29 Nov 2008

Caught up in any trespass?

Submitted by theshovel
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I copied this portion over from a longer Q&A so that I could bring it into the New Testament Bible section

Indeed, we have been freed from sin. Our communication with one another comes from another place, a place foreign to the mind of this world. Of course then, we wonder why there seem to be so many references - or reminders - of sin in the writings of the apostles. Now, what has shown itself to me over the years regarding many of the verses and passages thrown in my face (by myself, as well as by others) is how the referencing of sin was not initiated by the writer, but by those to whom he had written. In other words, the sin being addressed seems to have been insisted upon by some among whatever group written to, so that the matter had to be addressed to put sin in its place. Consider how Paul told the Galatians:

Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1

Considering the placement of this statement - after his famous demand to stand only in Christ - we might even wonder why Paul would even bring up the idea about some being “caught up in any trespass”. But then again, who really brought it up? What if Paul merely took the opportunity to address this most prevalent matter among the Galatians? Just because WE might read it as if Paul initiated a discussion about sin, the truth of the matter is that the Galatians had been forcing the issue.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. Galatians 5:13-15

The Galatians were caught up in the lie that produced the delusion about living in view of sin. They had foolishly/ignorantly heeded the words of deceivers among them, so that living in view of law seemed to be the only real option. This is what turning freedom into an opportunity for the flesh is all about. It is only by ignoring this that it seems Paul may have reverted back to legality in certain circumstances. But in truth, Paul had merely highlighted the delusion so that he could ask how it made any sense in view of Christ. After all, it was freedom in Christ that had put love within them through the Spirit. And it was love that had already fulfilled the whole of law. Because of Christ, their true life was found in the Spirit, and there was no law against the fruit of their new life. In an attempt to reach the supposedly higher will of God (as suggested by those who seemed to have a more legitimate claim to God) they fell back to their formerly familiar life of nit-picking. Their examination of one another took on a whole new slant, as it came with the delusion that the true God of Abraham now became their validation to judge one another in Christ. This reminds me of a question I heard years ago in reference to the early American demand of “no taxation without representation”. After the speaker verified among his audience that this was indeed one of our founding American freedoms of which we were quite proud of, he asked: “So how do you like taxation WITH representation?” Somehow, being able to quote the lingo of freedom blinds many to the reality that the old burdens have found a way back in.

New Testament: 

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Random Shovelquote: Former religious imaginations (view all shovelquotes)

My assumptions of what grace and life in Christ look like often reflect my former religious imaginations.   source