Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself – Chapter Six

This post concludes my series on “Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself”, and is derived from chapter six of Galatians.

  • When one of my brothers and sisters is caught in sin I will restore them with gentleness.  I will not rejoice in the sins of others or lift my nose at them, but will seek their restoration.  Correction is always to be for the purpose of restoration.   (6:1)
  • I recognize that sometimes I take pride in not committing the sins that other Christians have committed.  I will resist that form of pride, and I will be watchful and stay vigilant in my fight against sin recognizing that I could sin in the same ways.  I know that present victory over a particular sin does not guarantee future victory over a particular sin.  (6:1)
  • I will not only gently correct those who are caught in sin, but I will carry other people’s heavy burdens.  These burdens may not always be sinful but circumstantial or pertaining to personal weakness whether in their body or in their faith.  I resolve to be a self-giving and gracious person.  When I live like this I fulfill the law of Christ and walk like Jesus walked.  (6:2)
  • I declare war on self-righteous tendencies in my life, and will regularly remind myself that I am not “something”.  Thinking that I am something special is self-deception. (6:3)
  • I will not compare myself to other people to gauge my spirituality, but I will compare myself to Jesus who always has a higher standard of godliness and will rest in his grace and empowerment. (6:2-4)
  • I will examine myself not in order to compare myself to other people, but to seek the approval of God in my life.  I will pursue the godliness modeled in the person of Christ above the godliness modeled by my peers or heroes. (6:2-4)
  • I will not live in weakness but will accept responsibility for my own load.  I will not live in constant need of assistance from someone else but will take responsibility for my own life.  However, I will not walk in the pride of never admitting that I need help, nor will I live in the false humility of always being needy—whether physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially—and mooch off of other people thereby unnecessarily burdening them.  (6:5)
  • I will bless those who have taught me.  I will find tangible ways to bless my pastor(s) and other men and women of God who have had an influence in my life. (6:6)
  • I will not be deceived and mock God by believing that I will not reap what I sow.  When I sow to the flesh I will reap corruption and when I sow to the Spirit I will reap eternal life.  Therefore today I resolve to sow to the Spirit. (6:7-8)
  • I know that it easy to grow weary and lose heart when doing good and when sowing to the Spirit, and I will guard my heart against becoming passive.  The Gospel of grace enables me to walk actively after the Spirit and is not an excuse for spiritual passivity.  I will keep my eye on the prize of eternal life that is reaped by those who sow to the spirit. (6:9)
  • I will live a life that blesses unbelievers—the poor and rich, black and white, people of differing political affiliations, people of other religions or no religion at all, and even my enemies.  Most of all though I will concentrate my efforts upon blessing fellow Christians in my local setting and around the world.  (6:10)
  • I know that there are those who would seek to bind my conscience into legalistic thinking and subjection to the Law because they do not want to deal with persecution that comes from embracing the scandal of God’s grace in the cross of Christ.  I will not submit to them. (6:12)
  • I know that the Gospel of grace is consistently attacked by religious people within church, and that I will suffer persecution for believing in radical grace.  When that sort of persecution comes, in whatever form, I will not devalue the glorious Gospel by being compelled to trade the substance of the true Gospel for their form of the false gospel. (6:12)
  • I will resist hypocritical teachers that place upon me external religious principles or traditions because of their desire to boast in their influence over what I have done, and I will be a teacher that teaches and highlights the grace of God in the work of Jesus more than any other thing. (6:13)
  • I will only boast in the cross of Christ.  The cross is the most significant event in human history, and I will live like that is so.  I desire that my thoughts, my affections/emotions, and my actions all come under the influence of the centrality of the cross.  The cross is the pinnacle of my doctrine and the pattern by which I am to live life.  I will live defined by the cross because in Christ I am defined by the cross.  (6:14)
  • At the cross I died with Jesus and the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.  Therefore I will not follow the lusts and mindset of the world, but walk according to my identity in Christ desiring Jesus and resting in his work not my works.  I know that the boasts and pleasures of this world are empty, and that in Christ true pleasure is found.  I ask the Holy Spirit to eliminate areas where I am engaging in self-boasting and cause me to live a life of one boast in Jesus. (6:14)
  • I cannot boast in the fact that I am new creation anymore than I can boast in the fact that I was created—that is something God did not something I did.   Therefore my boast is in God who launched new creation in the person and work of Jesus.  (6:14-15)
  • I am a new creation in Christ and realize that circumcision and uncircumcision isn’t anything.  I refuse to fall into the trap of believing that external religious traditions matter.  (6:15)
  • Because in Christ I am a new creation and I am a part of the Israel of God and one of God’s people.  Therefore I receive the mercy and peace of God that comes from being his possession and covenant bride.  (6:16)
  • I receive the grace of Jesus extended through this letter and through the person and work of Christ.  I ask that my Lord Jesus will grace my spirit right now. (6:18)

A Prayer for A Deep Sense of the Gospel

Henry Scougal, the Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University who died in 1657 at age 27, penned the following prayer at the end of his classic book The Life of God in the Soul of Man:

“Fill our souls with such a deep sense, and full persuasion of those great truths which thou has revealed in the gospel, as may influence and regulate our whole conversation, and that the life which we henceforth live in the flesh, we may live through faith in the Son of God.” (p. 134)

Notice the prayer is not merely for persuasion of the truth of the Gospel, but for a deep sense of that persuasion.

Pray for your own heart, that you not only know the Gospel, but feel the Gospel.  Then pray the same for others.

Prayer as Wrestling with God

The following quote on prayer by P.T. Forsyth rocked me today:

Let us beware of pietist fatalism which thins the spiritual life, saps the rigour of character, makes humility mere acquiescence, and piety only feminine, by banishing the will from prayer as much as thought has been banished from it…The popularity of much acquiescence is not because it is holier, but because it is easier.  And an easy gospel is the consumption that attacks Christianity….

Once come to think that we best say “Thy will be done” when we acquiesce, when we resign, and not also when we struggle and wrestle, and in time all effort will seem less pious than submission.  And so we fall into the ecclesiastical type of religion, drawn from an age whose first virtue was submission to outward superiors.  We shall come to canonize decorum and subduedness in life and worship…We shall think more of order than of effort, more of law than of life, more of fashion than of faith, of good form than of great power.  But was subduedness the mark of the New Testament men?  Our great religion may gain some beauty in this way, but it loses vigour.  It may gain style, but loses power.  It is good form, but mere aesthetic piety….

All our forms and view of religion have their test in prayer.  Lose the importunity of prayer, reduce it to soliloquy, or even to colloquy, with God, lose the real conflict of will and will, lose the habit of wrestling and the hope of prevailing with God, make it mere walking with God in friendly talk: and, precious as that is, yet you tend to lose the reality of prayer at last.  In principle you make it mere conversation instead of the soul’s great action.  You lose the food of character, the renewal of will.  You may have beautiful prayers—but as ineffectual as beauty so often is, and as fleeting.  And so in the end you lose the reality of religion.  (The Soul of Prayer, 91-92.)

I do not come close to the type of prayer that he calls for nor do I know that I’ve heard many who pray with this kind of tenacity.

Prayer is not simply submission to God, but wrestling with God.   May God raise up men and women who not only submit to God’s sovereignty, but who wrestle with him in prayer.

Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself – Chapter Five

My series on “Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself” continues with chapter five:

