This is week one of the Blogged Bible Study. Each week I will be posting on Thursdays as mentioned previously and others will be posting other days of the week. If you would like to read and study along by blogging check here. Now for my part of the study.
Pleasing Man or God
Galatians 1:10 (NIV) Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Of course this is being spoken by Paul who had a radical encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. You may be saying why did he feel he had to explain this? Many people were questioning if his conversion could be real or was he just a phony? In other words they thought that surely one of the most over zealous well-known persecutors of Christians had to have some ulterior motive for what he was doing. I went back to a book on Paul by Robert T. Boyd and was able to glean the following about Paul:
Paul who was originally known as Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee. Pharisees were a sect of Jews who had a strict observance of Mosaic ritual. They were zealous of the Law, zealous of tradition (legalism), outwardly moral, self-righteous and boastful of their life of prayer and fasting. They were outwardly religious. They had a form of godliness that was ruled not by the Holy Spirit but by man-made rules. A Pharisee never felt himself indebted to the infinite mercy of God for the salvation of his own soul and cared less about the salvation of others. Pharasaism honored God with their lips, but not their heart (Mark 7:6). Pharasaism led otherwise good men to plot to take the lives of any who opposed them. Anyone who reproved them–Christ, Stephen, or Paul–was put on their so called hit list. Paul was a privileged man. His parents bestowed upon him a cherished freedom, Roman citizenship, which gave him the rights and privileges that less than two thirds of of the Roman Empire enjoyed. He had attained heights in Jewish circles. What a change God wrought in this man’s life when he was converted. Whatever Paul had in mind to fully accomplish for Jewry, God had something more noble in mind for Paul to accomplish for Christianity.
Perhaps you can see now why Paul felt he had to point this out. Everything the Pharisees did was outwardly for men to see. It must have been mind blowing for them to see him preaching Christ and him crucified. They were probably just waiting for him to slip up or see him profit personally in some way. Of course as time went on and they saw him being imprisoned and beaten time after time after living a privileged life it had to become obvious he had had a true conversion.
Many of us may have been like Paul before our conversions. Of course we didn’t physically harm Christians but we may have mocked them. We could have even said we were religious but had our own form of righteousness as did Paul. We may have been pursuing fortune and fame and would perhaps have pleased any man if we thought it would get us what we wanted. And then when we were saved by grace through faith (not religion) those around us were probably or may still be waiting for us to trip up so they could say, “I knew it wasn’t for real.”
Paul had been a “religious” man. Because he knew the Old Testament Scriptures he also knew the Ten Commandments. He was the one who gave consent for Stephen’s death so as the Holy Spirit began to convict him he became aware of the fact that he had broken the Ten Commandments. Does it sound similar to when the Holy Spirit began to draw you and convict you of your sin? You may not have ordered someones death but maybe you hurt them with your behavior in some other way.
Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV) I want you to know brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something man made up. I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
You can see when you read verses 11 and 12 why Paul explained things the way he did. He was taught to be a Pharisee and man molded religion. But when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus he had a true experience with the one true living God. So now not only did he have a knowledge of the Old Testament which spoke of and prophesied the coming of the Messiah but he had proof that He lives. He was a new creature in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17)
So in closing I would like to add something that Paul said that I love and want to live myself and reinforces what was discussed. It is:
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.