Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were located in the region of Galatia. More specifically, today’s reading is found in verses eleven through eighteen of the sixth chapter, which closes out and concludes the epistle. With the words contained in these eight verses the apostle Paul brings the epistle which was written unto the churches which were in Galatia to a close. As has already been discuses this sixth chapter opens up with the apostle Paul encouraging and instructing those which were spiritual within and among the churches to restore that brother or that sister who may be overtaken in a fault in the spirit of meekness. I find it absolutely incredible that the apostle Paul waits until the very end of the epistle to write these words, for there is not a doubt in my mind that somewhere in the back of his mind he couldn’t help think of those countless brothers and sisters who were overtaken in, with and by the fault of legalism. It is true the apostle Paul wrote concerning the works of the flesh, and how those who practice such works of the flesh cannot and will not enter into and inherit the kingdom of heaven. With that being said, however, the epistle which was written unto the Galatians wasn’t written primarily to deal with those who were engaging themselves in the works of the flesh. If you spend time even engaging in a cursory reading of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in Galatia you will find that which the apostle Paul sought to confront and deal with was not necessarily engagement in the works of the flesh, but a deliberate and intentional turning away from the gospel, which led men and women down the dark path of seeking to be justified according to the works of the law rather than by faith in Jesus Christ. From the opening chapter of the epistle you will find the apostle Paul confronting this false gospel which had invaded and infiltrated the churches in Galatia, thus causing them to become deceived within and among themselves.
I feel it necessary to once more begin at and with the first chapter of the book and bring our attention to the various elements found within the epistle that bring us face to face with that which had invaded and infiltrated the churches. As early as the first chapter of the epistle you will find the apostle Paul almost immediately beginning to confront this turning away and turning aside which was taking place within and among the churches. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote beginning with the sixth verse of the first chapter: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I not again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10). With these five verses the apostle Paul begins to unpack the struggles and conflicts which were found within the churches of Galatia in order that he might like a skilled surgeon remove the cancer from among the brethren. We aren’t aware of just how the apostle Paul was made aware of the fact that these churches had removed themselves from Him who called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, but we do know, and we are aware of the fact that it was made known unto the apostle Paul. I can’t help but imagine what the apostle Paul thought and felt when he heard and received the report that these churches had turned and removed themselves from Him who called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. As I sit here and consider this very reality I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote in the sixth chapter of the epistle. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the following words:
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:1-8).
As a side note, I feel it is absolutely necessary to turn and direct our attention to the Old Testament book of Genesis—specifically the fourth chapter of the book. If you journey back through the Scripture and come to the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis you will find the account of Cain and Abel. More importantly, and more specifically, however, you will find the account of both Cain and Abel bringing their sacrifices and offerings before the Lord. Before even getting into the account of the offerings which Cain and Abel brought before the Lord it is first necessary to turn and direct our attention to the third chapter where we find the Lord pronouncing judgment upon the man, upon the woman, and upon the serpent. Consider if you will the words which the Lord spoke—first unto the serpent, then unto the woman, and finally unto the man: “And the Lord God saida unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman’s, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast heartened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:14-19). While I will not get into the words which the Lord spoke unto the serpent and unto the woman, I feel it absolutely necessary to delve into the words which the Lord spoke unto the man. When speaking unto the man and when pronouncing judgment after his deliberate and willful transgression the Lord spoke of the ground that it was now cursed for his sake. What’s more, is the Lord would go on to declare unto the man that in sorrow he would eat of the ground all the days of his life. What’s more, is that the Lord declared that thorns and thistles would the ground bring forth to thee, and he would eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of his face would he eat bread until that day comes when he would return unto the ground.
