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February 6, 2012

Back to Basics

Part Six

Bond-Servant of Christ

Galatians 1:10, Page 1819

    Paul has challenged the Galatians regarding their desertion from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the disturbing influences of false teachers proclaiming false doctrine.  Paul warned the Galatians that even an angel from God, who preaches a gospel different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul delivered to the them, must be accursed.  Paul clearly demarcated the line between truth and error, and said the message always trumps the messenger.   Today we will study the Bible and see that Paul did not strive to please men, but always considered himself a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:10, Page 1819

“For am I now seeking to the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?   If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

       The Favor of Men.   In Galatians 1:10, page 1819, Paul contrasted the favor of men with the favor of God.  Paul talked about his motives.  Was he motivated to seek the favor (“πείθω“) of men, or of God?   In this context, Paul has discussed the false teachers who have distorted the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and disturbed the Galatians with their false gospel, which was really no gospel at all.  Paul then turned to his own motives, and by implication, the motives of the false teachers.  Paul reminded the Galatians that while some teachers may depend upon the approval of other men for their teaching, Paul was not seeking the approval of any man.  Paul also implied that some teachers chose the favor of men over the favor of God.  Remember the basics: in Galatians 1:1, page 1819, Paul identified himself first and foremost as an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God.  We always need to keep in mind who we are and what we are like.  First and foremost, we are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  Our faith in Christ not only saved us in a moment of time, but our faith also provides the foundation and means for daily living in Christ.  By faith we live in Jesus.  While the false teachers add other requirements to faith for salvation, Paul always rejected such additions.  Paul used the spiritual gift of apostleship to promote the purposes of God.  Because every single believer received a spiritual gift at the moment of salvation, each believer has a life long duty to use that spiritual gift for the glory of God each day.  Basic Christianity means we use our gifts to His glory, and we seek to implement God’s will each day, regardless of where that decision  may lead us relative to the favor of men.  In other words, when it comes to the choice between seeking the favor of men, especially religious leaders, or, in the alternative, seeking the favor of God, we must always seek the favor of God, and ignore the religious leaders who would lead us away from God.  Consider the example of Jesus.  In Matthew 22:16, page 1541, we read that Jesus had the reputation of: (1) being truthful; (2) teaching the way of God; (3) not being partial to anyone; and  (4) deferring to no one (of course, we recognize that some enemies ingratiate themselves with their words, which they do not mean).  Likewise, in James 2:1-6, pages 1888-1889, we read that Christians should not hold their faith with personal favoritism.  Believers must not give special attention to the rich, but must honor the poor men.  Paul understood that basically he was an apostle, sent to the Gentiles, to preach salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, page 1828).  Like Paul, we need to stick to our basic calling, keeping our attention upon seeking the favor of God, and not men, no matter how rich or powerful they may be.  We use our spiritual gifts to the glory of God not men.  We stick to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and add nothing to it, even if an angel of God were to appear and encourage us to adopt another gospel.

       Striving To Please Men.  In Galatians 1:10, page 1819, Paul continued his examination of motives.   He moved the focus to striving “to please” men.  This term “to please” (“ἀρέσκειν“) means to please in the sense of giving satisfaction, or acting to receive approval from another person.  In this case, we know that God always tests the motives of our actions (1 Corinthians 4:5, page 1785-1786).  If we are acting out of fear because of religious leaders (see, for example, Joseph of Arimathea, John 19:38, page 1695; see also John 9:22, page 1674), then we are not putting God first in our lives.  We are succumbing to fear (see Peter’s hypocrisy and fear, Galatians  2:12, page 1821).  When we start to strive to please men, and not God, then we have moved away from basic Christianity.  Paul always taught believers to avoid being merely “men pleasers,” but we must be slaves who do the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6, page 1833).

       Bond-Servant of Jesus Christ.  In Galatians 1:10, page 1819, Paul described himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.  In other words, Paul used a common word for slave and applied it to himself.  He considered himself enslaved to Christ, but with absolutely pure motives to please God from the heart.  When we return to basics, we must keep in mind that we are all slaves of Jesus Christ.  He bought us by His precious blood, and we belong to Him alone (1 Peter 1:17-19, page 1894).  So, in this context, we learn that Paul had a Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He constantly strove to please God alone, and not men.  Paul remained immune, like Jesus, to the pressures of other men, and did not concern himself with seeking their approval.  He lived in fear of God, and no one else.

        So we learn more about being a bond-servant of Christ today.

     ●  Never seek the favor of men over the favor of God.

    ●  Never strive to please men, when you must always please God first and foremost.

     ●   Always remember that you are a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, who uses your spiritual gifts by the will of God. 

Application for Today

        As I walk through life today, I am a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.  I will make decisions today based upon pleasing Jesus, not to gain favor with men or submit to their pressures.  Will you be striving to please the Lord Jesus Christ, and not men, today?

 

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