No Longer a Slave

Tonight, some of my employees were joking around and saying how I was a slave driver. I played along and told them that I have been easy on them so far, but I am about to crack the whip and to really make them work hard. All of us had a good laugh, but do not worry. I do not treat them like slaves. A slave has no rights and is treated as property to be used as they are forced to work.

In Galatians four, Paul brings up slavery by using allegorical terms to help get his point across.

Galatians 4:22-23   22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman (slave) and one by the free woman.  23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.

Jews took this as I was born as a child/grandchild of Abram so by birthright; “I am considered one of Abraham’s children.” Sadly, this group was still in slavery, because they did not have faith in Jesus Christ, but rather was depending on the law. Slavery and the law go hand in hand. Man is unable to do everything that is required by the law, but even so, if you want to be under the law, then you are a slave to it and forced to work it. If you want to live by the law, you are under obligation to keep the whole law (Galatians 5:3). James says that if you fail in one point, you have become guilty of breaking it all (James 2:10). You must keep it in every point.  Of course, this is impossible. Paul is just building his argument that our works cannot save ones self. Christ does the saving and since Christ saves us; we are now no longer a slave of the law, but now are set free from the law.

Without a doubt, I have to say that as I continually study the Book of Galatians it has been the eye opening event in my Christian walk. I cannot say that I was taught a works based gospel, but it was implied that I had to perform a certain way in order to prove that I was a Christian or to keep favor with God. Somehow the idea was then put in my head that the Christian life is a list of do’s and don’ts. With this thinking, the Law is then used as a score card to see how one is performing. Let’s see, “I haven’t murdered any one today.” Check!  “I haven’t stolen a car today.” Check! And the list goes on, but it does not stop there. “I threw some money in the offering.” Check! “I went to church twice this week.” Check!  Check! “Oh look, what a good boy I am.” This type of mentality causes you to focus on self instead of Christ.

A lot of people like to be a slave to the law, because it is about them and what they do. They know that they cannot completely keep it, but they probably do a better job at keeping it then their neighbor. One’s standard then becomes comparing to their neighbor, instead of having Christ as one’s standard. Just remember, Christ does the saving and since Christ saves us; we are now no longer a slave of the law, but now are set free from the law.

Philippians 3:9   9 and may be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

Redeeming Coupons

Last May, Time magazine did an article on “How ‘Extreme Couponing’ is ruining coupons.” It was an interesting article, showing the viciousness of coupon users as they would cut off expiration dates and try to use coupons for items that didn’t match the coupon and when caught at the register; the coupon users would throw a fit until they would get their way. This is the dark side of couponing.

On the bright side of couponing, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, in his book, The Millionaire Mind did extensive research on the ultra rich and found that many millionaires clip coupons. There is value in clipping coupons. I am not against using coupons; my family uses them all the time.

The idea of coupons is for continuing loyalty to the current customers and of course trying to drive more sales by capturing new customers as well. For a manufacturer to offer a coupon is costly. Coupons must be printed, extra products must be made and/or purchased, usually an extensive advertising program is done simultaneously, and the cost of collecting the used coupons and dispersing monies to the appropriate stores that allowed those coupons must be done.

This goes back to the dark side of couponing. Stores must wait for their monies and manufacturers that offered the coupon will have to “redeem” or “buy back” the coupon without any guarantee of actually picking up a loyal customer. As you can see this is very costly.

Paul uses this idea of redeeming coupons in Galatians Four:

4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,  5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

At the fullness of time, God sent His Son to redeem us from the bondage of the law in which we were under. This was costly to God the Father. It cost him the death of His son on the cross.

Hebrews 9:22   22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross made it possible for sinful mankind to be in a right relationship with a holy God. We were released or given freedom from the bondage of the law in order that we might receive or obtain the adoption as sons.

The interesting part about coupons is that when a manufacture ‘redeems” them; the coupon is then taken out of the market never to be used in that same manner again. Think about it. You have never opened a Sunday newspaper and had clipped and used coupons fall into your lap. The same idea when God redeems you. You are set free. You are no longer a slave to the law or slave to sin (Rom 6). You are no longer a slave but are now a son or daughter.

