that when we are led by the Spirit, we are altogether free from the law!  We do not need it to be hammered at us over and over and over again because we are walking in the very light of its author!  Not because we don’t have to obey it!  God forbid!  On the contrary!  Of course we want to do right and follow God’s laws; we love him!  It is natural to obey when your heart’s desire is to follow your ferociously fascinating Father!  Who needs a scolding law enforcer to make them obey?  Not God’s kids!

“If you act under the guidance and government of the Holy Spirit and of that spiritual nature and disposition he has wrought in you, if you make the word of God your rule and the grace of God your principle, it will hence appear that you are not under the law, not under the condemning, though you are still under the commanding, power of it.” ~Matthew Henry

It is only after Paul describes how Christians are to avoid sin that he tells them what sin generally looks like.  He tells the Galatians that sin is very obviously recognizable.  The works of the flesh are not mysterious.  Know what they are and, if you are practicing them or the like, know that you are not currently walking in the Spirit – or headed for heaven for that matter, because, as Matthew Henry says, “Christ will never own those who yield themselves servants of sin.”

Therefore, he urges, consider the fruits of the Spirit and examine yourself.  If you do these things, you need not worry about the law.  There is no law against doing right!  Fleshly works have been crucified in those who belong to Christ!  Let’s act like it, guys!  This isn’t rocket science!  We needn’t go from one extreme to the other!  It is not, “Oh, no law?  I guess I’ll sin and prove it.”  NO!  It’s “Oh!  The law is not the boss!  Jesus is!  Hallelujah!  I want to please him every minute because of his amazing grace!!!”

Paul concludes with another warning against pride, disputing, and envy.  These, also, are in direct opposition to our spiritual jaunt.  Doubtless, these are the very things that foster most feuds and divisions in the church.  If it hadn’t been for the presence of these attitudes, Paul wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Hear him.  Christianity is not complicated.  It is not do this; don’t do that.  It is walk this way.  If we walk in the Spirit, we will be following Jesus and supernaturally avoiding lawlessness and sin.  

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Since I’ve been studying in Galatians, I thought it might be helpful to take a little detour into Acts for a moment in order to better understand this whole law/liberty issue.  In Acts chapter 21, Paul submits to taking a vow.  Paul – the freedom fighter.  Some may wonder why Paul agrees to do so when he is known for his insistence regarding liberty and freedom in Christ.  Why this external ritual?  Why the Old Covenant tradition keeping?  Isn’t he trying to prove that these things have passed?  Why is he taking a vow?  I mean, it’s one thing to graciously allow for vow-taking by those who are still bound by conscience to it, but for him, why?  Why isn’t he teaching New Covenant grace and freedom in this case?

And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses,telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. ~Acts 21:20-24

At a time when Paul knew he did not ever have to observe this kind of law, Paul not only vowed to do so, but also paid for all the other men as well (like Jesus.)  He did everything he possibly could to submit to and respect those whom he was trying to reach with the true gospel.  He went above and beyond his “legal” obligations for the sake of peace and the furtherance of Christianity.  He sought to prove himself true in the face of the lies and misunderstandings that had been circulating about him in this place.

Even this was not enough to curb the hateful appetites of those who were “zealous for the law” and who had “been told about” Paul.

Rumors and hate speech about Paul had circulated prior to his coming to this city.  These religious authorities had made up their minds about Paul long before he ever showed up.  They were decidedly angry at, afraid of, and opposed to him from the get-go.  Nothing he did to prove himself sincere softened their attitude in the least.  When his unnecessary vow is almost complete, these guys pounce.  The last thing they want is for Paul to be accepted, esteemed, and listened to by their counterparts and peers.  They were the leaders, remember?  This town wasn’t big enough for them and Paul both.  They weren’t about to lose their authority or respect on account of this guy on their turf no matter how true what he was teaching was.  So what do they do about it?

 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia,seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” ~Acts 21:27-28

They lie.  They misrepresent Paul publicly.  They assume the worst of Paul and tell the world that he has broken the law.  They publicly accuse him when he indeed was innocent.  They stir up a mob against an innocent man and they seek to kill him claiming that he is guilty of that which they are actually doing.  Oh, didn’t that happen to Jesus, too?  Yeah.  Scare tactics, intimidation, false charges, and mob mentality without a trial.  Sounds about right.

Fortunately, Paul was ready.  He knew he had been called by God to this city.  He knew he would suffer here.  He knew he was innocent.  Therefore, when Paul was taken into custody, he knew what he must do.

