Deuteronomy 27:26 – The key thing that I want you to get from this verse is to remember the law does not produce faith but works are cursed from which Christ had to redeem man.
This simply means that you have to do all the law and since a man can’t do all the law he’s cursed. The Bible is going to say in Galatians 3:13, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree; and Jesus Christ hung on the tree, the cross of Calvary. He knew that man could not keep the law so He had to redeem man from the curse. We need to keep this in mind as we study the book of Galatians because this book teaches that we are saved by grace only. Therefore you cannot mix works, keeping the law, self-righteousness with it. Either you’re saved by grace or you’re not saved at all.
The Book of Galatians is the ninth book of the New Testament and the fruit of the Spirit there are nine fruit. 5+2+2=9. Nine letters in Galatians, nine fruit of the Spirit; so the book of Galatians is a Divine testimony in itself as God spoke to holy men of old.
Paul the apostle wrote the book of Galatians and it was written between AD 48-60. The book was written to the churches of Galatia. The purpose of this letter is to vindicate Paul’s call by God and the gospel of grace. No other book is as emphatic as Galatians that salvation is by grace and not of works. Paul and the gospel of Christ were under attack. Some Jews called Judaizer’s were teaching a double error. They taught first of all that people were saved partly by faith and partly by works. Secondly, that a person grew in Christ partly by faith and partly by his own effort. A person had to have faith in Christ yes, but they also had to under go a ritual of religion, which was circumcision. In the context of today we could compare that to baptism, church membership and other things which people think save them today. They also said a person had to believe in Christ but also had to observe all the ceremonies and rituals of religion. But that’s not so according to Galatians. Paul taught that a man, was saved by Christ, and by Christ alone, his message was a message of grace, pure grace. A person does not win, earn or merit salvation. A person is saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. And because of this the Judaizer’s charged Paul with deceit. They said his apostleship was of his own making created of his own imagination. They said he was not a true ministry of God because he minimized the law of God and no true minister would do that. Paul thus sits down and pens Galatians to combat these charges. Writing with great force and stern insistence he lays down the wonder of God’s glorious grace.
Special features about the Book of Galatians are; Galatia was a district that spread across the middle of Asia Minor. It sat in the highlands several thousand feet above sea level. It was formerly settled by the Gaul’s, the cities Paul visited stretched across southern Galatia. They were Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Pisidian, Antioch and Pisidia. There is no record that Paul ever visited northern Galatia. The Galatian people were themselves an impulsive and very changeable people. They were an impetus, fickle, arguing, loud, boastful and immoral people. They had a love for the strange, the curious, and the unknown. They were attached to a religion that was mainly the worship of nature. The area was heavily populated by Jews who clung to their staunch Judaist religion, Greeks were also numerous and gave the area a strong Hellenistic influence. The nature and strange mixture of people in southern Galatia can be seen in their treatment of Paul. They could both worship with him, esteem him or they could stone him according to Acts 14:13-19. The churches in Galatia, were visited by Paul on his first and third missionary journeys. [Acts 13,18]. He was forbidden to preach to the churches of Galatia on his second missionary journey [Acts 16:6]. The church was spiritually immature. The very reason for Paul writing the epistle was to deal with the basic doctrine of Christianity that is salvation by grace. As one would expect there were Gentile converts in the churches [Acts 20:4], Paul lists the delegates that were going to Jerusalem with him. There was also a number of Jewish converts so the problem of mixing law with grace is evident of an influential body of Jewish members. Galatians is the heart of the gospel. Man must receive salvation by faith. He does not work for it by keeping the law. The law does not produce faith it only works a curse. Therefore Christ, Himself has to redeem man. But man himself must go beyond just receiving the gospel he must strive to live it out in his life. This is done by the power of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit. [Gal. 5:1-6:18]. The one point Paul makes is that man cannot win or earn or do anything to inherit salvation. Human effort is nothing more than fleshly sign, a sign that is born within man himself, of his own thought and energy. It is earthly and the earthly and the corruptible perishes. The works of man and the law do not last. Human effort is not a spiritual or eternal nature. Salvation is a free gift of God that is eternal and lasting, it is spiritual. Galatians is the message of liberty. Yet subjection, unity, yet diversity, of oneness, yet differs. There’s a recognition that Gentiles do not have to live as Jews and Jews don’t have to live as Gentiles. Paul never says its wrong for Jews to be circumcised. Never says it is wrong for Jews to keep the law or to observe special festivals, what he says, is that these have nothing to do with salvation. Customs and practices differ but salvation never differs. There is only one way to be saved and that is by the grace of God. There is also a recognition that ministers are not all alike. They are not all called to serve the same kinds of people nor are ministers themselves called to observe the same customs and lifestyles. Paul was called to the Gentiles; Peter to the Jews and both of these groups were different yet both Paul and Peter were called to serve the same Lord. There’s also recognition that all Christians are to fellowship and share with one another and cooperate with each other. Paul just could not see how two different groups of Christians could be in the same place and refuse to eat with each other because of some theological difference. This was the very point, which brought about the crisis and Paul came down hard upon it. Fighting tooth and nail for a gospel of grace and a life to match that grace. Galatians has been called the magna Charta of the church for God has used this message to start world revivals in past generations.
Galatians Chapter 1: God’s minister and his authority. [vv.1-5]
Now Paul does not go very far before making plain that Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins. [v. 4] that he might deliver us from this evil present world. The memory verse for this is found in Philippians 1:6; “Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
The aim of this lesson is to claim you’re God given authority with a life of conviction.
Have you ever felt intimidated by someone who had more credentials to serve than you did? I mean by that they had all of the right papers, went to all of the right schools and had been approved by all the right agencies and denominational headquarters, have you felt that you just did not measure up to the big preacher? If you’ve had those kind of feelings trust me, you’re not alone. But rest assured the foundation of Christian service does not rest upon such manmade things as human credentials, schools and papers of accommodation. As helpful as these things may be they are not the foundation of our service to Christ. The foundation for service is Christ and the great work Christ has called us to do. And that is to bear witness to His death, the glorious truth that we can delivered from this present evil world. Men only confirm the great work and the will of God that all ready works in us.
Now notice that Paul’s greeting to the Galatians is different from his greeting to the other churches. He was writing under heavy stress and heavy strain. Paul’s critics had arisen in the church who, were criticizing and attacking Paul. They were questioning his call to the ministry and his authority as a minister. Some were even questioning the very gospel itself. Therefore his usual affections toward churches and individuals is missing. From the very first sentence his writing is abrupt. He assails the Galatian churches with words straight to the point. He is a true minister of God, a true apostle and a true messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1] He is commissioned by God alone [v. 1]
2] He is recognized as God’s man by Christian believers [v. 2]
3] He wishes the very best for other believers [v. 3]
4] He proclaims the work of Christ [vv. 4-5]
Point #1 – He is commissioned by God alone [v. 1]
There were those in the church who questioned whether Paul had really been called by God to be a minister. What they were doing is they were set on destroying Paul’s ministry. Why, we might ask? Because he had led such a terrible life before his conversion, he had been a savage persecutor of believers. [1:13] We’ll see that and Paul admits that. They were trying to destroy his ministry because he was not one of the select officials of the church. That is he had not been taught by the Lord, Himself, when the Lord was on this earth. This is one of the basic qualifications for being recognized as an apostle. [1:17-18]. They were trying to destroy his ministry because he had not been appointed by the official church or the mother church that is, the home church of the apostle’s in Jerusalem. They were trying to destroy his ministry because he had by-passed the official forms and rituals of the church. They were trying to destroy his ministry because he preached a different message than the official church that a person is not saved by the ritual of works but by the love and grace of God demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The word apostle means a person called and sent forth on a very special mission. Paul’s call had not come from men they were not the source of his ministry. His call to ministry, were by Jesus Christ and God the Father. Paul’s call came from the highest possible source both God the Father and God the Son. Paul was called to serve the risen Lord. Paul, had been called, by the same living Lord, who had been with and called the other apostles into ministry.
Now critics often arise for the minister of God and at such times the minister must boldly declare his call to ministry not in a boastful and super spiritual way but in a humble and clear way. Every minister should examine his heart to make sure that his call to ministry has been commissioned by God, the ministry is not a profession to be chosen, a job to earn a living, a position to secure recognition and esteem, a service agency founded by men, the ministry is of God. Therefore a call to ministry must come from God. God, alone, can give a true call and commission to the ministry. [II Cor. 4:1-2]
Point #2 – He is recognized as God’s man by Christian believers [v. 2]
The brothers with Paul were not just sending there greeting to the Galatian churches they were agreeing with everything that Paul was writing. They were as concerned as Paul over the critics and false teachers in Galatia and clearly recognized Paul’s call and commission as being of God. This is the stress of the point. Paul called them brothers and not friends. A true brother in Christ is much more than a friend. True brothers have a deeper, richer bond and relationship. They are of one faith, one mind, one spirit and one purpose. They have different abilities and may be assigned different work but they believe in and serve the same risen Lord. This is what Paul is saying they were brothers in the Lord who knew him and his call. They readily verified his call and ministry and they joined him in writing and declaring the truth. Now notice there was more than one church that was questioning Paul’s call to ministry, all the churches were attacking him.
[Matt. 25:40] So no matter what we do to the brethren whether it be good or bad we are doing it to Jesus Christ. Just as you can judge a tree by its fruit the same is true for any man who claims to represent God. Paul’s relationship with the Lord was recognized by, other believers because of the fruit he bore in his life. The point is made clear by an example from the life of John Wesley.
In one of his meetings John Wesley denounced the sins of the people. Two men heavily under the influence of liquor stood on the edge of the crowd. He’s saying mean things about us they said let’s do him in. With large rocks in their hands they crept to a vantage point from which they could hurl them at Wesley’s head. As they were about to carry out their murderous plan, Wesley’s emphasis suddenly changed from sin to the Savior the sinner’s friend. While he lovingly and earnestly spoke of the Savior his face shone and his fervent words burned there way into the hearts of his would be murderers. The stones dropped from their hands and they went and knelt at Wesley’s feet. He placed his hands on the top of their heads and said God bless you my boys, God bless you. They walked away one said, was it God Himself. No man the other said it was a man like God.
There is no greater way to be recognized as God’s man than to proclaim the gospel in power and authority. When critics attack the minister it is time for true brothers to step forward and support him in his ministry and in declaring the truth. True brothers always defend and come to the aid of a brother when he is criticized and attacked. [John 15:13]
Point #3 – He wishes the very best for other believers [v. 3]
The minister, Paul, wanted the believers of Galatia to experience the peace and grace of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace means the undeserved favor and blessings of God. The word undeserved is key to understanding grace. Man does not deserve God’s favor. He cannot earn God’s approval and God’s blessings. God is too high and man is too low for man to deserve anything from God. Man is imperfect and God is perfect therefore man cannot expect anything from God. Man has reacted against God too much. Man has rejected God, rebelled against God, ignored God, neglected God, cursed God, sinned against God, disobeyed God, denied God and questioned God. Man deserves nothing from God except judgment, condemnation and punishment. But God is love. He is perfect and absolute love. Therefore He makes it possible for man to experience His grace, in particular the blessings and favor of salvation, which is in His Son, Jesus Christ. [Rom. 3:24]
Peace means to abound, join and weave together with God and with everyone else. It means to be assured, confident and secure in the love and care of God. It means to have a sense, a confidence in the knowledge that God will provide, guide, strengthen, sustain, deliver, encourage, save, give life, real life both now and forever. A person can experience true peace only as he comes to know Jesus Christ. Grace comes before peace always. Only Christ can bring peace to the human heart. [John 14:27] The point is this not everyone in the church was experiencing the peace and grace of God. Some had fallen from the grace of God, no longer trusting Christ to save them they depended upon their own works and goodness to make them acceptable to God and as a result they did not have peace of heart. Some had even fallen into all forms of sin and shame. Others had become extremely critical and divisive standing against Paul and any who supported Paul. Now notice that Paul wished the very best for the churches of Galatia even for the false teachers and critics. He wanted everyone to experience the grace of God by coming to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. He wanted everyone to experience the peace of God has they walked through life confronting all of its experience and trials. Paul is saying that if you are going to have a works salvation then you cannot be saved because that is what it means to fall from grace.
A university professor tells a big invitee to speak at a military base one December and there at the meeting an unforgettable soldier named Ralph was in attendance. Ralph had been sent to pick him up at the airport and after they had introduced themselves the headed toward the baggage claim. As they walked down the concourse Ralph kept disappearing once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open. Once to lift two toddlers up, to where they could see Santa Claus, and again, to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a big smile on his face. Where did you learn to do that the professor asked. Do what Ralph said. Where did you learn to live like that? Ralph said during the war I guess. Then he told the professor of his tour of duty in Viet Nam and how it was his job to clear minefields and how he watched his friends, blow up before his eyes one after another. He said I’ve learned to live between the steps I never know which one may be last. So I learned to get everything out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it down again. Every step I took was a whole new world and I guess I’ve been that way ever since.
Do you make the most of every moment? Have you learned to show God’s grace and peace every chance you get? All must guard against falling from grace trusting their own works and goodness to save them and to make them acceptable before God.
Point #4 – A true minister proclaims the work of Christ [vv. 4-5]
These verses are one of the great summaries of the gospel concerning the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Note four significant points;
#1 – The message of the gospel is that Christ gave Himself for our sins. Christ died as our substitute taking the place of the sinner before God. And two things show this. The word for, means instead of, in place of, as our substitute in place of our sins. Secondly the phrase gave Himself means that He sacrificed Himself for us. He gave His life for the sinner’s life. He offered Himself as the sin offering for our sins. He accepted the condemnation of sin for us. Note that our sins are not listed or described. This means that Christ died for all our sins. Big sins, as well as little sins. Known sins as well as unknown sins. Terrible sins as well as mild sins. Sins of the flesh as wells as sins of the spirit.
#2 – The purpose of Jesus death was to deliver us from this present evil world. Note the present age is said to be evil. It is evil in at least two senses. The present world is sinful and it causes man to ignore, neglect, deny and curse God. It also stirs and excites ungodliness, immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, ill-will, cruelty, backbiting, gossip, slander, pride, boasting, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, misunderstanding and false understanding, the breaking of covenants and the destruction of true love and mercy. We see all that in Romans 1:29-32. The present world is corruptible. It keeps both man and his world from being healthy and living eternally. It causes man to suffer and experience accident, disease, distress, sorrow and calamities. It causes everything to age, waste away, deteriorate, decay and die. The present world causes man to die and face the judgment of God who is perfectly holy. Therefore the present world dooms man to face the holiness of God as an unholy, sinful and corruptible creature. This was the very point of Jesus death. He dies to deliver us from this present evil world. [John 5:24] John the Baptist said this speaking of Jesus and this tells us that John the Baptist came preaching the same gospel as Jesus Christ. [Acts 10:43]
#3 – The reason Christ died for us is because God willed it. This is a most glorious truth God loves us even as Christ loves us. It was God’s will that we be saved and delivered from this evil world. God loves us so much that He wills us to be saved. Wills it so much that He sacrificed His own Son for us. God wills to be our Father [II Pt. 3:9] The death of Christ makes it possible for us to be God’s sons and daughters. [John 6:44; 12:32; I Tim. 2:3-6; Matt. 20:28]
#4 – The result of Jesus’ death is to glorify God. Notice something, Paul could not mention the death of Christ and the will of God without breaking forth in praise. All men should praise God for His wonderful love and His unspeakable gift of His Son. [Is. 53:5-6] Have you ever given quality time to meditate on Christ’s work on the cross? Take a moment now to fix your eyes on the cross of Calvary to a time, to a Savior, to your involvement in His crucifixion.
Rembrandt, the famous Dutch artist painted a picture of the crucifixion vividly he portrayed Christ writhing in pain and agony on the cruel cross. Vividly he depicted the various attitudes of those about the cross towards the suffering Savior by their facial expressions. Apart from the Savior’s death the most significant thing about the painting is the artist painting of himself. Standing in the shadows of the edge of the onlookers. This was Rembrandt’s way of saying I was there too. I helped to crucify Jesus.
We were there too along with Christ and Rembrandt standing in the shadows as Christ died for us. We sharpen the focus when we live a life of conviction before Christ. A life of conviction comes when we know that we are commissioned by God alone and recognized as God’s man by Christian believers and you know that you wish the very best for other believers and you proclaim the work of Christ.
God’s only message the gospel of Christ [Gal. 1:6-9]
God’s gospel is the only message according to verse 4 and some person’s turn away from God’s gospel to false gospels. They desert God and turn to another gospel and follow a false gospel. This passage also speaks about preachers of false gospels being accursed. The gospel is greater than the apostle’s, the angels, and it is greater than any man. Therefore those who preach a false gospel face a double curse.
The aim of this lesson is to jealously protect the gospel of Christ from any falsehood. The memory verse is Galatians 1:9.
How would your church respond if your young people were approached by an organized cult? One night at a church skating party a group of teenagers were befriended by several men who asked about their spiritual lives, the teenagers were given an invitation to join them for a series of special studies. These strangers also invited themselves to the church these teens. Like a sinister snake this cult was moving in for the kill. But fortunately the parents of these teenagers knew enough of God’s Word to make them cautious and also wise. After the next church service the leader of this cult was spoken to and in blunt terms told to leave their kids alone and to never return to their church again. Were these adults being unkind and unloving? No they weren’t. On the contrary they were carrying out the biblical charge to protect the innocent sheep from the advancing wolves.
Paul had the same circumstances to deal with in his time. The churches in Galatia, were being led astray, by false teachers and the spiritual well being of the sheep were at stake. Paul had no choice. He had to be strong in what he wrote for Christ had taught the value of single soul was worth more than all the wealth of the world. [Mark 8:36-37]
Point #1 – God’s gospel is the only message [v. 6]
Point #2 – Some person’s turn to the false gospels [vv. 6-7]
Point #3 – Preachers of, false gospels are accursed [vv. 8-9]
Point #1 – God’s gospel is the only message [v. 6]
God’s gospel is clearly stated in verse 4. The message of the gospel is that Christ died to rescue us from this present evil world. From this world’s sin, from lawlessness, from deterioration, from judgment, from doom, from unrighteousness, from aging, from death to condemnation, Christ died that we might be delivered from sin and death to live eternally with God in a new heaven and a new earth. Very practically what happens is this; when a person looks at Jesus Christ and truly believes that Jesus Christ took their sins upon Himself and died for them God counts it so and credits it as a fact. God sees Christ bearing the person’s sin and He looks upon the person as being sinless and perfect. That is, he’s completely free of sin. Therefore the person becomes acceptable to God because God sees them in Christ who is without sin, completely righteous and perfect. But note a critical fact the person is not sinless. No person is without sin and no person is perfectly righteous but God counts the person as sinless and perfectly righteous. Now why does God do such a marvelous and wonderful thing? Because He loves us that much with an eternal unlimited love, this is the message of the gospel. We cannot earn the acceptance of God for we are unrighteous and imperfect and only righteous and perfection can live in the presence of God. But God loves us so much that He provided a way for us to become righteous and acceptable to Him. This is what is meant by justification and the wonderful grace of Christ. [John 1:29; Lk. 18:10-14]
Suppose you and I got invited to an athletic event and the total cost to get into that event was five dollars. And we go to the ticket window and we say how much does it cost to get in? He says five dollars per person. And so I look in my pocket and I have 95 cents. And you look in your pocket and you have four dollars. Between us we have $4.95, that’s not enough for one person to get in. Now why am I using this as my illustration? Well that total cost is five dollars, you have four dollars; you’re much more righteous or your much nearer the five dollar mark than I am but you’re still short. I have 95 cents and yet I’m four dollars and a nickel short, we’re both short. [Rom. 3:23] So the Pharisee in Luke 18 is thanking God that he is not like the tax collector and he’s talking about his righteousness. Now he may be a better man morally, he even may be a better man as far as the community is concerned but he’s still short of that five dollars it takes to get into that athletic event. And I use that as an illustration his righteousness cannot get him into heaven for he has sinned and come short of the glory of God. He has missed the mark.Therefore if a fellow lives a wicked life and he only has 95 cents to contribute towards that five dollars his righteousness is still short also. And so we go to heaven by God’s grace.
Now why is so important to protect the gospel from falsehood?
Dave Bash shares this shocking story. He says everyday striking incidents are accumulating in the experience of overseas missionaries and North America Christians alike. He said the candidate for elder in an independent suburban church in a mid-west state sat with the board for his interview. For all the churches appearance, doctrinal statements, sermons, worship, teaching he had no reason to doubt that this was a solid biblical church. In discussing his qualifications however he discovered partly because his astrological sign was in harmony with those of the board members. They urged him to pray for a spirit guide who would give him wisdom in his new office. They said he could expect a benefit from the deep teachers among the elders themselves. Now the man understood why a friend had declined the position earlier and had been reluctant to discuss it.
Point #2 – Some person’s turn to the false gospels [vv. 6-7]
This is the subject of the book of Galatians and the very reason Paul wrote to the churches of the Galatians. Some false teachers had joined the church who did not believe in the gospel as Paul and the apostles. They were adding to and taking away from the gospel of the scriptures and attacking the minister. As a result some of the people were turning to the false teachers and turning from the true gospel. Paul warned the believers of the churches and his warning was direct and forceful. Now here’s what we have to keep in mind, Paul and Barnabas had founded the churches in Galatia on one of their missionary journeys and Paul had told them that the only way they could be saved was by Jesus Christ dying for their sins and by them accepting Jesus Christ. Paul’s gospel was all about grace. But these Judaizer’s say Paul was not one of the original twelve apostles. He did not go to the Christian seminary of those 12 apostles therefore do not pay any attention to his teaching. You have got to keep the Law you’ve got to be circumcised in order to be saved, that was the big discussion in Acts 15:1. They said we believe that you have to accept Jesus as your Savior but we also believe you have to be circumcised. So they were trying to put these Galatian believers back in bondage. And so these believers were deserting God and removing themselves from fellowship with God. The word, remove means to turn away, to change places, to transfer elsewhere. The tense of the verb is present which means they were in the process of turning they had not yet fully turned. There was still hope for them to repent and turn back again to God. Note three striking facts. I believe in eternal security that once you are saved you’re always saved. But these people in Galatia were looking at all the big credentials of these Judaizer’s and all their background and how impressive it was and Paul was not very impressive physically and so that said we might want to pay heed to what these Judaizer’s are saying because we don’t want to miss heaven and so their saved if they had accepted Christ but they’re in danger of reverting back to Old Testament bondage. So a person who turns away from, the gospel is not turning away from a set of beliefs or principles or from the church. The person is turning away from God Himself. It is God who loves us and saves us not a set of beliefs. Therefore to turn away is to turn away from God Himself. These were so soon removed shows how quickly people can be led away from God. The false teachers had apparently just joined the church and had ability and charisma so much they were almost immediately accepted as teachers in the church and the result had been devastating. Many were turning away taken in by their charisma and abilities. Paul was astounded by the fact that they were turning away since they had been grounded in the true gospel. The believers needed to be warned they were turning away from God Himself. [Matt. 24:12] These believers were on the verge of turning to another gospel a different kind of gospel that presents a different Jesus, a different way to be saved, a different God and a different picture of God’s love. But note the Galatians were in danger of turning from the one true gospel since there is no other gospel. There is only one means by which man can be saved. [John 14:6]. The Judaizer’s were saying that God loves the world but He especially loves those who live religious lives. Note how this makes God show favoritism and partiality and opens the door for case systems and prejudice [Rom. 2:11]. They said Jesus did not come to show men how they could secure a perfect righteousness but to show men how to live a good life that pleases God and merits God’s approval and yet James said all flesh is as grass and Isaiah said all my works are as filthy rags in God’s site. They said that Jesus did not die for man’s sins but to show man that he is to live such a committed life for God that he would die for God’s cause. They said that the death of Jesus could not stand alone that it is not enough to make a man acceptable unto God, more is needed than the love of God and the grace of Christ. They said a person must undergo the ritual of circumcision, church membership and baptism those kinds of things. They said a person must work to keep certain church rituals, ceremonies and other such things if they were to keep the love of God. [See Titus 3:5]
Note how devastating the false teaching was believers were being troubled that is bewildered, disturbed, perplexed, confused, as pointed out above they were not only turning away from the gospel but from God Himself and the glorious grace of Christ.
If you lived back in those times wouldn’t you have wanted to be sure you were going to heaven? Wouldn’t you have wanted cover all of the bases and make sure you hadn’t missed anything? Sure you would so you can understand that for 4000 years people have been observing the Law and now Paul comes on the scene and says you don’t have to do that anymore. As a matter of fact by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified and then he says in Galatians 2:21 if you could keep the law then Jesus died in vain. These Judaizer’s were teaching something that people had believed for 4000 years and now Christ dies for them and all they had to do was simply believe in that death and trust Christ to save them. But the Judaizer’s were saying in a very charismatic way that’s not enough and these people wanted to be sure. They were disturbed, perplexed and confused. Note a shocking fact how false teaching within the church is to the truth. How little addition here and a little subtraction there can distort the purity of the gospel. [Matt. 7:15; Heb. 13:9]
Have you ever thought about the things that pierce God’s heart? One of the major things is idolatry. When a person who is called turns to a false religion or a false God. [II Tim. 2:13; Phil. 1:6; Eph. 4:30; Jude v.24] and so once we’re saved we’re always saved, but we can get away from God and lose fellowship with God.
Years ago a photographer captured on film four men who were struggling to carry a statue of Buddha during the blast of a violent typhoon. As water was rushing up to their knees their faces grimaced as they attempted to save their god. Can you imagine that?
Isaiah, the prophet, framed this tragic irony; a god who cannot save and has to have the help of people [Is. 46:7]; he’s talking about a false god. Are you ever tempted to serve a false god? Christian believer let go and let it drown and then reach out to the one who saves. [Is. 43:2-5]. We need to trust the true and living God all through our life for faith is an ever growing, process.
Point #3 – Preachers of, false gospels are accursed [vv. 8-9]
Now preachers of false gospels are accursed [Gal. 1:8-9]. Paul includes himself in that. He says if I changed my mind and start preaching that you have to keep the law to be saved then I too should be accursed. A curse means doomed, damned and cast into hell. This is clearly a strong statement but it is understandable, the gospel [I Cor. 15:3-4] is the means by which men are saved out of death and condemnation. Without the gospel no person is saved, no person can inherit eternal life, scripture is clear about the matter and warns all false teachers and churches. Paul is saying here that the gospel in all its simplicity and purity is far more important than Paul, himself. The gospel is greater than the angels in heaven. Thirdly, the gospel is greater than any man. If any man, preach any other gospel he is to be accursed. The preachers of false gospels shall suffer the judgment of a double curse. The word, anathema, means to be accursed, doomed to eternal punishment, placed under the wrath of God. The idea is that of eternal death. This is one of the most severe warnings in all of scripture and note to whom it is given; it is given to teachers, false teachers. Jesus said, beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall no them by their fruits…[Matt. 7:15 and following]. See also [II Pt. 2:1]
God’s gospel is the only message and some people were turning to false gospels and those preachers of false gospels were accursed by God.
A Minister’s Life That Was Completely Changed [Gal. 1:10-16]
The aim of this lesson is to pursue a radically changed life through Jesus Christ. Memory verse is Galatians 1:10.
One of the greatest political minds of the twenty first century belonged to Lee Atwater. He was known for his keen political insight and for his questionable political techniques that would help his candidate win the election. Atwater considered politics to be war. Obviously this kind of life was meant only to please his candidate. His gospel was to win at any cost and enemies made along the way were considered to be trophies collected during the political war. One day his world came to a screeching halt, Atwater discovered he had a malignant brain tumor. All of a sudden he saw his life in a different light, during the last months of his life he accepted Jesus Christ. Lee Atwater began to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with whoever would listen and a lot of them did. He also made it a point to repent of his political sins and went to each of his self- made enemies to ask for their forgiveness. It was not long after Atwater became a Christian that he left this world for a land where there is only one politician, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now what lessons can we draw from that example? It’s a very easy thing for us to want to please men instead of God. The gospel we proclaim can become tainted with our own personal agenda and our lifestyle can offend unless we set our hearts to please God, unless we proclaim the gospel of Christ, unless we show that we are different by the example of our lives. Both critics of Paul and false teachers had arisen in the church of Galatia. They were saying that Paul’s call and the gospel he was preaching were false. That he was not a true minister of God. That he was a self-made minister, who was only using the ministry for a livelihood and other greedy purposes. Paul’s answer was direct and forceful. His message and new life were of God, his old life and old message had been radically changed.
I. He sought to please God, not men [v. 10]
II. He proclaimed the gospel [vv. 11-12]
III. He had a radical change of life [vv. 13-16]
I. He sought to please God, not men [v. 10]
The critics of Paul were saying that he was inconsistent that he sought to please men and not God. They said he was living by the law when he was with the religionist Jews and that he was living a looser life when he was with the unsaved and the Gentiles. They said he was saying one thing to one group pf people and something else to another group of people. They said he was living a life of deception and duplicity in order to secure the support of the people. Now understand Paul said he became all things to all men in order that he might win some. So when Paul was with the Jews and went to synagogue he observed all the religious rituals in worship services. After he did that with the Jews I believe he told them about the grace of Christ. He became all things in order to win some. But here Paul minces no words he fires two questions back at his critics; For do I now seek to persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? Paul answers his own questions by agreeing with his critics. If I yet seek to please men I should not be the servant of Christ. The point is clear, note the word yet; that means still. Paul is saying there was a time when he was a man pleaser, when he was after the favor of men than God. But no more, he was not still pleasing men he was seeking to please God and God alone. He now wanted one thing and one thing alone he wanted the favor and approval of God. For this reason he was the slave of Jesus Christ [Jn. 12:26]. When you serve Jesus you still want to be a blessing to the people but not at the cost of compromise. The only way you can be a blessing to men is by pleasing God.
II. He proclaimed the gospel [vv. 11-12]
Some critics of Paul were saying that he was not a true apostle of Jesus Christ because he had not been a follower of the Lord when the Lord was on the earth. Therefore what he was teaching was a man-made gospel taught by mistaken and misguided men. Note that the word certify is a solemn word; it is a strong declaration that what follows is of crucial importance and needs to be heard. Paul wants the believers to know this fact, know it beyond question that is, the gospel Paul preached was not a man-made gospel. It was not a gospel created by man’s mind, his ideas, his rationalization, his hopes, his religions, his dreams, his imagination, his science, his energy the gospel was not a human thing he said. It did not originate with man the gospel was not the good news of man but rather it was the good news of Christ. It was good news to men not of men. The gospel Paul preached was not received of man. It was not a taught message he had learned from any man. The gospel Paul preached was a direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Revelation is a truth shared by God to man a truth that man ever needs. It is crucial to this point for Paul’s call to the ministry and the gospel he preached rested upon this single fact did Jesus Christ really reveal himself and the truth of His death and resurrection to Paul or not? If Paul were lying he was not a true minister of the gospel he would be a fraud and a liar. A man who viewed the ministry only as a livelihood and to secure honor and power over people, however as Paul plainly declared he had received the gospel from direct revelation of Jesus Christ. Time and again he declares this fact. [I Tim. 2:4;Titus 1:3] The apostle Paul’s gospel was not a figment of his imagination his gospel was preached in the power of God consequently he got results. The lives of people were changed. No man-made gospel can change the hearts of men.
When George Whitfield was shaking England with the thunders of his revival preaching a certain baronet said to his friend, this man Whitfield is truly a great man he will be the founder of a new religion. A new religion said the friend. Yes said the baronet if it is not a new religion what do you call it? I say of it is nothing but the old religion revived and heated with Divine energy in a man who really believes what he says. The old fashion gospel produces old fashion conversions when it is preached under the power of the Divine Holy Spirit.
What kind of gospel does your life proclaim, a new religion or the only true gospel of Jesus Christ?
III He had a radical change of life [vv. 13-16]
Paul said you have heard of my conversion and you know that I used to persecute the church of God and I profited above my own peers in the Jewish religion and traditions of the law of God. But God called me that I might preach among the heathen and I did not confer with flesh and blood. Paul’s radical changed of life is clearly seen when comparing his present life with his former life. Paul’s former life included two terrible things, first, Paul had been the first arch-persecutor of the church. Paul had been an inflamed man who struck out more than anyone else against the early believers. [Acts 9]. Paul wasn’t persecuting Jesus he was persecuting the church. That leads me to say that if you want to do something for Jesus do unto the church. And if you want to do something against Jesus do it unto the church. Apparently Paul had launched his persecution of the church on the very day of Stephen’s death. Saul had wanted to act quickly against the church before the believers could flee and hide. The point to see is that Paul had been utterly bent on violence. He sought to stamp out the church and wipe believers off the face of the earth. Paul had been the supreme example of self-righteousness. Saul’s commitment had lain in religion and traditions of the religious leaders. His focus and fanaticism had been placed upon religion, it traditions and ceremonies but not upon God.
[Matt. 15:3; Mark 7:8] Before his conversion Paul had done all the right things except one. In spite of his zeal he was missing the mark and heading in the wrong direction.
The space ship Mariner Two made big headlines when it completed its thirty six million mile trip toward Venus. Until then we did not know very much about our closest neighbor. Most of us have forgotten that Mariner Two had a forerunner Mariner I which attempted the same journey through space. What happened that time? Well there was nothing wrong with Mariner One it was just as close to perfect as the scientist could make it but when it was launched it went off course and missed Venus by tens of thousands of miles. Why? It seemed that in typing out the electronic instructions to the missile someone had left out a little hyphen. That meant that the signals were off by one electronic impulse and of course the missile behaved or misbehaved in accordance with the faulty instructions. Damaged the project was held up for two years and eighteen million taxpayer dollars were wasted. That’s what a hyphen can cost.
In Paul’s former life the thing that threw him off course was his misguided sense of self-righteousness the hyphen that put him back on the accurate course of his life was the cross of Jesus Christ. And without the cross we will forever be lost in space. Paul’s radical change included four significant points;
1] God had set Paul apart and called him by His grace. Paul said God had saved him from
a life of self-righteousness. [Jer. 1:5; I Cor. 1:26-27; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6]
2] God called Paul has a vessel to reveal Christ [Gal. 1:16]. His primary call to Paul was
the same as it is to every believer to reveal His Son to those around them through Him.
3] God called Paul to preach Jesus Christ [Mark 15:16]
4] God called Paul to seek His gospel from God alone. Paul was not to seek his gospel
from men but from God alone. God is the source of the gospel. It does not mean that
we are not to learn from other people it does mean however that we are not to preach
the gospel of men. God has given us the gospel to study and to preach. [I Cor. 2:2]
Do you believe that your past life keeps you from changing your life now? Why? Don’t you think you can change? Have you done anything so bad that God cannot forgive you? What does this section of scripture tell you about God’s promise to you? What is the secret to having a radically changed life? What action can you take to bring this change about?