Oh please don’t miss the tremendous significance of that which the Lord spoke unto Adam within this passage of Scripture—particularly and especially the words He declared unto him concerning the ground. When speaking unto man after the fall and after the transgression and iniquity in the garden, the Lord declared of the ground—that same substance which he was taken from and formed into who he was that day—would now be cursed. Isn’t it absolutely incredible and interesting that the very substance from which Adam was taken and formed into a man was now cursed as a direct result of his transgression and iniquity. While it was true that Adam was taken from the dust of the ground and formed and fashioned into a man, each and every living soul that would walk the face of the earth would come from within the womb of a woman as a direct result of the fertilization of the egg by the seed of a man. No longer would the Lord take dust from the ground and form man from it, and thus breathe into their nostrils the breath of life, thus causing them to become a living soul. In fact, this is what was so significant about what we read in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis, for not only does Scripture record that Adam knew his wife Eve and they brought forth Cain, but Adam also knew his wife Eve a second time and they brought forth Cain. What makes this even more interesting is that when you come to the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—after Cain had killed Abel—we find that Adam again knew his wife Eve, and they begat a third son who was brought forth in his own likeness, and after his image. When we read of Adam being formed from the dust of the ground and being made in the image and likeness of God, we now read of Seth being brought forth in the likeness of Adam, and after his image. Adam was the first and only human being to be taken from the dust of the earth and formed into a man with the breath of the divine breathed into his nostrils. Nowhere else in Scripture do we record that any other human being was taken from the dust of the ground and formed into a human being, and the breath of life being breathed into their nostrils. Adam was the first and last human being to ever be taken from the dust of the ground and formed into a human being, and immediately after the transgression which was committed we find the ground from which Adam was taken and formed from being cursed. In fact, I am thoroughly convinced that this is what is so incredibly important and powerful about the resurrection of the dead, for when speaking unto Adam he declared that he would eat bread in the sweat of his brow until the day he would return to the ground, “for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19).
Please don’t miss or lose sight of the incredible significance of that which the Lord spoke unto Adam on this particular occasion, for not only was the Lord declaring unto Adam that he was taken from the dust of the ground, but dust he was, and unto dust would he return. On the day that Adam died—for death would eventually come unto Adam as a direct result of sin and transgression—he would return to the very ground from which he was taken. What’s more, is that not only would Adam return unto the dust of the ground on the day he died, but so also would each and every man and women who would come after him. Even Eve herself who was taken from Adam’s own flesh would ultimately and inevitably return to the ground, for she too was dust. I am completely and totally convinced that this must be carefully understood and considered, for when that moment comes when we die, we are buried in the same ground which the Lord cursed after Adam had transgressed against the command of the Lord. Not only had the Lord cursed the ground after Adam had sinned and transgressed against the command of heaven, but Adam would also return to that which had been cursed. Perhaps this is what makes the Lord’s instruction to Moses, and Joshua so incredibly significant when He instructed them to take off their sandals. When the Lord spoke unto Moses and Joshua and instructed them to take off their sandals, the reason He did so was because the ground on which they were standing was holy ground. Oh how remarkable and how wonderful it is that although the ground was cursed as a direct result of the sin and transgression of Adam and Eve, the Lord could take that which was cursed and make it holy with and by His presence. I am convinced that what made the ground on which Moses and Joshua stood holy was the divine presence of the Lord on that very ground, for wherever the person and presence of the Lord is, so also is His holiness manifested and present. I absolutely love that even though the ground was cursed as a direct result of the transgression of Adam and Eve, the Lord could step onto that ground and make it holy. While the Lord’s presence did not and would not reverse or remove the curse, it would, however, cause that which was cursed to become holy in the presence of the Lord, with the presence of the Lord, and by the presence of the Lord.
