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For Neither Circumcision Counts... but a New Creation

24 February • Saturday of the First Week in Lent


Galatians 6:1-18

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Meditation

 

In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul was concerned about the Galatians. Having been given a new life of freedom in Christ, they were persuaded by some, who viewed it is necessary for the Jewish laws to be practiced to become members of God’s people, to be circumcised.


Having argued in the earlier part of his letter why they need not, and indeed must not, go back to the law, Paul summarises his view in Galatians 6:15, that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but what truly counts is that they are already a new creation in Jesus Christ. Being a new creation in Christ, means that Christ has set them free from the yoke of slavery (which is the law) and they are able to live by the Spirit. For Paul, living by the Spirit means one is able to put off the sinful works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), go on to bear one another’s burdens and do good to the benefit of others (Galatians 6:1-10). All this is possible, because Christ has set them free (Galatians 5:1).


This wonderful truth is beautifully reflected in an often- sung Methodist hymn, written by Charles Wesley, entitled “And can it be that I should gain”, with the lyrics (from stanzas 1, 4 and 5) below.


And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour's blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain?

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! how can it be,

That Thou, my God, should die for me?


Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature's night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth and followed Thee.


No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him is mine!

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


May we live out this wonderful truth of being a new creation in Christ today.


Prayer

 

Father-in-Heaven, thank You that we have true freedom in Jesus Christ to live and walk by the Spirit. Not because of any good work we have done, but because Jesus went to the cross, and died for our sins. In this season of Lent, help us to be thankful for this freedom that we have in Christ, and respond by following the exhortation of Paul to bear one another’s burdens and do good for the benefit of others. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Action

 

If there is time today, read through the whole of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians to experience afresh the depth of Paul’s conviction that we are free in Christ, and no longer slaves to law and sin.

In this season of Lent, live out what it means to be a new creation in Christ, free from sinful works of the flesh, bearing one another’s burdens and doing good for the benefit of others.


Rev Benjamin Lee

Pastor-in-Charge

Toa Payoh Methodist Church

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