Friday, September 2, 2011

Galatians 5:1-6

1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Behold, I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.
3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.
4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

I want to share with you the requirements a few other religions have to get into heaven:
·         Islam – the “Five Pillars” (Shahadah, or verbal testimony, salat, or ritual prayers, saum, or fasting during Ramadan, zakat, or a required charity donation, and hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca). 
·         Hinduism – buildup of karma and “spiritual enlightenment” through yoga and similar practices. 
·         Jehovah’s Witnesses – four requirements: (1) “You must take in accurate knowledge of Jehovah and his son Jesus” (including that Jesus is not God and that worship of Him is sinful), (2) “You must obey God’s laws,” (3) “You must be associated with God’s channel, his visible earthly organization” (The Jehovah’s Witnesses), and (4) “You must loyally advocate his kingdom rule to others, primarily through door-to-door witnessing.”

Do you see a pattern here?  These religions (and all non-Christian religions) are based on lists of requirements.  To borrow an idea I saw on YouTube a year ago, all other religions can be summed up by the word DO.  But what about Christianity?  Don’t you have to do things?  Yes, but not for your salvation.  The work to get us to heaven – is DONE. 

Why, then, do people choose to go back to DO religion?  I believe it’s because of pride – they have something to prove.  Consider a woman obviously struggling with her many groceries, when someone walks up and offers to help.  She says…what?  “No thanks, I can handle it.”  We would rather, it seems, struggle through pain unnecessarily just to prove that we are fully capable, that we don’t need help.  But what happens when we can’t do it ourselves?  We drop our groceries.  We reject salvation all because of pride!  Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  Proverbs 16:18 says, “Prides goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”  In Deuteronomy 18:11a and 14, we are warned, “Beware […] your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  Further, Proverbs 16:5 states, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”  Hosea 13:6 tells us, “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart become proud; Therefore they forgot me.  The answer, of course, is to turn away from our pride, from our attitude of “I can do it myself” and to the Creator who says, “Let Me help you.”  James 4:6 states, “…GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  And Habakkuk 2:4 says, “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by faith.”

It also seems to me that in this passage, we are presented will two extremes.  On the one hand, we can choose to (faultily) rest on salvation through works – meaning we must keep the entire Law.  Or, we can choose to rest on salvation through God’s grace – meaning we must accept His forgiveness for every sin we’ve ever committed.  There is no middle ground – we can’t do half-and-half!  This is a case of all…or all.

Finally, I’d like to briefly touch on the “hope of righteousness” (verse 6).  Isn’t it glorious to imagine that one day, in heaven, we will no longer sin?  God will see us as the righteousness of His Son – pure, spotless, shining, glorified!  Paul said in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  And 1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 

Today’s discussion starters:
1 – I emphasized one reason why people may try to revert back to DO religion – pride.  There
are many other reasons; which ones did you think of?
2 – What other Biblical examples can you think of regarding our glorified bodies?  What do you picture, in your mind, that they will look like?

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