A spiritual continental divide


John Piper has this challenging word about the message of Galatians 3:

continental-divideSatan is continuously at work tempting us to think and feel that because we use God-talk, and come to church, and pray at meal times, and avoid gross sins, we are, therefore, under God’s blessing. But the book of Galatians concerns a group of people (called Judaizers) who do all those things and are under God’s curse. None of us should sit easily under the scrutiny of this book. Divine blessing and divine curse are the issue. And the continental divide between the two is not between church people and non-church people, nor is it between those who call Jesus “Lord” and those who don’t. It is between those, on the one hand, who have been crucified with Christ and now in poverty live in continuing reliance on the living Christ, and those, on the other hand, who have never really died to self-reliance and whose religious activity, though “moral” and intense, is all an exercise in self-reformation. The one group glories only in the cross of Christ by which they died to all but God. But the other group extols the powers and potentials of the self and diminishes the grace of God (2:21) and the cross of Christ (5:11). The one group of church members enjoys the blessing of God promised to Abraham and his descendants; the other group of church members is under a divine curse.

Therefore, the way to listen to this message from Galatians 3:10–14 is in a spirit of sober self-examination. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are (standing) in faith. Test yourselves. For you should know yourselves—that Christ Jesus is in you, unless indeed you fail to meet the test.” Whenever the Word of God is faithfully preached, you are given a standard by which to test yourselves. It may affirm the reality of Christ’s work in your life and send you rejoicing with new power. Or it may prick your conscience and send you to prayer and repentance. But God forbid that you should pigeonhole a message from Galatians as applicable only to unbelievers or only to your degree of blessing in heaven. It is written for the church and the issue is the continental divide between divine blessing and divine curse.

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