March 25, 2021
Until Christ be formed in you (Part 2)
How Christ Is Formed in Us
With Bishop Ronald K. Powell
Galatians 4:12-20 – Living Bible (TLB)
12 Dear brothers, please feel as I do about these things, for I am
as free from these chains as you used to be. You did not despise
me then when I first preached to you, 13 even though I was sick
when I first brought you the Good News of Christ. 14 But even
though my sickness was revolting to you, you didn’t reject me and
turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I
were an angel from God or even Jesus Christ himself.
15 Where is that happy spirit that we felt together then? For in
those days I know you would gladly have taken out your own eyes
and given them to replace mine if that would have helped me.
16 And now have I become your enemy because I tell you the
17 Those false teachers who are so anxious to win your favor are
not doing it for your good. What they are trying to do is to shut you
off from me so that you will pay more attention to them. 18 It is a
fine thing when people are nice to you with good motives and
sincere hearts, especially if they aren’t doing it just when I am with
you! 19 Oh, my children, how you are hurting me! I am once again
suffering for you the pains of a mother waiting for her child to be
born-longing for the time when you will finally be filled with Christ.
20 How I wish I could be there with you right now and not have to
reason with you like this, for at this distance I frankly don’t know
what to do.
Longing for the time when you will finally be filled with
How does that happen?
Under what conditions does it come about?
The answer is made plain by linking three verses.
First, link 4:19 to 4:6.
Verse 19 says: Christ should be formed in
us. Verse 6 says: that the way Christ comes to us is by his Spirit:
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.
Then, link 4:6 to 3:5. There Paul says that “the one who supplies
the Spirit to you and works miracles among you does so not by
works of law but by hearing with faith.”
In other words, the ongoing supply of the Spirit of Christ and his
miraculous work happens through faith. So the answer to the
question, How is Christ formed in your life? is: by your faith.
It’s really quite simple: the Son of God comes and shapes us from
within if we rely on him to come and shape us.
The Son takes shape in those who abandon themselves to him.
Christ forms himself in the lives of those who will let go of all
the forms of life in which they have shaped on their own.
Christ takes shape in a life that is willing to become putty in
God’s hands. Christ presses the shape of his own face into
the clay of our soul when we cease to be hard and resistant,
and when we take our own amateur hands off and admit
that we are not such good artists as he is.
Here we can see clearly what faith is.
Faith is the assurance that
what God will make of you, as Christ is formed in your life, is
vastly to be preferred over what you can make of yourself.
Faith is the confidence that the demonstration of Christ’s work in
your life is more wonderful than all the praise you could get for
yourself by being a self-made man-or woman.
Faith is a happy resting in the all-sufficiency of what Christ did on
the cross, what he is doing now in our heart, and what he promises
to do for us forever.
So it’s clear how Paul’s message and the Judaizers’ message are
opposed to each other. Their message caters to our natural pride our
desire to be “self-made” people who get glory for ourselves.
Paul’s message robs us of all such pride by saying we should be
“Christ-made” people who get glory for God by trusting him to
shape us every day.
God is not glorified by the self-wrought moral, aesthetic, or
technical achievements of human life.
He is glorified when we turn from ourselves and trust him like little
children to enable us to do his bidding. This is the best news in the
world, because it opens up the way of salvation to the simplest and
weakest of us all.
The Gospel at the Beginning
In trying to persuade the Galatians that it is indeed good news and
that they should not forsake it to follow the Judaizers, Paul reminds
them of how valuable the gospel was to them back at the
Look at verses 12b-16: “You did me no wrong; you know it was
because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at
first; and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn
or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ
Jesus. What has become of the satisfaction you felt? For I bear
you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your
eyes and given them to me. Have I become your enemy by telling
you the truth?”
To all his biblical and theological arguments in chapter 3 for why
the Galatians should not follow the Judaizers but keep faith in the
gospel, Paul now adds an argument from experience.
He says in effect:
Do you recall how my plans to move on were interrupted
because of that terrible attack in my eyes-how they were red and
infected and filled up with puss? You had every reason to switch
channels and watch a more attractive preacher. My disease was a
trial to you. My message did not come well-packaged. But you did
me no wrong; you didn’t despise me; you received me like an
angel; you saw Christ in me; you would have plucked out your
own eyes and given them to me. Why? Because you saw the
beauty and truth of the gospel! It persuaded you. It satisfied you. It
was so valuable that you would have given up your eyes to keep
the message going -your eyes! Your eyes! Is the message of the
Judaizers really more valuable, really more valid?
I think Paul must have believed that if he could just bring to their
memory how powerful and beautiful the gospel was at the
beginning, they would stop being attracted by the false gospel of
And perhaps that’s the way I should close today.
For some of you these are the very days in which for the first time
the beauty of the gospel of grace is beginning to shine on the
horizon of your soul.
But others of you look back months or years or decades, to a
golden era of faith when Christ was powerfully taking shape in your
life. But something has changed. There has been a kind of settling
into the world, and the vibrant sense of being an alien and an exile
in the world has faded. And the powerful shaping forces in your life
are not coming from Christ within but from the world without.
The word of encouragement and admonition to us all this morning
is this: the Spirit of the living Christ can be poured into us afresh
Paul would not have written this letter if there were no hope for the
Galatians. Therefore, I urge you, take your amateur hands off the
clay of your life and yield yourselves into the sovereign hands of
Disavow the praise of men and all your efforts to achieve it.
Turn your hearts to Christ and say: I am not my own; you have
bought me; forgive me; be formed within me. Not to me, O Lord,
not to me, but to your name give glory (Psalm 115:1). Amen.