Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Galatians 5:14

“For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Original Intent

1) What law is Paul referring to in this verse?

Paul is the author of the letter to the Galatians under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In this verse, Paul is referring to the Old Testament Law given to Moses by God to give to the people of Israel.

The Law was given by God to provide boundaries, examples, and directions on how best to follow Him and obey Him. In Exodus 19-31, Moses and the Israelites receive instructions on how to honor God in their everyday life. The Law was the standard practice of behavior to pursue holiness and live rightly before the Lord; it required a yearly sacrifice for sin atonement, plus keeping the law, and following the feasts and festivals.

These laws were put in place by God, prior to Jesus being sent, as a way for people to follow God and for God to be in relationship with His people.

The Everyday Application

1) What law is Paul referring to in this verse?

The Law described the standard practice of those who believed in God. When Christ came the Law was fulfilled to completion. (Matthew 5:17) Jesus explained how every possible thought, word, or deed we could imagine for pleasing God comes down to two connected things: Loving God and loving others. (Mark 12:28-34)

As women, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to love well and use our freedom in Christ as an opportunity to serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Paul challenged the Galatians, and he challenges us today, as we read this letter, to have confidence in our relationship and identity in Christ and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit produces “the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

This fruit in our life pours out in tangible ways such as taking a meal to a friend, having patience with our kids as they test boundaries, returning hateful words with gentleness and a pursuit of peace, and allowing joy to permeate everything we do.

The Original Intent

2) How did Jesus change our perspective of the law?

Prior to Christ, the Law was the way God’s people followed Him. When Christ came, Jesus fulfilled every part of the law and provided a new covenant for those who desired to follow God. (Matthew 26:28) He was the fulfilled way to access a relationship with God as He perfectly fulfilled the Law on our behalf. (John 14:6-7)

In Romans 8:1-4, another letter Paul wrote, he tells us the Law was based on flesh (human weakness because of sin) and there was a need for continual sin offering because humanity could never keep the law perfectly because of their sinfulness. (Romans 7:5) Every year, the Jewish High Priest was required by the Law to make an offering before God for the sin of humanity, but when Christ came, His death on the cross and His resurrection, did away with the need for a sin sacrifice.

Jesus became the sin sacrifice for us! (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus fulfilled every part of the law in full and also made right all of the wrongness of sinful humanity for all eternity. (Matthew 5:17) He did not do away with the Law but fulfilled it in every way, which means we have eternal freedom if we are in Christ. (Romans 5:1-11)

In our freedom and through the Holy Spirit, God transforms who we are by adopting us and placing His Spirit in us (Romans 8:12-17); because He loves us and forgives us, we can, in turn, love others as He does. (1 John 4:19)

The Everyday Application

2) How did Jesus change our perspective of the law?

Jesus approached the Jewish leaders of His day wanting them to see beyond just the “letter of the Law” to the heart behind the Law. (Matthew 15:1-9)

Jesus changed the filter through which we operate as believers.

It is no longer a set of rules to be followed, but a heart transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit that prompts us to love God and others by going above and beyond in the name of the Lord. In Him, we can go the extra mile, we can turn the other cheek, and we can pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:38-44)

As neighbors, we seek out the unreachable, the downcast and, as the Spirit prompts, live open-handed lives for the purpose of intentionally loving and serving others as ambassadors for Christ who bear His Name. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

The Original Intent

3) Who are the neighbors that Paul is describing?

In this verse, Paul is referring to more than the person who technically lives next door to your house. Although, traditionally, we would define our neighbor in a proximity sense, the Bible pushes beyond our borders to include everyone under the definition of “neighbor”.

From our new filter of living called Jesus’ Love, we are called to demonstrate this love to all people, regardless of how well they love us in return. In Romans 13:8-10, Paul defines what it means to love your neighbor as doing no wrong toward them and loving your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus, in Matthew 5:43-48, clarifies in detail that loving your neighbor goes beyond loving the lovable, it also includes your enemies.

The Everyday Application

3) Who are the neighbors that Paul is describing?

One of my absolute favorite stories in all of the Bible is the encounter Jesus has with the Samaritan Woman. (John 4) In this case, the regions of Samaria, Galilee, and Judea were all literal neighbors butting right up next to one another like puzzle pieces.

Yet, the Jewish people of the day spent extra days in hotter, more mountainous regions, traveling between the three regions because Jews and Samaritans detested one another. The reviling hatred these two ethnicities carried toward one another is likely the strongest racial prejudice we encounter in the Bible.

If a Jew was traveling from Judea to Galilee or vice versa, they would physically take a harder route in order to go around Samaria. I tell you this because it is a perfect example of how Jesus changed everything. Jesus didn’t go around the reviled and unlovable. We see in John 4, He went through and, not only that, He stayed in Samaria and many came to believe because of it. (John 4:39-41)

When we talk about who our neighbors are, and the role we play in their life, Jesus is our example. He disregarded the man-made laws of the day and prejudiced attitudes to intentionally go out of His way to bring life and light to his neighbor, a Samaritan woman.

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