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Galatians; Christians falling from grace?

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posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 05:02 PM
“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace”- Galatians ch5 v4

The central theme of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is the contrast between Christ and the law, as ways of entering a right relationship with God (“being justified”).
Paul’s case has been that the only effective route is the one that leads through Christ.
He’s been describing this in terms of our faith in what God has promised.
Here he also refers to it as “grace”, meaning God’s willingness to give what he has promised.
The two things go together.

As for the law;
If they are effectively justified through Christ, then this alternative route is redundant.
If they cannot be justified except through Christ, then the alternative route is invalid.
In fact it’s a distraction which takes them away from the only effective route.
That is why Paul says that anyone who seeks to be justified through the law is breaking away from Christ.
They had reached the summit, the place of grace, but now they have fallen away from it.

Let us consider how applicable this warning might be in modern times.

I believe legalism is closely aligned with idolatry.
So much so that their roots are intertwined.
They both stem from the human mind’s reluctance to part with the concrete.

Idolatry, in the original sense, comes from our preference for objects of worship which can be seen and touched.
While the mind has a similar preference for ideas which can be clearly grasped and defined, which leads into legalism.

That is why legalism is just as difficult to eradicate as idolatry, and it keeps popping up in religious life.
I can see three distinct phases of legalism in the history of Biblical religion.

There is a Jewish phase, naturally developing from the fact that the commands of God had been organised into the Law of Moses.
Legalism was encouraged by literalism, which is the same “preference for the clearly defined”, as applied in the interpretation of language.
Thus, for example, God told his people, more than once, that they should keep his laws bound to their hands and “as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy ch11 v18).
Anyone willing to understand metaphor would have grasped that this was simply an expansion of the opening words “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul”.
However, the Pharisees followed a rigid literalism and placed portions of text in phylacteries close to their wrists and foreheads.
Thus demonstrating how “taking the words literally” can be a most effective way of missing the point entirely.
It was in reaction against the Jewish legalism of his own time that Paul weighed in against observance of the Law.
“We are discharged from the Law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit”.
His view was embedded in the teaching of the church.

Nevertheless, in the Middle Ages, legalism was creeping into church life again (partly under the influence of Roman law and the frame of mind which it induced).
It began to govern the church’s understanding of salvation and the management of moral behaviour, which were defined and treated in legal terms.
Another aspect of legalism was the growth of hierarchical authority, which benefits from that same human preference for the concrete.
People have always found it easier, and more comfortable, to listen to decrees from visible and tangible human authority than to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore Luther was obliged to campaign against the legalistic focus upon “works”, and try to pull the church back to Paul’s rejection of the Law.

Even so, a candid observer is obliged to recognise a third phase of legalism.
A Protestant phase.
Although the Protestant movement is avowedly based on Luther’s revival of Paul’s rejection of the Law, it hasn’t always been able to resist the attraction of the clearly definable.
Then the defining process begins to identify new things which must be done or may not be allowed.
For example, it is almost impossible to make an issue out of “election” without drifting unconsciously into a legalistic frame of mind.
Perhaps that is why Milton thought the fallen angels in Hell would be interested in that kind of discussion;
“Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate and reasoned high,
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate,
Fixed fate, freewill, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost”.
Paradise Lost, Book II, ll557-561

One important factor in the growth of legalism is the literalistic tendency of modern Protestant faith.
This was partly a reaction against the systems of interpretation developed by the church of the Middle Ages, and the elaborate allegories which were the frequent result.
Literalism was an attempt to call the mind back to the original intended meaning of the Word.
However, it contains the seeds of new problems, because, as Paul observes, “the letter kills and the Spirit gives life”.

The literal approach is attractive to the human mind, because it offers a kind of tangible certainty.
When literalism is combined with a careful study of the Old Testament, the result can be a revival of the Jewish form of legalism.
Paul says that the Jews are reading the scriptures through a “veil” which lies over their minds, and conceals from them the true glory of God.
This veil is removed when we turn to Christ and are able to see them in the light thrown upon them by the Spirit of the Lord.
But the veil is re-instated when Christians begin picking up the laws of the Old Testament and taking them at face value all over again.
In modern times, this development goes back at least to the nineteenth century, and the movement to celebrate the Sabbath on the “seventh day”.

