Stand Against Counterfeits
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. — Galatians 1:6-7
So before we dig into this text, I want to note four details about the letter to the Galatians. First, it was one of the first letters in the New Testament. Second, it's also the first of Paul's letters. Third, it's a letter circulated to three churches he visited on his first trip; Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Fourth and most notable here, Paul appears to be the most irritated when he wrote this letter.
And I think I know why Paul was so irritated.
He was irritated because he used to be a legalist. Before he met Jesus, he studied legalism, practiced legalism, and enforced legalism — down to the letter of the religious law. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. But when he met Jesus, he had to address this because Jesus confronted his legalism. When Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road, it was a confrontation between the grace of God and the legalist righteousness of Paul. And right at that moment, Paul had to come to terms with the fact that God's grace was not something that could ever be earned through legalist religious behavior. It was something extended by God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And it was this grace that gave Paul new sight!
And I think Paul has a right to be irritated because religious legalism is nothing like the message of the good news. Legalism has a four-fold effect on the good news. First, it encourages impossible standards that no one can live up to. Second, it promotes self-righteousness and all the self-centered motivations that go with it. Third, it fosters division in the church between people, classes, and giftings. And fourth, and most heinous of all, it downgrades the righteousness of Jesus and every he has done, accomplished, and completed for us. Thus it's a four-fold nullification of the gospel. As Paul said, legalism it's a gospel that looks like the gospel, but it's no gospel at all.
Fellas, we have to stand up for the good news of the gospel of grace. And we stand up by standing against the legalism that persuades our hearts. But what does it look like to do that? Well, here's what it looks like. At the moment you feel far from Jesus because of your disobedience, you need to preach to yourself his gospel of grace. And at the moment you feel close to Jesus because of your obedience, you need to preach to yourself his gospel of grace. And this isn't some strange self-help positive talk strategy. This is speaking the message of truth back to the heinous, devious, and insidious sin that lies within each of us — the enemy of legalism. And we are going to have to preach this to ourselves for the rest of our lives, living obediently in the gospel of grace every day.
So, where do you need to preach the gospel of grace to yourself today? Is it to an act of obedience or to an act of disobedience? Preach it to yourself, and let's stand against the fake gospel of legalism.
ASK THIS: So where today do you need to preach the gospel of grace to yourself today? Is it to an act of obedience or to an act of disobedience?
DO THIS: Share below.
PRAY THIS: God, forgive my disobedience when I run from your love and my obedience that attempts to earn your love. Make my desires only for you and for your benefit, not my own.
PLAY THIS: Matt Maher - Rise Up.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.