WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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A NEW BIRTH BRINGS FREEDOM
(Letting go of those things that hinder your relationship with GOD)
In verses 8-20, we see the Apostle Paul’s deep concern for the Galatians, who, not long ago, were literally slaves to “pagan gods” that did not exist in the natural sense. And now that “they had found salvation in the real GOD” (now that they know GOD on a personal level), or more specifically, “now that the real GOD had gracefully given HIS salvation to them”, they seemed to be “falling back” (backsliding) into the clutches of those same weak, spiritual forces that they had just left behind, or, ridded themselves of.
They were also, at one and the same time, trying to win favor with the “true GOD” only by adhering to the “Jewish calendar” of ritual celebrations and observances such as “Passover”, “Pentecost”, and the “Tabernacles festivals” (in the Law of Moses). They, like many people today, think that it is possible to worship GOD in the truth of HIS Word while they still maintain a lust for the spirit of this world.
Salvation from man’s perspective is that “he has found GOD” (confession with the mouth), however, salvation from GOD’s perspective is that “HE has found us” (when we accept HIM in the heart) (Vs.8-9). In verse 8 Paul tells the Gentile believers that they were slaves to false gods before they discovered the “Real GOD”, or rather, “the Real GOD found them”. He then asks (v.9), “Why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual powers of this world?”
Like many “professed” Christians in today’s society, the Galatians were trying to endear themselves to GOD by going to church, or worship services (playing church) for a couple of hours every Sunday, or every Sabbath day, while all through the remainder of the week, they ignored GOD completely, by way of their worldly behavior, and lifestyles. However, true Christians know that true worship of GOD can only be exemplified in our day to day and actions, attitude, and behavior.
Paul had become concerned that all of his “hard work” and teachings about CHRIST JESUS meant nothing to the Galatians. In verse 11 Paul uses the Greek term “kekopiaka eike” which means “to labor to the point of exhaustion, in vain”. Paul wanted to know, “Where was the zeal for CHRIST, and the love and care that they had shown him” when he first brought them the Good News, while on his first missionary journey with Barnabas?
At that time, even though Paul was very sick with an unnamed revolting, dreadful ailment, the Galatians did not reject him because of it, but rather, they treated him, and cared for him as though he were an angel, or even, CHRIST HIMSELF. Now, however, they were treating him as if he were an enemy, because he was teaching them the same truth that he had introduced them to on his first missionary journey (Vs.13-15).
To live in CHRIST is to be “free” from the gravitational pull of this world, and that does not just mean free from the lure of the things of the world (idol gods, ungodly people, etc.), but also, it means to be free from the bondage of sin and death (permanent separation from GOD), and, free from the condemnation of the Law (V.12).
The false teachers who had followed Paul and Barnabas into Galatia had apparently won many of the Galatians over. And now, upon writing this letter, Paul felt as though he was going through “labor pains” all over again, needing to de-program the Galatians, to get them back to the “right teaching” that they had originally experienced and accepted from him.
Paul, no doubt, felt that the Galatians needed to be released, once again, from the spiritual chains of sin and death that had formerly bound them to the world. And, he also felt that he had to try and extricate them, once again from their path of destruction, with the only weapon he had, besides GODly behavior, which came in the form of the words of this powerful letter.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander