Happy Wednesday as we continue with The 2019 Topical Memory System Challenge! If you’re just joining us, you’re in a great spot. We’ve spent Monday and Tuesday working through the first verse, and now are just starting the second.
So, how has it gone with memorizing 2 Corinthians 5:17? Check yourself now, or even better, hand your verses over to someone else and ask them to check your memorization!
How can we encourage you?
Well, here we go into the next verse, Galatians 2:20. And as always, we should start with prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, the God who gave the Law to your people, and then in your unmerited favor and unconditional grace sent your Son, not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, help us soak your Scripture in, and give us discernment to live in the tension of following your Word while celebrating and embracing the freedoms we have in the Gospel. May your strength carry us and your Spirit enable us, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, Amen
This letter by Paul was to the church in Galatia, a region that is in modern-day Turkey (in fact, the capitol of Galatia was Ancyra which today is Turkey’s capitol city, Ankara). Paul is perhaps more critical in this letter than in most or all of his other epistles.
A foundational cause of the problems about which Paul is concerned is false teachings that have been spread in the church, focusing on circumcision and other outward signs of the Law.
Paul essentially says in chapter 2, “by focusing on all this, you’re missing on the big picture – Christ changes everything!”
As we prepare to memorize Galatians 2:20, pray again for God to reveal his truth, and then begin by reading the immediate context of this verse. The workbook suggests 2:17-2:21. I’m going to reach back a little further to the beginning of chapter 2.
Galatians 2:1-17 indicate that the early Church was composed of both Jews and Gentiles, the “circumcised” and the “uncircumcised,” and this was causing friction. Before Christ, observant Jews did not mix with Gentiles. But Jesus changed all that, and has commanded his Jewish followers to make disciples of all nations (Mt 2:18-20), and told them that they will be witnesses to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
And so division was occurring within this tension. If Jesus did not come to abolish the Law (Mt 5:17a), shouldn’t the new Gentile believers adhere to it? Yet if Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law (Mt 5:17b), wasn’t following him sufficient?
To this debate, Paul says that he has died to the Law, through the Law (v19), and no longer was he living to be justified by the Law but instead by God’s grace (v21). And between these two statements is where we find our memory verse.
Christ the Center: Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And this life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave myself for me.
When we deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Christ (Mk 8:34), it is to be crucified with him. Our life is no longer our own. It is not defined by the Law, but by Christ who is the fulfillment of the Law. We no longer live by our own power but by faith in the Son of God. It is not by our accomplishments, but by Jesus’ work.
As you work on this verse, meditate upon it and upon these questions from the Workbook:
- How are we identified with Christ in his death?
- If you had a problem with being prideful, how would the truth of this passage help you overcome it?
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for one of the several ways we have set up for you to participate with the group. You can see those here.
Also, please share your thoughts, encouragements, challenges, and praises in the comments below!