What a powerful picture of what Christ has done and the eternal security that we have.

Galatians 4:7   7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Saved through Faith

There was once a man that packed up his possessions and took his wife to a new place to live, which he had not yet been to. This man of 75 years old; he left the security of having a home and the familiarity of life in general, to pursue a promise that was given to him from the Lord. He quickly obeyed the Lord even though it did not completely make sense.

This man was Abram (later called Abraham).

The faith of Abraham always has amazed me. He is promised from God himself that he was going to be a great nation. What makes this remarkable is that as of this time; he was childless, but even so, Abraham believes God.

Genesis 15:1 …the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”  2 Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (A slave born in his house)  4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”  5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 

It was probably a bright starry night, but there was a chance that it was cloudy and it was hard to see many stars. Even so, if Abram only saw a few stars, it would have to take a miracle from God to make this happen, because Abram and Saria were not able to have children and it would still take faith on Abrams’ part if he only seen a few stars or if he seen thousands.

6 Then Abram believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 

Because of Abraham’s faith, it was credited to him as being right with God. Abraham was justified by his faith, because of his faith in what God was going to do in his life. Abraham was declared righteous before God.  He came into a right relationship with God because of his faith in God and not because any works that he could do.

In Galatians three, Paul gets a little aggressive with his audience calling them “foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you,…). The Galatians started out hearing with faith, but now are trying to be in a right relationship with God by keeping the Law. Paul reminds them about Abraham how he “believed God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness.” (vs. 6).

The Galatians were wanted to be under the Law, but to be under the Law is to be under a curse and one must do all the things written in the book of the Law (Duet 27:26). The law is not of faith. “he who practices them shall live by them” Those who want to work for their salvation will have to keep every point of the law perfectly past, present, and future and if they do not keep it; they are cursed. Of course, it is impossible to perfectly keep the Law.

When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, he redeemed us from the curse of the Law and became a curse for us. It is Christ that saves us not our works and we are saved though faith in Christ. We are saved through faith in Christ.

Galatians 3:21,24-26  21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. … 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Motivated by Fear

Has fear ever motivated you to do something that you were not proud of?

For a stint of nearly ten years, I had worked at a well known cola company. When I had first started, there was a very aggressive owner with a skewed authoritarian leadership style mixed with an abusive toxic leadership style. Fear was his friend. He demanded respect when he entered the room. Respect was given, but only out of fear of being screamed at or the fear of losing one’s job. Out of fear of losing their jobs or maybe fear of failure; management would work ridiculous hours, which strained their marriage relationship. I seen several managers choose their work over their family; many marriage relationships ultimately ended in divorce.

Fear is a powerful emotion.

Has fear ever motivated you to do something that you were not proud of?

Fear has motivated all of us to do things that we are not proud of. This was no different with the great Apostle Peter. In Galatians chapter two, Peter was separating himself away from the gentiles because of his fear of man.

Galatians 2:11-13   11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I (Paul) opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

Peter use to eat with Gentiles; this goes back to Acts 10 with a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius. Cornelius was a devout man, who feared God and prayed to God continually. God visited him in a vision and told him where Peter was and to him to dispatch some men to retrieve Peter. Peter came back with them and ate.

According to Acts 10:28-29, Peter talked with Cornelius saying, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.  29 “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”… (verses 34-35)   34 … Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

Early on, Peter realized that the gospel is now going to every nation, with Cornelius being considered the first gentile to become a Christian. Instead of following the Jewish customs, Peter is to follow the Gospel; but sadly Peter is now withdrawing or separating himself from the gentiles because of fear.

The real problem is that the rest of the Jews joined him in this hypocrisy and even Barnabas was led astray. Peter knew it was alright to eat with gentiles but out of fear he wasn’t eating with them or if he was, it was done in secret.

Peter was not being straight forward about the truth of the gospel. The gospel is for all walks of people. Peter shouldn’t have allowed fear from racial pride, man-made tradition, or a perverted gospel of works to motivate him to treat his brother in such a way.

Fear is a powerful emotion, but one should not be motivated out of fear of man. Don’t let fear motivate you to do something that later you will not be proud of.

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little…” G.K. Chesterton