I’ve felt a sensation of freedom several times in my life. I remember the day we made the final payment on my husband’s school loans. Another time was writing a check for the last of the medical bills after Jack’s back-to-back surgeries last year. Whew. It felt like someone had lifted a weight off my shoulders. We had discretionary money again. No more fear that we would be turned over to a credit agency and penalized for not paying soon enough. No more reminders in the mailbox that we owed something to somebody. It was a wonderful feeling.
When have you experienced a sense of freedom?
The book of Galatians is often called the charter of Christian liberty.
Read Galatians 1:1-10
Why would Paul connect the Gospel message with the imagery of freedom?
Paul uses some strong language about those who would dare mess with the gospel message. The first thing we need to ask ourselves is: What is the Gospel?
What important components of the Gospel does Paul mention in Galatians 1:3-5?
Over and over, the New Testament writers stop in the middle of their accounts, sermons, and letters to describe the gospel message. I call these verses the Gospel in a nutshell.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Col 1:13,14
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” – Romans 3:21,22
Those verses are for starters. Check out these other verses:
- Titus 3:4-7
- John 5:24
- 1 John 2:2
- 1 Corinthians 15:3,4
- Ephesians 3:12
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Romans 5:8
Can you list other “gospel in a nutshell” verses? Share your findings in the comments of this blog post.
Why was Paul so passionate about preserving the integrity of the gospel message?
Paul makes it very clear that we cannot save ourselves. God is such a holy God that even one sin would separate us from His holiness. There is no way possible that we can fulfill the entire law, so why even try to do it on our own? If you base your salvation on obeying one particular law, then you must obey every law, which is impossible for any of us.
Over the centuries, what large groups have tampered with the Gospel message and have added other practices and requirements to membership in God’s Kingdom?
Why would Paul cringe at these attempts?
We can easily point fingers at groups who have added practices, written second volumes to the Bible, and made long lists of rules for membership to their brand of Christianity. Let’s look at ourselves.
How do we fall into the trap of legalism?
It was tough for me to come up with my own list. Completing these sentences helped me discover how I’m trying to win my way into God’s favor.
- I would be a better Christian if . . .
- Satan likes to accuse me of . . .
- The church would burn down if I . . .
- God and others would disapprove of me if I stopped . . .
- I’m not being a good Christian if I . . .
- I should . . . .
How would you complete those sentences? Can you add other sentences that reveal how you are working your way to Heaven?
God still holds us responsible for moral law. The New Testament contains many commands for which God does hold us accountable. But the big difference is that He wants us to obey out of our trust in Him and our love for Him, not out of a feeling of do’s and don’ts.
We engage in many daily activities where there is no right or wrong. God will think no less of me if I wear pants instead of a skirt to church Sunday morning, play SkipBo, drink coffee, or miss attending a social group meeting at church!
As I was preparing this lesson, I went to bed that night, berating myself that I had skipped my morning devotions and prayer time. Some Christian you are, that hideous voice whispered inside my head. Then I thought of my activities over the day: I attended church, took notes on the sermon, got weepy over the Communion meditation, engaged in the Sunday School discussion about Matthew 7, worked on preparations for this Bible study, and attended my husband’s evening Bible study. I had been immersed in the Word of God all day long!
Yes, morning devotions is a good idea and it will help me grow in my walk with Christ. But there is no “Thus saith the Lord” about morning devotions, only biblical examples. God does not keep a tally sheet of how many times we attend church or fail to study the Bible. But His Word is explicit that we do something with what we read and learn. He cares most about our attitude.
Why do you think people want to add legalism to our faith in Christ? Why do we still try to please God by what we do?
How is the choice to live by faith a better way to reach God?
How has your relationship with Jesus brought you freedom?