Monday, August 12, 2013

Things can enslave you if you let them. Be completely free in Christ who set us completely free.

Galatians 2:4

  • Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in - who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery.

There were false brothers in the church of Jerusalem, even as there have been, are and will be in churches around the world.

The false brothers are characterised by their insistence on external customs, regulations and laws to justify themselves.

For example, because they received a circumcision, they had a right to be saved. Not remembering that Abraham was called and saved by God before he was circumcised.

We, as human beings, have an innate desire to prove ourselves, have confidence in ourselves through some external ceremonies, and want to be right in our beliefs.

The false brothers' problem was their insistence on getting a "circumcision." Not remembering women did not receive circumcision. Only men did. The circumcision was a sign of something else. Something deeper.

Romans 2:28, 29
  • For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Circumcision refers to the circumcision of the heart, i.e. the uncovering of our heart. The uncovering of the most private, secret, intimate part of our heart before God. Even our shame is exposed to God who sees all our flaws and blemishes, and still accepts us. Not because we are so clean and blameless, but because he is gracious and forgiving.

Romans 5:8
  • but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Therefore, false brothers' belief that one can be right before God by receiving a circumcision is completely missing the point of the circumcision.

Circumcision reminds us that we ought be completely honest before God, exposing even our worst mistakes, flaws, failures, blemishes and shortcomings, including the most gross, filthy, deplorable sins before Him.

Now, if we focus on the circumcision of the flesh rather than the circumcision of the heart, we become slaves to something external, and may completely miss the crux of the matter. 

It would be like looking at the shadow of a person, and be content that we know that person, rather than focusing directly at that person. The shadow of that person can give us a rough idea of who that person is, but not much. It can even be misleading, if that shadow is distorted, and we may have a false idea of that person. It's the same with God, if we only look at external things to figure out who God is, we may completely miss the point of the shadows provided by God for us. Since we cannot see the circumcision of heart (because it is believed by faith), God provided a physical circumcision for Abraham and his descendants.

Colossians 2:17
  • These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 10:1
  • For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities.

We need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened so that we may know what is the true hope to which God has called us, what are the true riches of his glorious gifts and future in us for us, (Ephesians 1:18)

Yes, heaven, and all the glory and honour and happiness that are contained within that heaven with God in God.

So salvation is the gift of God for us. It's received by believing that God is a giver, and not a taker. God is generous. He is not selfish. God demands first and foremost that we trust in Him, and not merely look at the shadows of things to come.

The moment we look away from God, and focus on things like our prayer life, church attendance, bible reading, tithing, witnessing, and all the other things that are not necessarily bad, we completely lost the point of doing these things above.

We focus on God first, thank Him, praise Him, and don't get enslaved to things that are external. If something external becomes not a choice we do voluntarily, then it becomes our slave master to make us miserable, bigoted and judgmental towards other who don't do as we do.

For example, if I focus on attending church regularly, (rather than the reason for attending church, i.e. to worship God and love our brothers and sisters in Christ), I'd look down on other people who don't come to church as regularly as I do. I'd think I'm more spiritual than others because I attend church regularly, while other don't. By this, I've completely lost the point of attending church. I'm no longer a lover of my brothers and sisters, but I've become a judge of their external behaviour.

So, let us tarry in Christ, thank Him and love Him more than anything else so that other things may not snatch our freedom of loving God and loving people from us. 

Galatians 5:1
  • For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

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