The Minister Followed God First In His Life [Gal. 1:17-24]
This is section two dealing God’s messenger and his message, which will take us all the way through chapter 2:21. The aim of this lesson is to bear a captivating testimony for Christ. The memory verse is Philippians 1:20.
What is the most exciting testimony you have ever heard in your life? What struck you the most about that testimony? If you were put on the spot today and asked to share your testimony what would it include? One of the most powerful witnessing tools is your testimony. Unfortunately many Christians have not lived the kind of life that bears a strong testimony for Jesus Christ. The life of the believer should be so strong that it becomes a trophy of what God can do in the heart of person. Now how strong a life and testimony Paul lived, notice here he was under attack from the critics in the church in Galatia, they said he spoke a false gospel. The present passage is a continuation of the former verses. Paul was proving that he was a God-called preacher and that his gospel was received from Jesus. The point is Paul sought to learn the truth from God and not from men.
I. Paul went to Arabia he got alone with God [v. 17]
II. He returned to Damascus and corrected the wrong he had previously done [v. 17]
III. He went to Jerusalem and faced his past [vv. 18-20]
IV. He went to Syria and Tarsus and faced his hometown [v. 21]
V. The result of a God centered life [v. 22-24]
I. Paul went to Arabia he got alone with God [v. 17]
The timetable of his ministry would be something like as follows;
- First, he gets saved and confesses that in Galatians 1:15-16
- Secondly, he went to Damascus and started his preaching ministry [Acts 9:9-22]
- Thirdly, his time alone with God in Arabia [Gal. 1:17], the three years could be three full years or parts of three calendar years at best Paul’s time in Arabia began at the close of Acts 9:22; for verse 23 says after that many days were fulfilled. He launched his ministry in the most natural place Damascus among the believers whom he knew.
- Fourthly, his second ministry in Damascus after returning from Arabia [Acts 9: 23-25]
- Fifth part is return to Jerusalem for fifteen days to see Peter [Gal. 1:18-19; Acts 9:23-30]
- Sixth, his ministry in and around Tarsus which seemed to last eleven years [Gal. 1:21-2:1]
- Seventh, his call by Barnabas to help him minister in Antioch [Acts 11:25-26]
- Eighth, his second trip to Jerusalem to carry relief goods during a famine [Gal. 2:1]
- Ninth, his calling and commissioning as a missionary [Acts 19:2-3]
- Tenth, his first great mission to the Gentiles to Cyprus and Galatia [Acts 13-14:28]
- Eleventh, his return to Antioch after completing his first missionary journey [Acts 14:26-28]
- Twelve, his third trip to Jerusalem to defend the gospel of grace before the Jerusalem council [Acts 15:1-30]
- Thirteenth, his return to Antioch with a message from the Jerusalem council [Acts 15: 30-35
- Fourteen, his second great mission to the Gentiles when he went into Europe [Acts 15:36-18:22]
- Fifteenth, his return to Antioch after completing his second missionary journey [Acts 18:22]
- Sixteenth, his third great mission to the Gentiles, Asia Minor and Europe [Acts 18:23-21:16]
- Seventeenth, his fourth and final trip to Jerusalem when he was arrested [Acts 21:17-26:32]
- Eighteenth, his journey to Rome as a prisoner [Acts 27:1-28:15]
- Nineteenth, his ministry in Rome while a prisoner [Acts 28:16-31]
The first thing Paul did after he got saved was to go to Arabia and get alone with God. He had just been converted and his conversion was a most dramatic experience. Paul’s former life had taken two terrible turns. First of all, Paul had been very self-righteous he had been steeped in religion and its traditions. He had felt that he was acceptable to God because he was religious and he did as much good as he could. He felt his own goodness in religion made him righteous before God. He failed to see the absolute love and perfection of God and the absolute imperfection and unlovableness of man. He was utterly deceived about the true nature of man and God. The second thing in his former life Paul had become so self-deceived that he launched a campaign of hatred and murder against the followers of Christ. The point is Paul was saved from a terrible life of sin and shame. A life steeped in as much sin and shame as a man could possibly be.
When Paul was converted he had a dire need to be alone with God. He did not need the council of men. He needed the presence and help of God and the Holy Spirit. He already knew the scriptures he had studied at the feet of the greatest religious teachers of his day but he had not known God or Jesus in a personal way. He needed time to learn how to live with Christ daily drawing confidence and strength from Jesus Christ. He desperately needed time to learn the real meaning of the scriptures and how they applied to Christ. He needed time to accurately handle the Word of Truth and how to have a daily quiet time with God. He needed to learn how to walk with Christ and follow His commandments and how to tell others the good news of salvation through Christ. [Ps. 27:14; Is. 40:31]
What stands in the way of you spending time alone with God?
II. He returned to Damascus and corrected the wrong he had previously done [v. 17]
When Paul was converted he was on his way to Damascus to cleanse Damascus of all Christians. The bitter persecution had forced many to flee for their lives leaving their families, homes and jobs. The point is this Paul had returned to Damascus to do what he could to right the terrible wrong that he had done to the believers of Damascus. He wanted to ask their forgiveness and assure them that he also had been saved and no doubt he wanted to share Christ among the believers there. He did one of the hardest things for a person to do he went back and made things right with those whom he had hurt. He wanted a fresh start. Do you?
Toward the end of the nineteenth century Swedish chemist, Alfred Noble, awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper. Alfred Noble, the inventor of dynamite who died yesterday devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before and he died a very rich man. Actually, it was Alfred’s older brother who had died the day before. A newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph. But the account had a profound effect on Noble, he decided he wanted to be known for something other than the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process. So he initiated the Noble prize the award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Noble said every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one. Few things will change us as looking at our own lives as though it is finished. Alfred Noble was fortunate he had a warning that jolted him out of his comfort zone. If you are listening to this it is not to late to go back and make things right with someone you have hurt.
III. He went to Jerusalem and faced his past [vv. 18-20]
Before his conversion Paul had lived in Jerusalem and had been one of the officials of the ruling body the Sanhedrin or else he had been close to the leaders of the Sanhedrin. We know this because the Sanhedrin had been the official body, which stood behind Paul’s attack against the Christians. Whatever the case Paul was well known in Jerusalem and knew that some of his former friends would consider him a betrayer to their religion and to their cause. Nevertheless, Paul wanted to share his testimony with as many of them that could be trusted. However, Paul’s primary reason for going to Jerusalem was to see Peter the leader of the early Christians. By sharing with Peter, Paul felt that the believers would more readily accept him and his ministry and his preaching. But notice something, the other apostles were apparently away on mission tours. Paul saw no one else but James who was pastor of the Jerusalem church. Imagine the sharing that must have taken place between Paul and Peter and as Peter shared the life of Christ while he walked with Him on the earth. Remember Paul is sharing with the Galatians for a very specific purpose to show that he had not learned the gospel from men but had received directly from the Lord Himself. Paul asserts his claim in [v. 20] by declaring that I lie not.
As much as possible believers should seek to share Christ with former friends and associates. Unbelievers need to see the change Christ can make in a person’s life. And believers should seek counsel and help from good Christian leaders as they launch their ministries. [I Pt. 3:15]
IV. He went to Syria and Tarsus and faced his hometown [v. 21]
It was Paul’s desire to share Christ with as many of his family and friends as he could [Matt. 5:16], so he went back to his hometown. Remember what Jesus said, a prophet has honor everywhere except in his hometown. Yet, Paul went back and faced those folk and let his shine and said Jesus Christ has saved me. What difficulties do you face in sharing Christ with unsaved loved ones? What would it take for every member of your family to make a commitment to Christ? What can you do to lead your family to make that commitment? It’s hard, but will your try?
V. The result of a God centered life [v. 22-24]
The results of a God centered life are two-fold. Number one, the testimony of a God centered life will spread throughout the whole area. Paul had not yet visited the churches in the area. Nevertheless, the churches in the area had heard about Paul’s conversion that he who had formerly persecuted the church was now preaching Jesus Christ. Secondly, the testimony of a God centered life stirred believers to honor God. The churches of Judea had never seen Paul but they glorified God for a strong testimony of which they had heard. [Ps. 66:16]
There is a bottom line when a Christian believer has placed God in the center of his life. Word does get out when God blesses and people want to see living examples of faith.
In the book everyday discipleship for ordinary people, Stuart Briscoe wrote this: “One of my young colleagues was officiating at the funeral of a war veteran. The dead man’s military friends wished to have a part in the service at the funeral home so they requested the pastor to accompany them down to the casket and stand there with them for a solemn moment of remembrance and then lead them out through the side door. This he proceeded to do but unfortunately the effect was somewhat marred when he picked the wrong door. The result was they marched with military precision into a broom closet. In full view of the mourners and had to beat a hasty retreat covered with confusion. This story illustrates a cardinal rule or two. First, if you are going to lead make sure you know where you are going. And second, if you’re going to follow make sure that you are going to follow someone who knows what he is doing.
Your testimony is either for God or against God. Will your testimony lead others to Christ? Will it stir believers to honor Christ? Or will it steer some innocent soul down the wrong path of life and doom them for eternity?
The Minister Defending The Gospel [2:1-10]
The aim of the lesson is to vigorously defend the gospel of Jesus Christ and the memory verse is II Timothy 1:13.
I. Paul defended the work of the gospel [vv 1-2]
II. He defended the gospel before false believers [vv 3-5]
III. He defended the gospel before any and all persons [v 6]
IV. He defended the special call given to each man to proclaim the gospel [vv 7-10]
Perry Mason, a fictional but masterful television lawyer set the standard for every successful trial attorney. In the world of television entertainment Perry Mason had been employed to defend the rights of those falsely accused. And in the course of each trial he would carefully investigate each fiber of evidence. His search for clues enhanced his client’s defense. No evidence whatsoever was overlooked. And when the case came to trial Mason had present the evidence and defend his client before a prosecutor, jury and judge. And in the end when the truth became known his client would be set free.
The apostle Paul found himself, having been put on trial of having to defend both himself, and the gospel. In the context of the trial he presented every shred of evidence and his part in it. During the closing arguments he challenged each man to present the gospel to men who were guilty of sin.
I. Paul defended the work of the gospel [vv 1-2]
It must be remembered that Paul was going to great lengths to list his Jerusalem contacts. He had to show that his call and gospel had come from Christ and not men, not even from the leaders in Jerusalem. This was absolutely necessary for the basic qualification for being an apostle was having been called by Christ, Himself. Christ had appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road. Christ had saved Paul and called Paul to be an apostle. Therefore Paul fulfilled the basic qualification. He had seen the Lord Jesus face to face. Christ had confronted him and personally called him to be an apostle. What Paul is doing in this particular verse is answering his critics. He did not visit Jerusalem to discuss his call and gospel until fourteen years after his first trip to see Peter whom he had visited for 15 days. He had been serving the Lord Jesus and preaching the gospel for years before he visited the church at Jerusalem. His call and message by years of service. God called Paul to go to Jerusalem to defend the world- wide mission work of the gospel. There were those in the church who pressing the necessity for rules and ritual for salvation. In particular the necessity of being circumcised and subjecting oneself to keep the law of Moses. Paul knew that if men were allowed to add rules and rituals to the gospel he and his preaching would be in vain. Every person who had trusted in Jesus Christ and every person who would trust in Jesus Christ for salvation would have to undergo the ritual of circumcision. They would have to focus their lives upon the law and not Jesus Christ. This is the reason God sent Paul to Jerusalem to save the message and the work of the true gospel. [John 3:16-17]
II. He defended the gospel before false believers [vv 3-5]
Paul was preaching the gospel of salvation by grace alone and this aroused some of the Jewish believers. Remember that most of the believers at Jerusalem were Jews and they had been circumcised when they were eight days old and had been steeped in the Law of Moses since childhood and some refused to forsake their Jewish religion. They saw Christianity only as an extension of Judaism. In their minds Christ had only added new teaching to their existing law and religion. Therefore if a person wished to accept Christ he had to become a Jew first, that is to undergo the ritual of circumcision and to commit himself to the Law of Moses and to perform all the ceremonies and rituals of Jewish religion. Once a person had done these things then and only then could he accept Christ and be baptized. Only then could he be accepted into the church. Paul of course had gone against these false beliefs and practices he had allowed people to receive Christ through faith by grace alone without undergoing the ritual of circumcision. It allowed people to focus upon Christ instead of the Law of Moses. This shocked those who were still loyal to the Jewish religion and they began to form an alliance and to oppose Paul vehemently. They felt he was out to destroy their religion with its form and rituals therefore they set out to discredit and destroy Paul. First by questioning his salvation and call, secondly, by denying his apostleship and ministry were of God. Thirdly, by planting their own teachers in the churches were Paul had ministered and by indoctrinating the churches with their own false teaching, and fourthly, to send their own emissaries to hound Paul and stir the people up against him to question his call and ministry. These people were called Judaizer’s and Paul’s argument was this teaching was the very opposite of the true gospel. Man, is not saved by fleshly signs such, as rituals and the law, salvation is by grace alone. Man can only accept receive God’s free gift or reject it. Titus was a perfect example of salvation by grace without ever having been circumcised and without ever having submitting to the Law of Moses. Apparently it Paul’s intention to present Titus as an example of God’s saving people by grace through faith alone without any ritual or rule whatsoever. However, when the Judaizer’s heard about Titus they planted several of their members in the church. Who reacted and demanded that Titus undergo the ritual of circumcision and make the Law of Moses the focus of his life. Note, they entered the church hypocritically and they were not true believers though Paul calls them brothers they were false brothers [Gal. 1:6-9]. They were teaching a perverted gospel and he would not tell Titus to undergo a ritual to be saved. Paul fought to preserve a pure gospel in all of its truth.
Judaizer’s were Jews who professed Christ but still held onto the Jewish religion. In particular to the rite of circumcision and the Law of Moses and we can read all about that in Acts 15:1-35. They believed a man became a Christian by first becoming a Jew. The man was to embrace Judaism with all its rituals and ceremonies, be circumcised and begin to obey the laws of Moses and then the man could accept Christ as Savior. In the mind of the circumcised Christianity was, a mixture of Judaism and the teachings of Christ. The law was just as important as Christ and Christ no more important than the Law. But they failed to grasp that first of all, Christ was the fulfillment of the law to the believer. That Christ kept the law perfectly thereby becoming the perfect man, the ideal pattern of what every man should be. They failed to grasp that Christ was not only the embodiment of the law but, so much more, the very embodiment of God, Himself. They failed to grasp that Christ as the ideal man and the Son of God was the one to whom all men were to look and obey. Some of these Jews were impressed with Christ and professed Him. But they were never able to understand or else were unwilling to accept Christ as the fulfillment of the law and thus the Savior of all men. Therefore they never turned to Christ alone, never broke away from the legalistic religion and they never broke away from requiring men, that is, Gentiles, to become Jews before they could become Christians. [Matt. 13]
This is the great problem that faced God; how to break the church away from its Judaistic roots and excluding and shutting out the other people of the world that is the Gentiles. This has always been the problem of the Jews, keeping people away from God and the glorious salvation He had planned for all people. Now, since Christ had come God had to lead the church away from its Judaistic approach, away from making a man become a Jew before he could accept Christ. This was not just the will of God for God had sent Christ into the world to save all men, not just the Jews. The message had to be carried to all. He had to break the early Jewish believers away from their legalism, away from their making distinctions between themselves and others, away from their making others become religionist before accepting Christ, away from discriminating against others, away from erecting barriers and walls for others to cross, away from being separatists and being divisive and away from their being a people of prejudice and bigotry. However, note something all through the history of the church there have been some who refused to follow Christ alone who have laid the burden of the Law and ceremony that is legalism upon people. In the past they were known as the circumcision or the Judaizer’s. In modern times they’re known as religionist or legalist.
III. He defended the gospel before any and all persons [v 6]
The critics were saying he had never been an associate of Jesus Christ nor of the other leaders of the church. How then could he be a true preacher of God? He did not have the right credentials or education and not an associate of the right religious leaders. And that is what they say today you did not go to the right seminary so we cannot accept you. Bluntly Paul declares the piercing truth God accepts no man’s persons. God shows no partiality. Secondly, no man not even a man of reputation can add anything to another man’s call or to the gospel. All believers, especially preachers need to search their heart regarding the following questions;
- How many of us seek the approval of others over the approval of God?
- How many of seek the call of churches over the call of God?
- How many seek the favor and help of men over the favor and help of God?
- How many of us seek to add to our reputation by associating with leaders instead of seeking God and His place of service?
- How many of us add and teach our own ideas, rituals and rules instead of a pure gospel? [John 15:16]
IV. He defended the special call given to each man to proclaim the gospel [vv 7-10]
Note, the word contrariwise in [v. 7], the leaders of the church did not agree with the Judaizer’s as the Judaizer’s had hoped. On the contrary they stood with and championed the call and gospel of Jesus Christ. They saw that God had called Paul to preach to the Gentiles just as God had called Peter to preach to the circumcision, the Jews. They championed the truth that God gives to every man a particular task. Now note who the leaders were in Jerusalem. James the brother of Jesus and pastor of the great Jerusalem church, and Peter and John. The point to note is that the great pillars of the church were now standing together and they were proclaiming three things at least. Number one, that salvation by grace through faith alone was the true gospel. Number two that God was the person who called Paul and all of the preachers who preach the gospel. Number three that Paul and all of the preachers should remember to minister to the poor not just to the middle classes and wealthy. [I Cor. 9:16-17] We need to make sure that no one is ever left out from hearing the gospel.
