May 19, 2020 – Tuesday
Galatians 1:13 NIV
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
Paul in his letter to the churches in Galatia pulls no punches when he describes his prior life as a persecutor of the church of God which he was intent on destroying. In this letter he is admonishing those same churches because he was 6 … astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7a which is really no gospel at all. This was because
7b Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. There were those who preached circumcision was required among other Jewish practices which Paul and the disciples in Jerusalem had determined were not required. If that is so, then what was Paul preaching? 11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Later Paul writes of his trip to Syria and Cilicia where 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me. If such changes can be made in Paul (formerly Saul) what changes can be made in your life. You might think God cannot change your life because you think your sins are too great to be forgiven. However, Paul had something to say about that as well in 1 Timothy 1:16: I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Paul had good reason to call himself the worst of sinners as in Acts 19:1-2 we read: Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
It was on the road to Damascus Paul (still called Saul at that time) met Jesus who said to him Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 19:4) This meeting forever changed the trajectory of Saul’s life. He would no longer persecute the followers of Jesus, but would freely accept persecution for the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus the Christ.
Paul’s change was so complete and his opposition to those who would try to make Gentile followers of Jesus into Jews by being circumcised was so great he penned the following to the Galatians in 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. The second sentence therein, The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love, is a life verse for me
Paul’s message to the Galatians is just as pertinent today as it was then – don’t let anyone water down or add any requirements to your salvation. I really like how one wag put it: Jesus Christ plus nothing equals everything. Paul persecuted Jesus’ church and was forgiven. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, repented of your sins, then you too have been forgiven. All that remains is for the fruit of your repentance (as John the Baptist put it in Matthew 3:8) in your life to be discovered.
Be blessed and remember The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Find ways to express your faith through love.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton