When it comes to difficult conversations in Pop culture, there’s none as divisive as Michael Jackson’s turn from black to white, and whether or not his fondness for children was healthy or otherwise.
But let’s back up a bit and talk about us: Christians. There was a time we were considered the most pious bunch of people on the planet. But now, almost everyone’s a smooth criminal. It may not be immediately obvious, but somewhere in your Israeli genius is a Jacob scheming on how to get you to trade your birthright for some porridge. We constantly let sin rock our world, despite Christ asking sin to 🎼 beat it on the Cross of Calvary.
We are, all of us, Billys looking for Jeans to be our lovers, but when the fruits of such amoral affairs come to light, we lament that the kid is not our son.
And round and round we go, because its human nature, the way the flesh makes us feel, turning us on, knocking us off our feet, rocking our world and having us talking to the man in the mirror, asking him to change his ways because we’re so darn guilty…but we’ll deal with all of that on another day.
What we’re going to be talking about today is why Paul, in his letters, addresses the members of the churches he writes to as saints, only to later put them on blast for being Israeli and yet committing some Jacob-styled sins. Why are we the righteousness of God in Christ, and not sinners despite sinning from time to time? What is it to backslide?
Paul in Galatians 2 (MSG) appears to proffer the answer. He suggests that backsliding or going back on our faithful commitment to God is not, in fact, ceasing to keep to the law and going back to our old ways but ceasing to keep grace and going back to our old ways of keeping the law.
How Not To Do The Moonwalk
So you smoked before you became a Christian, then post-Christianity, you quit smoking. A few trials and tribulations later, you took to smoking again. Is that backsliding? No, Paul spoke later in the chapter (vs. 15-16) that:
“We, Jews, know that we have no advantage of birth over ‘non-Jewish sinners’. We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.”
It follows, therefore, that if trying to be good isn’t progressive, then failing to be good cannot be going backwards.
What is then?
Let’s follow Paul’s gist.
How To Do The Moonwalk
Check out vs. 17-18:
“Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must, therefore, be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was ‘trying to be good’, I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.”
Verses 19-21 says: “What actually took place is this – I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine’, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
I’ll just walk away now and let the word speak for itself. But for the natural question you’ll have next, visit Romans 6.
Catch you later!