Scripture: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV
Observation: Having summarized his conversion and preparation for ministry, Paul then shares how he defended Christ’s Gospel of grace in Antioch when the circumcision sect sought to add elements of the law (circumcision in particular) as our means of salvation. Of course, as children of God saved by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8), we should seek to obey his commands. Indeed, during his final hours leading up to his arrest, Jesus repeatedly linked obedience to his mandates as an expression of his disciples’ love for him (John 14-16). But this is not our means of salvation. It is the outcome. Paul yearned to express his love for his Master, “who loved [Paul] and gave himself for [Paul],” by faithfully following the lead of his Holy Spirit, who was writing the law of the New Covenant on Paul’s heart.
Takeaway: For the two millennia preceding the dawn of the Gospel of Christ, Israel repeatedly failed to uphold the law and strayed from God. No humanly herculean effort to obey Yahweh’s precepts would ever transform hearts marred to the core by sin. The solution required a substitutionary sacrifice: the death of the perfected Son who always obeyed the Father. And even with his death and resurrection, we still need the gift of faith (through the work of the Holy Spirit) to believe and then obey.
So how does the Holy Spirit instill obedience in us? By leading us to the end of our resources and exposing certain unsurrendered aspects of our mindsets and wills. We then “die” to our way of life and “rise” to obeying Christ’s commands. As such, he gains more room in our hearts. The process is painful to our psyches as we have to see ourselves for who we are. But it also enlarges our vision of Christ, who lives in us and who unfailing loves us—thereby inspiring us to keep cooperating with the Holy Spirit. Hence, we learn to “live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us].”
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who perfectly loved and obeyed you and for your Holy Spirit who enlarges our love for and obedience to your Son. Would you please help us cooperate with your Holy Spirit when he exposes the unsurrendered aspects of our thoughts and behaviors and teaches us to live by faith in Christ? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling