Song of Solomon 4-5 Galatians 3
“Tell me this one thing: How did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive the Spirit by following the law? No, you received the Spirit because you heard the Good News and believed it. You began your life in Christ by the Spirit. Now are you trying to make it complete by your own power? That is foolish.” (Galatians 3:2-3 NCV)
The Galatians were reacting perfectly normal. “Since I’m following Jesus, I need to live like a Christian.” That belief makes sense. The problem with that statement is that we begin to think that living like a Christian means that we follow the right rules. Some brothers in Christ, coming from a Jewish background, taught them that if they wanted to live like Christians, they needed to follow the old Jewish laws. It would be easy to sell this understanding to newer followers of Christ. When you think about the lifestyle of most of the people living in those times who might be wondering how they can live like they’re supposed to, now that they’re following Jesus, why not try to live the way Jesus did. Paul’s objection wasn’t so much to the lifestyle changes, as to the motivations behind those changes.
Paul was dealing with the attitude that says, “OK, God, I got this. I don’t need Your help. Keep watching – but stay out of things.” Perhaps the more modern way of showing this attitude would be “You want me to live like a Christian, here, hold my beer.” As Christians, we don’t follow a list of rules and regulations, worried that God’s out to zap us if we fail in any area of our lives. This “paint-by-number” approach doesn’t build mature Christians, it engenders prideful, judgmental, worldly Christians. God loves each of us with an amazing love. He’s painting a masterpiece in our lives. We need to trust Him to lead and guide us as we go through life. We all have sins. We all have “bad habits.” The harder we work to get rid of them, the more they overtake us. When we focus on our sins, we lose sight of our relationship with God. If we want to lose our bad habits, and our sins, the key is to focus on God and depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us each day. When we stop trying hard to get rid of our sin, and draw closer to God though the power of the Holy Spirit, our sins will fade from our lives because we won’t have time for them. We’ll be too busy enjoying our relationship with God. That’s how the Spirit cleans us up successfully, and why trying hard in our own power won’t work.
Oh Lord, it’s so easy to see my sins and want to work hard to get them out of my life. Remind me that the harder I work at that, the behinder I get. Help me to focus on You and draw so close to You that I leave my sins behind without a second thought.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.