Yes, there is an Old Testament command to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. But obedience to that command is a “work of the Law”, and Christians “are not justified with God by works of the Law”.
Yes, there is an Old Testament command to offer a tithe. But obedience to that command is “a work of the Law”, and Christians “are not justified with God by works of the Law”.
Yes, there is a command to refrain from eating the blood of animals. But obedience to that command is “a work of the Law”, and Christians “are not justified with God by works of the Law”.
Yes, there are commands in the Old Testament to celebrate feasts at various times of the year. But obedience to those commands is “a work of the Law”, and Christians “are not justified with God
by works of the Law”.

What would Paul have said about these “neo-legalists”, emerging in the modern Protestant world?
He would surely want to say to them, as he said to the Galatians;
“Now that you have come to know God…how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elementals [or “elementary principles”]?...You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years!
I am afraid I have laboured over you in vain.” (Galatians ch4 vv9-11)

He would want to remind them of his teaching that we approach God in Christ, by virtue of our faith in Christ alone.
So that if they turn back to keeping the commands of the Law, they are in the process abandoning that sure foundation of Faith.

And he would probably end by repeating this solemn warning.
“If you seek to be justified by keeping the commands of the Law, then you have severed yourselves from Christ, and you have fallen away from grace”.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:18 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Great Post!

Thanks for continuing to spread the word.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:20 PM
a reply to: infolurker
Next time; The Spirit and the flesh.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:29 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Next time; The Spirit and the flesh.
I hadn't thought about it like that but am sure I have battled and still do . As always you have very good posts and keep it in the gospel ... Would fasting be a important part of this fleshly spiritual battle ?

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:33 PM
a reply to: the2ofusr1
It will actually be more on Galatians, the second half of ch5. Where he contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:50 PM
My belief on law and Christ is that faith and belief in Christ is the way. Legalism or the law is the old standard of judgment and only a very select few were ever found righteous by that standard in God's eyes, Christ being one.

God's standard is perfection, and since we all know no one is perfect, the idea that anyone can live under the law and expect to be judged perfect or even righteous is failure. For one thing, just the belief you can is the beginning of failure through pride.

So we go through Christ through whom we can be forgiven and reconciled to God, washed clean and made acceptable.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:56 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
In fact I'm not sure we know even of one person, other than Christ, who managed it.
David, for one, was breaking laws left, right and centre, and must have "pleased God" by his faith like everyone else.
So yes, indeed, going through Christ is the key.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 06:57 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Hmmm, what about Elijah who was taken up without dying?

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:03 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
OK, we might keep an open mind on Elijah.
But Paul does quote approvingly "None righteous, no not one", and makes it a key point in his argument.
"For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law"- "Romans ch3 v20.
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (v23).

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:12 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Oh, I'm not saying that Elijah was perfect, merely possibly righteous which is about as close as any human can come to it in my mind.

Christ is the only one who was perfect.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:15 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
No doubt all will be explained when we get a chance to talk to Elijah (and Enoch).

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:39 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

But, one might possibly fall into the error of trying to break the law, to show that one isn't following it.

I understand the difference between the law and the intention that is behind the establishment of law.

Jesus explanation that Love of God and Love of our fellows as the intention upon which all of the law and prophets are based gives us a reason to be lawful.

Jesus said that He didn't come to abolish the law.

I think that the truth is that we are going astray, like sheep. That's what sin is. Sheep see the next bit of green grass and head for it. The shepherd knows the best pasture and wants to guide his flock there but they head off in their own short sighted direction and anarchy ensues.

In the same way, it isn't legal compliance that gets us to God. We have seen again and again how some pretty serious offenses were forgiven so that God could show His love (e.g: Moses was a murderer, Jacob was a cheating fraud and Abraham was a liar).