A great life insurance company in New York invited all its agents throughout the country to its conference in New York. And while in attendance one of the agents from the west insured the barber, the elevator man and a waiter in the restaurant all of whom had been employed for years by the insurance company in its great building. No one had thought to offer policies to these men in the home office building but he did. Exactly so that is the reason the professional evangelist sweeps in so many he simply improves the chance that has been there all along. But why must we wait for the evangelist to come to town?
Who needs to hear the gospel from you today?
The Minister Proclaimed The Gospel To Those Who Had Drifted Away [vv 11-21]
The aim is to build strong barriers in order to prevent backsliding. Memory verse is Galatians 2:20.
I. A believer who backslides must be confronted [vv 11-13]
II. A believer cannot have double standards [v 14]
III. A believer is justified by faith alone [vv 15-16]
IV. A man is not misled by Christ [vv 17-18]
V. A man is justified and sanctified by trusting Christ [vv 19-21]
I. A believer who backslides must be confronted [vv 11-13]
Many times believers backslide and sometimes you have to confront them with courage and sometimes you have to confront them with compassion and love. What happened is simply explained. Paul and Barnabas were the ministers of the Antioch church and they had apparently invited Peter to visit them or else Peter had taken it upon himself to conduct services in Antioch. Antioch was not only a great church but it was the first Gentile church and the first church to send missionaries forth. It was comprised mainly of Gentile believers. When Peter began his ministry in Antioch he joined right in with them fellowshipping with them, eating with them. However some Judaizer’s came to Antioch and they were astounded to find Peter eating with the Gentiles so freely even though they were Christians. Remember the Judaizer’s believed in the gospel of Christ only as an addition to Judaism. When they saw Peter doing these things they apparently jumped all over Peter and even used James name to support their position. But of course, James did not support their position or their false teaching. However Peter weakened under their attack and withdrew himself from close fellowship with the Gentiles. And when Peter withdrew himself the inevitable happened the church split. The church became tragically divided just as any church does when a man becomes a man pleaser and begins to follow critics and cliques. Note how severe the split was Peter and the other Jews separated themselves from the Gentiles and note another thing the argument was so strong the senior minister Barnabas was led to join their ranks. Paul stood alone to fight for the truth of the gospel. Another way to look at Peter’s failure was to look at three gross sins he committed. He was hypocritical. He followed the crowd even when he knew better and he esteemed some persons as better than others. Does anyone love you enough to correct you when you go astray? What can be done to not give in to tempting situations?
II. A believer cannot have double standards [v 14]
In simple language Peter was being two-faced. He was a man pleaser he ate with the Gentile Christians until the Judaizer’s arrived. He feared what the Judaizer’s would think. Peter was walking an unrighteous path not living according to the truth of the gospel. The truth of the gospel is that God loves all men. But Peter was separating himself from those who followed Christ differently than he and the mother church at Jerusalem. Secondly, Peter was walking a hypocritical path walking one way while telling others to live another way. When the Judaizer’s were not around to see him he fellowshipped with the Gentiles, but when they were around he began to be stricter and follow their lifestyle. Note, he even compelled the Gentiles to undergo the ritual of circumcision and submit to the Law of Moses in order to become a part of the true church of Jesus Christ. The fact that Peter could be led astray is a strong warning to every believer. We must guard against and unrighteous walk and not being true to the gospel. [Eph. 4:14] We must guard against a hypocritical walk, living one way while telling others to live another way. [Matt. 7:3; Lk. 6:46] Are you an honest person? If you were given an honesty test would you pass or fail? The Lord gave Peter an honesty test in the area of relationships and he failed and he proved to be hypocritical. The Christian believer is charged to be honest in his relationship to others.
The story is told of Dr. Madison Cerat, who taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years. Before giving a test the professor would admonish his class something like this. Today I am giving two examinations, one in trigonometry the other in honesty. I hope you pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry, there are many good people in the world who cannot pass trigonometry. But there are no good people in the world, who cannot pass the examination of honesty.
Have you heard it said don’t do as I do, do as I say? What expectations do you place on others that you refuse to apply to your own life?
III. A believer is justified by faith alone [vv 15-16]
Paul now identifies himself with the Jews because he was a Jew by nature that is, by birth. Note also the reference to the Gentiles as sinners. What Paul was saying was that all religionists who had believed in Christ had confessed the very same thing the rank low abased sinners had confessed. A person is justified by faith alone and not by works of the Law. By coming to Christ the Jewish religionists were confessing that their religion and rituals could not save them. They needed something much more therefore they had turned to Christ. Note three critical crucial points. Number one, a person is not justified and made acceptable to God by works or by laws. Why? Because man is short of God’s glory. An imperfect man is short of God’s glory therefore there is no work that man can do and if there was a work that man could do it would imperfect and therefore we are hopelessly lost. For what work can a man do that would make him a perfect creature? [Rom. 3:19-20] What then is our hope and how can we become justified made perfect and complete before God? God says there is only one way we must believe in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith of Christ. A person is justified by faith alone not by works. Now many a man has tried to make it to heaven without accepting Christ that is by works alone and every one of them without exception has failed. The Bible says we are justified by faith in Christ alone. Remember justification means that God counts are faith in Christ as righteousness counts are faith as acceptable to Him.
Years ago a strong wire was stretched across the Niagara River just above the falls. It was announced that a tightrope walker would walk on the wire from the American to the Canadian side. The thrilling moment for the death defying feat arrived. Great crowds watched with wide- eyed wonderment as the man performed with calm deliberateness the awesome stunt. The people just cheered wildly. Then the performer did an even more daring thing he began to push a wheelbarrow with a grooved wheel across the suspended wire. At the conclusion of this breath-taking performance thunderous applause went up. The performer observed a boy whose wonderment was clearly discernable on his bright face. Asked the man my boy do you believe I could put you in this wheelbarrow and push you over the falls. Oh yes, said the boy quickly. Then get in the wheelbarrow said the man. And instantly the boy ran away. In reality he did not believe that the tightrope walker could take him safely across the falls.
Have you ever come to the place in your life where you trust Christ enough to get in that wheelbarrow? [Rom. 8:28] If you heard what Paul said in verses 15-16 what justifies you in the sight of God? Is perfection in your own strength possible? What does God expect out of you if you cannot perfect yourself? In what practical ways does God challenge you to trust Him even when you do not know the outcome?
A closer look at the word justification, justification means to count someone righteous. It means to reckon, to account, to judge, to treat and be looked upon as righteous. It does not mean to make a man righteous. All Greek verbs which end in oun mean not to make someone something but merely to count to judge someone as something. There are three major points to note about justification. First of all why justification is necessary. Justification is necessary because of the sin and alienation of man. Man has rebelled against God and taken his life into his own hands. Man lives, as he desires fulfilling the lust of the eyes and its desires. Man lives clinging to the pride of life and to the things of the world. Man has become sinful and an enemy of God pushing God out of his life and wanting little if anything to do with God. Justification is necessary because of the anger and wrath of God. [Ps. 7:11] God is angry over man’s rebelliousness and unrighteousness, sin and desertion. Man has turned his back upon God. Man has broken the relationship with God therefore man needs to discover the answer to the question how can the relationship be restored?
Second major point about justification why God justifies a man. God justifies a man because of His Son, Jesus Christ. When a man believes in Jesus Christ God takes that man’s faith and counts it as righteousness. Man is not righteous. But God considers and credits the man’s faith as righteousness. Why is God willing to do this? Because He loves man that much and so He sent His Son to die on the cross so He could justify man. God is willing to justify man because of what His Son Jesus Christ as done for man. Several things;
#1 Jesus Christ came into the world to become the ideal righteousness for man. He came
to earth to live a sinless and perfect life.
#2 Jesus Christ came into the world to die for man. As the ideal man he could take the
sins of all the world upon Himself and die for every man.[II Cor. 5:19]
#3 Jesus Christ came into the world to arise from the dead and conquer death for man.
His resurrected life stands for the resurrected life of the believer.
The third crucial point of justification is how does God justify man? The word justify is a legal word taken from the courts and it pictures man on trial before God. Man is seen as having committed the most heinous crime because he has rebelled against and broken his relationship with God. How can he restore that relationship? Within human courts if a man is acquitted he is declared innocent. But this is not true in the Divine court for when a man appears before God he is anything but innocent. He is utterly guilty and condemned accordingly. But when a man, sincerely trust Christ then God takes that man’s faith and counts it as righteousness. By such God counts the man judges him treats him as if he were innocent. The man is not made innocent he is still guilty. He knows it and God knows it but God treats him as innocent. What an incredible act of mercy God justifies the ungodly. [Gen. 15:6; Rom. 5:1]
Faith versus works or self-righteousness
Why is it that a man can never be justified or secure righteousness by works and by law? First of all there are two ways that a man can try to secure righteousness and approach God. First a man can try to work to secure righteousness. He can do all he can to keep the law of God and to please God. But notice a man can do this only if he can keep the law perfectly never breaking anything even once or violating it a single time. [James 2:10] Man can do this only if every single thing he ever does or thinks is perfectly good and righteous and pure. A man can do this only if he can please God in every act word and thought and never displease God in anything. Only if a man can do this can he secure righteousness by works and by law. But what man can be perfect? What man can be good? What man can be righteous? What man can be pure in every single thought? It is absolutely impossible to secure righteousness by works or by law. A person may try to approach God by works and law but he can never achieve the perfection that is required to see God. [Is. 64:6]
There is a second way that a man can secure righteousness and approach God and that is to believe Jesus Christ is God’s gift of righteousness to the world. That God so loved the world that He gave His Son to live a perfect life upon the earth in order to secure the perfect and ideal righteousness for man. [John 3:16] God gave His Son to bear the judgment of unrighteousness for any man and every man. God so loved the world that He gave His Son to arise from the dead for man in order to conquer death and to give man a new and perfect life that is eternal. A man can believe that God loves him and takes his faith in Christ and counts it as righteousness. A man can believe that God loves him and accepts him because he honors His Son, Jesus Christ. If a man believes in Jesus Christ for righteousness then God will count the man righteous. [Eph. 2:8-9]
Notice another point about faith versus works. The two ways man can approach God are completely different from each other. Faith and works are incompatible. Faith is always the opposite of works. If a man works to keep the law in order to be righteous then he can offer to God only self-righteousness. Only the righteousness of the works he has done. If a man trusts the righteousness of Jesus Christ for his righteousness then he can offer the righteousness of Christ to God. He can come to God in the righteousness of Christ. A man who believes God for righteousness approaches God entirely different that a man who approaches God in his own self-righteousness, the man who approaches God in his own righteousness presents his self –righteousness to God by himself. He depends on his own righteousness. He trusts in his own righteousness. He believes in his own righteousness and he declares the he has the strength and power to make himself righteous and acceptable to God. However the man who approaches God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ presents his love and trust in Jesus Christ as his righteousness. God can never turn down a person who has trusted His Son with all of his heart. Whenever a man approaches God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and rejects depending upon himself and depends upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ, when a person gives up trust in his own righteousness and trust in the righteousness of Christ, when a person gives up believing in their own righteousness and believes in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and man declares that he does not have the power to make himself righteous and acceptable to God and trusts the power of God to make him righteous and acceptable to God that man becomes acceptable. Now notice what this is saying. A man either believes he has the power to save himself and to keep himself from dying or else he believes God has the power to save man. A man either trusts his own power for salvation in life or else he trusts God’s power. No person is ever justified by works or by law in any dispensation.
There’s one other fact about faith versus works or self-righteousness. Righteousness by works honors and makes man supreme and preeminent the center and core of life. Righteousness by faith makes God supreme and the preeminent center and core of life. God is the one to be obeyed out of appreciation and love [Rom. 2:29] There is no place for self-righteousness and a man working his way to heaven. See the following scripture references [Lk. 18:11-14]
IV A believer is never misled by Christ [vv 17-18]
Now the question is could Christ be making us sinners by our trusting that we are justified by faith alone? Some were arguing that Paul was making Christ a minister of sin. There reasoning went something like this. When men turn away from the law to trust Christ for righteousness Christ calls them to sin. For Christ made it easy for them to transgress the law. They said Christ tore down the law for he led men away from the law. For he removed the restraints and barriers of the law therefore men become transgressors by rejecting the law. And Paul says two things about this argument and they are very simple. First he said God forbid and second he said the man who tries to keep the law makes himself a sinner for it is the law that condemns him. [Gal. 3:19] So the law was added because of transgression and we have to keep that in mind. The believer rejects the righteousness, which comes by law for the law gives him no righteousness. It only shows him where his failures are. The law condemns his conscience and makes him feel miserable and broken. However the law has its place in the plan of God just as much as faith has its place in the plan of God. When a man sees what God has done for him he is driven to please God.
The poem writer said I would not work my soul to save for this my Lord hath done. But I would work like any slave for love of His dear Son.
The believe tries to be good not to earn or to win righteousness but to serve God out of appreciation for salvation. He does not try to put God in debt for salvation but he thanks God for righteousness and he sees that he owes God for whatever service he can perform. The believer understands that love is a much stronger force than fear and so he does all he can for Christ. [II Cor. 5:14-15]
V. A believer is justified by living for God [vv 19-21]
A believer lives for God by doing four things. First of all the believer lives for God by dying to the law the law shows a man that he is a sinner and comes ever so short to righteousness. The law shows man that he is to be punished and to live separated from God forever. Secondly the believer lives for God by being crucified to Christ according to verse 20. How in the world can a man be crucified with Christ when Christ lived so many centuries ago? Scripture tells how. When a man believes that Christ died for him and that Christ bore the punishment of sin for him God takes that man’s faith and counts it as having died in Christ and counts his faith as his identification with Christ in death and counts his faith as his having already been punished for sin in Christ. The scripture says the man is crucified in Christ as having already died with Christ. There’s a third thing a man can do the believer lives for Christ by allowing Christ to live through his body. Now notice something the believer is crucified with Christ yet he is still living on the earth however he is not to be the one in charge of his life. By faith he has died with Christ therefore he is to live with Christ he is to allow Christ to live in and through his body and allow Christ to be in charge of and control his body. [I Jn. 3:9] The believer is to be so emerged in Christ that it is as if Christ is walking upon the earth through the believer’s body. The believer is to be so much in union and fellowship with Christ that it is though he is as a very branch drawing his nourishment from Christ. [John 15:1-6; Romans 12:1-2] The believer lives for God by trusting the grace of God. He trusts Jesus Christ who is God’s righteousness. The word frustrate [v. 21} means to set aside, to avoid, to invalidate, to make it ineffective and nullify, to hinder. If a man sets aside the grace of God to seek righteousness by the law then Christ died in vain. The person who preaches that man can be good enough and righteous enough to be acceptable to God voids and does away with the grace of God and makes the death of Christ empty and meaningless. The only way a man can live for God is by trusting the grace and mercy of God. [Phil. 3:9] Have you ever thought of what it means to live a crucified life? Imagine the following happening in our church?
In the middle of a church service Jesus Christ walked right down the center aisle of a large church and positioned Himself behind the pulpit. As you can imagine there was great excitement a pulsating, electricity ran through the congregation. On the edge of their seats the people waited for His profound words. Go with me today to the local shopping mall and witness for me. The assembly was a little shocked by His request. After all there church was trying to do all the right things to bring people in. But because it was Jesus who was asking they decided to follow Him down to the local mall. It would be hard to witness but they would. The next week Jesus Christ came back to the church again by this time the congregation was feeling honored that He would take the time to visit their church. They sat again on the edge of their seats wondering what was He going to say. Truthfully they expected Him to ease up after lasts week difficult challenge. But this week He said go with me and comfort those who are in the prison and then go with me and visit their families and invite them by including them in your fellowship. And again everyone was shocked the mall was a safe place to share with people. That they would never see again that is hopefully. But now He was asking them to get close to people they had no desire to be around. But again because it was Jesus they did everything He asked them to do. It was awkward at times but they all lived through the experience and those visited really seemed to appreciate the efforts. Jesus came back to the same church the following week for the final time. By now they had all gotten used to His visits. They figured they had passed His test of faithfulness and that He would bless them and go on His way. As was His custom he walked to the pulpit. One man in the congregation shouted out Jesus what do you want us to do today. We’ve blocked out the whole afternoon to go with you. What’s it going to be today? Nursing homes, soup kitchens as I said we’ve scheduled the whole afternoon. With eyes that pierced their shallow hearts Jesus said, today I want you to take up your cross and follow me up that hill and die. Die they said, we don’t understand how can we serve you if we die? We’re doing a lot of good things down here and dying on a cross would ruin all the good things we’ve done.
Well, like these church people many of us have missed the meaning of the cross. Crosses were not made for carrying they were made for dying. There should be no pride in the number and weight of the crosses we carry. There purpose is for our death to ourselves. What part of you is the hardest to put to death your tongue, your thoughts, your actions? Why does it have to have such a powerful grip on your life?What can you do to squelch it out? Do you understand what it means to have the Holy Spirit living inside of you? What practical steps can you nurture and foster trusting God for His grace?
