A while back, a guy I know had some serious health problems and when he went to the doctor, they told him that he needed to have open heart surgery. After a few weeks, the surgery was scheduled and he went in for the procedure. That afternoon, the doctors put him under anesthesia while they cracked open his rib cage and sliced and stitched their way through his chest. Eventually, he was sent to recovery where over the next several months, he regained a fairly normal lifestyle having been effectively healed by the skill of the surgeon.
Imagine with me that I had a conversation with my friend weeks before his surgery, and he was fully convinced that he could handle doing the surgery himself. With a bit of excitement but also with understandable trepidation, he explained to me that he had watched several hours of Youtube videos on heart surgery and even checked out a medical book from the library to ensure that he would be able to perform the surgery perfectly. I am certain that as a friend I would be obligated to talk him down from such a preposterous thing. No one can crack open their own chest, and perform open heart surgery on themselves. In attempting to save himself, he most certainly would have killed himself. It requires the skill, equipment and expertise of a trained professional to perform this life saving procedure.
When we come to Galatians, we find Paul arguing a similar point about a much more serious operation. Instead of open heart surgery, there is a work that is needing to take place in the sin-blackened soul of every human being. Sadly, there are those who imagine themselves equipped and skilled enough to perform the eternity shaping operation. Thinking themselves skilled enough, they seek to take their lives in their own hands and earn their way into right standing with God. Unfortunately, the ranks of those who seek to establish their own right standing with God far outnumber the ranks of those who have surrendered themselves to the only one skilled enough to perform this operation – Jesus.
In Christianity, a believer must get to the point where they admit that there is nothing that they can do to earn the favor of God and receive eternal life. Rather, they must rely on the work of Jesus as their only hope. In Ephesians, Paul explains that salvation and eternal life does not come through our own works, but through the grace of God found by faith in Christ. In Galatians 6:14-15, Paul explains that he doesn’t seek to gain glory for himself in his own accomplishments of self-saving, he has already demonstrated in the preceding 5 chapters how that saving himself is impossible anyway. Instead, he says that he will only glory in what Jesus did on the cross. The only one qualified to save anyone died on a cross to save all those who would come in faith to Him.
Paul knew that taking this kind of operation into his own hands would be eternally deadly. He would only trust in the One who could perform the operation flawlessly. As a friend, he was obligated to warn the Galatians of the dangers of trying to perform this operation by themselves. Similarly, we have an obligation to tell those around us that any attempt at self-operating will only end badly for them.
Food For Thought: Do you know anyone who is not currently trusting in Jesus as their only hope for salvation? Be a good friend and tell them that only Jesus is qualified to perform that operation.