March 16th, 2007
If you want to find something wrong with another person, all you have to do is go looking hard enough. There are some people who run “discernment” ministries, in which they publicise the faults of any prominent Christian leaders they can set their sights on. They claim that they are protecting people from false teachings. However, it often seems to be more a case of someone trying to elevate themselves by tearing someone else down. This is not helpful. As Paul said in today’s reading, “If you keep biting and devouring each other, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other.”
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — Chapter 5
5:1 Stand firm in the freedom for which Christ set us free, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 5:2 I, Paul, can tell you that if you are circumcised, Christ will do nothing for you. 5:3 I can also say that every man who becomes circumcised is required to obey the whole law. 5:4 You are alienated from Christ, you who want to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. 5:5 But we are eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness through the Spirit, by faith. 5:6 In Christ Jesus circumcision or uncircumcision counts for nothing. All that matters is faith working through love. 5:7 You were running well! Who persuaded you to stop obeying the truth? 5:8 Such persuasion is not from the one who calls you. 5:9 A little yeast infiltrates the whole lump of dough. 5:10 I am confident in the Lord that you will not disagree. The person who is bothering you will be punished, whoever he is.
5:11 Friends, if I was still preaching that circumcision is necessary, why would anyone be persecuting me? The stumbling block of the cross would have been removed. 5:12 I wish that those who are bothering you would cut themselves off. 5:13 Friends, you were called to freedom. Do not use your freedom for selfish indulgence, but through love become servants to each other. 5:14 The whole law is summarised in one sentence: “You must love your neighbour as yourself.” 5:15 But if you keep biting and devouring each other, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other. 5:16 Walk by the Spirit, and you will not give in to sinful cravings. 5:17 The cravings of human nature are opposed to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to human nature. They are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing the things that you want. 5:18 If you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 5:19 The activities of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, bickering, jealousy, anger, rivalry, disunity, factions, 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing and similar things. I warn you, as I have in the past, that people who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
5:22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 5:24 People who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, we should follow the Spirit’s leading. 5:26 We should not become conceited or provoke or envy each other.
Entry Filed under: Legalism