Today’s Reading: Galatians 3
Happy Labor Day! How fitting that we study the book of Galatians on this holiday! Today we celebrate workers and how their contribution makes a difference to our world and our economy. We are a strong and prosperous country because of the culture of work that has formed over the last two centuries. Working hard is a good thing. Making a contribution to your family, to your church and to your community has a positive ripple effect. Our faith in God can be expressed in our actions but it does not earn us our salvation.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. – Galatians 2:20-21
I do not want to treat the grace of God as meaningless. Christ died on a cross so that I could experience salvation. I did not earn it. I do not deserve it. I can never be good enough on my own. This salvation is a gift from God – a gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This gift is available because of God’s unmerited favor on us – His grace. To begin working hard to earn my salvation is pointless and it ignores God’s grace, treating it as if it has no meaning.
Grace – what a wonderful blessing in our lives! But, just because I could never be good enough on my own to deserve God’s grace does not mean I now have an excuse to sin. Another gift from God was the Holy Spirit. He gave us the gift of His Spirit in order that our faith could be expressed in our actions. With the power of the Spirit living within us, we are able to follow the urgings of the Holy Spirit and not the urgings of our old sinful nature.
Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:7-9
It is that time of year when we see the farmers out in their fields preparing for the harvest. Imagine if one of them planted soybeans in a field but went out expecting to harvest wheat. That would be crazy. The farmer will get what he planted. What he planted will have grown as long as he continued to connect it to a source of water and protect it from bugs.
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. – Galatians 1:4
God gave us His Son, and Jesus willingly died for us, in order that we could be rescued from evil – in order that we could overcome the sinful nature. He promised to give us the gift of HIS righteousness, a gift that is ours when we live by the Spirit. That’s wonderful! We don’t have to create a righteousness of our own, just as we cannot earn our salvation by good works. Instead, His gift of grace gives us the gift of His righteousness and the gift of the Spirit living within us.
But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us…What is important is faith expressing itself in love – Galatians 5:5-6
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. – Galatians 5:13-15
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. – Galatians 5:16-17a
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, LET US FOLLOW THE SPIRIT’S LEADING in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another (5:19-26).
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your grace – for loving us enough to send your Son to die for our sins. Thank you for the gift of the Spirit and for the gift of your righteousness. Holy Spirit, guide my life and give me desires that are the opposite of what my sinful nature desires. Produce in me this kind of fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I nail the passions and desires of my old self, my sinful nature, to your cross and crucify them there. I long to follow the Spirit’s leading in every area of my life. Amen.