The Proof Of A Believer’s Experience [3:1-5]
That proof that a man is justified by faith alone and not by works. The aim of this lesson is to make absolutely sure that your spiritual experience is based on faith alone. The memory verse is Galatians 3:3. This passage begins the major teaching of the book of Galatians that a man is justified by faith alone and not by good works or by law. Now a man should be as good as he can be and do as much good as he can possibly do. A man should live a moral and just life like the law says. But this is not the point nor is it what scripture is saying. Scripture says that a person is not justified before God by doing good and keeping the law. For no man can do enough good or keep the law. If we are to ever inherit eternal life then God has to give to us that eternal life. The point is this how do we know that God will justify us? How do we know that God will accept us and give us life with Him forever? The answer to this question is the discussion of the present passage. There are six proofs that God will justify us by faith alone. Six proofs that God will not justify us by works and the law and these six proofs make up the outline.
I. There’s the proof of a believer’s experience [3:1-5]
II. The proof of scripture [3:6-14]
III. The proof of God’s covenant or promise [3:15-18]
IV. The proof of the law’s powerlessness [3:19-22]
V. The proof of what faith does for us [3:23-29]
VI. The proof of Christ and the fullness of time [4:1-7]
I. There’s the proof of a believer’s experience [3:1-5]
Christian songwriter, Andre Crouch captured the essence of this section when he wrote I didn’t think it could be until it happened to me and you’ll never know that is true until it happens to you. Until someone has a real experience with Jesus Christ their concept of salvation will be a foundation of works. The natural mind has no concept of grace and has no concept of faith. The Christian believers experience validates the truth of this line from a great hymn. Just as I am without one plea, note it does not say just as I will be. We cannot add one thing to our salvation experience. Christ comes to each one of us just as we are. Some influential people had joined the churches of Galatia and the churches took pride in their presence. The new members were so capable and the churches were so glad to have them that they were immediately placed in positions of leadership and teaching. However these new members had not been truly converted by Christ or else their understanding of the gospel was all confused. They began to teach that faith alone was not enough to save a person and that a person had to undergo circumcision and focus their life on the law to become acceptable to God. Now Paul’s answer is direct. The experience of the Galatian believers disproves that a person becomes acceptable to God by law. The believers experience proves that he is justified by faith alone and all he has to do is rethink his experience and he will see the truth.
I. A believer corrects errors, that is false teaching. [v. 1]
There are four reasons why a believer must correct the errors that he comes across. First, error makes a person foolish. Note that Paul calls the Galatian believers foolish. Errors make a person foolish. The word foolish means misunderstanding, thoughtless and unthinking. The Galatians were listening to false teaching and passively drinking it in and they were not thinking about what was being taught. They were not applying their minds to see if what was being taught was the truth or not. They were being foolish. The second reason why a believer must correct the errors, he comes across is because error deceives a person. The word bewitched means to fascinate, to cast a spell upon and to mislead. The false teachers were very persuasive speakers with dynamic personalities and charisma. Their teaching sounded reasonable and logical especially to a person who is not thinking.
There’s a third reason error shows disobedience. The Galatians were simply not obeying the truth. They were trying to become acceptable to God by obeying the traditions of circumcision and baptism instead of trusting the death of Jesus Christ. They were trying to become acceptable to God by subjecting themselves and focusing themselves upon the law instead of Christ. The fourth reason is that error leads a person away from Christ. This is tragic. For the true believer is a person who, has seen Christ crucified for him. The Galatians had clearly seen the death of Christ through the preaching of Paul. Paul’s preaching had plainly pointed out and explained the death of Christ. In fact the Lord’s death had been so clearly explained that it was as though the Lord Jesus had been crucified in their presence before their very eyes. There was therefore no excuse for their following false teachers. They knew what Christ had done for them. Thus we must have a commitment to correcting errors within the church. Is it any wonder that a lot of non-Christians are searching for answers elsewhere because the Christian potters are not committed to quality?
II. A believer receives the Spirit by faith not by works, nor by law. [v. 2]
Now notice this whole passage is a series of questions. Paul is stirring the Galatians to think. The present question strikes at the very heart of the Christian gospel. How did you begin the Christian life? Did you receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith Paul asks? There is one thing genuine believers know and the Galatian believers knew it too no person earns, wins, or merits the Spirit of God. Man is too polluted and to short of God’s glory to deserve the Spirit of God. A true believer knows that he cannot receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the laws. Therefore he became a Christian and received the Spirit of God by the hearing of faith in Christ. [Rom. 10:14-17]
III. A believer grows by faith. [v. 3]
Paul asks them a question in verse 3. And he says to them you have begun in the Spirit and that means, you have been, made complete by the Spirit. And now are you made complete by the flesh? No way, are you. The ceremonies of the law could not save you. They could not justify or keep one after salvation. The Indwelling Holy Spirit, His fullness and power and the working of miracles came to them only by faith and not by the law. Paul is asking them you’ve begun in the Spirit and now you think the law can make you and keep you saved? A believer does not become spiritually mature by focusing upon his flesh by what he can do with his efforts, his works, his morality, his just behavior, no matter how strong his flesh is, no matter how disciplined his flesh is or how many good deeds or laws he is able to do in his own flesh, the believers flesh does not make him grow spiritually. Focusing upon his flesh only causes the believer to focus upon himself.
No matter how many good deeds are done and no matter how many laws a man can keep they cannot make a man perfect. They cannot impart eternal life to a man. If a man is ever to be perfect enough to be acceptable to a Holy God it will be because God perfects him. Not because he has worked to become perfect through his own corruptible flesh and human efforts. Is God so low that corruptible and dying man can achieve so much? Is man so exalted that he has so little to achieve in order to be mature? An honest person and an honest heart, knows not? The only way a believer can spiritually mature and grow is to focus his mind and life upon Jesus Christ.
IV. A believer suffers by faith [v. 4]
When the Galatians had accepted Christ they had suffered ridicule and abuse and isolation and persecution from their neighbors. And apparently the persecution had continued for sometime. [Acts 14:1-7, 19, 22] The point is this if the Galatians now turned away from Christ to some false teaching then the suffering they had borne for Christ would be in vain. They would have suffered for nothing and would now appear foolish if they turned away from Christ when they had suffered so much in order to embrace Him. Let’s make some application;
Every believer who truly turns to Christ has some suffering to bear, it may be mile but some suffering is born. There’s the suffering of separating from the world. There’s the suffering of denying self. There’s the suffering of taking up the cross and dying to one’s own will and way every day. There’s the suffering of giving everything one has to Christ and His cause, that is money, time, energy and effort. The point is if Christ is worth suffering for why, then turn away to some false teaching? [Matt. 5:11] Where is it written in the Bible that a Christian believer is exempt from suffering? [see Job] A man found a cocoon of the emperor moth and took it home to watch it emerge. One day a small opening appeared and for several hours the moth struggled but couldn’t seem to force its body past a certain point. Deciding something was wrong the man took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of cocoon. The moth emerged easily its body large and swollen the wings small and shriveled. The man expected that within a few hours the wings would spread out in their natural beauty but they did not. Instead of developing to a creature free to fly the moth spent its life dragging around a swollen body and shriveled wings. The constricting cocoon and the struggle necessary to pass through the tiny openings are God’s way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings so the merciful snip of the scissors was in realty cruel. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need.
V. A believer experiences God’s miraculous working by faith not by works, nor by law.
What were the miracles experienced by the Galatians? They were miraculous works of healing. [Acts 14:8-15] But note the miracles were not due to the Galatians they were due to God. The Galatians did not earn, win or merit the miracles. They simply heard about the power of faith and they believed God. God worked miracles among them because of the hearing of faith. God honored their faith and met their needs. [Matt. 21:22; Lk. 11:9]
Our journey with Christ is meant to be a growing one. It’s meant to be full of faith and sometimes full of suffering. Our experience is to be a testimony built on Christ’s handiwork not our own efforts.
The Proof Of Scripture [Gal. 3:6-14]
The aim of the lesson is to be totally convinced by Scripture that man is justified by faith in Christ alone. Memory verse; Galatians 3:13
The proof of scripture proves that a man is justified by faith alone and not by works.
Have you ever thought what the world would be like if there were no Bible. A certain man dreamed that he went to consult his Bible and found every page blank. In amazement he rushed to his neighbor’s house, woke his neighbor out of sleep and asked to look at his neighbors Bible and they found it also to be blank. In great consternation they sought other Bibles but with the same result. Then they said we, will go to the libraries and gather quotations from books and remake our Bible. But when they examined all the books they found blank spaces where any scripture quotations had been. When the man awoke his brow was cold, yet filled with perspiration. So great had his agony been during the dream. O how dark this world would be without the Bible. Thank God that His Word will never pass away. His eternal word is the proof that we are justified by faith and by faith alone. (See earlier notes on false teachers)
I. Scripture uses Abraham to illustrate the truth [vv. 6-7]
Abraham held a unique position in the Jewish nation for he was the founder of the nation. He was the man whom God had challenged to be a witness to the other nations of the world. God had appeared to Abraham to challenge him to leave his friends, his home, his employment and his country. God made two great promises if Abraham would follow God unquestionably. Abraham would become the father of a new nation and secondly, all the nations of the world would be blessed by his seed. [Gen. 13:14-17] Note two points the Bible says that Abraham believed therefore he was judged righteous. Note it was not Abraham’s keeping of the law that justified him, in fact the law had not yet been given according to Galatians 3:17. What pleased God and what caused God to justify Abraham was Abraham doing as God had said. He simply believed the promise of God that God would give him a new life in a new nation with a new people. Only one condition was attached to the promise. Abraham had to believe God. No works whatsoever were involved. He was counted righteous because he believed God. God did not count him righteous because of who he was or what he had done. He simply believed God. God therefore took his faith and counted it as righteousness. The proof that Abraham believed God is seen in the fact that his faith preceded his obedience. If he had not believed God he would not have obeyed God. The second point is that those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. The person who believes God is the person who receives the promises of God. [Rom. 4:5-12; Gal. 3:7-9] In fact God’s promise that a nation would be born to Abraham and his seed, was the promise of an eternal nation. This eternal nation will be of another world and another dimension of being the spiritual dimension. A dimension just as real as the physical dimension, but it is to have one distinction every citizen is to be a believer. One who has believed God and His Word, this is exactly what this passage is saying. They who believe are the children of Abraham the children of God’s promise.
[Heb. 11:8-18; Gal. 3:29]
II. Scripture preached the gospel of faith to Abraham [vv. 8-9]
To Paul scripture was the very voice of God Himself, therefore Paul could just have easily had said that scripture spoke to Abraham as God spoke to Abraham. Notice Paul’s high view of scripture that’s a strong rebuke to many people. Many people today do not have such a high view of scripture they spend a lifetime changing it or denying it. Listen, scripture declared the gospel of faith long before Christ ever came. Scripture declared the gospel of faith to Abraham as stated in the former point. God told Abraham that He would accept him and bless him if Abraham believed and followed the promise of God. He believed God and separated himself from the world and therefore God accepted and judged Abraham righteous. Secondly those who are of faith are judged righteous with Abraham. Abraham was justified by believing God. What happened was this Abraham believed God and God took Abraham’s belief and counted it as righteousness in Jesus Christ. It was not Abraham’s works for he did not get circumcised until 14-17 years later but his faith God took and counted as righteousness. It was all an act of God therefore all the glory goes to God and not to Abraham. Man is saved by faith. In other words God takes that mans faith and counts that mans faith as righteousness. This has to be the case. God is perfect. God is perfectly righteous no man can achieve perfection therefore no man can live in the presence of God in his sinful condition. However God is also love therefore what God does is take a persons faith and count it as righteousness and perfection in Jesus Christ. Therefore man is able to live in the presence of God by faith or by being justified. [Titus 3:4-5] How close are you to the Word of God? Do you believe every word in it? Do you realize that you think you may understand it now and teach it as such and then 3-4 years later the Spirit will reveal to you that you have been teaching it all wrong, now you did it in ignorance you didn’t do it intentionally. How close are you to the word of God? Is it your desire to absorb it and infuse it into your life? Or do you read it and hope that something sticks.
There’s the story of a missionary in Korea who had a visit from a native convert who had lived a hundred miles away and who had walked four days to reach the mission station. The pilgrim recited proudly without a single mistake the whole of the Sermon on the Mount. The missionary was delighted but he felt he ought to warn the native that memorizing scripture was not enough. That it was necessary to practice the words as well as to memorize them. The Korean’s face lit up with many happy smiles. This is the way I learned he said. I tired to memorize it but it wouldn’t stick. So I hit upon this plan. I will memorize a verse and then find a heathen neighbor of mine and then practice it upon him. Then I found it would stick.
The Bible is not just a book about people who have changed it’s a book that changes those who read it and live out what they read. Let’s take a closer look at Abraham. God had promised Abraham an earthly son and a great earthly nation. But behind God’s promise lay something more than just an earthly human fulfillment. Abraham’s son Isaac was a type of the real earthly seed that was to come. And the Jewish nation was a type of the real nation that was to be born. [Rom. 4:1-25; 9:7-13; Heb.11:9-19] Paul gives at least two proofs for this typology. The first one is this, the word seed is singular not plural. See Galatians 3:16. God’s promise did not point to a great crowd of people but to one person. That person is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. And the nation promised is the new nation of believers that God is creating to inherit the new heavens and the new earth. [Eph. 1:9-10] This will occur after the millennium when the Son will turn over the kingdom to the Father and when the heavenly Jerusalem will come down from God out of heaven to the new earth. Then God will have His tabernacle with men [Rev. 21:3] and all His saints and angels He will gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are on earth. So that’s where believers will be. All who place faith in Jesus Christ will be part of that new nation. The second thing about this typology is that the major events of Isaac’s life parallel the life of Christ. First Isaac was miraculously born. Secondly Isaac was to be offered up as a sacrifice. Abraham believed when he razed up that knife to kill Isaac that God would resurrect him from the dead. So Isaac then is a perfect type of Christ. Thirdly, Isaac was then delivered from death by a miracle of God. [Gen. 22:10-13] Abraham knew that God was able to raise up Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise if need be. [Heb. 11:19] Now nothing could be any more precious. God said Abraham Isaac’s your seed I’m going to test your faith and see if you really believe after I’ve given you Isaac that I’m going to make a nation out of Isaac and Abraham believed that.
III. Scripture says the law puts man under the curse [vv. 10-12]
There are two applications of the word justified. In the sight of men were justified or counted righteous by works. [James 2:18, 24] In other words if we are saved men ought to see that we’re saved in the works that we do for Christ. However with God were justified by faith alone not by works either in part or in whole. [Rom. 4:5] The only kind of people justified in God’s sight are the ungodly not those who work. [Rom. 4:6] Scripture says the law puts man under a curse and note a critical point in this verse the word cursed means to be condemned and put to punishment by the righteous judgment of God. How do we know this by verse 13 where it says that Christ bore the curse of the law for us that is the condemnation due us for having broken the law. [II Cor. 3:7; Rom. 6:23]
Not only is it the mark of death but, it’s the mark of condemnation [II Cor. 3:9]. Why does the law put a curse upon men? There are two clear reasons. First of all the man who approaches God by law is cursed because he does not keep the whole Law. The second reason the law puts a curse upon men is because God’s chosen way for approaching Him is to live by faith. Scripture declares as clear as it can no man is justified by law in the sight of God. No matter how good he is or how much good he does no man can achieve perfection and be justified in the sight of God in the flesh. A man is able to live only through faith in Christ and be justified in God’s presence because of that faith. The point is this God’s way for a man to approach Him is the way of faith. The Bible says the just shall live by faith. Do you believe that men are under a curse? What steps have you taken to avoid this curse? Why do you think it is that God wants a man to approach Him by faith?
