• Tony Birkhead

Breaking the Rules... Week - 11




Rules do not measure Righteousness!

Relationship Does!

Don’t get stuck between Rules and Relationship…


INTRODUCTION

Pastor Tony talked about living in the in-between. We have come to a recognition that we don’t “have to” do anything to earn God’s love. Many people enjoy this freedom but have missed the second part of moving from the “have to” to the “get to” of following Jesus.

Where have you seen a tendency for people to enjoy the freedom they have in Christ, but not recognize they now get to follow Jesus closer?

When you hear the words “new creation in Christ” what does that make you think of?

KEY SCRIPTURE

Galatians 6:11-18

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ GALATIANS 6:11-13.

A group in Galatia was trying to persuade Christians there to be circumcised. What was their reason for doing this?

Based on these verses, what is your impression of the individuals who made up this group pushing for circumcision? Why?

If you knew nothing of circumcision or its relationship with the Jewish people, what in these verses should lead you to conclude the efforts of this group were nonetheless misguided?

Circumcision was a ritual of Judaism that did not carry over to Christianity, but a group in Galatia wanted to convince the believers there that it did—that believers must be circumcised to be true followers of God. They did this to “make a good impression,” to “avoid being persecuted” (by Jews who considered circumcision essential to being the people of God), to “boast” about what they had done—it was all about the show. Their efforts reflected conformity to the expectation of others. For those who gave into the demands of this group, the scar of circumcision told the story of conformity, of attempting to avoid persecution or the disapproving opinions of others.

READ GALATIANS 6:14.

What does it mean to “boast about … the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

How is this different from what the circumcision promoters were suggesting?

What does it mean that the “world” had been crucified to Paul? That he had been crucified to the “world”?

In the strongest possible terms, Paul contrasted his boasting with that of the circumcision promoters (v. 13). Paul would only boast “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word for “cross” was so crude and destestable, it would never be spoken in polite Roman company. Even in speaking about executing a criminal, a proper Roman would not utter the word, preferring a euphemism like, “Hang him on the unlucky tree.” Yet, that was the object of Paul’s boast. By identifying with Jesus and the cross, Paul recognized that he, too, was figuratively crucified to the world—he was dead to it. For Paul, the scar of the cross told the story of crucifixion, of separation from the values and purposes of the world.

READ GALATIANS 6:15-16.

What significance do you see in the fact that Paul grouped both circumcision and the lack of circumcision into the same category, calling them both insignificant?

“New creation” obviously refers to salvation and becoming a Christian. Is that all it means? Explain.

To be clear he was not arguing that those who had not been circumcised were superior to those who had, Paul declared the value of circumcision and uncircumcision to be equal—both “mean nothing.” What matters is the transformation that comes by being made “a new creation”—not just an initial conversion experience but the ongoing process of continually becoming more like the Creator. Both peace and mercy attend those who conform to “this standard” God has set out. The scar of new creation tells the story of a past life. New creation is good, but not always easy. For those who need them, a skin graft is greatly beneficial though also tremendously painful. Similarly, there will be hurts and disappointments along the path to becoming more fully the new creation you were intended to be.

READ GALATIANS 6:17-18.

What do you think Paul meant by “the marks of Jesus?”

How did Paul “bear on [his] body” such marks?

Paul urged the circumcision promoters, and any others in Galatia to whom it applied, to cease harassing him and attempting to hinder or throw doubts on his ministry and message. These individuals pointed to their willingness to choose self-mutilation to validate their message. Paul, on the other hand, pointed to the persecution he had endured at the hands of others for the sake of Jesus. He bore the evidence on his body from the various times he had been stoned, beaten, and endured other measures. (See 2 Cor. 11:16-29.) “Marks” translates the Greek word stigmata, related to our English stigma. That which the world saw as a stigma against Paul he understood as affirmation of his ministry and message. The scar of persecution, of opposition for the sake of Jesus whether physical or not, tells the story of affirmation. The persecution hurt, but it verified Paul’s message to the Galatian believers and to anyone else who would listen.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What area of your life have you found yourself in the in-between? You know you’re free, but you haven’t moved into this freedom.

  • Who can you ask this week to walk with you into freedom with you?

PRAY TOGETHER

Ask God to help you move from just being free and recognizing the joy of getting to live for Jesus.

COMMENTARY

GALATIANS 6:11-18

6:11 Paul had dictated the earlier part of the letter to an unnamed amanuensis, or secretary, and now he added a postscript in his own handwriting. Some believe that the oversized letters (large letters) indicate that Paul was having problems with his eyesight.

6:12-13 The Jewish teachers who were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised were doing so for appearance’s sake and to avoid being persecuted by unbelieving Jews for the cross of Christ, as Paul had been (Ac 14:19). They had no basis for boasting since they could not keep the law themselves.

6:14-15 The only basis for believers to boast is in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, which makes us a new creation (see 2Co 5:17). On the world has been crucified to me, see notes at 2:19-20; 5:24-26 (cp. 1Jn 2:15-17).

6:16 The Israel of God may mean: (1) the Gentile church, which through faith has inherited the promise God gave to Abraham (3:29) or (2) more likely, the “remnant” of believing Israel “chosen by grace” (Rm 11:5), as opposed to the “false brothers” among the Jews (Gal 2:4), who were seeking to be justified by “the works of the law” (2:16).

6:17 Paul asked that this letter put an end to the trouble he had been facing because of standing against justification by the works of the law and for justification by faith (2:16). Paul’s scars were from injuries he had received through persecution (Ac 14:19; 2Co 11:23-25). He considered these far more significant than the “mark” of circumcision (Gal 6:12-13,15).

