Christ Formed in You
Pastor Jared Longshore continues in his series on Galatians opening the Bible to Galatians 4:12-20 with a message entitled “Christ Formed in You.” Work is nothing new for humans. God gave man work in the Garden even before the Fall. However, on becoming Christians believers have a new job assignment. They have a spiritual work, more important than their job, from which they will receive reward in heaven. This passage instructs us that the Christian’s great work is seeing Christ formed in others and its accomplishment is reflected in three principles: first, where the work must begin; second, how this work must be done; and third, what we will face in doing this work.
In today’s passage Paul makes a personal appeal to the Galatians against the corruption of the true gospel they have received from Judaizers. Paul is plain, the work of formation must begin with ourselves. We cannot instruct or counsel others in areas we do not know or with biblical knowledge we do not have. Therefore, our first charge is to be in, and listen to, God’s Word above all else. We need to know it well enough that we will not turn aside when confronted by the “Judaizers” of today. Our ideas, thoughts, and counsel must come from the solid foundation of the Bible. In fact, Paul’s public rebuke of Peter in Chapter 2 of this book provides an example of both the ease of being corrupted and the necessity of correct biblical counsel. All of us need more of Christ and less of ourselves!
The second principle informs us how this work must be done, out of a heart full of love. People often bandy about the word love misusing it and giving a false impression of its real meaning. True love is a giving of self without expectation of anything in return. Love is the tool a Christian must use in his spiritual work. Paul encourages this special love amongst the saints. Paul also provides an example of this love in action as he seeks the betterment of the Galatians at whatever cost to himself. Jesus offers an even better example. As we consider the cost of Jesus’ ministry, His coming from heaven’s throne, his suffering and death on our behalf, we cannot help but be moved by His actions done in love for His own.
Jesus’ sacrifice leads to the third principle in the passage. Doers of spiritual work will do so even to their own inconvenience and despite the suffering that may entail. Paul speaks of doing this work in anguish. Anguish tells us two things. First it is not easy and will have a cost. Second, having done work in anguish tells us the value Paul attached to actually doing the work.
We believers are all to be conformed to Christ. God often works through others, just as He worked through Paul for the good of the Galatians, to conform us. Therefore, we should prayerfully receive and give godly, scripturally-based counsel. It is through the application of God’s Word we will then become Christ-like.