Monday, December 17, 2012

Galatians 5 Paraphrased for us Gentiles

Christ Jesus set us free from laws. Laws are burdensome obligations that have punishments for not keeping them. Jesus set us free so that we could stay free. Stand firm, don't let anyone convince you to burden yourself by laws which shackle you & make you a slave. If you put yourself under laws the amazing experience of knowing Christ will be nullified. That's right, because even if you only try to keep one law you'll eventually feel compelled to keep as many as you can think of or as many as people tell you that you should. If you think you can make yourself approved in the eyes of God or make yourself feel righteous by keeping laws you've just about completely lost sight of Jesus & His love for you.

We trust Jesus through our spirits. The flesh, by itself, is valueless to God & us. The only thing of value is trust in God expressing itself through love. While the flesh is good for manifesting that love, the source of that love & trust is the spirit. Even thinking there are a few mandatory laws can mess up your whole life concerning your view of yourself & your view of God. You live in the true reality of knowing God when you walk by the spirit instead of by laws & fleshly desires. God will never persuade you to put yourself under laws. Someone doing that type of thing isn't doing it because God told them to. What happened on the cross is only offensive to those who tell you that you should keep laws. Christ nailed God's old law to the cross & left it there & He's not making any new laws.

Brothers and sisters, you were called to be free. But don't use your freedom to give the flesh the opportunity to control you; instead, serve one another humbly in love. While it is true that God's entire old covenant law is fulfilled by keeping the one command to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” remember, by the flesh no one could keep that law. So instead of being under laws & trying to keep the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” walk by the spirit. When you do that you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, one of which is to keep an external set of laws to make yourself feel better. The flesh & the spirit don't desire the same things. If you try to walk by both they will start a war inside you keeping you from doing anything you would want to do. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law & you aren't led by permanent universal rules that weigh you down. The flesh has a much harder time gaining ground when the law is not involved.

You are heirs to God's kingdom because you belong to Christ Jesus. He has separated your identity from the flesh & its deeds, passions, & desires. Instead you are in the spirit which bears the fruit of love. Love consists of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. Love is so good no one can make laws against it. Love is unstoppable. The fruit of the spirit is love so if you want to love your neighbor forget about laws & rules. Instead walk by the spirit & watch God's love flow into your heart & back out of your heart into the world.

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