Our Daily Homily, Galatians
But when it pleased God... To reveal his Son in me - Galatians 1:15,16
If you have truly believed in the Son of God, it is certain that He, by the Spirit, has taken up His abode in your heart. But perhaps He is hidden in the deeps of your nature, as the young Joash in the heart of the Temple. He is, therefore, unable to exert that influence on your inner thought and outward life that He should. Is it not befitting that you should ask the Father to reveal His Son in you? He has been revealed to you as the Divine Substitute, but not in you as the source and spring of holiness.
Beneath the body with its physical existence, and the mind with the play of intellect, lies the spirit of man, like the most holy place in the Temple of old. That is the shrine in which the Shechinah of Christ's presence shines, and in which we can hold fellowship with Him face to face. Alas, that so heavy a vail of unbelief, of absorption in the world around us, of inattention, hangs between Him and us! Would that the strong hands which rent the vail in twain when our Saviour died would rend in twain all that deprives us of this inspiring and most helpful vision of the Son, so that we might anticipate the eternal years!
But such revelations are only given that we may better help others. Not for selfish enjoyment, but for ministering help. Hence the apostle says, "that I might preach Him among the Gentiles." Be pleased, O Father, to give us that revelation, that we may speak as those who have seen the great sight, and need no further conference with flesh and blood! Then, like the apostles of old, we shall go forth among men, saying, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live - Galatians 2:20
Clearly Paul intends us to understand that the life of which he was the centre had been nailed to the Saviour's cross, and that Christ's life had been substituted for it. Some have spoken of this real life of Christ in the soul as being mystical and untrue; but there can be no kind of doubt that it is the constant affirmation of the New Testament.
Death, the gate of life.--It is obviously so in nature. Once each year nature lies down in its grave, sleeps in unbroken repose, and steps forth again with the glory of a freshly-renewed beauty. Often the over clouding of one faculty has been the signal of the quickening of all the rest. The blind Milton becomes the author of the "Paradise Lost." Death of a twin-soul will often give to the survivor a new impulse toward a spiritual and transfigured affection. We cannot be possessed by the self-life and the Christ-life at the same moment. And wherever, by God's grace, we erect the cross and assign our own life to its nails, the Spirit of Christ will breathe life and power.
In the flesh, but not after the flesh.--We live our life in the flesh, as aforetime, doing the duties of our ordinary existence with careful precision; but we are no longer controlled by the selfish principle which too long dominated us. The attraction of earth is overborne by the mighty drawing of the eternal and unseen. The rush of the whirlpool is unable to prevail over the throb of the steam-propeller within.
Not I.--Yet loved and ransomed by the Son of God, each of us is distinct to His loving eye. He does not bulk us all together as a mass, but singles each out for the gift of Himself, His prayers, His blood, His ceaseless thought.
That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith - Galatians 3:14
"The promise of the Spirit" is the invariable term for the special Pentecostal gift; and this is to be equally received by faith as the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. To me this text once came as a perfect revelation. It was the clue to unravel perplexity, the point around which truth held long in solution suddenly crystallized. Before this verse spoke to my heart it had been my constant endeavor to feel the Spirit's presence as the sign of my having received; but now it became clear that one might receive by simple faith God's very richest communications, even though the emotion tarried long.
The stages have been thus specified :--
There is such a blessing.--Yes ; there can be no doubt of this; for it pleased the Father that the fullness of the Holy Spirit should dwell in Jesus, that He might communicate Him to each member of His Church.
It is for me.--At Pentecost Peter said, This promise is for as many as the Lord our God shall call.
I have not received.--It is very important to realize what your standing is. Paul's first inquiry of the Ephesians was to ascertain this.
I would give anything if it might be mine.--Because of the life, and love, and power it would bring into your life, and the immense increase of power over others, there is no sacrifice you should be unwilling to make.
I do now in humble faith receive.--There may be no coronet of flame, nor rush of wind, nor flash of joy; but if we have put ourselves in the right attitude toward God, and opened our hearts to receive--He who taught us to hunger and thirst must have bestowed.
