Thursday, March 15, 2018

Christ Lives in Me

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17
Galatians 2:17-3:9
Psalm 106:1-15
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Focus Verses: Galatians 2:19-21
19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Like so much of the New Testament, Galatians is a letter. Reading Galatians 2 really feels like reading someone else's mail because of the references to very specific people and events that only the writer and recipients can fully appreciate. We can, however, pick up on the main gist of what was going on.

The early Christians, their leaders, and even the apostles, were struggling with the issue of how the freedom and grace of Christ related to the observance of Mosaic law. Was observance of the law something Christians needed to do? Were Gentile's who followed Jesus supposed to observe Jewish laws and customs? Paul says, "No." He says that no one is justified by observing the law (vv. 15,16). Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, are justified through Christ Jesus, not by obeying laws.

Paul insists that the observance of laws or traditions cannot be used as a test to determine who is or who is not a Christian. Paul says he has died to the law so that he might live for God (v.19). The essence of being a Christian is living for God through faith in Christ, dying to self and everything else—even the law. Paul's point is that devotion to observing laws is not what brings us to God or produces righteousness; instead, it is complete surrender to God and living in faith and devotion to Christ that saves and results in righteous living.

Response and Action:
I need to live in full surrender to God. Doing the right things is not what makes me right with God; being right with God is what makes me do the right things. Jesus must be the focus of my devotion to God: loving him, following him, hearing him, and pleasing him. I must surrender the ownership of my life to Christ. He must be Lord and master. I must let Christ live his life through me. The choices and actions of my life must be guided not by rules but, rather, by the Spirit of Christ. I want my life to be guided by how he would choose and act if he were living my life.

Thank you, O God, for salvation and life through Christ. Help me to surrender fully to you and to follow Jesus with my whole heart. Help me to know him, to love him, to understand him, to honor him, and to draw near to him so that my life is completely shaped and guided by him. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Mark 8:34-35
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 

Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians
by N. T. Wright

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