6:18 Paul ended Galatians on the same note with which he began— grace. It is also significant that in Paul’s last sentence, he addresses the Galatians as brothers. Although they have been tempted by “another gospel,” Paul ends this letter in the hope that they remain brothers.

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:9-10

We hear often of Jesus’ finished work for us, the Father’s work through us, and the Spirit’s work in us. These are among the greatest truths upon which a person can dwell. Hear David’s longing for these things as he pleaded that God would create a “clean heart” and “renew a right spirit” in him (Psalm 51:10). Learn from Paul that in Christ we are a “new creation”, and that “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a). Indeed, we praise and worship Jesus for His blameless life on earth and beautiful love on that dreadful cross.

Spiritual life always begins with a move from the throne of God, always. Even our profession that Jesus is Lord is a direct result of the Spirit’s working in us (1 Corinthians 12:3). But read Paul’s words to the church in Colossae carefully, “seeing that you have put off the old self…and have put on the new self” (emphasis added). Yes it is God who performs the work of creating new life in us and through us, but it is also our great joy to respond to that work!

It is our delight to press into Him, with our minds made up, that we will put on that new man and throw off the old. That we will stand resolute and firm in God’s calling of us to life, light, and His mighty kingdom.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.

Romans 1:13

The million dollar question in many Christian circles is: What Is God’s will for my life? This can cause anguish for many Christians as they are deciding on a college to attend, a career path, or even the person to date and eventually marry.

In many instances, our mindset leads us to believe we need a Damascus road experience like Paul, where Jesus audibly speaks to us and reveals our purpose (Acts 9:3-6). But, Paul didn’t always expect God to work in his life like this. He told those who he wrote to that he tried to go to them, but doors had been shut. He didn’t say I prayed and fasted and read my Bible and God never told me to visit you, so I’m not coming. No! He had a desire to visit and teach them, he acted on it, and it didn’t work. Therefore, he knew God’s will in that instance.

A key to understanding God’s will for our lives is that when we become Christians, we are made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and along with the new life we live according to the Spirit, we have new, holy, and redeemed desires (Romans 8:5). Discovering God’s will is more than merely uncovering your own. Discovering God’s will is seeking him first as Paul did and to know nothing but “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). When we do this, our desires will be Godly and Christ exulting ones that will be in line with what God wants to do in our lives.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Do you feel ordinary? As you go about your day, running to the grocery store, driving kids to soccer practice, piling laundry and all those other fun things, does all that activity seem important? Or do you feel lost in the shuffle?

I was driving to church one morning after a big snow and looked across a field. The sun was hitting the snow making it glisten like diamonds. The trees had just enough snow on them to be breathtaking. And the sky was clearing to show a beautiful, blue color. How could I compare to that? Nature is so beautiful, so breathtaking, and here I am driving around as ordinary as can be.

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s handiwork, and Ephesians 5:1 calls us dearly loved children. The Maker of the Universe sees me as something special and something to be cherished. Certainly not ordinary, not boring, not ho hum. He simply doesn’t see my life like that.

God has given me a family to care for, a job to use my skills, people to connect with, and He wants me to shine in my life just like the snow shines in the sun. It’s not just that God loves me because I am His creation. There is also a great light shining through me which is the light of Jesus. After accepting Jesus Christ into my heart, I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are not ordinary, we’re extraordinary! There is no one else like us. There is no one else who can do what God has asked us to do. Sometimes we get lost in the daily shuffle of life. We just might see ourselves as not so much. But God sees so much more.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

At the moment of salvation, a person becomes a new creature in Christ. Some of us may have felt the change as the burden of sin was lifted and replaced with forgiveness and hope. But what if we didn’t feel anything? Are we still saved?

Salvation is a result of hearing the gospel and responding in repentance and faith. Emotion may accompany the transformation but doesn’t determine its validity. Becoming a new creation involves much more than our emotions:

A New Position. Before salvation, we were enemies of God, but through Christ’s death on our behalf, we have been reconciled to Him and have become His beloved children. With His death on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins. And what’s more, His righteousness was then credited to us in a legal transaction the Bible calls justification.

A New Presence. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit took up residence within us. He works to transform us in a process called sanctification, whereby we become increasingly righteous in practice.

A New Power. Because we still struggle with sin and selfishness, living up to God’s standard is beyond our own abilities. But when the Holy Spirit came into our life, He brought with Him the power of almighty God, which enables us to become and do whatever He desires.

What we have now is the seed of what we will eventually become. Although at present it’s difficult to discern the changed life of a Christian, it will be evident when Jesus returns and brings our bodies into conformity with His glorious body (Phil. 3:21).

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

When someone becomes a Christian, it isn’t that he or she is simply a little better off than before. It isn’t that he or she has improved life a little bit or has added a little something extra that was not there before. Rather, when someone becomes a Christian, there is a radical change that takes place.

Becoming a Christian changes a person completely. This is what the Bible describes as conversion. Jesus described it as being born again. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

What really happens when a true conversion takes place? One turns from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (see Acts 27:18). That is not hyperbole; that is speaking literally. In fact, when we put our trust in Christ, we have no idea how significant it really is. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks after I gave my life to the Lord that I even began to realize the significance of what I had done. And I have only come to realize, years later, all that transpired for me on the day that I said yes to Jesus Christ.

However, we need to recognize that not everyone’s conversion will be identical. Some people are more emotional. Some are more intellectual. Some can express themselves more easily. Some are more on the reserved side. Some experience God in a way they can feel profoundly, but not everyone does.

But that is not what conversion is necessarily about. It is about the change that will result. And time will tell whether a conversion is real.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14

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