Study 7: 1:11-24
The true Gospel (Part c)
After his conversion Paul says he did not confer with flesh. He was alone and learnt from God. Once a person is born again one of the biggest dangers is for others to lay down rules and regulations for them to follow. For example: read your Bible every day, pray every day, and attend meetings here there and every where; make sure you witness to people etc. Now these things are not wrong, but what is wrong is the imposition of these things as a law on believers.
Such legalism is a form of what has become known in these days as ‘shepherding’, heavy or otherwise makes no difference, the principles are the same. We are told plainly in scripture that the elders are not to lord it over another, indeed Paul himself told the Corinthians that he didn’t have dominion over their faith!
Paul did not consult with flesh and blood; instead he learnt from God Himself, we too have the privilege to learn from God. Indeed this is part of the NC that we will learn from God:
This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for advice or help, but what it does mean is that we are not to be dominated by anyone and certainty we are not to seek to lay down the law for others. This includes so called leaders in assemblies, whether they be called pastors, elders or whatever. How many lives have been ruined, or wasted to use Paul’s word, by such wicked domination? Who knows? Let us make sure we are neither a victim of, nor a guilty party to, it.
Paul had a complete transformation of life: what he once was he is no longer. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, totally against the cause of Christ; yet now his life had been completely transformed and had become one of its greatest apostles.
And this is what the gospel is all about: when Christ is revealed in us and is formed in us we are born again: the very life of God is planted in us; our lives totally change. Before, we were dead in trespasses and sin but God in His mercy and grace makes us alive by His Spirit. We are completely changed in our lives. The point being that it is a work of God, we were born again from above, no work of man or the flesh accomplished that at all. Salvation is of God not of the flesh.
New birth is to be born from above, the old is passed away; clearly this means that our sin nature is dealt with and this includes the old flesh religion. That is done away it too.
There are two things to note here: firstly his experience of the Jews’ religion was past. So on new birth Paul was delivered completely from the OC and its obligations, and remember he was high ranking Pharisee; in fact he counted it all but loss for the sake of Christ.
So if Paul counted it all loss and was delivered from it what was the need to return to the deeds of the law?
Secondly the phrasing of Gal. 1:13 suggest that the Jews’ religion is something separate from true Christianity.
These two thoughts are important to understand: being in Christ separates us from our past life and the old Jewish religion has no part of it, this is a key thought of this epistle. Indeed, in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, national boundaries are done away with in the Spirit.
Regeneration changes us totally, not only is our sin and self dealt with but also the springs from whence we come: we are no longer of earthly seed but of heavenly seed. We are no longer part of this world's system and that includes nationalism in all its guises.
Nothing then of the flesh has any part in the gospel, we are not saved by the flesh, and we certainly can not continue the life by fleshly efforts. How can we, when we have been translated to the heavenly realms?
When we cease from man and all fleshly efforts, others will take note and see God at work in us and glorify God in us as they did with Paul.