Thoughts on Galatians 5:1-15

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Elfed Godding

The church in Galatia was comprised of converts from Judaism and at the time Paul the Apostle wrote this letter to them some were slipping back into legalism. This was a defection back to salvation by adherence to the Law rather than through Christ’s atoning work on the cross so Paul corrected this dangerous error: ‘You who are trying to be justified by Law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.’ Galatians 5:4.

The Bible teaches us that an encounter with God begins with faith, ‘Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness’, Romans 4:3. Before Abraham had done any noteworthy works of kindness and generosity God considered him righteous because of his faith.

But James, the brother of Jesus (see Mark 6:3), referring to the great test of Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22:1-19 tells us that ‘Abraham was considered righteous because of what he did’ James 2:21. A contradiction? No, because Abraham’s action was the outworking of his faith ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering’, Genesis 22:8.

In our reading today Paul the Apostle writes ‘the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love’, Galatians 5:6. Why is faith so important? Well, to try and answer this question let’s take a look at how God defines faith in His Word. Faith is ‘being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’, Hebrews 11:1. Faith is based on certainty, not doubt. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’, Hebrews 11:6. Faith is the bedrock of the Christian life; everything else we are and do is based on our faith in Jesus.

‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’, Romans 3:22. This verse can also be translated ‘the faith of Jesus Christ’. We have faith in Jesus to save us but it is Jesus’ faith in facing the cross as the will of his Father in heaven that actually saves us. It is not our faith that saves us but our faith in Christ.

The Faith of Christ was authentic, it was challenged, it faced the horror of the cross: ‘My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will’, Matthew 27:39

My faith is sometimes weak and other times strong. What matters more is that my faith is in Christ. What happens if I doubt? What if I deny Jesus? Our faith in Christ can still endure,’ (Peter) began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them”I don’t know the man”’, Matthew 26:74. Peter went on to become the leader of the church in Rome.

Are we feeling tested and our faith is being stretched over this season during which Covid-19 has been such a threat? Our God will pick us up, hold us in his hands, feed us, refresh us, smile at us and say ‘feed my sheep’, John 21:15-17. Our faith may be in shreds or it may be as strong as a rock, but what really counts is that it is in Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a moment to pray for those whom we know are suffering at this time, through sickness of body or mind or through adverse circumstances, that ‘they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’, Isaiah 40:31.

Closing prayer: ‘Lord I thank you that because of your faith in facing the cross for our sin, I can now do everything through Jesus Christ who gives me strength. Amen.’ (Philippians 4:13)

If you have time why not listen to the worship song ‘Faithful One


Elfed Godding, 05/02/2021