LET CHRIST BE FORMED IN YOU
Pastor Gary Giddings, Sand Lake, MI
Galatians 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”
What is this about? Do we not have Jesus with us since we were born again? Yes, He is in our heart and He has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us. But here’s the question: how much are we like Jesus? How much do we want to be like Jesus? How much do we allow Jesus to rule and reign in our heart?
Some people who have accepted Jesus as Savior will not obey Him anymore. We want to be those who accept Jesus as Savior and continue to obey Him. There are varying degrees of how much any given Christian obeys the Lord. However much we give ourselves to the Lord will be how much Christ is formed in us. Is it easy to do God’s will? No. But is it worthwhile? Definitely yes! As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Notice how the Apostle Paul addresses the recipients of this letter: “little children.” This is not a slam or a put down. This is an acknowledgment, first of all, that these people of Galatia were Christians. He even calls them “My little children.” Paul took a personal interest in them.
Paul didn’t give up on these saints: he didn’t disown them but he continued to pray for them and work with them. The Galatian saints had a problem with legalism. They believed the lie that Christ was not enough. Someone told them that they also had to be circumcised and keep the Law in order to be saved. But no one could keep the Law! No matter how hard anyone may try, no one can obey it perfectly. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
The Apostle Paul recognized their position as “saints” but he also called them “little children” because they were not growing in the Lord as they should. Paul was so concerned about them that he used the language of one birthing a child. Paul was “travailing in birth again” because they had lost sight of Jesus and were trying to do things according to their own strength. They had been delivered from idolatry, but now they needed to be delivered from bondage of legalism.
Someone said it this way: “Under the Law, it is DO and you shall live. Under Grace, it is LIVE and you shall do.” The Law only points to our inability to please God and it only puts us down. In God’s Grace, however, we are alive in Christ and we have the freedom to do God’s will.
How is Christ formed in us? We surrender to Him so that the New Creation Life in us grows. This is how our character and conduct can change to be more like Jesus. This Christian life is based on a real, ongoing relationship with Jesus our Savior.
Galatians 4:20 “I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.”
The Apostle Paul was perplexed with these Galatian saints. He was very concerned about them and how he must have prayed and prayed for them! Yet they were “stuck” in legalism. They were trying to live the Christian life by keeping the Law. But the Law can’t show how good we are; the Law only points at our failures. The Law shows us that we need the Savior, Jesus.
Galatians 3:1-3 - 1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
As humans, we tend to want to prove (at least to ourselves) that we are good and are doing right. If it isn’t “The Ten Commandments,” then we will make some rules to be our guideline. That is my experience.
My personal testimony is that I was born-again at an early age. I started out in Grace but I found myself believing the lie of the Devil that I was no good and had no talents. I lost confidence in my testimony as a Christian because I knew I didn’t measure up to being a “good Christian.” I let myself be influenced by the world and worldly people around me. I tried to have “fun” in the world but it only disappointed me. I was at a dead end and became depressed and suicidal. I was in pain emotionally, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted the pain to end.
After I survived my suicide attempt, the Lord didn’t condemn me but He showed His love for me in a very special way. So I finally decided to live for God and I tried very hard to live right! It was a roller-coaster experience of ups and downs, and it was exhausting! When I did what I thought was right, I was happy! But when I failed, which was sure to happen, then I was down in the dumps and very unhappy. What was the problem? I was trying to live the Christian life on my own terms and by my own strength. I had a list of rules that I tried to keep, but I failed miserably.
Then it finally dawned on me that I needed to give myself, totally and completely to the Lord without any reservation. I literally bowed down on my knees before the Lord and gave myself to Him. I surrendered all of myself to the Lord. If you haven’t done this, I earnestly beg you to do this, too. I believe that we need to make a conscious decision to let Jesus be our Lord and Master! This is when I started to learn to live by God’s Grace.
1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
It is the Grace of God by which we are saved, by which we are kept, and by which we learn to be what God wants us to be. Let God uncover the lies of the enemy in your life, whatever they are. We will fail on our own because God wants to be our strength. We are learning that we are weak in ourselves but strong in the Grace of God. This is how Christ is formed in us.