"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' But if you bite and devour one another take care that you are not consumed by one another." - Galatians 5:14-15
In the last five years, the Church in the United States has displayed an increasingly disturbing chain of internal backbiting and devouring. Based on my observation and personal witness of this, especially in the last 6 months in my own home church of 7 years, I am deeply concerned and heartbroken. I never suspected that our local church would be affected. So my concern is not only toward the U.S. church (or universal church), but the ministry of my own home and heart (personal ministry), especially as I aspire to the office of bishop (1Tim 3).
The central issue based on a sample of just a handful of very prominent churches from east to west, is in the breakdown (or disregard) of love and kindness among the leaders (pastors, elders, and deacons) who oversee these local bodies. The leaders are biting and devouring one another: whether by displaying distrust without communicating it, taking the other's wife for himself, or endless criticism without encouragement. Unfortunately and subsequently, the people of the body are therefore subjet to consumption by these divided leaders. Galatians 5:14-15 sets love as the overall moral standard for obedience to the law: "For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom" (MSG). The Message's paraphrase highlights the violation of Gospel-freedom. Verse 15 says it perfectly, "...If you bite and ravage each other, watch out - in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?" One commentary describes Gal 5:15 as, "The imagery [of] wild animals savagely attacking and killing each other - a graphic picture of what happens in the spiritual realm when believers do not love and serve each other."
When we consider the context of the entire passage, Paul is addressing justification and freedom by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone, through the nearness and advocacy of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to "the Law." First of all, the Law does not provide freedom (Heb 10:1-2). The Law condemns and curses, while justification and atonement comes from God (Gal 3:10-29), thus providing our freedom. By what then are we proven just? How do we go on since Christ is King?
The Gospel: Grace alone through faith alone; Not by law, but through Christ that no man would boast (Eph 2:8-9). Believers must understand that the law is by no means bad; it defines sin and IS representative of God's character - though unattainable by no man? Therefore, Christ being the only advocate to free believers from the Law, came to remove the just curse of the law from the believer bringing permanent justification and atonement to the receptive believer. No man can do this for you, only Christ.
Love: Consider Galatians 5:14, that the entirety of the law is fulfilled in one word - LOVE. Another scholar brings forth clarity: "When Paul says the whole law is fulfilled in the commandment to 'love your neighbor as yourself,' and when he uses that command as the reason why the Galatians are to 'serve one another' (v. 13), he implies that Christians still have a moral obligation to follow the moral standards found in God's 'law' in Scripture. Obedience is not a means of justification, but it is a crucial component of the Christian life." Do you grasp that this is is a command to the practical outworking of unconditional love? Not optional. Unfortunately many so-called believers overlook - or are ignorant to - this imperative. Paul is emphatic in Galatians.
The curse of the law has been lifted by the blood of the lamb - Jesus Christ; Not obedience to the Law (Rom 3:23, 24).
Conclusion: Christian, in your salvation, do not prolong the curse with willful disobedience. So back to the premise - family and personal ministry to start. None of this is mine to begin with. I received it...you received it...we all received it. Salvation was given as a gift. I'm ashamed to behave as the one who granted my own salvation. O Woe Is Me, wretched man that I am! It is Christ Jesus Himself. At this point in my own personal ministry and salvation walk, what I observe in Christ Jesus and the triune-dispatched ministry of the Holy Spirit, causes me to yearn for a deeper and more deliberate fellowship with the Lord.
Not religious or dogmatic orthodoxy.
The events of the last few months provide a grim portrait depicting what occurs on earth in the hearts of our churches. This is quite dismal. The Great Shepherd knows His sheep and also feeds them, but yet we bite and devour His sheep. We must repent and turn from our ways and back to God. Lay down religion and take up faith. I myself am in danger of biting and devouring them too if I am puffed up and devoid of dependence on the Holy Spirit. Repent therefore, of your sins, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The Lord will separate the sheep and the goats. "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another" - Galatians 5:13.