Did you know that human beings cannot walk in a straight line without external guidance? Experiments have been done many times in many ways. It doesn’t always show up in short distances but is seen over very long distances. When people are blindfolded, they slowly begin to walk in a circle, even while trying to walk in a straight line.

Humans walk in circles morally as well. This results from being blinded to the external truth of God’s revelation of Himself. Sadly, we blind ourselves. We either deny God’s existence (Romans 1) or we “forget the cleansing” of the good news of the Gospel that we have already begun to walk in line with (2 Peter 1:9). Peter says this “forgetting” of the good news makes us functionally “near-sighted to the point of blindness.” If we do not actively remember the good news of Jesus’ love for us, we become like people walking with blindfolds; we try to walk straight but keep curving into circles of confusion. We must remind ourselves of the Gospel through regular worship and through cultivating friends who care enough to speak when we are out of line.

This “walking out of step with truth” comes up in the New Testament letter of Galatians as well (Galatians 2:14). The Apostle Paul confronted the Apostle Peter (Cephas) for leaving the straight line of the Gospel and walking in circles of fear (Galatians 2:11-14). Peter was concerned that other Jews would not like his association with non-Jews (translated “gentiles”). Paul was clear that no man of God should imply with his behavior that some people are more acceptable than others because of their ethnicity or culture. If Jesus makes us just in God’s eyes, then we should not make secondary matters of culture a reason to separate. There are rare and unique times when scripture calls us to separate from those who call themselves believers but refuse to turn from sin (1 Corinthians 5), but Peter was separating for purely traditional reasons. How often do we begin to walk in circles of fear and begin to think that we are justified by hanging out with the right people? Even more confusing, sometimes we believe we can be justified before God by doing enough right things. We begin walking in circles of human performance, trying to do enough good things to force God’s hand of blessing. Paul corrects this with strong repetition in Galatians 2:16. Three times he says that Jewish works of law will not justify people (make them okay in God’s sight). Instead we can only be justified by simple reliance on Jesus.

Paul says, “we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by trust in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have trusted in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by trust in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no man will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16). We must not trust in our own works of law or tribal affiliation. We must trust in Jesus and Jesus alone to make us right before God. We might be tempted to think we are made right by hanging around the “right kind of people”. Or we might begin to think we are righteous because of our noble work and good deeds.

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. He conquered death and lives forever to prove that He is Lord and King. Will we walk in the endless circles of subjective standards in culture? Or will we walk in step with the external line of good-news? Let us say with Paul, “My old identity has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in this body I live by trust in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

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Dave McMurry

Author Dave McMurry

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