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE LAW
The law has a curse on it according to Galatians 3:10, it is the mark of death and condemnation and guilt. Alienation from God both in this life and throughout all eternity, the Bible says in Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. See also II Corinthians 3:7, here it tells us the law leads to death because, it is written and engraved in stones. See II Corinthians 3:9, so we need to take a look at this because there is a righteousness, which is of the law. See Galatians 3:12, so if a man sets out to keep all the law if it were possible for him to do that he could be saved by keeping the law. See Romans 10:5-10, now the righteousness of the law is perfect and if you could keep it perfectly it would be acceptable and would be a means of salvation. But the problem is mans righteousness is always imperfect, tainted, and sinful. The righteousness of faith is simple believe in thine heart Romans 10:9 says. Note the explanation of the way of salvation one receives righteousness by faith and then confesses his faith and the resurrected Christ with his mouth. If a man can meet every requirement of the law during his lifetime and never once fall below God’s holy standard then that man escape the penalty of sin which is death. Jesus Christ delivers man from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13 says that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Now what does this mean? It means that Jesus Christ kept the law in every single detail therefore He bore no guilt and he bore no penalty and no mark of death. He had the right to stand before God and claim eternal life. The right never to experience death He was perfect and had secured incorruptible righteousness. The glorious gospel is that instead of claiming this right for Himself He offered to give His perfection and righteousness to the people of the earth and to take their sins upon Himself. He offered to swap His righteousness for mans unrighteousness to swap His life for mans life. This glorious expression of substitutionary love was the very purpose for which God created the earth. God willed to show His great and unsearchable love that gave itself so perfectly, see Ephesians 1:5. The great tragedy is that man has so much difficulty accepting so great a love. See I Corinthians 1:18 so if you preach that one can be saved through the cross of Calvary man can’t accept that. He has to believe that he has to do something himself to be saved. That also means another thing. Jesus Christ accomplishes the same purpose that God intended for the law except much more. He not sets the ideals and standards before us but He also relates Himself to us. Where the law is a set of cold letters and no power to give life, Jesus Christ is a living person possessing the power to give life again. See Galatians 3:21. Christ has replaced the law in showing men the awfulness of their sin through His death and He adds that extra dimension of strength to live as He lived. See Galatians 5:22. The law was not only meant to be a temporary arrangement between God and man, according to Galatians 3:16, it was to extend only from Moses to Jesus Christ for Christ is the seed to whom the promise of righteousness was given. See Matthew 5:17. God never intended the law to be a way of salvation. It was for a temporary purpose of showing man their sin and its awfulness. Since Jesus Christ has come His perfect life and righteousness is to be the standard for men. The law was given to show men their sin and to instill within them a personal guilt for disobeying God and His law. See Galatians 3:19. The guilt was to lead men to seek and trust God for salvation. Thus the law stops every mouth from claiming self-righteousness and makes all, the world guilty before God. There’s another thing about the law and that is the law is inferior to God’s offer of grace. See Galatians 3:19-20. Three arguments show that the law is inferior to God’s offer of grace. First of all the law was not given directly by God. The law was given by, angels to men through Moses. Now the law came from God but He didn’t put it in the hand of Moses. Moses was a mediator but God and God alone gave the promise of grace and righteousness to Abraham. Secondly the law was between two parties’ man and God. If man kept the law he would receive the reward of righteousness. The gift of righteousness was conditional under the law. But the promise of grace was, given by God alone. No one can break that promise. If man simply believes he receives the promise of righteousness. Thirdly the giving of the law came after the promise to Abraham. The promise of grace was given first before the law. Therefore the law cannot void the promise. The promise of God stands and it will stand for all eternity. The law has no power to give life because it sets outside the being of man. The scriptures conclusive all men are lawbreakers and in need of God’s grace. The believer is no longer under the law but under grace according to Galatians 3:22. Man is unable to participate in the righteousness of the law for he is totally incapable of fulfilling the law. But can he can experience the grace of God by securing the righteousness, which Jesus Christ has secured. When a man believes in Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ judges that man righteous. That man becomes a partaker of the divine nature of God. See II Peter 1:4. The law shuts man up under sin according to Galatians 3:23. Man is a permanent prisoner under the law and put in bondage and held captive all the days of his life. The only avenue of escape is Jesus Christ. The law was mans guardian to lead him to see his need for Jesus Christ according to Galatians 3:24. The law was given to make sin openly recognized and lead men to Christ. The law shuts every mouth [Romans 3:19] leaving no hope except in Christ. The law is still in force for the unbeliever I Timothy 1:8-14. Now I Timothy verse 9 makes plain that the law was not made for a righteous man. So once we accept Jesus Christ righteousness on our behalf then we are no longer under the law. It is not in force for us. It remains in force to condemn and to lead the unbeliever to see his need for God. Men were not always transgressors, see Romans 4:15; 5:20. There is no transgression where there is no law for there is no law to transgress. But men were still sinners because they died Romans 5:12.
When Adam sinned the fountainhead of all mankind became sinful and alienated from God. Adam the father of the human race is now, superceded by Christ, in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive. No matter how righteous a man is it is appointed to man once to die Hebrews 9:27. So all the way from Adam to Moses there was no transgression because there was no law. But men still died which meant men were still sinners it was just not imputed to their account. Men were still sinners before the law was given to Moses they were just not as aware of their sin nor did they sense as much guilt as was necessary to show their need for God. For that reason the law was given that men might be more and more aware that they were sinners before God.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE WORD JUSTIFICATION OR FAITH
Habakkuk 2:3-4 – the just shall live by his faith that is have eternal life by trusting and here a great general truth is inserted in the midst of other matters and it is quoted in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The emphasis is not so much living by faith as it is about becoming a born again child of God and trusting Christ. So the Bible tells us in both testaments that the just shall live by faith. Now in Habakkuk 2:3-4 the Bible says that the just shall live by his faith. But in Romans 1:17 the scriptures say the just shall live by faith. Paul thought that we would have enough sense led by the Holy Spirit to know that he was quoting Habakkuk because he says as it is written. So Paul was talking to us in a metamorphic saying that we shall live by faith. Who can live by faith? Only the just and people make two claims to justification. The man who says I’m justified by simply doing the best I can is saying he expects God to excuse his sin. But God does not excuse sin He forgives sin. Excusing sin is nothing more than a license allowing man to go on living as he wishes and always coming up short. Therefore man is not justified by doing the best that he can by living after the law. He is justified by faith. By trusting God to forgive Him once a man has really trusted God he is just. And the just then begins to live by faith. The former man whether a legalist or a man of fleshly indulgence has no opportunity to live by faith. Why? Simply because he never started the life of faith, it’s the just, not the legalist or the man of simple indulgence who lives by faith. Secondly, the just shall live by faith, shall live Galatians 3:11, by what rule does the person live? By the principle of faith not works. The person declared just by faith shall live apart from works. The believer is saved faith and the believer lives by faith. By what power does a person live? By the power that is, given him, by God because of his faith. The Christian believes God, believes in the promises God has made therefore the believer does what God says. The power of faith energizes him to live a just life. Works have absolutely nothing to do with making man just or with keeping him just. Justified means to be free of every charge, clear of, every, guilt, justified before God just as if we had never sinned. God takes His righteousness and imputes to our unrighteous account and therefore He makes us righteous. So once we get justified what we ought to pray for is sanctification. In Romans 7 we have sanctification. You see Paul is in a battle between two captains. One is the captain of his flesh and the other is the captain of his spirit. And he’s said in my members there is a war going on and one captain is contrary to another. See Romans 7:15 – Thanks be to God our victory comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. And so he is asking after he has been justified in Romans 6, he is praying that God will sanctify him and set him apart that he might live for God daily. Now what happens if he doesn’t? Romans 7, shows us that he is in a battle and Romans 8 shows us preservation. Because Paul says who can separate us from the love of God. Can today’s present distress or tomorrow’s height or depth, persecution or peril, can anything separate us from the love of God and the answer is no nothing can separate us from the love of God. Once you’re saved you are always saved the just shall live by faith.
IV. Scripture says that Christ has redeemed us from the curse [vv. 13-14]
This applies to every dispensation. There is no dispensation where man is not saved by grace through faith. Now I know that in the tribulation it says again that those who keep the Law of Moses well that’s a different dispensation where God deals with man quite differently. But Jesus has already said no man comes to the Father except by me. Granted we are talking about the church but Dr. Hayes believes that’s anytime because the Bible says in Romans that the blood of Jesus goes back and covers all the sins of all those in the Old Testament. So when the Bible says in Galatians 3:14 that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith that means that is the only way we can be saved. Christ has redeemed us from the curse and we must accept that by faith. The word redeemed means to buy back or by from or ransom. Christ has bought back and ransomed him from the curse of the law. Now all men are redeemed but all men are not saved. When Jesus died He died for everybody and therefore whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. God’s will is for every man to be saved I Timothy 2:4. But what happens is He redeemed everybody but all men do not accept that redemption that is some men reject on their own free will. There is no such thing as irresistible grace. Now granted God speaks to you through the Holy Spirit and He wants you to accept that grace but He will not force you to take that grace. Man has a free will, but once a man gets saved he is eternally secure. How does Jesus Christ redeem us from the curse of the Law? Let’s look at a couple of ways. First Jesus Christ was a made a curse for us. Simply stated, Jesus Christ took our condemnation and doom and death and punishment upon Himself bearing each one all for us. He took our place as the lawbreaker and the guilty party before God and He bore the punishment of the lawbreaker for us. How is this possible? Well it was possible because Jesus Christ kept the law of God perfectly. He was sinless and perfect. Secondly it was possible because God is love. The glorious gospel is instead of claiming the right to live in God’s presence Christ determined to give His perfection and righteousness to the people of the earth and to take their sin upon Himself. Note the Old Testament quotation from Deuteronomy 21:23. This does not mean that a man is cursed because he is hung on a tree. Rather it means that a man who is executed upon a tree is there because he is cursed having been judged as a lawbreaker. The purpose of Jesus Christ bearing the curse of the law was to open the door of blessing to all men. Christ bearing the curse of the law was the way God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed in Abraham. It is also the way God gives to Abraham the promises He made to him.
It took a curse breaker to set us free from the guilt of sin. Jesus Christ took our place and took the curse upon Himself when He shed His blood at the cross of Calvary for our sins. In his book written in blood Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor had explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was from a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare type blood the boy was the ideal donor. Would you give your blood to Mary the doctor asked? Johnny hesitated his lower lip started to tremble and then he said sure I’ll give my blood for my sister. Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room, Mary pale and thin, Johnny robust and healthy, neither spoke but when their eyes met Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm Johnny’s smile faded he watched the blood flow through the tube with the ordeal almost over his voice slightly shaky he broke the silence. He said, Doctor when do I die. Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated. Why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life but in that brief moment he made that great decision. Each of us however has a condition more serious than that of Mary and it required Jesus Christ to give not just His blood but His life.
What are some ways you can thank Christ for going to the cross for us? Throughout the ages men have hammered away at the Word of God but as men have come and gone, the scriptures like an anvil remains unmarred. This anvil proves that a man is justified by faith.
The Proof Of God’s Covenant And Promise [Gal. 3:15-18]
The law came 430 years after God told Abraham to believe on Him for righteousness and Abraham did that, now the law comes into the picture to show man that he is a sinner and so God says I’m going to give you some standards to live by. You will see that you can’t live by those standards and place your faith in Christ finish work at the cross of Calvary. They could foresee that and they had to see that because Adam’s son Abel knew enough to bring a blood sacrifice to the altar of God and so they got it from somewhere and Adam had to have told them how God had killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve after they had sinned. They knew they were sinners. So the only way a man can be saved is by grace. The memory verse is Galatians 3:18. The aim of this lesson is to cling to the assurance of God’s promises.
I. God expects any covenant to be honored [Gal. 3:15]
There’s the illustration of a covenant made between men and a covenant is any agreement between two parties. A special relationship set up by two or more persons. The point is that once a covenant has been made and executed it stands. It cannot be annulled or added to. By law the promises of the covenant are sealed both parties are bound to keep their word or promise. Now we live in a society where promises are expected to be broken. Are you a man or woman of your word? Or are your commitments broken as a matter of convenience?
Years ago a department manager, Harry, in a retail store seemed to be bound for a steady rise up the corporate ladder in the company. As he worked faithfully and kept his witness for Christ before all the employees he was offered a position as a youth leader in a local church. With great excitement he took the offer and turned in his notice to the manager. After he turned in his resignation he asked for permission to select and train his replacement. Tim was a non- Christian friend who had been an end of Christmas lay-off casualty. Harry had befriended Tim and had shared Christ with him. Sensing an opportunity to reach out in a positive way, Harry chose Tim to be his replacement. Harry had it all figured out train Tim for a month and then, start at the church the next day. Along the way something went wrong either Harry was a good trainer or Tim was a fast learner. Tim learned the job in two weeks instead of four. Observing this the store manager called Harry in and said Harry I can’t afford to pay two men to do the same job. Are you sure this church job is a sure thing. If not I’ll keep you and release Tim. There was no struggle for Harry to answer in his heart. He had given both his job and his word to Tim. He quickly remembered the words of King David that is paraphrased he swears to his own hurt and does not change. It turned out the church position fell through but God did honor Harry’s integrity. Of course God always takes care of those who are promise keepers. Did it make a difference in Tim? You bet, years later he became one of the key employees in his company and to this day he still remembers what Harry did for him.
Are you in the habit of keeping promises that you make to others? What are the hardest promises for you to keep and why? For you what is the stronger commitment your word or your name written on a contract?
II. God made His covenant with Abraham and his seed [Gal. 3:16]
How do we know that a person is justified by faith alone? Because God made His covenant, with Abraham and his seed, note that the promise was not given to Abraham alone but to his descendants after him. The promise of the covenant with Abraham is found in the Book of Genesis. See 17:8. Who is meant by, the seed of Abraham? The answer is Jesus Christ. The word seed is singular not plural therefore God’s promise to Abraham points to one single person and that person is Jesus Christ. He is the seed promised to Abraham and He is the one who received the promises made to Abraham. This is a phenomenal truth that means three significant things. First of all it means that the promises made to Abraham have passed down to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the descendant who is to inherit the promised land the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. Canaan of course is a type of heaven. And of the new heavens and earth which God has promised to create. The point is Jesus Christ is to inherit the world and be exalted as the Sovereign Majesty of the universe ruling and reigning forever and ever. Secondly it means that believers too shall inherit the world and reign with Christ through all eternity. Abraham was promised that he would be the father of many children and believers are those children. Thirdly it means that faith is the way men become justified and acceptable before God. [Romans 4:13] In summary Abraham believed God and because he believed God kept His agreement and His promise. There is only one condition to receiving the promise and that is faith, to follow in the steps of our father Abraham. [Rom. 4:12]
III. God gave His covenant of faith before He gave the law [Gal. 3:17]
Now how can we know that a person is justified by faith alone? Because God gave His covenant to Abraham before He gave the Law to Moses. The covenant of faith preceded the covenant of law. The law of God did not even appear upon the scene until 430 years after Abraham. Note two significant things; first of all when the law was given the promise to Abraham had not even yet been fulfilled. Therefore the law could not void or change the covenant of faith with Abraham. The promises of God to Abraham and his descendant Jesus Christ still stood. The covenant of faith stands in eternity past as John 1:17 points out. Secondly Jesus Christ who is eternal existed before Abraham. The covenant of faith was given to Christ even before it was given to Abraham. The second significant thing we are to notice is that the covenant made with Abraham told men how he was to follow God and receive the promises of God and that is by faith. Therefore when the law was given it had to be given for a different purpose entirely. It could not have been given to show men how to follow God for that was already established in the covenant made with Abraham. The point is no man is justified by keeping the law. A person is justified by faith and faith alone. [Luke 21:33; I Peter 1:25]
IV. God gave His covenant or inheritance [righteousness] by promise and not by law
How do we know that a person is justified by faith and not by law? Because God gave His covenant, or inheritance, by promise, and not by, law. The whole problem of human life is to get into a right relationship with God. So long as we are afraid of God and God is a grim stranger there will be no peace in life. How can we achieve this right relationship? By abandoning our sin and come to God, then the grace of God opens its arms to us and then we are at peace with God who is no longer judge but we follow Him. That’s what happened to Abraham and nothing that comes in later can change that covenant. The inheritance given to Abraham is that of righteousness of being accepted by God and given the privilege of living forever with Him. The inheritance was not given to Abraham by law. That is Abraham could not win, earn or merit it. Scripture declares God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise. Let’s make an application. The same promise is given to believers that is to all those who walk in the faith of Abraham.
We should be thankful that God kept His promise after the law came to Moses. Can you imagine what life would be like if our justification came because of our ability to keep all the rules perfectly? Booker T. Washington describes meeting an ex-slave from Virginia in his book Up From Slavery. I found that this man had made a contract with his master. Two or three years previous to the emancipation proclamation to the effect that the slave was permitted to buy himself by paying so much per year for his body. And while he was paying for himself he was to be permitted to labor where and for whom ever he pleased. Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio he went there. When freedom came he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars not withstanding that the emancipation proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master. This black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia and placed the last dollar with interest in his hands. In talking to me about this the man told me that he knew that he did not have to pay his debt. But that he had given his word to his master and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom until he had fulfilled his promise. Now the law did not change this man’s commitment to keep his promise. Even more so the law did not change God’s plan for man. [Malachi 3:6]
The Proof Of The Law’s Powerlessness [Gal. 3:19-22]
The aim is to expose the law’s powerlessness to justify and the memory verse is 3:22.
Now one of the corny gags from the days of the vaudeville theater was someone pointing a gun at someone else and pulling the trigger and bang said the flag as it hung from the barrel. The gun looked real and it sounded real but it proved to be harmless. The law has the same effect on the Christian believer. It looks intimidating and it sounds intimidating but it is powerless. The law cannot justify us and those who claim it can justify us are just shouting bang.
I. The law was given to reveal sin to make men more aware of their sin [v. 19]
How do we know that the law does not justify or make a person acceptable to God? Because the law was given to reveal sin and make men more aware of their sins. Note a crucial fact the law was not given to make men righteous but to make men aware of their sin and condemnation and to show men that they are short of God’s glory. To stop every mouth from boasting and claiming self-righteousness and to make men aware, of there crying need for God’s help. To plant in man’s mind that he needs God to save them from their sin. [Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:24] What does God use to get your attention? Does He use other people or circumstances? Let’s illustrate.
