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You’ve heard the nostalgic phrase, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

This phrase, of course, is not talking about international travel, but instead the deep-rooted mindset and cultural habits that permeate the heart and soul of folk born and raised in the country.

The same principle applies to all sorts of settings, actually.

Some people spent countless hours of childhood and adolescence appreciating the recreational activities of their hometown area, such as skiing in the mountains, and even if circumstances have them in a hot, flat climate, they never stop seeking a job and home address that will allow them to “go home.”

I was reminded of this yearning when I read from Galatians 1 this morning as part of my daily Bible reading. In Galatians 1:6, the Apostle Paul writes these words:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.”

Paul had earlier preached and taught to thousands of people in Galatia, of which some chose to leave their pagan lives of sin and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That gospel defines the Way of salvation — recognition of personal sin, understanding the need for a personal Savior since good works cannot erase the fact of sin, repenting of that sinful lifestyle, surrendering to Christ with a verbal and baptismal confession and continuing to show trust in God’s gracious forgiveness as the believer grows in a godlier lifestyle.

For a time, the Galatian believers practiced these beliefs. They lived as if they had not only taken themselves out of the worldly influences, but that they had removed the worldly ways from their inner nature.

But they found out that the spiritual transformation requires an ongoing effort. And when they didn’t keep pressing on in their learning and discerning, a spiritual vacuum was created in their hearts and souls, a vacuum that Satan was quite happy to fill by re-packaging their prior religious beliefs in ways that sounded Christian but that were still permeated with “I can save myself” poison.

The believers started listening to and accepting the old lies that God’s grace was not enough, that they had to perform certain religious rituals invented by humans in order to gain the reward promised by God.

Paul was blunt in his writings because the people were at risk of forfeiting their salvation. For if the believers stopped trusting Jesus as their only Way to salvation, they would be headed toward eternal destruction.

It’s essential that we learn this lesson, that we must keep pursuing the Savior and His saving grace in order to push back the ever-present creeping of our worldly nature that calls us to trust good deeds, not God’s grace, as the means of salvation.

God’s grace took us off the bus to hell, but if we don’t keep checking the Bible map, we just might end up taking the wrong turns and walking there.

As always, I love you

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