Galatians 6 – New Creation

Read Galatians 6

Paul closes his letter to the churches in Galatia by reiterating what he has just said along with a few practical applications.  Freedom gives us extraordinary latitude in how we can live, and yet there are limits to that as well.  However, rather than condemning those who sin, we have the freedom to love them and help restore them.  This is why Paul encourages mutual accountability within the body of Christ.  Not only does it help to bring people back after a sin, but it helps us to keep our own ego in check.

The reality is that, with freedom, comes a transformed life.  When we receive Christ, we are a “new creation.”  Even though Scripture tells us “the old is gone and the new has come,” we still struggle with sin.  Our impulse is to revert back to the legalistic notion of having to pay for our sins.  To this, however, Paul says No.  It doesn’t matter what you have done, all that matters is the New Creation that you are becoming.

Beautiful, no matter how lowly the start may be.

Jesus Christ doesn’t look at who you were, He is much more concerned with who you are becoming.  Part of who we are becoming is seen in the fruit that our lives produce as we embrace our freedom in Christ.  Paul reminds his readers that freedom gives us the opportunity to move toward each other in restorative, supportive, and loving ways the build up the body of Christ.

It is important to remember, though, that we sometimes confuse these actions with legalistic things that we *have* to do as Christians.  They aren’t.  Instead, they are things that we now have the opportunity to do to show the love of Christ and as a response to the grace of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12 – What to do now?

Read Romans 12

The twelfth chapter in Romans marks a shift from Paul’s systematic laying out of God’s plan of salvation to discussion on how we are to respond to it.  Paul has talked extensively about guilt in the first couple chapters, followed by a much more extensive discussion on grace up to this point.  Now we come to what is known as “grattitude,” that is, again, how we are to respond to the unmeritted, undeserved, life-changing grace that we receive from God in Jesus Christ.

Right from the start, Paul draws on the imagery from the Old Testament to draw forward the meaning into a contemporary response.  Sacrifice was the way of worship, or repentance, and of relationship with God in the Old Testament.  It was an acknowledgement that something always had to die so that others could live.

Jesus, though, was the ultimate sacrifice, a final, once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the whole world that opened the way to full relationship and reconciliation with God.  No longer to other things need to die, which was never really a true way to salvation, because Jesus died in our place.

This act, then, shifts the paradigm of our response.  No longer to we need to sacrifice, but instead we are “living sacrifices” that are living lives in full response to what God has done for us.

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice?  Interestingly enough, Paul also draws this forward into a contemporary context; it looks like loving your neighbor as yourself.  It doesn’t look very different from what the people of Israel were called to except that instead of doing it out of obedience to the law we do it out of grateful obedeince to to the love of God that has been shown in Jesus Christ.