Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obey the Truth?

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV)
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? [8] This persuasion is not from him who calls you. [9] A little leaven leavens the whole lump. [10] I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. [11] But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. [12] I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

So the question hits me. How does one obey the truth? I understand how to obey or disobey a command. It is beyond me as to how one obeys the Gospel, obeys the freedom Paul is talking about in the previous two paragraphs. The word here translated obey, Peithesthai, (forgive my transliteration) shares the root with the word translated persuasion in the next verse. In fact it is often translated as persuade, convince etc.
I am sometimes convinced that only legalists translate the Bible in English, people who want to turn the Gospel into a law (I checked the German, and Swedish and both use a word that has a hint of obey, but typically mean listen to. Come to think about it, we do use the word listen to mean obey at times.). If it was me I might have translated this “who hindered you from being (remaining) convinced of the truth. Listening to the truth, perhaps that gets to the root. We listen to the Gospel. We don’t just hear the truth. We listen to it. It evokes response in us. When we are persuaded of the truth of the Gospel, we are inspired to love.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump. That is a tiny bit of false doctrine has a tendency to destroy everything. The Gospel can’t take the law. It cannot incorporate the law. The minute you make the statement you just have to, you must, you only have to, everything starts falling apart. Even the phrase you just have to believe has the power to destroy. Not that faith isn’t a requirement, it is, but faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. That is we don’t manufacture faith. Technically we don’t even believe. Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit. More on that when we get to Ephesians (see 2:8) The gospel is only to be proclaimed. Your sins are forgiven! That is the gospel. It is true whether you believe it or not. And that is the offense of the cross. The offense is that everything is done for you. The offense of the cross is that you can’t do anything. It reveals just how bad your sin is. And we are all ungrateful beggars who don’t want to accept the charity, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to work faith in us. Without the Holy Spirit we are too proud to accept forgiveness. A little help maybe, but then we want to have a part in our salvation, perhaps circumcision. Almost sounds silly, circumcision for the Lord! No it is silly, it doesn’t just sound silly. But then so are plenty of the things we do thinking they help us in our salvation. If God dying on the cross was not sufficient for the salvation of the world, I don’t care how many old ladies you help cross the street, there is no hope.


steve martin said...


Will you knock it off?

I am printing these things out right and left and sending them to my friends (and family) that don't have computers.
These posts are too good, too 'right on', too true, to not have everyone I know (and all two of my friends) read them.

I can't afford the ink. Can't you throw in a legalistic post now and then to save me a few bucks?

Bror Erickson said...

If it is legalism you want I could find you quite a few blogs to visit.

steve martin said...

I guess you are right...there is now, nor has there ever been, a shortage of it.