Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: Those actively depending upon "grace" are actively waiting for its ultimate impact.
Introduction: As we have seen thus far, Galatians 5:1-6 is Paul's attempt to encourage steadfastness in one particular doctrinal area by contrasting the participants within the conflict. From his point of view, it is absolutely imperative that "believers" actually "believe" in God's work of placing an implacable barrier between them and any form of the expression of His Justice toward them. This is the beginning of the experience of "Life".
In order to get his readers to "believe", he describes the opposition as under the impossible task of living in harmony with every commandment in the Law all of the time and hopelessly separated from the Grace of God. Then, by way of contrast, he describes the actual, living attitude of those receiving Grace from God.
It is this contrast that has become the focus of our study this evening. How does a "believer" deal with his/her "Life" failures? They are many. They are hurtful. And they take up at least some of the mental energy that is required to live in Joy and Peace.
February 24, 2013
- I. Paul's "Reality": Everyone Fails.
- A. Nowhere in the Scriptures is anyone encouraged to "believe" in their present moral perfection.
- 1. In every instance of "revelation" that addresses personal behavior, the readers are encouraged to take steps to improve their reactions to the circumstances of their lives.
- 2. The Scriptures describe any/every instance of "belief" in actual, behavioral perfection as an outlandish delusion brought on by an extremely truncated view of "perfection" coupled to an extremely proud blindness in regard to one's own behavior.
- 3. The very "best" that the Scriptures hold out to "believers" in terms of their own method of living is a dynamic humility that reacts to "imperfection" with honest confession and active confidence in God's willingness to forgive.
- B. Nowhere is the issue of this "reality" more critical than the arena of personal relationships, beginning with the one that involves God and man and, then, extending outward towards all other persons involved.
- C. Thus it is ludicrous beyond imagining for any man to begin with God on a legal basis.
- 1. Such a beginning is without any hope of success.
- 2. Such a beginning corrupts every other personal relationship by the insertion of blind pride.
- II. Paul's "Solution": Active Dependence Upon the Grace of God.
- A. This means being always aware that God has put "Justice" behind Him in His responses to our attitudes and choices.
- B. This "awareness" has a definitive character.
- 1. Our text this evening (5:5) addresses this definitive character.
- 2. The first issue involved is the emphatic "we".
- a. This draws a line between "them" and "us".
- 1) The "them" are those defined in 5:4 as "those who are attempting to be justified by Law".
- 2) The issue of the line is one: has the Justice of God been sufficiently addressed by the Christ so as to make "justification" by God possible (can God actually and legitimately call a sinner "just")?
- b. Paul's answer is, of course, his Gospel of Grace: "Yes".
- 3. The second issue involved is "our" active attitude.
- a. Paul calls this "active attitude" a "waiting".
- b. This "waiting" clearly signals a "not yet" situation.
- c. This "waiting" is specifically focused upon "the hope of righteousness".
- 1) This cannot be a challenge against Paul's concept of "justification"; a person is either presently "justified" or presently still under God's reactions of wrath against sin.
- 2) Thus, it must be a clarification of Paul's concept.
- a) Paul frankly, and consistently, acknowledges that "justification" only does one present thing: it keeps God from reacting in Justice/Wrath in His dealings with those He has declared "righteous".
- i. This means that he has no delusions about "justification" producing any kind of present, moral perfection.
- ii. This also means that he has every confidence that God's reactions to our moral imperfections will be wise, powerful, and ultimately effective.
- b) Thus, as a clarification, Paul argues that the most critical issue for "believers" is the attitude they take.
- i. This "attitude" is called "waiting".
- ii. This "attitude" is described as focused upon "the hope of righteousness".
- c) The meaning of this focus is that "believers" seriously expect to "arrive" at some point in the future.
- i. There will come a day when we no longer fail.
- ii. There will come a day when we struggle no longer with our failures and their consequences because there will be none.
- d) Involved in the "attitude" are two concurrent issues.
- i. The first is the active involvement of the Spirit.
- i) This means that we cannot "tell" the Spirit which of the issues of our lives to address.
- ii) This also means that we respond to the Spirit in the issues that He brings to bear.
- ii. The second is a firm commitment to "faith" as the root of our reactions.
- i) This means that we "expect" the Spirit to provide a way for us to handle the issues He surfaces.
- ii) This means that we never allow the idea that we have messed up beyond grace to take root in our minds/hearts.
- C. Conclusion: Life is to be a matter of action/reaction that is fixed upon "hope".
- 1. Failure is inevitable, but never hopeless or beyond grace.
- 2. Failure is lessened when hope provides the stability of peaceful joy (people at peace in joy are significantly less motivated to be selfish).