I see something deeper than legalism or its absence.

edit on 11/3/2016 by chr0naut because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:47 PM

originally posted by: chr0naut
But, one might possibly fall into the error of trying to break the law, to show that one isn't following it.

Yes, Paul warns us about that misunderstanding.
I think he also provides the best answer to it; "Now we are discharged from the law... so that we serve not under the old written code BUT in the new life of the Spirit" (Romans ch7 v6).
In other words, we are still following the basic principles of the law, in terms of what God really wants from us, by following the guidance of the Spirit.
We still avoid murder and theft and adultery, but now because the Spirit tells us to avoid them, rather than because Moses tells us.

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:47 PM
a reply to: the2ofusr1

Paul spoke of that battle in his own life in Romans 7

posted on Mar, 11 2016 @ 07:49 PM

posted on Mar, 12 2016 @ 12:47 AM
Galatians was written by Paul.

Paul taught that under certain circumstances that eating meat sacrificed to Idols is OK.

Jesus condemned this specific teaching as "The doctrine of Balaam" in Revelation and rebuked those teaching this doctrine.

Jesus would never allow his apostle to teach a condemned doctrine in his name, not in a million years.

Paul couldn't have possibly communicated with Christ because if he had he wouldn't have been teaching condemned teachings in Jesus name.

Common sense, logic and reason with the bible provesPaul is not a real apostle and a fraud. I await the hate messages from angry people who don't like the truth put so logically if it disturbs their chosen beliefs. But everything I just said can be proven with the bible and nobody can deny that it's all true. Follow the Pharisee Saul at your own risk with full knowledge that he couldn't possibly be telling the truth if he was teaching the condemned doctrine of Balaam as spoken of by Jesus himself. Saul was a nobody and doesn't get any recognition from Jesus in Revelation by name. He also isn'tcounted as apostle in the vision of new Jerusalem so we know that there are only 12 apostles and Matthias was the last.

posted on Mar, 12 2016 @ 01:12 AM
I'm never going to understand why people go through so much trouble trying to analyse corrupted English translations.

It's ironic to see this particular text being analysed, when you consider actual message within the text.

This is what it says.

You forsake all that is within you, for what you are told is right, and for this you will be cast aside.

charitos χάριτος: Outcome received.
exepesate ἐξεπέσατε. Cast aside. Thrown out. In the sense of 'no good for intended purpose'. Like one bad apple in a bag.

τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε: Because of this will find yourself cast aside.

posted on Mar, 12 2016 @ 01:59 AM
a reply to: IamSandSHEisB

What on earth are you talking about? If it is my perfectly valid observation that Saul couldn't have possibly communicated with Jesus because he was teaching condemned teachings in the name of Christ, something Jesus would never allow of someone who he chose to be apostle. I am only drawing a logical conclusion off irrefutable facts in every version of the Bible. I don't use any bible that you can still purchase new but it's a pearl among swine in the world of Bibles that much I can tell you.

I don't know if you were referring to me but you don't know what I know or have so I would like to see you instead of putting down bibles and talking about other people provide something that applies to the thread or my comment if you were referring to me.

It's late and I am bored and would love to hear some theology in this, the spirituality section.

posted on Mar, 12 2016 @ 03:38 AM
Paul also said 'Do we make void the law through faith? No! On the contrary, we establish it' (Romans 3:31)

As the Son said, Matthew 5:18 "For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished".

Heaven and earth will pass away (Rev 21:1), so until then the Law - in context, the Ten Commandments - stay in effect!

I believe Paul was making a different point about our not being justified just by keeping the Law. The Lamb of God was God's ultimate unblemished Blood atonement for our sins and that is the main centre of our faith. We would fall from the grace of that position if we lost sight of that fact.

posted on Mar, 12 2016 @ 03:46 AM
a reply to: Maigret
The way I would put it is that Paul's argument is directed against relying on the Law of Moses, depending upon it as a means of access to God.
It is not against obedience to at least the basic principles of God's laws. What we are released from is "the written code", the detailed provisions outlined by Moses.

edit on 12-3-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

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