Galatians 5: 1 – 10, Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. NKJV
The Apostle Paul is addressing the new converts in the church at Galatia. He has discovered that someone has caused them to fall from grace, and, consequently, they have gone back under the law. Instead of obeying the truth by faith and abiding in the new liberty they had received in Christ, they were persuaded to add the works of the law to their faith.
As Paul began his letter to the church, he exhorted them to stand fast to the liberty by which Christ had made them free. He was calling them back to their commitment to live by faith, and calling them away from the works of the law. So why did these new converts from Judaism to Christianity decide to return to their old ways and fall from grace? It was because they had been persuaded by non-believing Jews that they must add works to their faith. However, how could these non-believing Jews cause them to stumble and fall? Not all the Jews believed that Jesus was the Son of God; therefore, they also doubted that HE was the only way, truth, and life. They didn’t believe that Jesus’ teachings were the sole way to the Father. Consequently, they swayed these new believers into going back into bondage and giving up on the liberty they had gained in Christ.
Doesn’t this illustration from scripture sound very similar to the kinds of situations that face brand new believers in our day? The voice of condemnation taunts new converts trying to get them to add something else to their faith in order to be “saved.” The sacrifice of Christ on the cross fulfilled the law and appeased the wrath of God against mankind. If we place faith in Christ as our only way to the Father and the sole way to have eternal life, then the Father will forgive us and fill us with His Spirit.
New believers struggle with their faith because they haven’t completely broken away from the old mindset of the flesh that ruled their hearts before Christ filled it. Now that you and I are born again and have been given a new nature, we must resist the temptations and accusations of the enemy that try to pull us back into bondage. This is the place in your walk where you will have to decide to make Jesus your Lord, not just your Savior. When we commit to the teachings of Christ, every bit of the old ways and the old thinking that we once walked in as sinners will be stirred within us. Continuing in this stale mind-set can cause old desires and thoughts to begin to pull us away from the narrow path of righteousness, but if we will resist the old man and crucify him through obedient faith, the grace of God will begin to remove the condemnation.
Another reason new believers struggle in their faith arises once they begin to follow their faith with obedience to Christ. Remember, the Jews that were saved in Galatia believed in Jesus, but struggled with obeying the truth. If we obey the truth every day, it will hold us personally responsible and will empower us to live by faith, therefore, pleasing our heavenly Father. Nevertheless, once the believers in Galatia tried to obey the truth, they were met by the resistance of non-believers.
After you have made a commitment to Christ, you must begin to live your new life according to His teachings. At this point, there will be a crossroad where you will meet a lot of resistance in your walk. Why does this happen to new converts? It is because they have decided to walk contrary to the ways of the world and their old nature; and this decision will challenge every opinion, relationship, belief, self-confidence and pride that they had before they became born again. This is why Jesus told us in Matthew that, if we desire to come after Him, we must deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him. You will have challenges that might try to convince you to give up, but hold on to the only faith that has the power to save- your faith in Christ.
If you struggle with walking by faith and living by the Word of God, then I want to leave some verses with you that will help you endure and overcome the condemning voices of the enemy.
Hebrews 10: 32 – 36, But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: NKJV
As you face the battles that arise when you pledge your loyalty to Christ, remember that your faith and commitment will empower you to defeat all of your adversaries along the way. Stand fast in the liberty that you have in Christ and endure your cross with the hope that God is making you free and will one-day reward you for your faithful endurance as a good soldier. God rewards those who endure their cross, and they become filled with His love and power. Hope waits until the promise comes to pass.
Waiting on the Promise,
Pastor Asa Dockery