the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free.”
So that the Mosaic law of rites and ceremonies was only a temporary arrangement for the childhood of the church, which now, having reached full age, has come into possession of liberty in the truth, and rejoices in the free grace of the gospel. It would be ridiculous for a full-grown heir to go to school again, or continue under guardians, and so it is absurd to return to the service of forms and rituals, which are too childish for men in Christ Jesus.
Here is our true position, we are moved by the Spirit to claim our adoption, and we no more live in bondage to the law. Many even among Christians are afraid of being too sure of their sonship, lest they should be presumptuous; this is very dishonouring to their heavenly Father.
Therefore live as such. By faith possess and enjoy the treasures of divine grace. Cast doubts and tremblings to the wind, for why should heirs of God live like bondsmen?
Galatians 4:8 , Galatians 4:9
How can ye go back to the things of your spiritual childhood? As well may full-grown men begin again to read their A B C, and learn from baby picture books!
Galatians 4:10 , Galatians 4:11
To keep holy days and practise symbolical ceremonies is contrary to the very spirit of Christianity; and those who do so lead us to suspect that they do not know the gospel at all.
Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am one with you in heart
Bad teachers had weaned them from the apostle and led them into legal bondage.
Galatians 4:17 , Galatians 4:18
yea, they would exclude you from us
Galatians 4:17 , Galatians 4:18
that ye might affect them and be of their party
Galatians 4:19 , Galatians 4:20
All his anxiety arose from their falling into ritualism and legalism. He wanted to see them living by faith upon Jesus, and worshipping God with free spiritual worship. The fashionable religion of the present day is overlaid with pompous forms, and the plain gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus is despised: nevertheless to the doctrine of grace let us steadfastly cleave, for it alone is truth, and in it alone is salvation.
In vain the trembling conscience seeks
Some solid ground to rest upon;
With long despair the spirit breaks,
Till we apply to Christ alone.
Should all the forms that men devise
Assault my faith with treacherous art,
I’d call them vanity and lies,
And bind the gospel to my heart
“If ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.”
The apostle again expostulates with the Galatians for falling into legality, and points out to them the true path of the believer, namely, holiness produced by the Spirit of God.
Galatians 5:7 , Galatians 5:8
It is not of God, or it would be consistent with what you have been taught by his Spirit before.
One man’s influence may mislead thousands; one piece of false doctrine may taint our whole creed.
Galatians 5:10 , Galatians 5:11
Some even said that Paul himself had preached ceremonialism, but he denies it, and backs up his declaration by the fact that men had not left off persecuting him, as they would have done had he diluted the gospel.
It were better that they were cut off from the church than remain to sow false doctrine. As lepers must be put out of the camp, so must evil teachers be cast out of the church.
Galatians 5:13 , Galatians 5:14
This is more important than symbolic rites: to destroy love to preserve a ceremony is to kill a child in order to preserve its clothes.
Every new man is two men: there is a warfare within.
No matter what they profess, or what sacraments they may partake of, those who live in these sins are not alive unto God. What a list we have here! Surely sin is a prolific mother.
Galatians 5:22 , Galatians 5:23
For the works of the flesh there is no gospel, and against the works of the Spirit there is no law. Both God and man agree to commend such actions as those which are here mentioned; let us abound in them.
Our evil desires are nailed to the cross, but they are not yet dead; we have need therefore to abide under the influence of the ever-blessed Spirit, and we certainly have no ground for boasting or despising others. Be it ours under the divine guidance to cultivate love and peace, and flee from all pride and envy.
Jesus, take me for thine own;
To thy will my spirit frame;
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone,
Over all I have and am.
Making thus the Lord my choice,
I have nothing more to choose,
But to listen to thy voice,
And my will in thine to lose.
Then whatever may betide,
I shall safe and happy be;
Still content and satisfied,
Having all in having thee.