Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rules or Spirit?

There are so many religions and denominations that have a certain set of rules to live by.  Some are more complex than others, but they all have rules that a person follows in order to show that they will go to Heaven.  The rules don't even have to be terrible rules, but the message is sent that if you are going to make it to Heaven, you must live this way.  But, I would challenge you to take a look at what the Bible has to say on how we are to live.

Today's reading from the Community Bible Experience takes us through the book of Galatians.  I don't think I've ever read the book in one sitting before, and once again I am finding myself with a completely different perspective.  There is definitely an appeal from Paul to the Galatians to not forget what they first believed in and to not get tied up into matters of the law.  Reading through the book, the theme seems to be all about whether or not a person should be circumcised; however, there is a much deeper argument going on in this letter.  Paul lays out the basis of our faith and how we should know how to live.

This is a very strong letter because Paul is warning the Galatians not to mix their faith with a form of legalism.  Throughout Galatians, Paul reminds the believers that they were saved because of their faith in Christ not because of following the law.  However, there were people who were causing confusion among the believers in Galatia by telling them that they needed to be circumcised according to the law of Moses.  Paul responds to this by reminding them that even James (who was considered a pillar in the early church) agreed that it was unnecessary for a Gentile to become circumcised.  Paul explains that this is because when Jesus died for us on the cross, He broke our burden from the Law and we were given the Holy Spirit who would guide us in what was right.

Paul by no means tells us that we can just do whatever we want because we are no longer under the Law, because he explains very clearly that living in the Spirit is very different from living in the human nature.  Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13 (NIV), "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."  So we no longer should indulge in the desires that are part of the human nature.  He continued on in Galatians 5:18 (NIV), "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."  But there is even more because he describes life in the flesh verses life led by the Spirit in Galatians 5:19-23 (NIV):

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

 It isn't about following a set of rules, it is all about following the Holy Spirit's guidance.

What is your guide for living a life that pleases God?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

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