Only By Grace – Galatians 6:18

(Galatians 6:18)  “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. To the Galatians written from Rome.”

How gracious is the grace of God!  After all the doubts and accusations, Paul ends this epistle praying for the Galatians.  The religious term for this verse is “benediction,” which most people take to mean “kind wishes.”  But there is far more behind this than man’s perception of a nice God.  Paul’s heart is bound by so much love for these believers.  His highest desire for them is for the grace of God to operate and reside in their spirit.  All problems in Galatia could be resolved if legalism were overwhelmed by the grace of God.  It wouldn’t happen by a violent or loud confrontation between the brethren.  The transformation would occur by grace reigning in each believer.  This is the personal grace of God bigger than any division or discord.

I can’t do this life alone.  When I try, it becomes a desperate attempt to be valued by this world, by other people, and by organizations in my environment.  But the real message is I need to be desperate for His grace.  I often see my need based on my circumstances.  When life is going badly, I look for His grace to bail me out.  When life is going well, I ignore His grace and come back to a life of self-dependency.  I treat this life as my life.  But regardless of how life treats me, He continually calls me to a life of grace.  He calls me to worship Him in spirit (Jn 4:24).  As His grace works in my spirit, I abandon my false ideas of worshipping Him in self-dependency.  His grace tears down the idols I’ve constructed in my heart.  When His grace is with my spirit, I walk in the power of the cross.  When His grace is with my spirit, I walk in His humility.  This is the taste of victory as grace reigns when it abides with my spirit.

Renewed Thought – “Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace.” – Augustine

Branded For Christ – Galatians 6:17

(Galatians 6:17)  “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Having laid down the defense of his apostleship, rebuke of legalism, and exhortation to walk in the Spirit, Paul now closes the epistle to the Galatians with these words.  The words given to him by the Lord on these subjects are authoritative and they are final.  There is no more to say – the spiritual proof of Paul’s apostleship was present in the words he wrote.  But there was more than spiritual proof.  The physical proof of Paul’s apostleship was not apparent in a big house, many servants at his beck and call, or in large amounts of money.

(2 Corinthians 11:24-25)  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

Paul was branded as a servant of Christ by the wounds and scars he wore.  There was no greater proof to set before the eyes of those who doubted his authority and power of God’s grace.

I look at Paul’s standard of servanthood and am convicted at my own lack of dedication and faith.  I live in a society that measures everything in financial terms.  Even the willingness to lose everything for the cause of Christ fails to compare to the example of so many faithful saints who lived before me.  My society tells me I am sacrificing if I lose all my finances and property.  So when I “lay my life down” for Christ, do I mean just my belongings or do I mean that I am really willing to pay a higher price, perhaps the ultimate price?  In this I see that my finances and property are the starting point of sacrifice, not the end point.  I must start by already counting physical belongings as loss.  Only then can I be in the position to be beaten without retaliation.  Only then can I be willing to suffer wrong without retribution.  Only then can I be willing to die if called upon to accomplish the purpose of God.  And if He chooses to allow me to live for Him a little longer in this life, I pray that I’ll be a willing servant always ready to wear the marks of a servant to His honor and His glory.

Renewed Thought – “Therefore, I bind these lies and slanderous accusations to my person as an ornament; it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached and reviled, and since all this is nothing but that, as God and my conscience testify, I rejoice in being reproached for Christ’s sake.” – John Bunyan