Monday, June 25, 2018

Defying Gravity

Submitted by Kerry Patton

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3:1-5
I Don’t Do Ups…
Prior to his death in 2014, comedian John Pinette entertained crowds talking about how he didn’t “do ups.” “Oh nay, nay!” Pinette quipped when his heath trainer asked him to do a push up. “I don’t do ups… Sit down, lay down… In Black Jack I’ll double down.  Gimmie a cheese burger – I’ll wolf it down…Put on a little music – I’ll boogie down, but I don’t do ups!  Ups defy gravity.  Gravity is a law.  I OBEY the law!” While I certainly don’t endorse everything Pinette ever said in his comedy, I’ve always found that very clever, and very funny!
Obey the law. That’s what we are taught to do, from the time we are children...and rightfully so.  Drive the speed limit, don’t steal, observe posted warning signs, no cheating on your taxes, tell the truth, etc.  Our proper, functional participation in this peaceful society requires that we all adhere to the same standard of laws so that the rule of law is maintained, and thereby, the peaceful order of the society is also maintained.  In Romans 13:1-2, the Apostle Paul wrote:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Obey the law.  That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?  But let’s differentiate between the Law of the Land…and God’s Law, shall we?  In Galatians chapter 3, Paul is addressing the Law of God specifically.  A problem had arisen with the church at Galatia where Jews who had come to know Christ Jesus and who had been made subject to the freedoms of the Law of the Spirit, were returning to the legalistic spiritual rules of the Law of Moses.  Why was this dangerous?
When Christ came, his life, and ultimately, his death and resurrection fulfilled the covenant established with Moses at Mt. Sinai, and a new covenant was established…a new law…the Law of the Spirit was established.  For the people of Galatia to continue to be subject to the former covenant, they effectively disqualified themselves from being partakers…participants, even heirs under the New Covenant, the Law of the Spirit.  The Mosaic Law pointed sin out.  It showed where the people of God transgressed, but it could not cure sin.  The Law of the Spirit, the shed sufficient blood of Jesus, is the only eternal cure for our sin nature.  This is the covenant whereby we are saved and can inherit the Kingdom of God and eternity in Heaven.  None other.  And to make one’s self subject to the Law of Moses again is to deny one’s self access to the liberty and eternal reward of the Law of the Spirit.  We cannot reach heaven by adhering to the old covenant law.
Yet we too feel the gravity to perform, don’t we?  Like John Pinette above… gravity is a law, and we OBEY the law.  We have a relatively clear memory of every sin we’ve ever committed and may harbor great concern that those imperfections will keep us out of heaven.  Further, we strive to “live right” and “not hurt anyone” to be good people.  We are tempted to comply with the gravity of good works in hope that we will deserve to live in heaven someday.  However, we must always remember, as Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:8, 9: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ours is the task then to defy gravity…to resist an attitude of works righteousness, and live by faith.  But also to prove our faith by our good works…as James epistle, chapter 2, verse 18 reads: 
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Defying gravity… resisting the urge to become legalistic in our relationship with Jesus, our own lives, and our relationship with the world.
Heavenly Father, may my life be a living sacrifice, a worthy offering of worship to you and my Lord Jesus.  May my ways be conformed to your ways, always…but allow me to walk and to live forever in the grace by which I stand in Christ.  Help me to live as an example of your love and mercy, and to be gracious as others strive to do the same.  

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