This guide can be used by the student of scripture as well as a devotional divided into convenient sections so that the truth and nourishment can be taken in by large or small amounts.
Galatians is a sort of ālittle Romansā as it deals with the same primary concerns. In the end everyone has different insights to various parts of scripture and if you read enough of them you will certainly be wise in the things of God. I believe, however, that I have some unique insights into scripture as the result of over 40 years in teaching and ministering and studying the scriptures and theology. Even if I do not have some unique insights, if you study Galatians for any reason you can only be richer for the experience.
It is important to understand that to receive the grace of God we must first acknowledge both with our minds and our hearts that we are totally dependent on God. This is the first big problem. Today in Western culture we are taught that independence and self-reliance are the most important virtues that we can possess. In religious circles we are taught that we are dependent on God for our salvation because we are sinners and desperately in need of the help and deliverance that only he can provide. This is true, but in the teaching of this we are so often left with the impression deep down in our beings that the dependence is because of our sin alone. This is not true. We were originally designed to be dependent on God. Adam was given great power to be in charge of the entire natural world. But he had this power in dependence on God. He lost this power when he took his life into his own hands. Jesus said that he did not do anything that he did not see the Father doing. Jesus walked in total dependence on God.
Dependence on God is not wrong. Dependence on God is good. When our sins are dealt with by the cross of Christ, we are free from the consequences of them. But we were never supposed to be free from God. He wants us to draw from him continually. He delights in meeting our every need. The life of faith is an adventure with God meeting every need, even anticipating our needs and arranging the supply before we ask. This is healthy Christianity. To walk in grace, when we can only stop our sinning by degrees, requires us to be willingly dependent as a lifelong lifestyle. Only after we embrace this, can we truly understand grace. Many earthly dependencies have unwanted side effects.
Dependence on God has no unwanted side effects. The unwanted side effects of drugs, for example, are that they can in themselves be damaging to a person. Also, they will lead to a dependency which will take a person away from the good things in life. And, last but not least, the supply of the drug may be interrupted or stopped and painful withdrawal will result. A dependency on God will not lead to any of these consequences. God is not damaging to the person. His goal is to free the person and help that person to realize all his or her potential. A dependency on God will not take us away from the good things in life. Rather it will bring us into a complete fulfillment of the good things in life like health and love and relationship and joy. Finally, the prospect of not being able to receive God or the blessings of God at any time in the future is not possible, at least not from Godās side of the relationship. God is always available to us and always will be in this life and in eternity. This dependency does certainly imply relationship. We are to live in a living relationship with a living God. This is not a book of rules.
The rules, called the Law, were added because of the growth of disobedience. But rules have never been the object of Godās relationship with his people. A religion of rules is not the Christian faith; it is not the faith that Paul teaches; it is not the faith that Jesus teaches. They teach relationship with the living God. Sometimes it is easier for people to learn to walk by rule than by relationship. Sometimes people prefer rules to relationship. āJust tell me what the rules are and I will do it.ā Relationship is harder than rules because there is a living being on both sides of the issue. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of relationship. Rules lead to death; relationship leads to life. They say that the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. The three most important things in the Christian life are relationship, relationship and relationship; relationship first with God and then with our fellow human beings.
Paul spoke very strongly about the importance of Grace in what he called "my gospel." He was very critical of those who opposed it or tried to modify it in any way to the point of wanting those who attempted to mutilate the Gospel of Grace to "mutilate themselves." Why did he feel so strongly about this? Paul knew legalism well. He had been the chief legalist. No one is more adamant against a wrong than a former practitioner. Once grace was revealed to Paul he wanted every believer to be free of legalism because "the law kills, but the Spirit gives life." Read this devotional on Galatians which is Paul's strongest grace teaching. It will expose legalism in yourself and others and set you free in any place where you as a believer need more freedom.