And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” ~Acts 21:40-22:1

Paul defends himself.  He uses their language and he speaks in his own defense.  He gives his testimony.  He tells those who love to hate him that he, too, used to do the same.  He gives glory to Christ for his conversion.  He explains how the Lord sent him to the Gentiles.  Paul is completely honest and straightforward with the men who seek to destroy him out of jealousy, fear, and pride.  Instead of recognizing his truth as truth, they more adamantly attack him.

Meanwhile, the legal authorities are still trying to figure out why he’s being accused and attacked (Acts 22:30.)  It really makes no sense at all.  He defends himself truthfully once more and is disregarded (Acts 23:2.)  Paul is exposing their hypocrisy (Acts 23:3.)  No religious gurus like that.

Everyone is furious with Paul at this point.  Funny thing, Paul is the only one here who is walking in the Spirit and doing the will of God in this situation.  Even his own friends and fellow disciples had heard the Holy Spirit concerning his journey here and begged him not to go.

Paul went, though.  Paul preached.  Paul did all he could to avoid giving offense.  His mission was to be a witness, though, not a celebrity.  Witnesses don’t need fans, fortunate circumstances, or favorable winds.  Witnesses just need facts.  And facts Paul had.  So, God used Paul in a place where fiction and fallacy was running the show.

 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard ~Acts 22:15

Preaching the true gospel in heavily religious places may find us being dismissed as dangerous, defamed as derelicts, and disregarded as devils.  Do not worry, though.  Paul and the Holy Spirit  have a solution for us:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ~Galatians 5:16

…”Take courage…” ~Acts 23:11

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In the latter part of Galatians 5, Paul is beginning to close in on the practical realities of the case he has just made against legalism.  Interestingly, in his insistence upon freedom and liberty in Christ, he simultaneously shuns lasciviousness.  Doubtless, the reason is grounded in the fact that there is great potential for men to err on either side of this coin.  His practical application can be deduced to three main objectives: his call, his warning, and his command.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. ~Galatians 5:13-15

The call: For you were called to freedom, brothers.

The warning: Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.

The command: Through love, serve one another.

Paul argues that the whole law rests upon love for one another.  The whole law rests upon what?  Love.  

It seems that there are primarily two errors Christians are seriously apt to fall into concerning the law.  One is being a condescending legalist who guilts himself and others into man-made standards of self-righteousness.  The other is being an arrogant law-dismisser who drags himself and others into areas of temptation, sin, and carelessness in the name of Christian liberty.  Neither is lawful.  Neither is godly.  Neither is other-centered.  Neither is love-oriented.  Both are rooted in pride and personal preference rather than humility and God preference.   And, if we are honest, we have to admit we have all been one or the other or both at the same time depending on what kind of sin we’re entertaining.  

The law of grace does not rest upon rules.  The law of grace does not rest upon recreation.  The law of grace rests upon love.

When we love our neighbor, we will not burden him with undue laws and personal preferences.  When we love our neighbor, we will not violate him by living offensive, worldly lives, disregarding conscience, or abusing grace either.  When we love our neighbor, we will not compare his miserable excuse for law-keeping with our miserable excuse for law-keeping and start swinging at his knees to cover our own failures.  Instead, we will admit where we are weak, encourage him where he is weak, and refrain from exercising any freedom that instigates temptation in ourselves or he.  

Why?  Because love doesn’t bite.  Love lays down.  When the master is in the house, biting is not an option.  Surrender to his call, his warning, and his command must be our only objective.  

The whole law rests upon love.  This is the remedy and protection of the church against false teachers.   

“The liberty we enjoy as Christians is not a licentious liberty: though Christ had redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet he has not freed us from the obligation of it; the gospel is a doctrine according to *godliness* and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin that it lays us under the strongest obligations to avoid and subdue it.” -Matthew Henry

 

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“Balance.  Position.  Timing.  Boxing comes down to those three things.  If you get ’em, it won’t matter how much bigger or stronger your opponent is.”  

“Life comes down to those three things, Coach.  Maybe if I can learn them here, I can apply them there.”

Balance.  Analytical thinkers like me have a lot of trouble with this.  We like to lean to the extreme end.  The black end or the white end feels much more natural than the mushy grey middle.  But, when you lean, you fall.  Life is a tightrope and each of us must hold the pole.  If we do not compensate equally on both sides, every move will prove disastrous.  

 Position.  I’m often either so close that I cannot protect myself or so far away that I cannot make any kind of decent impact.  I stand up when I should be crouching down.  I crouch down when I should be standing up.  I punch when I should be blocking.  I block when I should be punching.  I’m stiff when I should be loose.  I’m loose when I should be stiff.  I think I need to learn how to dance before I learn how to fight.  Proper position is imperative throughout the duration of every fight.  

