In my journey through every book of the Bible, I come to Galatians and see clearly that it is a book about freedom. Not political freedom, but something much more life-changing: Spiritual freedom. Paul writes this letter to first century Christians who were struggling with the idea of ‘faith alone’. These believers were trusting in Jesus as their Messiah, but were still seeing God through the lens of the law–which meant keeping rules and performing rituals. Even today, religion can be seen as something you do more than who you are.
Jesus came to change that.
“Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.” Galatians 3:11
“The law then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:24-25
The real question here is, what does that kind of faith look like? I can believe that there is a God, and I can believe that the Bible is a history book about God–and even that Jesus is the Son of God, but how can I have SAVING FAITH? The kind that saves me from sin and that gives me confidence in my eternity?
You can see a short synopsis here: FAITH
Even if I haven’t seen or experienced something for myself, such as believing the earth is round or flat, or that there really are pink dolphins, (I’ve seen them!), I can still choose to believe that they exist. The Bible says that even demons believe there is one God–but that belief (or knowledge) doesn’t save them from hell.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.” James 2:19
So what’s the difference? Placing my faith, or trust in something even if I can’t see it, changes my belief from just admitting to the validity of facts, to life-changing belief. In other words, when I choose to put my trust in those facts–the truth of the Bible–then my life will take on a whole new direction based on that truth. It changes who I am. It changes why I do things. And it changes who I am a slave to. No longer bound by sin and darkness, I am free to live in the light of His love and goodness.
“…The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20b
This freedom I have comes because I am released from the trap of sin and the burden of guilt.
Freedom in Christ does not mean, however, that I am now free to live how I want, with the attitude that God will forgive me anyway. What it does mean is that this freedom brings with it a new responsibility:
It really is simple.
SIMPLE FAITH=FAITH ALONE
That means I will simply trust that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save the world–including me–from sin. I will believe what the Bible says about salvation–that when I repent of the sin in my life and place my faith in His ability to forgive me, He will change me. My life will be different when I choose to follow Him. I will want to live in such a way that my life says, “I believe that God has created this world and everything in it, and that includes me. I believe and trust that He has given me His Word as a guidebook for life, and it is only through knowing Him and obeying Him that I can have the life He created just for me.” My works cannot save me. Being good enough is never enough. Not even sacrifice–or religion is the key. Being a part of a community of believers who come together for worship and Bible study, or fellowshipping with and serving of others becomes an outward expression of the condition of my heart, not a ritual I have to perform for God to be happy with me. All of those things are what the Bible calls “fruit”, or the results of being a Christ follower:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25
Summing up Galatians was really difficult for me. There is so much to be said and so much that we could discuss, so please don’t stop here. Camp out in this letter for a while and dwell on these life-giving words, then come back and start a discussion if there’s a verse you really wanted to talk about.
If you want to join me, I am choosing to memorize Galatians 5:13 for my Scripture Memory Challenge. It’s time start looking at our next book: Ephesians. You’ll see this is actually a pretty short book, but one that I’m sure to spend quite a bit of time on, so don’t give up now–we’re almost finished!