- Day 50. 2 Corinthians 1-3
- Day 51. 2 Corinthians 4-6
- Day 52. 2 Corinthians 7-9
- Day 53. 2 Corinthians 10-13
- Day 54. Galatians 1-2
- Day 55. Galatians 3-4
- Day 56. Galatians 5-6
This marks our eighth week of the Summer Reading Program. We are about two-thirds of the way through the New Testament, so we are definitely over halfway until the end! During this week of devotions, you will encounter the book of Galatians, which is exciting because next month we will be starting a new series on that book at ACG! So consider this as pre-reading before we finally kickstart the studies.
Now in the last few weeks, you would have read through three of Paul’s epistles thus far (Romans, 1 Corinthians, and now 2 Corinthians). If you paid close attention, there is a conventional structure in each of his letters: an opening salutation (a greeting containing the writer’s and recipient’s name), a blessing or thanksgiving, a body, a final greeting, and a benediction.
However, what we immediately see in the introduction of this letter to the Galatians is that there is a glaring alteration to the common structure of this letter – Paul does not offer any thanksgiving!
The absence of his warm pleasantries in this letter is quite significant. Paul gets straight into business by warning the Galatians of the imminent danger of abandoning the gospel of Jesus Christ for a counterfeit gospel that will only bring destructive consequences to their souls: “ I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” (Gal. 1:6-7a).
The Galatian church was infiltrated by false teachers who taught justification by circumcision, and Paul was clearly distressed over this crisis that has hit this church he has worked so laboriously in. The Gentile Christians were forced to observe Jewish traditions and food regulations if they wanted to remain within the fellowship of God’s community. They were on the brink of being led astray from the path of salvation. Compounded with the division caused by this theological controversy within the church, the abruptness of Paul’s response was justified. Much was at stake. The Galatians must return back to the true gospel, and he begins with an autobiography of his conversion and ministry to substantiate the authenticity of the gospel he preaches – that the gospel he preaches comes from God and God alone (Gal. 1:11-12).
And the gospel makes it crystal clear that we can only be declared righteous in God’s sight by faith alone, not by the merits of our own works:
“We also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
By faith, we find complete forgiveness of our sins.
By faith, we find favour with God.
By faith, we find freedom from slavery to religion and irreligion.
By faith, we find the gift of the promised Spirit.
By faith, we find a new identity in Christ.
By faith, we find a new and redeemed family of God.
It is by faith that both Jew and Gentile are able to experience inexpressible joy and blessing from the freedom of being a child of God – the freedom that Christ has won for us by His death and resurrection. His saving work is sufficient to cover all of our sins; to add anything else to the work of Christ leads to an undoing of everything Christ has worked for.
So let’s rest on our newfound status as sons of God and heirs of His amazing promises. Our old lives have been crucified with Christ (2:20). We no longer live under the system of meriting righteousness by our own works (2:19). We, therefore, have no reason to return to the fractured principles of the world that fails to offer true freedom and liberation from our sin and guilt (4:9). We are free to joyfully live lives utterly devoted to God and to serve others in love (5:13).
Though the letter perhaps began with a cold confrontation to its original readers, it ends with a recapitulation of God’s tremendous promises of everlasting hope. The solemnity of Paul’s opening rebuke was written, in order that he can once again proclaim God’s good news to the Galatians (and to the world) that the true gospel offers true delivery from our unfathomable debt to God when we trust in the person and work of His Son by faith and faith alone. So then why be a slave to the world and its paradigms? Surely this is a much better way to live!
1. What passages or themes in the books have you read that have led you to a greater understanding of what God has given to you in Christ?
2. How does one become a member of God’s family?
3. What is the connection between the law and the promise?
4. What are some of the more evident ‘works of the flesh’ in your life that you need to put an end to?
5. What are some of the aspects of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ that you would like to work on in particular?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you once again for the provision of your Word for the regular sustenance of our spiritual well-being. We recognise that without the Word, we would often forget the extravagant promises that you have given to us through Jesus. And without the power of your promises that bring us reassurance of our right relationship before you, the world and its principles would steadily sink its claws into our souls once more, dragging us back into its death-inducing snares. Renew our minds to remember who you made us to be, Father – sons of your everlasting kingdom and heirs to your eternal inheritance. May we live by faith through every moment of our lives, trusting in the sufficiency of the work of your Son, Jesus. And help us to live fruitful lives in accordance to your will, as we keep in step with the Spirit. We ask this, in your Son’s precious name. Amen.