Long ago the story was told about proud fishing pond and a fish. Across the land the fishermen would come and exclaim how clear the water was in this pond. Upon hearing yet another positive accolade the pond’s level of pride began to reach flood stage. I must be the best and clearest pond in the world the pond said. It didn’t take long for the old fish at the bottom of the pond to grow weary of this overdone pride. He had heard it for years and he the fish knew better than anyone knew what was really in this pond. Resting on the bottom of the pond the old fish began to rapidly flutter his fins. As he did the motion of the water began to stir up the silt on the bottom. It did not take long for the pond to fill up with a murky cloud. Stop what are you doing to me making me all dirty said the offended pond. The fish responded with some striking words I haven’t done a thing to you except to show what has been in you all the time. And that’s just what the law does it shows us the sin that has been in the bottom of our heart all the time. And just in case we forget who we really are the law shows us how much we need the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. The law was temporary [v. 19]
How do we know that the law does not justify or make a person acceptable to God? Because the law was temporary it had a certain course to run and when it was run it was set aside. To say that the law was temporary frightens some believers for they fear that such a teaching makes way for loose living and nothing could be further from the truth. Note what scripture says the law was added because of transgressions until the seed should come Galatians 3:19. When Jesus Christ came the law was meant to be set aside. The law was meant to extend only from Moses to Jesus is the seed to whom the promise of righteousness was given. God never intended the law to be the way of salvation. It was only for the temporary purpose of showing men there sin and its awfulness. However notice something since Christ has come His perfect life and righteousness is to be the standard for men. God gave men the life that perfectly demonstrates the law before the world’s very eyes. Jesus Christ is the pattern and demonstration of life as to how it is to be lived. Since the law was meant to be temporary until Christ came does it mean that the law has no value for men today? No. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law therefore the law and its righteousness is part of His nature. Therefore when a man looks at Jesus Christ he sees the perfection of His nature and that nature includes the righteousness of the law. To cut the law out of our Bibles would be to erase part of our understanding of Jesus Christ. The law is still in force for the unbelieving world because all unbelievers who have not trusted Jesus Christ, are trusting their own righteousness to become acceptable to God. They are still trying to come to God by the law therefore God will judge them by the law. [Romans 10:3-4] The law can still be used to convince men of sin and to restrain them from living loose and evil lives.
III. The law, was not given, by God, but through a mediator therefore it is inferior [vv. 19-20]
How do we know that the law does not justify or make a person acceptable to God? Because the law was not given directly by God but through a mediator therefore it is inferior. Two arguments show this. First of all the law was not given directly by God. It came from God but it was, given by angels, to Moses and then to man. Moses stood as a mediator between God and man and the giving of the law. Therefore the law came to man as a secondhand thing but not the promise of God. God Himself gave the promise of righteousness and His acceptance and eternal life. Abraham received the promise directly from God. Therefore the promise of God is bound to be superior to the law for it involves a more personal contact and relationship with God. Secondly the law was between two parties, man and God. In the covenant of law, man and God both have responsibilities or work to do. Man had to keep the law and if he did God would act and reward him with the gift of righteousness. The gift of righteousness was conditional under the law. However the promise of righteousness or grace was, given by God alone no one could break that promise. If man like Abraham simply believed that promise he would receive the promise of righteousness or grace.
IV. The law has no power to give life [v. 21]
How do we know that the law does not justify or make a person acceptable to God? Because the law has no power to give life, the law is only words and rules it can only inject the idea of behavior into the mind of a person. It can only demand, demand that each precept be kept and obeyed. The law is mere words cold and lifeless. The law is merely external to man, outside the body of man it has no spirit no life no power to enable a person to do the law. It cannot help man to any degree whatsoever as he tries to keep the law. The law demands obedience but it leaves man entirely on his own as he struggles to obey. The law cannot give life to man because it is not a living being with the power to give life. If it were then righteousness would have come by the law. However this is not true of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is both a person and a life therefore He is able to put spirit and life into the words and rules of the law. He is able to live the life described by the words and rules as such He is able to inject both the idea and the power to behave into any person’s mind in life. It is His life that sets the standard and rule for the believer. [Romans 8:3] Doing all the right things and having all the right titles are of no benefit to the Christian believer. There is only one thing that will grant us justification. David Seamans in his book Healing Grace wrote this story; he said that for more than six hundred years the Hapsburgs exercised political power in Europe. When Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria died in 1916 his was the last of extravagant imperial funerals. A procession of dignitaries and an elegantly dressed court personally escorted the coffin draped in the black and the gold imperial colors. To the accompaniment of somber dirges and by the light of torches the court descended the stairs of the monastery in Vienna. At the bottom was a great iron door leading to the Hapsburg family crypt. Behind the door was the cardinal archbishop of Vienna. The officer in charge followed the prescribed ceremony established centuries before. Open he cried. Who goes there responded the cardinal. We bear the remains of his emperor and apostolic majesty Franz Joseph I, by the grace of God emperor of Austria, king of Hungary defender of the faith prince of Bohemia, Moravia, Grand Duke of Lombardi, the officer continued to list the emperor’s thirty seven titles. We know not replied the cardinal, who goes there. The officer spoke again this time using a much abbreviated and less ostentatious title reserved for times of expediency. We know him not the cardinal said, who goes there. The officer tried again the third time stripping the emperor of all but the humblest of titles. We bear the body of Franz Joseph I our brother sinner like us all. At that the door swung open and Franz Joseph was admitted. In death all are reduced to the same level. Neither wealth nor fame can open the way of salvation but only God’s grace given to those who will humbly acknowledge their need.
The law is powerless it cannot open heaven’s door for you. It cannot give you life. Where have you placed your trust in the law or in Christ?
V. The law imprisons all men under sin [v. 22]
How do we know that the law does not justify or make a person acceptable to God? Because the law imprisons, all men under sin. Note three factors. First of all the scripture refers to the law of God or the scriptures conclusion that all men are lawbreakers. All men are under sin. Secondly, under sin, means to be shut up as a prisoner, in the solitary, hopeless depths, of solitary confinement, of a dungeon. [Romans 3:9,10,20] Thirdly, the great purpose of the law is stated again to drive men to seek the promise of Jesus Christ that is righteousness by faith. When men look at the law and see that they are sinners they are driven to seek a Savior. No matter who we are the law pulls us down. No one can defy the laws lethal gravitational pull. J. Vernon McGee illustrates this point for us and I quote; “He said picture a building about 24 stories high. There are three men on top of the building and the superintendent goes up to see them and warns now be careful and don’t step off this building or you’ll be killed. It would mean death for you. One of the fella’s says why this crazy superintendent is always trying to frighten people. I don’t believe that if I step off this building I will die. So he deliberately steps off into the air. Suppose that when he passes the tenth floor somebody looks out the window and asks him, well how’s it going and he says so far so good. But my friend, he hasn’t arrived yet. There’s death at the bottom. Now suppose another fella becomes frightened at what the superintendent said and he runs for the elevator or the steps and accidently slips and skids right off the edge of the building and falls to the street below. The third, fella, is thrown, off the building by, some gangsters. Now the man who was thrown off the building is just as dead as the man who deliberately stepped off and the man who accidently skidded off the building. All these men broke the law of gravitation and death was inevitable for all of them. It is in the fact you see and not the degree it is in the fact that they went over the edge. They all broke the law of gravitation.
Friend, if you’re going to take a leap. Leap into the waiting arms of Jesus Christ.
The Proof Of What Faith Does For Us [Gal. 3:23-29]
The aim of this lesson is to grasp the great benefits of faith and the memory verse is 3:29.
True belief is a spiritual commitment of one’s heart and one’s life. All that, one is and all, that one has to Christ. How do we know that we are justified by faith and not by the law and doing the best we can? Because of what faith, does for us.
Has we consider we are in this study the apostle Paul is elaborating his theme and showing that this progression from the promise [Abraham] to the law [Moses] to the fulfillment [Jesus] of the promise is more than the history of the Old Testament and of the Jewish nation. It is a biography of every man that is at least of every Christian man. Every body is either held captive by the law because he is still awaiting fulfillment of the promise or he’s delivered from the law because he has inherited the promise. More simply, every body is either living in the Old Testament or the New Testament and derives his religion either from Moses or from Jesus. In the language of this paragraph he is either under the law or in Christ. God’s purpose for our spiritual pilgrimage is that we should pass through the law and into the promise. The tragedy is that so many people separate them by one in one without the other. Some try to go to Jesus without first meeting Moses. They want to skip the Old Testament and inherit the promise of justification in Christ without the prior plan of condemnation by the law. Others go to Moses and the law to be condemned but they stay in this unhappy bondage they’re still living in the Old Testament. Their religion is a grievous yoke hard to be born. They have never gone to Christ to be set free. Both of these stages are depicted in Galatians 3:23-29. Verse 23-24 describes what we are under the law and verses 25-29 describe what we are under Christ. What were we under the law? Under bondage and the apostle Paul is going to use two similes in verses 23-24 in which the law is likened unto a prison in which we’re held captive. And then he is going to liken it to us having a schoolmaster that we might come to Christ.
I. Faith in Christ was before the law. [vv 23-25]
Faith in Christ was before the law and there are two pictures of the law seen in these verses, which clearly illustrate the purpose of the law. The first picture is the law was a prison for man. Before faith came that is Christ died, man was kept under the law. He was guarded, imprisoned, held in bondage. Very simply the law shuts man up under sin in at least three ways. One the law shows man exactly where he fails and where he comes short. There is no question about this because the law said to do this but a man did that and so he failed to obey. The failure is clearly spelled out just as clearly as a speed limit sign spells out the violation of the speeder. The law, secondly, accuses and condemns man. As soon as a person violates the law the law charges him. The law is in black and white written down so there is no question about its having been broken. Therefore it preys upon his mind and cuts and convicts his heart. Guilt and conviction take over and a man is troubled and vexed to varying degrees all dependent on the seriousness of the violation. Thirdly the law is lifeless and no power to deliver man from the punishment due him. This is the whole point the law reveals the violation and condemns man. It imprisons man. The law does not deliver man it imprisons man to bondage. It continues to point out the failures of man every time he violates it. It is ongoing therefore the only hope for man is for someone to appear on the scene with the power to release him from prison. And that someone has come to set us free, Jesus Christ. But notice something we have to choose to accept it. The choice is ours. We can believe and trust His power to deliver us from prison or we cannot believe it and stay in prison.
The second way that Paul looks at this is that the law was a schoolmaster or guardian for that man. It was man’s guardian to lead him to see his need for Christ. He was usually a trusted slave who was in charge of the child’s moral welfare. But he had one particular duty to which Paul was referring. Every day he took the child to school and delivered him to the teacher and then at the end of the day he returned for the child and brought him home safely. This was what the law was to do. It was to lead men to Christ the true teacher of faith. The law was to do this by showing man that he was utterly incapable of achieving righteousness by, himself he must look to Christ the real teacher for righteousness and acceptance by God. That is for justification by faith and once Christ (faith in Him has come) there is no need for the law nor for any other guardian because Jesus Christ brings us face to face with God. So we are either in the Old Testament under the law or in the New Testament under Christ. The law is a prison for men and why do men think that they can escape on their own? The only escape is Jesus Christ [John 14:6].
II. Faith makes us children of God [vv 26-27]
Now how do we know that we are justified by faith and not by law and doing the best that we can? Because faith makes us children, of God and Jesus Christ brings us face to face with God and He stirs God to adopt us His children. How? By faith, note two critical and crucial points. First of all it causes us to focus on God’s Son Jesus Christ. Man can rest upon one thing God will accept anyone who focuses upon His Son for God loves His Son to the ultimate degree. God is no less than any father who loves His Son. This simply means that God will honor anyone who places their faith in His Son and believes on Him for righteousness. The point is the person who tries to become acceptable to God by the law and by doing the best he can, the man who focuses upon the law and good works keeps his mind upon the law and struggles to be good. God is not the center and focus of his thoughts and life, the law and his works are. But the person who has faith in Jesus Christ focuses upon Christ and he honors God’s Son. Therefore God accepts the focus of his life as righteousness. The person becomes acceptable to God and God actually accepts the person as a child of His. How is this possible? It’s the subject of the next point faith clothes us with Christ and His righteousness. This is a most wonderful truth for it tells us that we can actually put on Christ a glorious revelation. The phrase put on is a picture of putting on clothes and covering oneself. Christ, is two things that hold great significance for us. First of all Christ is the very embodiment of righteousness. When we believe in Him God clothes us with His righteousness. Let your left hand be Christ and your right index finger be you. Now take your left hand and wrap it around your right index finger and what do you see? You see Christ covering you. And so it is with faith. When you believe in Jesus Christ your faith covers you with Christ and His righteousness. [II Cor. 5:21]
There’s a second thing and that is Christ is the Son of God. Therefore to be clothed with Christ means to be covered with His Sonship. When God looks at the believer He sees the Son, Jesus Christ covering him. Therefore He counts the believer as a son of His. This is the way we become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. [John 1:12]
A look at this word, baptism because the Bible says that as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now why did Paul switch from using the word believe to the word baptism? Why did he not say that as many of you who have believed have put on Christ? He has told us all through this epistle that surely a man can be circumcised but he can’t count on that for salvation. Those people in Galatia were teaching yes accept Christ and be circumcised and be baptized and so on and so forth. So the crux of the message is that you have to place faith in Christ to be saved. So he is certainly not coming back here and saying that you have to baptized to be saved. You see when you’re in Christ that is the inward thing that you’re to do once you accept faith. That’s what God gives you He puts Christ in you. The outward sign would be baptism. Is Paul saying that a person is saved by baptism? Any thinking person knows that there are thousands and thousands of people who have been baptized yet they are living like the devil himself. Therefore Paul could not mean that it is baptism that clothes a person with Christ. And similarly any honest and thinking person knows that there are thousands and thousands of people who profess faith and yet live like the devil himself. Therefore Paul could not mean what the general public means by faith. I know that sounds pretty strong and so lets go into it just a little bit. What Paul is saying is what scripture declares a true believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit [I Cor. 12:13]. The believer lives for Christ and as he lives for Christ it includes the ordinance of being baptized for baptism pictures his faith. Baptism is the evidence of faith. When he is in Christ that’s inwardly, Christ is in him. And outwardly he displays that the true believer does by being baptized. Now I know that a lot of people claim to be saved that are not saved and I know a lot of people that have been baptized that are still not saved. I understand that but I’m talking about what the true believer does. Why do some people think that baptism saves them? What do the scriptures say because right in the context here it says for you are all the children of God by baptism, no, for you are all the children of God by going to church, no, for you are all the children of God by doing good works, absolutely not. For you are all the children of God by singing in the choir or preaching in the pulpit, no. What does it say? For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
III. Faith in Christ makes us one it eliminates all distinctions and prejudices [v 28]
How do we know that we are justified by faith rather than by the law and doing the best that we can? Because faith in Christ Jesus makes us one and that eliminates all distinctions and prejudices. The Bible says we are all one in Galatians 3:28. This is a startling truth Jesus Christ is the answer to all the bitterness, prejudice, hatred, oppression and inequalities in the world. We are all one in Christ Jesus. What is there in Jesus Christ that makes us one? First of all every believer stands up on an equal footing before Christ, the footing of faith. No person is accepted for any reason other than faith. All people are imperfect therefore all are accepted on the basis of faith and not ability. When we look at other believers we are to see Christ not the believer we are to pay no attention to his, nationality, color, sex or social status. All that matter is that we are to grow more and more in the image of Christ. When we say that Christ has abolished these distinctions we say not that they do not exist but that they do not matter. If we walk with Christ we will notice that the petty things that divide us will fade away. How is this possible? By the cross of Calvary at the foot of the cross all the ground is level. Listen to this humorous yet sad discussion between two brothers.
In conversation with a person I recently met I asked are you a protestant or catholic? My new acquaintance said protestant. I said me too what franchise? He answered Baptist. Me too, I said, northern Baptist or southern Baptist? Northern Baptist he replied. Me too, I shouted. We continued to go back and forth and finally I asked northern conservative fundamental Baptist of the Great Lakes region council of 1879 or northern conservative fundamental Baptist of the Great Lakes region council of 1912? He replied, northern conservative fundamental Baptist of the Great Lakes region council of 1912. I said die you heretic. And that’s the way it is in the world. The point is we need to devote ourselves to the Word of God and fellowship with all those who demonstrate that in their lives.
IV. Faith in Christ makes us heirs of the promise [v. 29]
Now how do we know that we are justified by faith instead of by the law and doing the best we can? Because faith in Christ makes heirs of the promise, remember the promise to Abraham of God’s presence and blessings and leadership and being accepted by God and given the privilege of living forever in the land of Canaan the type and symbol of heaven? The point is this Jesus Christ is the heir of Abraham and therefore if a person is in Christ then he inherits the promises made to Abraham. He inherits the promise of God’s acceptance of righteousness and living forever in the new heavens and new earth as a son, of God. [Romans 8:15-17]
We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we first been to Moses to be condemned but once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation we must not stay there. We must let Moses the great, lawgiver, send us to Jesus Christ the Savior of all mankind.
THE PROOF OF CHRIST AND THE FULNESS OF TIME [4:1-7]
The aim of the lesson is to rest assured that God’s time is the right time in all things. Memory Verse: Galatians 4:4
Have you ever watched and waited for a pot of water to boil? Doesn’t it seem to take forever? In the same sense we sometimes look at God and wonder when He is going to do this and that in our lives. And no matter how impatient we get God will always do things in His time and it will always be the right time. Just as water boils at the right temperature God sent His Son into the world at the right time. God was not early and God was not late. He was right, on time. And He was just in time. Some of the churches of in Galatia were teaching that, a person is, saved, by law, that is, by being religious and doing the best they can. See earlier notes. This passage that we just read proves that man is justified by faith and not by law nor by works.
