Study 9 YOU WERE RUNNING A GOOD RACE. WHO CUT IN ON YOU?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis W. Dixon
(Scripture Reference: Galatians 5:7)
It is a very wonderful thing when someone is truly converted: born again (1 Peter 1:23); saved (Romans 10:9); justified (Romans 5:1); and one who shares in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Do you recall the day of your conversion, or if you do not remember the day, are you sure that you have been converted? How sad it is when someone who has been truly converted turns back (Acts 7:39); backslides (Proverbs 14:14); becomes lukewarm (Revelation 3:16) or forsakes his first love (Revelation 2:4)! What a tragedy this is – to be out-and-out for Christ, a soul-winner and an earnest worker, and then to turn aside and right away from the Lord! There were those in the Galatian church who had this experience in AD 56, and they had been deceived 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. This verse speaks of the Christian life being a race; Paul uses this metaphor in 1 Corinthians 9:24 – and compare Hebrews 12:1-2. But Galatians 5:7 speaks of being hindered in the race. “Who has got in the way of your obeying?” (Weymouth translation); a very literal translation might well be, “Who has jostled you, cut in on you?”
1. Were you hindered by the inconsistency of professing Christians?
Look at 1 Peter 2:21. You have been watching other Christians and following their example, and perhaps you have even put them on a pedestal – and then you have discovered that they are not as perfect as you had thought, causing you to be disappointed and discouraged. There is only One whom we can set up as our example, our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:1-2). It is most essential to look off – away from yourself, your circumstances and from other Christians, to Jesus Himself. You will always be disappointed as you look at people, but not as you look at Him. In Him we see absolute perfection.
2. Were you hindered by persecution, misunderstanding or opposition?
Look at John 16:33. Many a young man or woman has accepted Christ in a meeting and has then gone home to face the misunderstanding and opposition of parents and friends. The test has been so severe that after a while they have become discouraged and have ‘given everything up’. But the Lord Jesus expressly told us it would be hard to be a Christian (Matthew 5:11-12). He was threatened with stones (John 8:59); they put a crown of thorns upon Him (John 19:1-3); they mocked Him (Luke 23:33-37); and then they crucified Him (John 19:16). We must consider it a great privilege to suffer with Him (Philippians 1:29); compare Acts 5:41 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-30.
3. Were you hindered by some severe trial or sorrow?
Look at Hebrews 12:6. Do you know the very first thing God does when we tell Him that we are willing to be completely surrendered to Him? He tests us out to see if we really mean it – and all the way through our earthly journey He is disciplining us. But be sure you understand what this word ‘discipline’ means; it means “child-training”. He allows all sorts of trials to come into our lives 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, as you compare 1 Peter 2:8! You will also find much help in meditating on Deuteronomy 8:1-5.
4. Were you hindered by the pull of the world?
Look at 1 John 2:15. We cannot love the Lord Jesus and love the world at the same time – see Matthew 6:24. That was the trouble with Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) who was hindered by a love for the world. This was also poor Peter’s trouble, leading to his sad three-fold denial of the Lord – look up Luke 22:54-62.
5. Were you hindered by neglect of fellowship with the Lord?
Look at John 15:4. To “remain” means to “stay put”, and how many Christians there are who instead of abiding in Christ have backslidden because they have neglected private prayer (Matthew 6:6); they have neglected the devotional reading of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17); they have neglected regular attendance at church (Hebrews 10:25); consequently they have not grown or progressed spiritually (2 Peter 3:18)! Do not be content to remain a spiritual baby with all the marks and characteristics of immaturity about you!
6. Were you hindered by some wilful act of disobedience?
Look at Jeremiah 26:13, which speaks of reforming our ways. There must be some drastic dealing with anything and everything that is wrong in our lives. Is there 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.
7. Was it something else that hindered you?
Look at Hebrews 12:25. If you are willing and honest before the Lord and desire to come back to Him, He will put His finger upon that thing in your life which is hindering your spiritual walk. The only life which is glorifying to God, pleasing to others and 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).