In an email I received a while ago, I read a list of unusual instructions that come with products. They didn't make any sense because most people would not do what they were suggesting. Here are some examples:
A label on an iron read: "Do not use this while you are wearing the clothes you want to press."
On a curling iron: "For external use only!"
On a hair dryer: "Do not use in the shower."
On a car sun shield: "Do not drive with sun shield in place."
In a manual for a microwave oven: "Do not use for drying pets."
And my favorite:
On a portable stroller: "Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage."
Personally, I cannot believe that people could be so confused that they would do any of these, but I suppose that companies want to make certain that no one is hurt with their products. I have to admit that sometimes instruction manuals are more confusing than the products themselves! But this does bring up something we need to think about in the spiritual realm.
Believers can become confused and misled if they are unfamiliar with the whole counsel of God's Word. The church at Galatia was certainly sent into a spiral when some agitators came into their midst to proclaim "another" Gospel. These teachers did their best to discredit the Apostle Paul, and then, told these young (in faith) believers that in order to be truly saved they needed to submit to circumcision.
Paul's letter to these believers clearly defines the freedom we have in Christ from salvation plus works. Chapter 5:1-3 reads: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law." Later in this chapter, Paul continues in verse 7-10: "You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is."
This young church at Galatia was confused by those who came preaching salvation + works. Jesus Christ set men free from the bondage of sin at salvation. This is a liberation from the law as a means of salvation, a deliverance from sin's dominion and from superstition. However, these new believers had forgotten these basic truths. Actually, this could happen to a believer at any stage of the game so Paul's letter is critical for everyone who trusts in Christ. With this in mind, lets look at three aspects of our liberty in Christ.
First, as believers we have been set free from the Law as a system which leads to salvation. We are justified by faith in Christ so we are no longer under God's Law, but we are under His grace (Galatians 3:23-25). Our standing with God is assured because we have been accepted in Christ our Savior. Salvation, therefore, will never depend on what we do or fail to do if we belong to Him. We live day by day not by being perfect but by being forgiven of our sins. What freedom this brings! Any effort on our part to drum up our own righteousness means we are confused! We cannot add nor subtract from what God has already finished, and we, in ourselves, will never be good enough to warrant salvation in our own strength. No matter how good our actions may be we will always have wrong desires and motives in our hearts.
Basically, the Law is meant to awaken, reveal and condemn any sin that fills our moral lives. It shows us that we are sinners in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As a result, when we try to use works or Law as a system of salvation or righteousness, we will burn out. Our efforts are futile. Only God working in and through us can bring about the change in our lives that really sets us free and keeps us that way.
Secondly, sin's dominion has been forever broken in the life of a believer. God has regenerated us and brought us to faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus. We are given new hearts and our desires are to serve Him in righteousness. When sin reigned in our hearts, we only desired a life characterized by selfishness and disobedience. We disregarded God's moral law and even despised the restrictions that God was putting on our "fun". At the moment we became a believer in Jesus Christ, the dominion of sin was broken so that we now had a whole new outlook on life. With our new heart, we now desire to obey Him and out of gratitude we do acts of service that He might receive the glory.
Finally, we are set free from old superstitions that taught us that we could not enjoy physical pleasure or that the body was evil. Instead, we are free to enjoy the good gifts which God has given to us in all his creation. We can do so as long as we do not break God's moral Law or cause others to stumble into sin. Our heavenly Father has made all things for us to enjoy, but He has also given us guidelines which we find in Scripture. This is why it is so important to become students of the Word.
Have you ever become confused in your Christian walk? What brought you back in line with God's Word? I welcome your thoughts and insights.