Every night, we do battle with our two young boys about how bedtime works and what our expectations for their behavior is. It’s baffling, actually, how quickly it seems that Atticus, our 4-year-old, can forget what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior after he’s been tucked in. I’m amazed at how he seems to think that pushing the mattress off his bed to make a giant slide might be okay even though the night before we made it very clear it was not okay.
It’s amazing and maddening, that is, until I remember how quickly my own heart is quick to forget things like the truth and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—and I’m a grown adult.
As Steve and I began planning to preach through the book of Galatians, one of the questions that came up for us was why Galatians is so repetitive. Over and over, Paul keeps coming back to the same basic truth: Don’t give into the slavery of the Law, but cling confidently to the freedom you have in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!
Paul, do we really need to hear that over, and over, and over, and over? How much of the Gospel do we need? We geeeeeettt it. Give us something new, won’t you, Paul?
In searching my own heart, I’ve noticed two important reasons for the repetitive nature of Galatian’s Gospel message:
- My heart so easily forgets the Gospel and how it impacts all of life.
- My heart so easily clings to other gospels, other “good news” announcements.
When it comes to the truths of the Gospel, our hearts are like a funnel. As fast as you can pour liquid into a funnel, the liquid just rushes out the hole and it never quite fills up! Our hearts often do the same with the Gospel. We need the constant truths of the Gospel, not just on Sunday, not just at our missional communities, but we need it every single moment of every single day. Our hearts are constantly forgetting and ignoring the truth that we have confident freedom in the Gospel.
Our freedom is this: that Jesus has paid for and redeemed us from our sin, so we are free from needing to atone for our sin on our own. Because Jesus Christ gives us His righteousness, we can stand confidently free before God, not fearing how we can justify ourselves to stand complete and accepted before Him. And because we have Christ’s approval and acceptance, we can stand confidently free from needing the approval and acceptance of the people around us.
We are constantly being harassed with millions of other “gospel” messages that our hearts want to cling to. The gospel that if you lose this amount of weight and look like that, you’ll be loved. The gospel that if you have a certain amount in your bank account, you’ll be secure. The gospel that if your home looks a certain way, you’ll be noticed. And on it goes with countless counterfeit gospels. All of us are tempted to live like the good news we need is something other than Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross; which is exactly why we all need what feels like Gospel overkill to counteract the lies we are being fed.
So, at 10 pm when I’m pulling my hair out in frustration with my boys who just won’t. follow. my. rules. I will remember that this is how I act with my better Father—a Father who is patient, gracious, longsuffering, and kind with my wandering heart which is so quick to forget the Gospel and all that He has done for me.
What are some of the ways the Gospel in Galatians has uncovered false gospels in your own heart? We’d love to hear how the Spirit is working in your life through our time in Galatians.