Formations Lesson for November 28- Heirs According to the Promise
November 17 2010 by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Gal. 3:23-29

The day of my swimming test had finally arrived. For almost an entire week of Boy Scout camp I had been relegated to the Red swimming area, the portion of the lake reserved for “beginner” swimmers.  Now I had my sights on the Blue area of the lake, the deep water where only “advanced” swimmers could tread. With the swimming instructions I had received over the course of the week racing through my mind, I plunged into the murky water.

Lowering my head and gritting my teeth, I swam until I could barely feel my arms. A few minutes later, I emerged from the lake a Blue swimmer. I can still remember how hard and fast my heart was beating, not from exhaustion, but from euphoria. I had done it. Now I was finally free to swim with my friends, most of whom were “advanced” swimmers already. I felt a celebration was only appropriate, so upon receiving my Blue swimmer credentials I leapt with carefree abandon into the water … of the Red area. Free or not, I wanted to stay where my feet could touch the bottom.

Perhaps in no epistle is Paul’s anger and disappointment as evident as it is in his letter to the Galatians. Why? Simply put, the Galatian congregations have somehow managed to sneak back into the Red area. Though Paul has proclaimed Christ’s grace and freedom to these believers, they’ve once again sought refuge in the law. Paul explains that, up until the time of Christ, the law served to “imprison” and “guard” (Gal. 23:3). Now Christ provides freedom. Why on earth would a person return to imprisonment instead of embracing freedom? As frightening as it sounds, many of us know exactly why someone would do that.

The notion of “freedom” may seem appealing, but it’s a dangerous idea. Remember that even when the Hebrews were released from slavery in Egypt, they pondered returning to captivity (Num. 14:3-4). Many felt there was greater safety in bondage than in daily reliance on God.

Likewise, humans have a proclivity to retreat into legalism. After all, legalism is more well-defined, and we feel much safer when we know the rules. Perhaps it was this way of thinking that fueled some of Jesus’ poignant words in Matthew 5. Jesus taught that both adultery and murder were more than “acts”; instead, they were matters of the heart. In short, Jesus instructs his listeners to eschew legalism, not because legalism makes following Christ seem too hard, but because legalism makes following Christ seem too easy. Being a disciple of Jesus entails more than following a checklist.

Christians must vigilantly guard themselves from legalism. Like the Galatians, if given half a chance we’ll head for the shallow water  
11/17/2010 5:36:00 AM by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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