This week, we continued the “No Condemnation” series. In this part, we looked at the importance of operating by grace so that the Spirit can work in you to the fullest extent possible. In Galatians 5, we read about the fruit of the Spirit. Our law mentality has often made that list of attributes of the Spirit yet another list of rules for Christians – thou shalt be loving, kind, gentle, patient and, by all means be self-controlled. That is what human nature does. Let’s look, however, at Galatians in its entirety. In Galatians 1:6-10, we are warned not to drift from the true gospel that we received (grace) and not to listen to anyone teaching another gospel (forms of law), which is not a gospel at all. It goes on to say that one who IS teaching such a gospel is eternally condemned.
Law thinking likes to make rules where there are no rules and then use them to disqualify people from salvation or God’s blessings. Law also likes to zoom in on any verse that mentions condemnation or damnation and find a way to use it to disqualify others. This scripture in Galatians 1 is a great example. First, examine the verb tenses—anyone who IS teaching, not anyone who has ever taught, the “wrong” gospel. If that were the case, Paul would be eternally condemned, because at one time he was zealously preaching and teaching the law.
The issue in
was that Hebrew people who received salvation then slipped back into living by
law – ignoring the true meaning of the gospel.
Then, in chapter 2, we are warned of those false brothers who were
trying to steal away the freedom that came by grace by enslaving believers with
You see, this is a lie the enemy has used to tie the hands of the church and strip it of its power. Our heart is to do what is right and pleasing before God. That is very GOOD. But the enemy convinces us that the way to do that is to create lists of rules and keep them. Instead, we must receive grace and live by it. Then, we will allow the grace to do its work in order to help us defeat sinful actions. We won’t overcome sinful actions until we overcome sin’s condemnation.
As long as we continue to live by law (which seems good), we prevent the true power of the Spirit from being able to work in us. Then in Galatians 3, Paul calls the Galatians foolish for tasting grace and then returning to law. In verse 3, the word “human effort” in the King James is “living by the flesh.” The Greek word means “by the sinful state of man.” In Galatians 4, he lays the case for the difference between Ishmael, the one born of the normal means, and Isaac, who was the promise born of a miracle. Ishmael represents the law, and Isaac represents grace. Paul says that the “Ishmael” will always persecute the “Isaac.” The law will never receive the inheritance. It will argue that it has more right to the inheritance than grace because it has a “legal” right to it because it has earned it.
Get a hold of grace in your life, and you are bound to be persecuted by those who have a law mentality. They’ll accuse you of lacking “holiness” or accepting sin. They’ll tell you that grace is dangerous. They will also continue without ever receiving the inheritance of the riches of God’s Word.
In the beginning of chapter 5, Paul describes those who return to law, having fallen from grace. That is probably the opposite of what you’ve heard or thought about that concept. We’ve been led to believe that when you willfully sin, you fall from grace. Willful sin is extremely dangerous, but it is not “falling from grace.” Either grace covers a multitude of sins and is sufficient for all things, or it is not.
Finally, in the act of receiving communion, we have been scared by 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 that warns of taking communion in an unworthy manner. I am sure I am not the only one who has felt a little fear when a pastor announced they were going to serve communion. Immediately, you begin asking for forgiveness for every sin you can remember. But what if you forget one? I mean it says some have actually died because of taking in an unworthy manner…..
You need to ask yourself what makes you worthy. Does your worthiness before God ever have to do with you, or is it always because of Jesus? I truly believe the most unworthy way we who actually are believers can receive communion is from a state of self-righteousness. If you choose to partake in communion because you believe you have done good and didn’t sin, you are not acknowledging what the body and blood of Jesus represent and what they did. That is the actual warning in that passage – that you do not take it without acknowledging what it means. If you are truly worthy because you act right, then you don’t need the body and blood.
I think the most worthy approach to take is to realize that you are human and you sin, that God’s grace alone has made you worthy, and that grace was provided by the body and blood of Jesus. That’s the ONLY way to be worthy!