Lesson 25

The Epistle to the Galatians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:11 See with what large letters I write to you with my own hand. 6:12 As many as desire to look good in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 6:13 For even they who receive circumcision don't keep the law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh. 6:14 But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 6:16 As many as walk by this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on God's Israel. 6:17 From now on, let no one cause me any trouble, for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus branded on my body.

6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.


Today's Lesson 

Paul has dictated a powerful letter to the young believers in Galatia. At some points he has had to be fierce. At some points he has had to be firm. In all cases he has tried to be true to the vision of the gospel that has been delivered to him through the Spirit of God. Paul does not preach words that will make him popular and he does not temper his words to only include those things that he believes to be practical. Paul delivers the gospel as the Spirit of God instructs him. He has a complete sense that God guides his life. The result - the success or the failure - is in God's hands.


So Paul takes up the pen in his own hands at the end of this letter. In other letters Paul tells us who is his amanuensis, the man who physically writes the words that he dictates. In this letter, Paul does not do so. Perhaps the urgency with which he writes this letter prevents him from remembering this common courtesy. In any case, we know that someone assisted Paul because in verse 11 he asks his readers to notice that the larger letter indicates that these words were written by Paul's own hand. This line also convinces some that some of Paul's physical ailments related to poor eyesight. Perhaps he wrote such large letters because his eyesight was so bad that large letters was all that he could see. In any case, Paul has some final personal words to say. In this letter he will argue to the very end.


He writes to the Galatians, These men who seek to persuade you do so because they want to boast in what they have accomplished in you. They do not seek your good; they only seek after their own ends. But Paul writes that he does not boast, except in the cross of Christ. In Christ, whether a man is circumcised or uncircumcised, that is whether one is a Gentile or a Jew, does not matter. The only difference that is important in Christ is whether one has been born again. Those that are born again in Christ have become a new creation. God starts off fresh with them. All their sins and lawless acts are forgiven, completely and irrevocably.


This new creation is free. You cannot earn it nor do anything to deserve it. God gives the gift of new life of his own sovereign will and at his own discretion. Yes, this gift is free to us and yet in a completely different way it is very expensive as well. You see, in order to accept this gift, we must be willing to give up everything else. We must be willing to die to our old life. Paul writes that through the cross "the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul was willing to give away everything else, to "die" to the rest of the world, for the sake of gaining a relationship with Jesus Christ. In order to be a new creation, we must be willing to let the old creation go. We must be willing to die.


Paul was willing to die. He stated that he bore on his body the marks of the Lord. These marks Paul is referring to are probably the marks he obtained through his suffering in the spreading the gospel.


The door that stands between our lives here and eternity is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. In His hands He holds the keys to life and death. We must be willing to subject our own lives to His awesome judgment. We must be willing to leave everything here to enter into the new life that He offers. In order to be born again, we must accept the crucifixion of the flesh. In order to live, we must die.


There is a freedom in Christ. It is the freedom of those that have set aside everything else to pursue that which is truly valuable. It is the freedom of those that have died and have been raised from the dead to become a new creation. What we were before will never matter again. All that matters is the new creation. All that matters is Christ - and the power of His resurrection.


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