There were those specific instances within Scripture when the ground on which mere men were standing was holy because of the presence of the Lord, but even though the person and presence of the Lord caused that ground to be holy, it would not and could not reverse the curse which was pronounced upon the ground when Adam transgressed the command of the Lord. Pause for a moment and consider the progression which is found in the third chapter of Scripture, for first comes the formation of Adam from the dust of the ground, then comes the cursing of the ground as a direct result of Adam’s transgression of the command of the Lord, and finally comes the declaration that to the dust and to the ground would Adam return. It’s necessary that we understand this concept of returning to the dust upon death, for ever since Adam and Eve in the garden those who have died have returned unto the dust of the ground. Ever since Adam and Eve died and returned to the ground which was cursed as a direct result of their transgression and iniquity in the garden each and every man, woman and child after them have returned to the same place of cursing. I am convinced that this is what is so absolutely incredible about the resurrection from the dead, for through, with and by resurrection from the dead, it’s almost as if the Lord is reversing the curse which He pronounced upon the ground, and removing us from the place of the curse. REMOVAL FROM THE PLACE OF THE CURSE! When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in Corinth in the first epistle sent unto them I find a powerful description of the Lord reversing the curse of the ground for His saints, as well as His removing the saints from that which was cursed. Through the resurrection of the dead the Lord completely removes us from the place of the curse, for He removes us from the dust of the ground which was cursed on the day Adam and Eve not only transgressed against the command of the Lord, but also attempted to flee and hide from the presence of the Lord. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle:
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immorality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The string of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
It is quite clear and quite obvious that the resurrection from the dead is a complete and total reverse of the curse which was pronounced upon the ground, and a complete removal from the place of the curse. Of course we know and understand that when we die our physical bodies remain—that which is of and from the dust of the ground—is buried in a coffin and placed six feet under the surface of the earth. With that being said, our spirit which is eternal—so long as we have made the conscious decision to follow and serve Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and completely, will return to heaven in the presence of the Father, in the presence of the Son, in the presence of all the holy angels, and in the presence of all those who have gone before. Even with that being said, however, there is coming a day when our physical bodies which were formed from the dust of the earth—our physical bodies which returned to the very substance from which the first Adam was taken—will be resurrected from within the earth and within the ground, and will take on incorruption and immortality. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality and concept, for when Lazarus was raised from death to life, not only was he removed from the place of the curse, but the Lord also reversed the process of the curse which had begun to consume his body over a period of four days. The same reality holds true of Jesus the Christ when He was raised up from death to life by the Spirit, for even Jesus Himself was removed from the place of the curse. Pause for a moment and think about that, for Jesus Himself was buried in the place of the curse, and remained there for three whole days. Not only did Jesus wear a crown of thorns—thorns which represent the curse which the Lord pronounced upon the ground—but Jesus’ physical body was buried in the very place of the curse.
Popular contemporary Christian authors Jonathan Cahn in his book “The Book of Mysteries” writes concerning Jesus’ wearing the crown of thorns that His wearing a crown made of thorns represented and signified that not only was He the king of the thorns, but He was also the king over the curse. The simple fact that He a crown made of thorns represented and signified that Jesus Himself was King over the curse—King over that which had been cursed by the Lord centuries and millennia earlier. The fact that Jesus was raised from death to life suggests even more that He was King over the place of the curse. KING OVER THE PLACE OF THE CURSE! KING OVER THE MANIFESTATION OF THE CURSE! Through His wearing the crown of thorns Jesus demonstrated that He was king over the manifestation of the curse, and through His resurrection from the dead Jesus demonstrated that He was King over the place of the curse. What is so absolutely incredible about this, is that even before He Himself was raised from death to life, thus demonstrating that He was King over the place of the curse, He demonstrated that authority and dominion through and with the life of Lazarus. Not only this, but on the day He was crucified the graves of the saints were opened, and on the day He was raised from death to life, those saints came forth from their graves and once more walked among men as a firstfruits of those who were resurrected from the place of the curse. I love that Jesus wore a crown of thorns, for Jesus was willing to wear that which was produced from the ground which was cursed countless millennia earlier as a direct result of the transgression of Adam Through His wearing the crown of thorns Jesus was making a declaration that He was King over the curse—King over that which represented the curse of the earth. Through His resurrection from the dead Jesus demonstrated that He was in fact King over the place of the curse—King over the place where the first Adam was taken and formed from. The first Adam returned unto dust for after all—it was from dust He was formed. The second Adam, however, would allow Himself to be buried in the place of the curse—thus Himself going into the place of dirt and dust—yet His resurrection would demonstrate and reveal that He would redeem men and women from the place of the curse, and that dirt and dust was not their inheritance or final resting place. The first Adam was told he would return to the ground, yet the second Adam would come so there could in fact be a release from the place of the curse which was cursed as a direct result of transgression.