Chapter Five

  • Jesus set me free.  Therefore I will not submit to any “yokes” of slavery that are add-on’s to the Gospel no matter how spiritual they may seem.  My freedom hinges on Jesus’ work—nothing else.  (5:1)
  • I will stand firm in the Gospel.  My right-standing before God is due to Jesus not something that I do or don’t do.  I stand firm in Christ not self.  I know that love for the Gospel will breed humble Christ-confidence not prideful self-confidence in my life.  (5:1)
  • I recognize that if I receive something else besides Jesus, like circumcision, to increase my spiritual standing before God Jesus is no benefit to me.  The benefits of the Gospel come from Jesus alone. (5:2)
  • When I receive religious traditions and law as well as the person of Jesus, I place myself under obligation to keep the whole law.  In light of this, I trust Jesus and thus reject everything else as a means to finding favor with God. (5:3)
  • I know that seeking justification from law is falling from grace.  Falling from grace isn’t so much a direct rejection of Jesus, but an indirect acceptance of anything else besides Jesus to make me right with God.  If I treat Jesus as only a piece of God’s saving work, I sever myself from Jesus.   Therefore I will seek to sever all those things from my life which disconnect me from Jesus even if others think those same things connect me to Jesus. (5:4)
  • I wait for the hope of righteousness through the Holy Spirit and by faith.  Righteousness comes from the work of the Spirit not through my works. (5:5)
  • I believe that faith works through love.  Faith is not empty.  Faith is filled with love.  Therefore by faith I believe that Jesus alone means everything, and that religious traditions like uncircumcision or circumcision mean nothing. (5:6)
  • I desire to run my race well, and I believe that I run best not by adding things to the truth of the Gospel, but by trusting the truth of the Gospel.  I will train myself daily with the Gospel believing Jesus’ work on my behalf.  I will begin my days not doing work for Jesus but trusting Jesus’ work for me. (5:7)
  • God calls me to Jesus—not Jesus plus something or someone else.  God loves persuading people to the sufficiency of his Son not to self-sufficiency.  (5:8)
  • I know that my life and the church as a whole can become filled with leaven—filled with things other than Jesus.  Since leaven spreads quickly I will seek to be on guard against any particles of the leaven of legalism and law-living in my life and the community of faith that I am a part of.  (5:9)
  • I recognize that false teachers who sneak into the community of faith and preach another Jesus or in addition to Jesus will come under judgment.  (5:10)
  • I believe that the cross is a stumbling block.  It is offensive.  I will not be surprised then when moralists are offended by the radical grace of Jesus, nor will I be surprised when false teachers attempt to undermine the centrality of the cross of Jesus in the church.  (5:11)
  • Paul uses harsh language when speaking of false teachers.  He wishes that those who advocate circumcision along with Jesus as a means to salvation would go all the way and castrate themselves.  Therefore I will not be soft on false teachers who know better.  (5:12)
  • I will use sarcasm for the sake of the Gospel to reveal the foolishness of false teaching.  Sarcasm is not to reveal my cleverness but to point people to Jesus.  (5:12)
  • My freedom in Christ is not a freedom to sin.  Therefore I resist tendencies to turn the radical grace of God into license.  Instead Gospel-freedom moves me to serve and love others, not serve and indulge myself.  (5:13)
  • Since the Law is fulfilled in loving my neighbor as myself—I will love Jesus and love other people.  Radical grace emboldens me to love radically not sin radically.  (5:14)
  • I will not engage in biting and devouring other people through my self-centered words and actions, but will seek to build up the church.  (5:15)
  • By faith I will walk by the Spirit so that I do not carry out the desires of the flesh.  I will not fight flesh with flesh, but flesh with Spirit.   (5:16)
  • I know life is war and that an inner conflict of flesh versus Spirit wages within me, and within those in the church.  Therefore I will seek to live by the Spirit, and will strive to be patient with others and forgiving toward others knowing that perfection will not be achieved till Jesus returns.  (5:17)
  • Because of Jesus I am not under the law, but led by the Spirit.  I will avoid living a life led by law, and pursue the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.  (5:18)
  • I will seek to kill the following sins in my life: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and other things similar to these.  I take the warning of Paul against these things seriously, and will not play with sin.  I know that playing around with particular sins end in practicing and being addicted to the same sins.  At times I will examine myself and ask the opinion of others to see that I am not engaging in these sinful deeds.  (5:19-21)
  • I know that those who practice and live consistently in these sinful lifestyles will not inherit the kingdom of God.   I will not lift my noses at others who engage in these things, but will live soberly knowing that I too could become entangled in them.   Also, I will not be controlled by my past when I have engaged in these things (even if the past means yesterday), but I now ask Jesus to forgive me and ask for the Holy Spirit to enable me to kill my sin and bear the fruit of the Spirit. (5:19-23)
  • I desire and ask the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my life.  I know that these aren’t fruits plural but fruit singular, and that I am called to walk in all of them not just some of them.  I will not settle with my current level of maturity, but desire growth in the Spirit. (5:22-23)
  • Because I have died with Jesus, I have died to the flesh and these sinful passions and desires.  Therefore I will live and act like I am dead to them, because I really have died to them.  I don’t kill sin in order to die to sin and in order to be alive to Jesus.  I kill sin because I’m dead to sin and alive to Jesus.  (5:24)
  • Because I live by the Spirit due to the person and work of Jesus I will walk by the Spirit.  I know that this is not passive, but an active pursuit.  Therefore I ask God for help and for more of the Spirit’s work in my life.  I desire continual fillings of the Spirit so that I am empowered to walk filled with the Spirit.  (5:25)
  • I know the Spirit hates boasting, and challenging, and envying my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Therefore I will strive to boast in others successes, encourage others in their faith, and rejoice when others are blessed.  I believe that the Holy Spirit works supernaturally, but sometimes the great work of the Spirit is found in the “simple” things like an encouraging word or holding one’s tongue.  (5:26)

Where Powerlessness in the Church Comes From

I’ve been convicted recently of a lack of expectancy in my prayers.  Oftentimes I don’t expect God to answer.

Sam Storms points out that this attitude itself is where powerlessness in the church comes from.

The following quote by Storms is provocative, convicting, and compelling:

“All of us wish that contemporary church life was a more complete reflection of the New Testament ideal.  But we cannot, we must not, respond to the discomfort and confusion this often creates with anything less than more prayer for the sick, greater zeal for spritual gifts, and deeper desire for the hand of God to perform these signs and wonders that bless his people and magnify his name.  Nothing will contribute more to the entrenchment of powerlessness in the church than a theology that empties prayer of meaningful of expectancy.”  (Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?,  325-326)

The Benefit of Remembering God’s Benefits (Psalm 103)

A good way to start a Monday is reflecting on who God is and what God does.  Psalm 103 gives several verbs that highlight the character and ways of God.