Timing.  Oh, timing, how you elude me!  Timing is everything.  That’s why I got nothin’.  Too fast and overzealous and I am a wrecking ball.  Too slow and unengaged and I become another statistic who missed her best shot.  Both leave me full of regret.  Until I live, eat, and breathe training – be it with boxing or brotherly love – I will not possess the art of proper timing.  

What I’m really grasping at in all of these is precision.  I want to hit the mark.  No wavering.  No leaning.  No falling.  No missing.  No fouls.  No prematurity.  No hesitation.  Precision is what I pine for – and that takes pain, patience, and potential.  

 “You’re killing me!” 

“I’m training you.”

How many times I have cried out these words bantering my Maker!  How many times he has calmly answered the very same way.  

Self-pity is not part of the protocol when one is on the roster to learn practical precision.  No amount of pain or impatience will arrest the progress of the person in whom God sees the potential for perfection.  

Balance.  Position.  Timing.  The life of a Christian is rooted in these three things.  If you get ’em, you will overcome the opposition regardless of the difficulties.  Be precise.

Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. ~Ecclesiastes 7:18b

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Paul has made his case against the judaizing teachers.  He has proven how antithetical their teachings were to the gospel.  In Galatians 5, he seeks to apply what he has said practically.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~Galatians 5:1

Paul begins by reminding the Galatians what Jesus’ main objective for them really was.  This is Christ’s will for you: freedom.  Freedom!  That is why he came!

Therefore, do not submit to these false teachers.  If you do, you might as well forget Jesus.  You are a prisoner.  You have to keep the whole law.  You have no grace.  Don’t you get it, guys?   Circumcision cannot save you!  If you submit to this one point, you lose the gospel.  You lose the gospel.  You become a slave to the law.  Circumcision cannot save you!  Baptism cannot save you!  Churchgoing cannot save you!  Good theology cannot save you!  Asceticism cannot save you!  Morality cannot save you!  Good deeds cannot save you!  None of it even counts if you are doing it under compulsion!  You want to know what counts?  The only thing that counts?  Faith.  Faith is our only hope of righteousness.  Faith in Jesus is our only hope of righteousness.  It is his righteousness we are counting on, not our own.  Faith working through love, that is.  Faith working through love.

The root of every single action you take, whether it be vow-making, repentance, study, fasting, serving, teaching, preaching, working, eating, drinking, fellowship, etc., etc., must be love because God is love.  God gives faith and faith works.  The way that it works is not through mechanical actions or mere assent, but through love.  Love.

If what you are doing is a result of men’s fear-instilling or men’s intimidation or men’s whip-cracking or men’s exclusion-threatening or men’s guilt-shaming or men’s alliance-making or men’s world-loving or men’s life-coaching or men’s or men’s or men’s or men’s or men’s…guess what?  You are disobeying the truth.  You have ceased to run.  You are listening to the wrong voices.  You are being deceived by godless men; men who will be punished for their heresy.

Paul reasons by reminding the Christians just who these guys were.  They were men who misrepresented him to gain position and power.  They acted and spoke as though 1. they actually knew Paul and 2. Paul agreed with them.  They were deceitful.  They were a hindrance to Paul.  They disregarded the truth.  They were unworthy of respect.

Therefore, Paul is angry.  He is crystal clear when he speaks his opinion of these men publicly.  His intent is not slanderously motivated, but warning oriented.   He is the one who has been slandered.  He is discounting their false ways in an effort to warn his brothers and sisters.  Incidentally, these men have already discounted themselves by their false teachings, deceptive misrepresentation, and distortion of the gospel.  Paul faithfully brings their dangerous inconsistencies to light because he loves his church, his gospel, and his Jesus so very much.

Paul comes full circle and lands back at the beginning saying, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  This is Christ’s will for you: freedom.  That is why he came.  All freedom given us, however, must be subject to love.  It is not about who is circumcised or who has more knowledge or who fasted this week or who is involved in the most ministry or who puts in the most volunteer hours or who can play the instruments or who has the best gifts or who attends the most services or who gives the most money or who or who or who or who…No.  The only who this is about is the One who kept the law in our place.  This is about his love.  This is about love that serves by faith.  It is about love that thinks less of oneself and more of others — even to the point of sacrificing any and all liberty for the sake of another (like Jesus did!)  Those who would follow some set of rules for the sake of the law, or worse, see how many rules they can break for the sake of liberty, these kinds of men will destroy one another foolishly trying to outdo one another for selfish gain.

 Do not believe them.  Do not follow them.  Do not submit to them.  Instead, learn how to love one another like Jesus loves you.  Walk in love.  Walk in the Spirit.  Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

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