Tim Keller | March 29, 1998
Galatians offers insight into an important debate in Christianity: how belief in Jesus Christ relates to living a good and moral life. It asks whether knowing God accepts us, no matter our actions, can inspire us to live with honesty, selflessness, love, and holiness. It also highlights the existence of evil in the human heart and the need for deep thought rather than quick fixes.
1. Importance of the right motivation
In Galatians, Paul stresses the importance of following the truth, arguing that even if we’re obedient with the wrong motives, it’s as bad as being disobedient. He uses the Golden Rule to show that real obedience requires a pure heart. He warns about false teachings, comparing them to yeast that can spread and harm churches. However, he is confident that the Galatians won’t be misled by these teachings.
2. What the right motivation is
The gospel often seems shocking at first, because it’s so different from what we’re used to hearing. While old teachings might sound positive, they often have a negative message underneath. But the gospel, even if it seems harsh on the outside, gives deep encouragement on the inside. The motivation behind the gospel isn’t fear, but the comforting knowledge that God always accepts us. This leads us to eagerly look forward to the righteousness and glory promised to believers.
3. How the right motivation works
According to Jonathan Edwards, true Christian faith results in good deeds, but these deeds are done out of love for God, not for personal gain or to look good to others. When we truly understand God’s unconditional love for us, we can’t help but respond with love in return, seeing God’s beauty and obeying Him out of joy and gratitude. The Spirit helps us to replace our worldly desires with this joy and assurance in God’s beauty. This shows that faith expressing itself through love is the most important thing.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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