Being too busy to remember God is sinful.  Therefore the Psalmist does not want us to “forget all [God’s] benefits”, but to bless God for them.  There is great benefit to remembering God’s benefits.

Start your busy week out by considering that you are dust and blessing God’s multi-faceted greatness:

  • God forgives (v. 3)
  • God heals (v. 3)
  • God redeems (v. 4)
  • God crowns (v. 4)
  • God satisfies (v. 5)
  • God works justice (v. 6)
  • God reveals Himself in word and deed (v. 7)
  • God mercies because He is merciful (v. 8 )
  • God graces because He is gracious (v. 8 )
  • God is slow to anger (v. 8 )
  • God loves abundantly (v. 8 )
  • God will not always accuse or be angry (v. 9)
  • God does not repay his people for their sins (v. 10)
  • God loves greatly and eternally (v. 11, 17)
  • God has compassion like a Daddy (v. 13)
  • God remembers we are created and made from dust (v. 14)
  • God rules everything (v. 19)

Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself – Chapter Four

This post continues my series on “Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself.”  What follows is chapter four:

Chapter Four

  • As a son of God, I am no longer a slave to the elemental spirits of the world.  Satan and demons do not have authority over me because I am God’s son.  (4:1-3)
  • I have been redeemed because God sent Jesus who is a man like me, yet who fulfilled the law of God on my behalf.  Jesus has redeemed me from living under the curse of the law because he bore the curse and fulfilled the requirements of the law for me. (4:4-5)
  • I am God’s adopted son.  He did not have to love me, but he chose to love me.  (4:5)
  • God has sent the Spirit of Jesus within me so that I have an intimate relationship with the Father like a child has with his/her Daddy.  (4:6)
  • I am no longer a slave to anything, but Christ, and Christ is my brother and God is my Father. (4:7)
  • As God’s son, I am an heir of a great inheritance beyond any wealth that can be achieved in this world or bigger than any estate in this world.  I am an heir through the means of God’s grace, and am an heir of God Himself and all that Jesus owns, which is everything.  (4:7)
  • Because God has known me and chosen me, and I have known and chosen Him, I will not turn back to slavery to demons or anything else, but will live as a son in the freedom Jesus has purchased for me and in the victory Jesus has won for me. (4:8-9)
  • I will not be held captive to observing special days and religious traditions, but I will be captivated by Christ and not the shadows that pointed to him.  (4:10)
  • I recognize that sometimes God uses physical infirmities, whether sickness or pain, in believers to further the spread of the Gospel.  More than physical prosperity I desire that the Gospel prosper throughout the world.  I will value the Gospel as the greatest good and not my own health as the greatest good.  (4:13)
  • I will welcome those who have physical infirmities, and not despise them.  I will seek to do all I can to help alleviate the physical infirmities of others. (4:14-15)
  • I desire Paul’s passion that Jesus be formed in those around me.  Similar to a mother enduring the pain of childbirth to enjoy a baby, I will endure all things to see that Jesus is formed within my friends and family.  When life is difficult, trials come, and those around me disappoint and begin to drift away from the Gospel.  I will not lose hope, but I will strive even more, even when it causes me emotional pain, to see that they love and trust Jesus. (4:19)
  • I will listen to the true meaning of the law, as it always points to the freedom that Christ brings. (4:21, 31)
  • I recognize that Abraham had a child of promise from Sara who is free and a child of flesh from Hagar who is enslaved, and that I am a child of promise who should live in freedom.  (4:22-28)
  • I will not trust in a life of law-centered living, which is the false gospel of Ishmael and Hagar and Mt. Sinai, but will entrust my whole being to Jesus, which is the Gospel of Isaac and Sara and the Jerusalem above.  Therefore I do not need to follow the Jewish law to be a true son of God or to reach a higher level of Christian spirituality; I just need to trust the person and work of Jesus alone, which is the only pathway to Christian maturity.  (4:22-28)
  • I will not take things into my own hands like Abraham did with Hagar to achieve the blessing of God, but I will trust God’s promises that he will accomplish what He promised in due time.  (4:23)
  • I will live a life of joy because I am a child of the free woman. (4:27)
  • I believe that God does supernatural miracles and brings supernatural blessing to desolate people. (4:27)
  • I know that there are those, children of the flesh, who would seek to bring me back into enslavement according to law and legalism, and persecute me because of my freedom, doing it in the name of God and covenant.  I will not  submit to them and act contrary to who I am in Christ, as if I am a son of bondage to law, but will live as a son of God in freedom. (4:29)
  • I believe that those who distort the truth of the Gospel of Christ and turn it into slavery to law, like Hagar’s children, are to be driven out of the church.  (4:30)