This may be a passage you want to return to over and over again. It is always great counsel to remember where our power comes from. I love how Paul starts this section. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” He uses the powerful word “So,” which we know to be like “Therefore.” It tells us to remember everything that comes before it as if it were restated in its entirety before he gives us new counsel. What are we supposed to do now? Let the Holy Spirit guide us. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
We are exchanging the reality of being chained to the law, and the expectations that come with that affliction, for the freedom of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul says, “But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.” Cool. The Spirit is not going to lead us down a path that will be contrary to the law anyway. Since we are sinful creatures, the tendency to sin is inside us. When we let the Holy Spirit guide us, imagine the battle going on inside us between good and evil. The Holy Spirit is definitely stronger. When we rely on our own wisdom, that’s when we make foolish decisions.
How would you answer Paul’s question? “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses?” I’m guessing, that is probably not a question you have been asked before. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit in our lives is key to testing our level of faith, whether we are hot or cold in terms of our spirituality. My question “are you feeling the burn?” refers then to the spark of the Holy Spirit igniting your heart and soul.
Paul is concerned here for his Christian friends in Galatia (and us). He knows that it’s easy for people to fall back into old patterns of living (following the law and believing they are saved by their works). In part, it’s because of the comfort zone effect. It’s what we know. Especially when we start to lose the fire or “burn” we felt when we first believed. We start to think something is wrong or that we should be acting in a certain way to get the spark back.
Paul doesn’t waste any time in dancing around the pressing issue here, does he? He comes right out and tells them he’s “shocked” at their behavior and how they have turned so quickly away from God. What does he mean they are following “a different way that pretends to be the Good News?”
Imagine the dynamic of what is happening here. You have Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) all believing in Jesus. They have all heard the same gospel from Paul and were sold out, on fire for Christ. Then they were left on their own. Because of the traditional division between Jews and Gentiles, there were bound to be issues in the young Christian church. As I understand it, the Jews believed that Gentiles needed to follow Jewish traditions to be “true” Christ followers. After all, Jesus was a Jew.
Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” We see the sixth beatitude as another beautiful promise but there is some urgency. Have you heard of FOMO? That’s the fear of missing out. It’s commonly used in marketing to let you know something is coming to an end (like a sale) so you better hurry or you’ll get left behind. That’s a bit of what I feel is happening here. Jesus doesn’t want us to wait to obey, he wants us to do it now! None of us know what “soon” means.
We’ve been reading through the book of Revelation and it concludes with this passage. Whether it’s your first time through or your hundredth, the message is still the same. Follow Jesus, be encouraged in your faith, and trust he is coming soon. Revelation is prophecy, and we explored what that meant at the very beginning. Prophecy can have to do with the future, but it is not the same as a “prediction.” The intention is to always point us toward God, not away from him. As you look back at what you’ve read, I am confident you can see the prophetic nature of this book. It is drawing us back to God, strengthening our desire to be in relationship with our Savior King.
We have been watching the pattern of 7’s. We have also seen how God set limits. Complete destruction was not allowed. With this vision, however, there is no holding back. This was the complete unleashing of God’s wrath on those following evil. We even see that they cursed God for bringing these plagues upon them, rather than repent and seek salvation.
The function of these visions is not necessarily to give us an exact picture of what is going to happen in the final days. Instead, we are given a sneak peek into God’s intentions, and we can either be stubborn like those being afflicted or be true followers of Christ ready to receive the life God intends for us.