Friday, February 17, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 19, 2017

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(Stand firm in CHRIST)
(Galatians 5:1-17)

   Whenever we turn to the LORD, the “veil” that prevents us from understanding the truth is removed. Our minds are no longer hardened, and so, now we begin to perfectly understand the things of GOD that we had previously failed to comprehend. This veil can only be removed by the “SPIRIT”, whenever we start to believe in the “Risen SAVIOR”, JESUS CHRIST.
    “And now the LORD is that SPIRIT, and wherever the SPIRIT of the LORD is, there is “freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Everyone who has had the veil removed can now be “free” to be the mirror that brightly reflects the glory of the LORD. And as the SPIRIT of the LORD works within us, we become more and more like GOD, and reflect HIS glory even more to others in the world, through our behavior.
    Here in Galatians chapter 5, verses 1-15, Paul reminds the Christians at the Church in Galatia of their newly found “freedom in CHRIST”. He encourages them to remain free, and to not get tied up again in the “slavery of the LAW” (v.1). The Christian life is a life apart from law and license, and it is, instead, a life lived according to the SPIRIT. To turn to the law does five things Paul says, and they are all negative to the Christian Believer;

·         It ruins grace (Vs.1-2)
·         It makes a person a debtor (v.3)
·         It causes one to fall away from grace (Vs.4-6)
·         It blocks the progress of those who believe (Vs.7-10)
·         It nullifies the purpose of the Cross (Vs.11-12)

    The Galatians, who had been influenced by the “false teachers” who had infiltrated the church since Paul had left the area, had begin to rely on “circumcision” and other Jewish rituals and observances to make them “right” with GOD, instead of relying on their faith in CHRIST. They did not realize that, by doing these things, they were actually “cutting themselves off from CHRIST, and thereby, from GOD’s grace (Vs.2-4).
    In the Greek, the word “apokaradokia” is the term used for “earnest expectation”, or “hope for the future”. We, who live by the SPIRIT, eagerly anticipate “the first signs of the coming of the glory of GOD” (CHRIST’s return). We look with “high expectations” to receive everything that GOD promises those who are right with HIM, through our faith in CHRIST. When we place our faith in CHRIST, it makes no difference to GOD whether we are circumcised or not. What is important is that we have an undying faith that expresses itself through “love” (Vs.5-6).
    Paul warned that it takes only one person to infect all the others (v.9) in the church, and he said he was trusting in GOD to rescue them back to the right path. He knew too, that, GOD would judge those responsible for leading the church astray by confusing the people and mixing the “holy with the profane” in the church, in word, thought, and, in deeds (v.10). 
    The Gentiles in the church at Galatia needed to realize that the Jews were persecuting Paul because he preached against the doctrine of Judaism, which supported the belief in the law and good works. He was never a component of “circumcision” for Gentiles, which was a religious rite that GOD charged only to the Jews, and no one else.
    The “freedom” that Christians are called to, is not the freedom to satisfy our “sin nature”, but rather, it is the freedom to satisfy the “nature of GOD” that is within us, by serving one another in love. Paul says that the whole law of GOD can be summed up into one command; “Love your neighbor as yourself”. It is high time that we become aware of how we’re destroying each other by choosing to live in the prison (world) that is, outside of CHRIST JESUS.
    We as Christians must learn to live according to our new life in the HOLY SPIRIT, and when we do that, we won’t be doing the things that our old sinful nature craves. Our old sinful nature, that we accepted into our lives the moment we first disobeyed GOD, at an age of accountability, loves to do the evil works of satan. Those works are exactly the opposite of the works of the HOLY SPIRIT, which mirrors GOD, exactly. Those two forces are constantly battling each other inside of us, causing all of our choices to never be free from conflict.
    When we allow our choices to be directed by satan, we put ourselves on a dangerous path of destruction. However, when we allow the HOLY SPIRIT to direct us, we put ourselves on a path that leads to eternal life with GOD in Heaven, and as a result, we are no longer subjected to the restraints of the law. In other words, we no longer seek to obey GOD as a matter of obligation, but rather, we choose to obey GOD because we greatly desire to, because it is “right” and “good” to do so. Therefore, it becomes an “attitude change”, which leads to a “lifestyle change” that is compatible with GOD, right now, while we live here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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