Galatians 5:16 – So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful naute craves.
In the last year I have talked with many friends who are trying to understand the mystery of the Gospel. Many of these people were raised in Catholic environments and wrestle with a good image of who God is. Others were brought into the Adventist church under the guise of legalism and behavioralism.
For some strange reason, these friends have difficulty accepting the free grace of God. Galatians 5 seems like the perfect description. I’m not sure if it makes more sense if you read it in context, or if you just pull Galatians 5 out by itself. In fact, I’ve been reading it in conjunction with Job 31-33 — and they have some parallel passages. I wonder if that affects my understanding.
It hurts me to see people throw the baby out with the bathwater. In other words, people get bogged down with the shame of their sinful ways, so they throw everything God related out the window. It isn’t God who makes them ashamed — it is Satan.
It is Satan’s lies that cause people to feel unworthy and unaccepted. It is only by drawing closer to God that they can find relief and be rescued from this dispair they are in. How can I help people to better see that God will rescue them?
When I first became a Christian, I was determined to not become a legalist. It was a struggle, but I didn’t want to return to the life of bondage that is so much like bondage to sin. I had to concentrate hard to not get wrapped up in the pain and shame of life.
It isn’t God who makes me feel ashamed. It is Satan. If I go to the doctor and he tells me I have cancer, it isn’t going to do me any good to avoid the Dr. in the future. That won’t make the cancer go away. The cancer is still there.
The only way to get rid of the cancer is to keep going to the Dr., no matter how painful that is! He may do surgery (painful), he may do radiation and chemo (painful and debilitating), and he may tell me things I don’t want to hear (“You are sick.”), but this is my only hope for healing.
The same is true of sin in my life. God tells me I’m a sinner, but He offers healing. The sin is ruining my life and destroying my hopes of abundance. By walking away from God, the problem is still there. I am being debilitated by the sin and seperation from God. But God has promised to eliminate the sin from my life (sometimes painful) and He promises to teach me how to have abundance (John 10:10) — but this isn’t always easy. Walking away from God isn’t going to solve anything.
Dear Father, I pray for the people in my life who don’t know how to have abundance in their lives. It saddens me to see them repeat the cycles of guilt, shame, pain, and depression. It is not easy to come out of that. But it is available. You offer this as a gift to us, but it can be painful to leave the shame behind — however, I pray that these people would realize that once on this road, they will experience abundance and joy like never before.
That’s what I want for my friends.
Please God lead them to abundance and joy. Deliver them from the shame, stress, pain, and depression that plagues them.
I love you too!