Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
The Stark Contrast
Galatians is all about the contrast between the old nature and the new, legalism and Spirit-life. As we finish up the book today we?re going to see that contrast in stark relief so let?s look for it as we finish chapter 6.
As we talked about the fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5, we saw that a lot of it had to do with having God?s attitudes as our attitudes?overflowing love, looking to the good of others even if it is to our detriment, being patient, and basically laying ourselves and our needs before God in order to be used most effectively as an instrument of incredible good in the lives of others.
The conclusion of the letter of Galatians takes up that theme again, and puts it in opposition to the attitude of the Judaizers, who were only in it for themselves.
So to get up to speed with the flow of this new life, this transformative life that the Holy Spirit is birthing in us we see that we are becoming:
- Not as prone to obeying the old nature
- Overflowing with God?s self-sacrificing love
- Seeking goodness in others
- Seeking restoration in those who have fallen prey to the old nature
Now he tells the Galatians that a new-life person is also generous and grateful.
Just as those in the Galatian churches benefited spiritually by hearing the Word of God taught to them, they should in return benefit the teachers materially. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:9 ?Do not muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain? as a way of encouraging believers to support their pastors. It?s a part of ?carry one another?s burdens? of verse 2. We help carry the burden of assisting those in need and assisting those who are laboring in the gospel.
Now while verse 7 does have wider application, the specific context is in how you give of your time, talents, and money.
7 ? 8
Another way of saying this is: ?Don?t fool yourself. You certainly can?t fool God.? When you put your resources into that which condones or encourages the old nature that old nature is going to give back garbage. The word ?corruption? means ?decay?. On the other hand, giving of yourself ? your money, time, and talent ? to help spread the kingdom of God will reap eternal life in those who hear it. I?m certainly not saying we should give all of our money to the church but we should think about how we spend and what it will result in both in our lives and others.
I think there is indeed a wider application than just financial giving, however. This is one of those universal truths. If you make decisions that bolster the old nature that old nature is going to give back more of what it knows best: decay, corruption, death?things that pull you away from God. But if you sow to your new nature by ?putting to death the deeds of the flesh? and instead do things that encourage growth in your relationship with God, you will get the natural result of that?a quality of life that is well beyond what this age can offer. Remember: ?Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.? (Matt 6:21)
But going back to Paul?s contextual point: the new nature desires to see good in other people.
9 ? 10
With all that Paul had to go through, not only with the Galatians but with many other churches, it?s no wonder that the tendency would be to grow weary of doing good. But he says to keep doing good and good will come of it. And I like how he says in verse 10 ?for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.? It doesn?t mean that we ignore those who aren?t Christians, but the good you do will certainly be more effective in the life of someone who knows Jesus as you help them grow even stronger.
Here I picture Paul going over and grabbing the stylus because it was so important. Now some believe that Paul had to write in large letters because of his poor eyesight?possibly from the ?thorn in the flesh?. But is it also possible that he wanted the Galatians to know that this was so important that he no longer wanted it dictated. The battle between flesh and Spirit, legalism and the new nature is so vital to the growth of every disciple.
Here Paul levels his last attacks against the Judaizers. Notice that they are only trying to take the ?safe? road. The cross was a ?stumbling block? to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23) because it does away with obedience to the Law (and to them). Jesus died for our disobedience and in His resurrection we become like God and obey His character as a natural occurrence of the Spirit in us. Going against the grain is hard. It?s so much easier to just go along with what the culture around you says, rather than stand out. So in the flesh we are cowards, but in the Spirit we have boldness to live for Christ and, as Paul will say in a moment, boast about the cross!
The flesh is all about the self. And so the Judaizers were really after glory for themselves, not for the good of others. The flesh demands impossible perfection. ?There is none righteous, no not one? (Romans 5:10). The new nature understands that we live imperfectly now, and that our obedience comes from Jesus. We know more and more that it isn?t about us, but spreading God?s love and life to others, even if it means discomfort for us.
Paul had no need to boast about the things that pleased the Judaizers. His only boast was in what the cross had accomplished in his life?something that the law could never accomplish?actually make Him righteous. So the world, and all its enticements to self-gratification, were no longer an allure?they were ?crucified? to him. And he no longer identified with the world for his sense of security or satisfaction, instead he identified with Jesus?he had been crucified to the world.
Being circumcised doesn?t buy you salvation; neither is being a non-Jew a barrier. The only thing that matters is the new creation that the Holy Spirit brings through the cross. (2 Cor 5:17)
?If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!? NIV
The Judaizers wanted the Galatians to follow the rule of the law. Paul wanted them to follow the rule of the gospel?that is: righteousness through grace alone by faith alone. Through following the gospel even the Jews will be blessed.
Talking about the cross no doubt reminded Paul of all the ?marks? that had been placed on him as he sought to spread the gospel. Paul had been beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, and imprisoned. Still he stood for the truth. In the same way, even if we run into difficulty for putting our reliance on the cross instead of our own efforts, we should stand firm.
And I love how Paul ends the letter. It is by grace, not works, that we are justified and have a victorious and full Christian life!
Let?s go back and look again at the contrast between the old nature and the new, the legalist and the Spirit-life.
Generosity, lack of hold by worldly possessions,
Lack of security leading to stinginess and greed.
Desire to ?sow? to the new life
Desire to keep up the old ways
Bear the cross proudly
Ability to keep the law in Jesus hands Glory in the Lord?s conquests
Want to keep the law, but can?t. Show off their own conquests
The world and its allure dims
The world and this age holds us in rapt attention
The new life is everything
The old traditions are everything
The gospel is the key
The Law is the key
The bottom line is that we have a choice. Go back under bringing our own sacrifices to God or to let Him bring a sacrifice for us.