Living With Unveiled Faces- Galatians 2:1-10

In our examination of 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, we have studied Paul’s exhortation to believers to live with “unveiled faces”. Jesus Christ has enabled us to be set free once for all from our search for meaning and purpose in life, from our search to discover who we are and why we are here. to live in true freedom. In Christ, the chains which bind us are removed, and we are freed from others expectations of us, freed to live out the life which Jesus Christ calls us to. We will now look at an episode from Paul’s own life in which others tried to put him in “chains” and steal his freedom, and will see how he responded in order that we may also learn how to respond to those who attempt to chain us. This episode is documented by Paul himself in Galatians 2:1-10. The background to this story is that some false teachers (known as Judaizers) had come into the church and were teaching that believers must be circumcised to be saved. This was in direct contradiction with Paul’s gospel, which said that salvation is by faith from first to last (Romans 1:17) and circumcision was never a requirement for salvation. He begins his story in verse one, in which he tells us that “fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem”. He says, in verse two, that he went “in response to a revelation”. He takes with him Barnabas (a Jew respected by the Apostles) and Titus (an uncircumcised Gentile believer). When he arrives he sets before them the gospel he preaches among the Gentiles. He does so “privately, for fear that I was running, or had run, my race in vain”. Paul goes to the Apostles and sets before them his gospel to the Gentiles, which clearly proclaimed that salvation was by grace through faith and that Gentiles were at no point obligated to obey the Jewish law either to be saved or to remain saved. What is critical to see here is that Paul went before the Apostles “for fear” that he had “run his race in vain”. The assertions of these false teachers had brought fear and doubt into Paul’s life and into his ministry. They had caused him to doubt not only his message, but his calling, to doubt his identity and his purpose. The fear and doubt they brought into his life had him doubting who he was and what he was here for. He was threatened by the very real danger of living in “chains”, these false teachers were trying to chain him through opposition to his ministry and his message, his purpose and his calling. This fear is so great in Paul it causes him to travel all the way to Jerusalem to seek verification of his ministry and his message from the Apostles. We find the message Paul received in verse 3, where we find that the Apostles did not require Titus to be circumcised. In other words, Paul’s gospel was the true one, and the opposition was in the wrong. Paul tells us, in verse 4, that “this matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves”. It must be noted here how these false brothers and teachers can so easily cause us to doubt our purpose and identity, to doubt who we are and why we are here. They do so with the intent of stealing the freedom we have in Christ and causing us to live in chains again. Paul had found true freedom in Christ, he was free to live with an unveiled face, to be all he was created to be and do all God called him to do, he had found his meaning and purpose in Christ. He knew who he was and whose he was, and this discovery freed him from the control of others, from those like the Judaizers who sought to control him and make him their slave. This discovery then gave Paul boldness and security, he was secure in his purpose and his message, and would continue to boldly proclaim it, not giving in to their threats. This is true because, for those who know and live out their true meaning and purpose, what others are “makes no difference” (verse 6). The opinions of others made no difference to Paul, only one opinion, the opinion of His Lord Jesus Christ, mattered. This freed him from those who sought to control him through their opinions, freed him to live out his calling and proclaim his message free from fear and doubt, to live with an unveiled face. So what we ultimately discover here is that life in this world will bring us into contact with those who would try to control us, would try to make us slaves, try to control us and cause us to live in chains. We must not give in to them for a moment. We must live with unveiled faces, sure of who we are and whose we are, in true freedom, freedom to be all we are created to be and do all we are created to do, to live in response to “a revelation”, the revelation of our true meaning and purpose, which can be found only in Christ.

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