I. There was a time when the world was in bondage [vv 1-3]
An heir here in Galatians 1-3 is a young child who is under the care of guardians and trustees until the time appointed for him to receive his inheritance. And until the appointed time arrives he has no more right to the inheritance than a slave. And the point is striking there was a time when man was in bondage under the elementary things of the world. What is meant by, the elementary things of the world? Very simply it means man’s elementary notions and ideas about God and the various ways he tries to approach God. But letting scripture interpret scripture it means the first principles of the Word of God that is the sacrifices, the rituals, the observances, the ceremonies of the Old Testament. That’s what it means first. Of course to a believer it means material beyond the basic message of the gospels. [Heb. 5:12] Letting scripture interpret scripture it means philosophies, the traditions of men and the rudimentary or elementary teachings of men. See Colossians 2:8. It means the elements of the heavenly bodies of the universe. There have always, been men, who try to rule their lives, by the heavenly bodies, of the universe and the signs of the zodiac. See II Peter 3:10. So men trying to rule their lives by the heavenly bodies have been doing it wrongly and doing it in sin. It means the rules, regulations and ordinances of men. See Colossians 2:20. It means the ceremonial laws the legal yoke put upon men as they try to approach God. It means the law of the Old Testament the yoke of bondage [Gal. 5:1]. It means the observances of religious days, months and years [Gal. 4:9]. It refers to all things that men use to try and secure the favor of God. It refers to anything that man uses to try and justify himself before God. Any approach to God that is taken by man through his own energy and effort, loyal works, ritual and ceremony, church membership, ordinance, astrology and science, philosophy or religion. The point is this before Christ all approaches to God, were only elementary. No approach was the right approach for man had only a little knowledge of God an elementary knowledge that required the discipline and guidance of the law. However when everything was ready for the world to come of age and gain an adult knowledge of God Christ came to release man from the law and to reveal that man was intended to have a father son relationship with God. In Christ men are no longer to be slaves to the law they are to be sons of God. In Christ they are to enter into their inheritance [I Cor. 14:20].
How often have you heard someone in your church we have always done it this before? People are creatures of habit often to our detriment and bondage. Instead of depending upon God’s divine creativity that is the power of the cross there is tendency to get stuck on what is familiar or what we can create.
The school’s talent show was filled with young children who were more than willing to dazzle the proud parents in the audience. Of all the talent on display that night one first grader had the most unique talent. Standing on the stage he held his accordion and played one note. After a few seconds he played the same again. For his big finish he played that same note a third time. With his shoulders held erect and his head held high he stated to the amused audience that he had written that song all by myself. Like this little boy there are many Christians who get stuck on one note and then brag about how wonderful they are doing. But it takes more than one note to make up a song and it takes more than your best efforts to become free from the bondage of your fallen nature. It took Jesus Christ the new song and His completed work on the cross of Calvary to release believers from the power and bondage of the law.
Are you stuck on one note or has Christ freed you and added spiritual harmony to your life?
II. There was a fullness of time when God delivered the world [vv. 4-7]
This is one of the great passages of scripture dealing with the mission or work of God’s Son Jesus Christ. Note several significant points. God had prepared the world for the coming of Christ [Gal. 4:4]. Note that God sent His Son into the world to deliver men. It was not an angel or some other creature that God sent. Nor was it some great leader from among men. It was God’s very own Son that he sent. God cared for and loved men so much that He would send no less than His Son to deliver men from the condemnation of the law and the bondages of sin and death [John 6:38; 7:29]. Note that God sent His Son made of a woman that is born out of woman. He came into the world just as all men do through a woman. But note the most glorious truth He was sent forth by God. God spoke the Word and the woman conceived miraculously and the Virgin birth took place. God’s very own Son was sent into the world as a man to save men [Luke 1:31]. Note that God sent His Son born under the law. Jesus Christ had to live under the law in order to secure the perfect righteousness of the law for man. He had to obey the law in every single precept and stand before God as the perfect and ideal man the ideal embodiment of righteousness. He had to do what no person had ever done secure the ideal righteousness and perfection so that He could stand for all men. See Romans 8:3-4. Note, why God sent His Son; to redeem men from the curse, of the law. The law convicts us of sin. Note the result of God sending His Son to redeem men. One, believers are adopted as sons of God. Two, believers receive the assurance of being accepted by God through the Spirit of His Son. Third, believers are made heirs of God. But notice they are heirs because they are the sons of God. Both heir-ship and son-ship are through Christ that is through faith in Christ.
Let’s take a closer look at this phrase the fullness of time. The coming of Christ upon the world scene was not by chance. His coming was under the strategic time set providentially by God. His coming was not one day before or behind the appointed time. A child who is placed under the control of guardians is under their control until the day that is fixed by his father [Gal. 4:2]. God and God alone decided the fullness of time for the coming of Christ. Christ was born of a particular person at a particular time in a particular way that is His incarnation, God became flesh, under a particular system the law he shared the frustration and agony under the very system from which He came to save men. The world had been wonderfully prepared for His coming. The law had done its educational work it had shown through the Jewish nation that men are terrible transgressors. And despite all of God’s favor and blessings men still failed to worship God in love. The world now had a picture of the depraved heart of man. Secondly the world was full of people spiritually starved. The worship of self and pleasure and gods and philosophical ethics, all had left many empty and barren. The soul was now ready to have its hunger met. The world was at peace under the Roman rule therefore the world was an open door for the spread of the gospel without any restraint. The world spoke Greek as a basic language making communication with many possible from all over the world. And the world had a system of roads for mass travel, which allowed Christians missionaries to reach to the farthest parts of the earth. It also brought commercial travelers to metropolitan centers where Christian believers were concentrated. So Jesus came right, on time.
Lets take a closer look, at the word, adoption, as seen, in, Galatians 4:5. Now the word adoption means to place as a son. The picture of adoption is a beautiful picture of what God does for the believer. In the ancient world the family based on a Roman law called patria potestas the father’s power. The law gave the father absolute authority over his children so long as he lived. He could work, enslave, sell and if he wished he could pronounce the death penalty regardless of the child’s adult age the father held all power over personal and property rights. Therefore adoption was a very serious matter yet it was a common practice to ensure that a family would not become extinct by having no male children. And when a child was adopted three legal steps were taken. First of all the adopted son was adopted permanently. He could not be adopted today and disinherited tomorrow. He became a son of the father forever. He was eternally secure as a son. Secondly the adopted son immediately had all the rights of a legitimate son in the new family. Thirdly the adopted son completely lost all his rights in his old family. The adopted son was looked upon as a new person so new that old debts and obligations connected with his old family were cancelled and abolished as if they never existed. Now the Bible says several things about the believer’s adoption as a son, of God. Lets look at seven. First of all the believer’s adoption establishes a new relationship with forever. He is eternally secure as a child of God. But the new relationship is established only when a person comes to Christ through faith. Secondly the believer’s adoption establishes a new relationship with God as Father. The believer has all the rights and privileges of a genuine son, of God [I John 3:1-2]. Thirdly the believer’s adoption establishes a new dynamic experience with God as Father, a moment, by moment access into His very presence. Fourth, a believer’s adoption gives him a special relationship with the other children of God. A family relationship, that binds him with others, in an unparalleled spiritual union. Fifth the believer’s adoption makes him a new person. The believer has been taken out from under the authority and power of the world and its sin. The believer is placed as a son into the family and the authority of God. The old life with all its debts and obligations are cancelled and wiped out [Gal. 3:27; II Cor. 5:17] Sixth the believer’s adoption is to be fully realized in the future at the return of Jesus Christ [I John 3:2]. Seventh the believer’s adoption and its joy will be shared by all of creation on a cosmic scale for there is to be a new heaven and new earth.
A single rose had been placed at the front of the church was there to honor the newest member of the church family. A little boy had been born and would be raised by Christian parents who would raise him in a loving Christian home. This little boy was fortunate because he was almost aborted his nine months in his mother’s womb were spent in great uncertainty. He was conceived in sin and his mother did not want to care for him. Her options ranged from abortion to adoption. Thankfully she chose to give the gift of life to this baby boy. While she was waiting to deliver adoptive parents were sought out and secured. These willing parents wanted this little boy to become their own. He will be given their name. He will become an heir to the parents. He will become a legal member of the family and will not be given away to anyone else again. And our heavenly Father did the same thing for us. He has given each Christian believer His name. We have become joint heirs with Jesus. We are in the family of God and He will never give us away again. Have you been adopted into God’s family?
A Fivefold Appeal To Be Justified By Faith Alone [4:8-5:12]
Appeal #1 – Do Not Turn Back [Gal. 4:8-11]
The aim of this lesson is to forge ahead in our Christian work to never turn back. Memory verse: 4:9
I. Remember your former life [v 8]
Remember what you were when you were an unbeliever before you ever believed in Jesus Christ? The unbeliever is characterized by two significant traits. First of all the unbeliever does not know God. This means that he does not know God in a personal way for God’s Spirit does not dwell in the unbeliever filling the unbeliever with the fullness of God. The unbeliever does not experience God’s divine nature [II Peter 1:4]. The unbeliever does not experience God’s presence, assurance, love, life, power, confidence or His provision. The unbeliever does not have the day, by day experience of knowing God. Of experiencing the fellowship, communion, care and provisions of God and experiencing the abundant life with God. And as tragic as any of his shortcomings the unbeliever does not have the absolute assurance of living forever with God. Secondly the unbeliever serves false gods. Even before their conversion the Galatians had sensed their need for God. They had not been agnostics or atheists. They had been a religious people seeking to become acceptable to God. Their worship had been the worship of many gods including both Jupiter and Mercury. This of course meant that they had been enslaved to heathen god’s religion and worship, rituals and ceremonies, rules and regulations, superstitions and idols. The unbeliever serves gods, which by nature are not gods. By the their very nature they are not gods and how can they be for they are only a creation of the unbelievers mind. Anything that is placed before Jesus Christ is an idol.
Of course Romans 1:20 says that man knows there is a God because of creation. But lets make an application here. What most people worship is only a creation of their own minds, they have an idea of God of who He is and what He is like and they worship that idea. Few ever seek God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. If men really believed that Jesus Christ was the living revelation of God then they would study Him and His life seeking to know Him with every ounce of energy they had but few ever do. And this failure is a clear indication that they do not believe not really. And the point is this since the unbeliever does not believe in Jesus Christ the One who came to reveal God to the world then whatever he worships is a false god a figment of his imagination. On the other hand every believer needs to remember where he came from before he came to know God. God has been most merciful to us all. Therefore we must never forget that Jesus Christ has purged us from our sins. [II Peter 1:3]
II. Look at your present life [v 9]
You know God and are known by God. But now that we know God why do we desire again to turn to the weaker elements where we desire to be in bondage? We have been given the most wonderful privilege of knowing God. Or more accurately stated you are known by, God. Think about this wonderful privilege. When a person comes to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior they come to know God personally not just intellectually but in a much deeper way. For in the Bible to know means much more than just an intellectual knowledge. It means an intimate relationship. The Bible uses, the word, know to express an intimate relationship between man and wife. Adam knew eve, his wife as she conceived [Gen. 4:1] However note a critical point when a person turns away and separates himself from the world to know God the most wonderful thing happens. God accepts them and they become a son and a daughter and the person becomes known by God. This is exactly what scripture says [II Cor. 6:17-18; Isaiah 43:1]
III. Consider your turning back [vv 9-11]
The Galatians were about to turn back to the elementary things about God, does this mean that they were about to turn back to the pagan, idolatrous worship? No that is not what they were about to turn back to. What were they turning back to? The false teachers and the Judaizer’s were teaching that a man was approached God by the law and works. They were teaching that a man was to approach God by doing the best that he could do. Of course this is what all religious people do no matter their religion. They try to please their god and secure their god’s approval by doing what pleases him. This means that all religions except Christianity are religions of works and law. Therefore if the Galatians subjected themselves to the law and to works they would be returning to a life of bondage, the bondage, of working, to get God, to pay attention, to them and to receive and accept them.
The crucial point is this there is no difference between seeking God through the law and seeking God through pagan worship the foundation of all, religious seeking, except Christianity is the same. That of working to keep the laws to please a person’s god with a little g. That of doing good so a person’s god will accept them. Note that Paul calls man’s elementary notions of God weak and beggarly. First of all the law and other approaches to God are weak in that they are helpless to in saving man. The law itself could only point out man’s sin but it could never justify and make him acceptable to God. Secondly, the law and other approaches to God are beggarly that is worthless in saving a man. The law itself is meaningless and of no use whatsoever in justifying and making man acceptable to God. It is not the law or man’s works or attempts to be good that saves him. Paul illustrates this point by pointing to special religious holidays. The point is that ritual, ceremony and the keeping of religious days will not justify or make a person acceptable before God. Christ and Christ alone and faith in Him is what saves Him.
Note the results of backsliding or turning back to the world and seeking to please God by self-effort and self-righteousness. There’s, a couple of things that we need to say about that. First of all a person becomes enslaved in that he tries to please God by keeping the rules of the law but he finds he cannot. But he still slavishly tries to no avail for the man finds himself still in the bondages of sin and death. He still sins and dies and there is no absolute assurance within of eternal life. And it is the lack of assurance of knowing that one is acceptable to God that is so enslaving. The question and doubt of living with God gnaws and gnaws at man always without the sure knowledge and assurance of God’s love. Perfect assurance, confidence and security come only through faith in Christ. Secondly a person lives a wasted life for every approach fails except for Jesus Christ, because every approach leads to death and condemnation. Therefore every approach to God except for Jesus Christ is a wasted life. [Lk. 9:62; 10:38] We’re not talking about loss of salvation. We’re talking about being saved and yet living a carnal worldly life and being backslidden and being out of fellowship with God. What things would cause a believer to backslide? Perhaps some elimination will come through this story.
A boy scout was really excited about going on the annual winter camping trip. With a couple of feet of snow on the ground the setting was perfect for a good weekend. His was one of the first troops to hike in and set up camp. The boy, scout along with his troop forged into the wilderness. Upon arrival they set up camp and prepared for the weekend adventure. After pitching his tent the boy, scout realized that he had left something in the bus. So he proceeded to take the long walk back to the bus, which was, a few miles away. Feeling confident in his retriever skills he did not take care to look for the important landmarks that would show him the way back to camp. Coming back from the bus proved to be an unplanned adventure. In confusion from other scouts setting up their own camps caused him to question which path to take. After a while every path looked the same to say that he was getting worried would be an obvious observation. How could I have missed it? If only I could find something or someone familiar. Now that backslider is a lot like this confused boy, scout. They forget to set familiar landmarks in place to keep themselves on track. Now what are those landmarks? Regular time in God’s Word, frequent prayer and accountable, fellowship with other believers, what ever happened to that backslidden boy, scout you might be wondering? Every approach to his camp ended in failure. Hours later his scout master, found him and brought him back to the camp. And that is exactly what the great scout, master, the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, does for His wayward sheep. He finds them and brings them back to Himself.
Friend, you have come too far to turn back now. There is no sense in backsliding and getting out of fellowship with God. Take the risk and follow hard after God and review these three main points.
Appeal #2 To Re-stir Affection For The Preacher Of God [4:12-20]
The aim of this lesson is to strongly support your preacher in word and in deed. Memory verse: Hebrews 13:17. What is one of the most important missions of the preachers of God? One of the most vital duties is to restore sheep that have strayed away from the Lord. Backsliding people need appeal after appeal for they are walking a dangerous course when they turn their backs upon God. Also a backslidden person is usually alienated from his preacher. He wants little to do with the minister when he is turning away from God. The Galatian churches went even further because the false teachers and persecutors of Paul had begun to attack both his person and his ministry. They were tearing down his character any way they could. And there was a great danger that the churches would reject his ministry and therefore Paul had to do all he could to stop the mess and save the churches from destruction and apostasy. This passage is an appeal to believers to remember and restore their affection for the preachers of God.
I. Treat the minister of God as a brother [v 12]
Remember that some of the churches in Galatia were criticizing and attacking Paul. Note several crucial facts. First of all Paul called them brothers and did not treat them as enemies not even as antagonist. He did not murmur complain or even attack them. Rather the very opposite is true. He sensed and expressed a deep affection for them. Secondly Paul begged them and beseeched them from the heart of a true minister of God. Thirdly, Paul begged them to be as he was for he had become one of them. He had always loved and cared and shown affection for them and he wanted them to do the same of him not to abandon him and turn against him and his ministry. Paul wanted them to remain a Gentile who had accepted Christ by faith and not return to Jewish law in seeking God’s approval. Fourthly Paul assured them that what they had done had not injured him at all. He had absolutely no bitterness, anger or malice against them. The heart of a true preacher is seen in Galatians 12. We must love no matter what happens.
II. Welcome true ministers of God [vv 13-16]
There are three areas in which the true minister should be welcome. First of all true ministers should be welcome in their witness. Now notice the Galatians had welcomed Paul when he had first preached the gospel to them. And they had clearly responded to his message. They did not question his call to preach, nor the message, that he preached. There was no criticism or censoring of his person or preaching. There arms were wide open and their hearts were receptive. Notice that Paul was appealing for the same spirit of welcome and receptivity now. No other characteristic should characterize God’s people not toward the minister of God. Secondly true preachers should be welcome even in the infirmities and weakness of their flesh but too often this is not true. Churches and believers sometimes abandon and ignore the minister of God when he is stricken in body or in spirit. When Paul first went to the Galatian churches he was stricken with some infirmity. Just what the infirmity was is not known although the best guess seems to be some serious eye problem according to verse 15. The point is the Galatians did not despise him or reject him they received him as an angel or a messenger from God Himself. And this last fact stresses just how wide open the welcome was to Paul. There was no lack in receiving and caring for the minister of God. They would have even plucked out their own eyes and given them to Paul if they had been able. Thirdly true ministers should be welcomed in the truth they proclaim. Paul had been proclaiming the truth that is a person is justified by faith and not by law or works. Not by trying to earn God’s acceptance by doing good deeds here and there. Was the church going to treat Paul as an enemy because they had told them the truth? [Phil. 2:29] