Study 8 WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG?
(Scripture Portion: Galatians 5: 1-15)
How very sad it is when one who has been truly converted turns back (Acts 7:39), backslides (Proverbs 14:14), becomes lukewarm (Revelation 3:16), and loses his first love (Revelation 2:4)! What a tragedy this is - to be keen and out-and-out for Christ, a soulwinner and an earnest worker, and then to turn aside and turn away from the Lord! There were those in the Galatian Church who had this experience in AD 56; they had been turned aside by false teachers who had succeeded in getting them into bondage again to the Law - see what the apostle says of them and to them in Galatians 5:7. The thought conveyed to us in this verse is that the Christian life is a race. Paul used this metaphor in 1 Corinthians 9:26 - and compare Hebrews 12:1-2; but here, in Galatians 5:7, we are told that we might be hindered in the race. A literal translation might well be: “Who has got in the way of your obeying? Who has jostled you?”
1. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by the inconsistency of professing Christians?
Then you need to take heed to 1 Peter 2:21. You see, your trouble is that you have been looking to other Christians and following their example, and perhaps you have even put them on a pedestal - and then, when you have discovered that they are not as perfect as you had thought, you have been disappointed and discouraged. There is only One whom we can set up as our example, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself - look up Hebrews 12:1-2. It is most essential to look off - away from yourself, your circumstances and from other Christians - to Jesus Himself.
2. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by persecution, misunderstanding or opposition?
Then you need to take heed to John 16:33. Many a fellow or girl has accepted Christ in a meeting and has then gone home to face the misunderstanding and opposition of loved ones and friends, and the test has been so severe that after a while they have become discouraged and have given everything up. But, it is hard to be a Christian, and our Lord expressly told us that it would be so - look up Matthew 5:11-12. The Lord Jesus was threatened with stones (John 8:59), they put a crown of thorns upon His head (John 19:1-3), they mocked Him (Luke 23:33-37) - and then they crucified Him (John 19:18). Is it not a great privilege to suffer with Him? look up Philippians 1:29, and compare Acts 5:41 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-30.
3. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by some severe trial or sorrow?
Then you need to take heed to Hebrews 12:6. Do you know the very first thing the Lord does when we tell Him that we are willing to be wholly His? He tests us out to see if we really mean it! - and all the way through our earthly pilgrimage He disciplines us. But be sure that you understand what this word “discipline” means; it means “training in obedience; correction for our improvement “. He allows all sorts of testings and trials to beset us in order that we may be cast on Him (Psalm 55:22), that we may be refined (Malachi 3:3), and that our faith may be deepened (1 Peter 1:7). Have you ever noticed Luke 7:23? – and be sure to read verses 19-22 as well - and compare 1 Peter 2:8!
4. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by the pull of the world?
Then you need to take heed to 1 John 2:15. It is not possible to love the Lord Jesus and to love the world at the same time - look up Matthew 6:24. That was the trouble with Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) - he was hindered by a love for the world. Many Christians have succumbed to the pull of the world. Indeed, relatively speaking, all of us have. The influence of the media upon us all is very great indeed. Almost without realising it we submit to the world’s standards, which means that we fall short of God’s standards of righteousness, purity and truth – look up Philippians 4:8, and seek to obey the exhortation in this verse - then compare Proverbs 23:7.
5. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by neglect of fellowship with the Lord?
Then you need to take heed to John 15:4. To “remain” means to “stay put”. There are many Christians who, instead of abiding in Christ, have backslidden because they have neglected the devotional reading of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:15-17); they have neglected the regular attendance at the house of God (Hebrews 10:25), and in consequence of this neglect they have not grown and progressed spiritually (2 Peter 3:18).
6. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Were you hindered by some wilful act of disobedience?
Then you need to take heed to Jeremiah 26:13. It is of little use thinking about it, talking about it or even praying about it unless you actually “reform your ways… and obey the Lord your God.” In other words, there must be some drastic dealing with anything and everything that is wrong in the life. Perhaps there is a wrong friendship (Amos 3:3); an unequal yoke (2 Corinthians 6:14); a secret sin (Joshua 7:18-23); some impurity (Isaiah 52:11); an unforgiving spirit (Matthew 18:21-22), or an unfulfilled vow (Deuteronomy 23:21)? - look up Proverbs 28:13, and compare Psalm 66:18. Notice the reference to obedience in Galatians 5:7.
7. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? Was it something else that hindered you?
Then you need to take heed to Hebrews 10:25. If you are willing and honest before the Lord and you desire to come back to Him, He will put His finger upon the hindering thing in your life, and when He does so be sure to obey John 2:5 - and get right with God.
WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG? The only life that is glorifying to God, that is pleasing to others and that is really satisfying to ourselves, is the life that is running well, the life that is lived in complete obedience to the truth - to the Lord Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6) - and to His Word, the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).