Until Christ be formed in you - Galatians 4:19
Christ is in us, if we truly believe in Him, as the sap in the vine, the air in the lung, the steam in the engine; but He may not be formed in us.
Is it not possible that the indefinable sensation of joy and pain, of yearning and unfulfilled desire, are all attributable to this deep-seated process? Christ is being formed within our hearts, dispossessing the old evil self-life, and taking its place.
"O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee,
From sin be daily freed.
"Make this poor self grow less and less,
Be Thou my life and aim;
Oh, make me daily through Thy grace
More meet to bear Thy name."
The mention of travail in this connection suggests that this in-forming of Christ does not take place apart from suffering. And probably it is at times when we are in a furnace of pain that the Christ in us grows most quickly. "When my pain became unbearable," says one, "I became conscious that there is a part of our being which no physical pain, and no mental anguish, can disturb. And there came to me such a sense of God--so enfolding, so assuring, so satisfying-that I could as well doubt the shining of the sun." The Comforter had come--Christ was being formed within.
In the egg, when first laid, there is a tiny point of life amid the thick, viscous fluid; but this gradually increases, while the other diminishes, and at last there is hardly a trace of this left, and the chick is formed, the egg-shell is broken, and the tiny feathered thing steps forth. The chick is formed in the shell.
Ye cannot do the things that ye would - Galatians 5:17
This is a notable rendering of the R. V., which throws a flood of light on the entire passage. The A.V. has it, "Ye cannot do"; it is more correct to say, "Ye may not do." It is always possible to go back and to fall under the tyrannous power of the evil self-principle, the flesh, either in its more debased or refined form; but as long as we are led by the Spirit, live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, He energizes against the flesh, keeping it in the place of death, and allowing the life of Christ to work freely.
In Christian ethics there must be, first, a definite willingness to surrender ourselves to His death. Secondly, there must be a perpetual yielding to the indwelling grace and power of the Holy Spirit. He will deal with the self-life in the deep abysses of your nature. When the antiseptic influence of carbolic acid is in the atmosphere it counteracts the microbes of disease, so that they cannot do as otherwise they would in infecting healthy bodies with disease. An eminent surgeon told me the other day that he was accustomed to boil his operating instruments in antiseptic mixture, that they might not carry microbes to the open wounds. Oh that those of us who are used as instruments by God would take heed!
When the baleful effect of the self-life is arrested, the fruits of the Spirit appear naturally and easily. Note the distinction between work, in which there is effort, and fruit, which swells so imperceptibly and silently on the branch-pressed out from within. Each of these fruits is a variation of the first, which is love. Joy is love on wings; peace, with the wings folded; longsuffering, love in the sick-room; goodness, in business; meekness, in society; self-control, in the regimen of habit for the sake of others.
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus - Galatians 6:17
As a slave was branded with the initials of his owner, so was Paul. It was his pride to count himself the slave of Jesus, and to regard the scars which had eaten into his flesh as the brand marks of his Master. Why should men try to deflect him from his course, when he was so absolutely implicated in the service of the one great Master, Christ?
The Service of Jesus.--It is founded in His blood, by which He purchased us to be His own; but it must be accepted by the glad consent of the will. We must awake each morning as His property, take His commands for the day, and lie down at night, only satisfied when He has said, Well done! We must own to ourselves that we have no personal rights, no locked rooms, no kind of reserve.
The Brand of Jesus.--The dislike which our religion engenders; the losses to which principle compels; the averted look, the distant manner on the part of those who could not make enough of us when we lived the life of the world--these are as much His brand, the brand of His Cross, as the weals of recent scourgings on the apostle's flesh.
The Peace of Jesus.--"Let no man trouble me." My heart has cast her anchor; my soul her foundation; my life her aim. If He is satisfied, I am content, though the world is in arms. If He is with me, I have good company, though all forsake. The Master said, "Trouble her not."
"Lord, as Thy temple's portals close
Behind the outward-parting throng,
So shut my spirit in repose;
So bind it here, Thy flock among:
The fickle wanderer else will stray
Back to the world's wide-parted way."
- W E Gladstone.