Slow of Heart

Daily Reform, Day 197

Galatians 2:21 & Luke 24:13-27

From the Reformer

A certain distance and coolness can be noted in the title with which the Apostle addresses the Galatians. He does not now address them as his brethren, as he usually does. He addresses them as Galatians in order to remind them of their national trait to be foolish.

We have here an example of bad traits that often cling to individual Christians and entire congregations. Grace does not suddenly transform a Christian into a new and perfect creature. Dregs of the old and natural corruption remain. The Spirit of God cannot at once overcome human deficiency. Sanctification takes time.

Although the Galatians had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of faith, something of their national trait of foolishness plus their original depravity clung to them. Let no man think that once he has received faith, he can presently be converted into a faultless creature. The leavings of old vices will stick to him, be he ever so good a Christian.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Here was the Galatian problem: they knew they were not good enough. Then some folks came to church and told them the only way they could be righteous was by keeping the Law. Problem solved! This sounds good if you are foolish enough to think that you can keep the Law. So this is precisely what Paul concludes: they were being foolish. The same word is applied to the two believers on the road to Emmaus, since they were “slow of heart.” The heart knows it is not good but reason insists it is righteous, if only certain righteous deeds are done. We are slow of heart when we fail to simply believe that Christ alone is our righteousness. It is foolish to believe otherwise.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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