It is important and imperative that we recognize and understand how the ground was in fact cursed, for when we come to the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find and discover Can and Abel bringing their offerings before the Lord. Consider if you will the account as it unfolds in this first book of the Old Testament, and Scripture itself: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance feel. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why are thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Genesis 4:1-7). It is important that we recognize and understand the difference that existed between these two offerings, for whereas Abel brought unto the Lord the firstlings of his flock, Cain brought the fruit of the ground. There are two very important realities we learn when reading this particular passage of Scripture, for not only do we learn that Cain was a tiller of the ground, but we also learn that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. Not only do we learn that Cain was a tiller of that which had been cursed of the Lord, but we also know that Cain brought forth as an offering unto the Lord that which was produced from the place of the curse. I have long wondered why the Lord had respect unto Abel’s offering and had not respect for Cain’s offering, but it is quite obvious that Cain attempted to bring unto the Lord that which was produced from his own labour and works. What’s more, is that Cain attempted to bring as an offering unto the Lord that which was cursed and produced thorns. The Lord did not, would not, and could not have respect unto Cain’s offering because Cain’s offering came as a direct result of his own labor, toil and works. Furthermore, Cain’s offering was brought forth from that place which had been cursed by the Lord while his father and mother were still present in the garden of Eden. We dare not wonder why Cain’s offering was not regarded or shown respect by the Lord, for anything which comes as a direct result of our own work and labour is not worthy to be an acceptable offering unto the Lord.
THE RELIGION OF CAIN! When I read the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia I can’t help but find present within and among these churches the direct manifestation of the religion of Cain—a religion of one’s own works and labour. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering unto the Lord, and yet only one offering was regarded and shown respect, for only one offering came not forth from the labour and works of man. Cain’s offering was not accepted, respected or regarded by the Lord because his offering was a manifestation of his own works and labour. What’s more, is that Cain’s offering was a direct result of bringing forth unto the Lord that which had been cursed by the Lord. There is not a doubt in my ind that when we read the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in the region of Galatia that they were getting caught up in the religion of Cain—a religion of works and labour. Not only were they getting caught up in a religion of works, but they were getting caught up in a religion of the works of the law. In all reality, I am convinced that seeking to be justified by the works of the law is no different than Cain thinking and believing that his offering of the fruit of the ground—an offering produced by his own labour and works—could and would be accepted by the Lord. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of this epistle unto the churches in Galatia concerning the works of the law and seeking to be justified thereof: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall not flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I Through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Galatians 2:16-19). Again in the third chapter of this same epistle we find the following words written by the apostle Paul: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5).
If you continue reading the third chapter you will find a direct connection between the law and the curse of the Lord, and our tremendous need to be delivered and set free from the place of the curse—even as it pertains to the law of God. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke beginning with the tenth verse: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-14). Make special note that the apostle Paul emphatically declared that as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for I am convinced that were Cain alive during this day he would have sought to be justified by the law of Moses and the works of the law. What’s more, is that I am convinced that the scribes and the Pharisees were themselves under the curse, for they themselves were of the works of the law. Scripture does in fact speak of being delivered and set free from the curse of sin and death, but there is another curse which we rarely speak about in the house of God—namely, the curse of the law. I am convinced that so long as we make any attempt to be justified by the works of the law we give ourselves over to and are completely sold under the curse of the law. When writing to the churches which were in Galatia the apostle Paul sought to directly confront this “religion of Cain”—this religion based solely on the works of the law, and seeking to bring unto the Lord that which not only was the place of the curse, but also that which produced the cursed. Is this to saw that the Law was itself evil? Absolutely not, for the apostle Himself declared how the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us into the fulness of the reality of Christ. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are seeking to engage ourselves in the religion of Cain, and whether we are seeking to be justified by and accepted of God by bringing unto Him the fruit of our own labour and works. Oh that we would recognize that we have been delivered and set free from the curse of the law just as much as we have been delivered and set free from the curse of sin and death. Oh that we would rise up and allow ourselves to be delivered and set free from the curse of the law—delivered and set free from bringing unto the Lord that which was produced from the place of the curse, and that which was produced from our own labour and works.