Have you ever thought about which book in the Bible is the most passionate and intense? Which inspired book runs the gamut of emotion more than any other, from compassion to anger, confrontation to complicity, flesh to Spirit, blessing to cursing, badgering to begging?
There are a number of books that are passionate, and several that are intense, but Galatians outdoes them all. Paul fills his letter with words evoking forceful emotion: accursed, cut off, bewitched, foolish, condemned, hypocrisy, shut up, weak, worthless, perplexed, slavery, severed, mutilation, devour, vain, consumed, and corruption, just to name a few.
At one point, Paul recounts, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (2:11). Knowing what you know of Peter, and the fiery indignation of Paul, how intense do you suppose the toe-to-toe, beard-to-beard confrontation between the Rock and the Crusader was?
And over what issue? The attempt to mix legalism and flesh with grace and the Spirit and call it Christian living.
The crux of the issue is this: Mixing legalism with grace nullifies the work of God accomplished in Jesus Christ at the cross (Gal. 2:21). This is why Paul is so intense. This is what fueled his confrontation with Peter.
In Paul’s mind—and in the Word of God—it is intolerable to mix legalism with grace, thinking that coexistence is acceptable.
Next, a consideration of the merits of flesh-strength, bringing my resources to bear upon life.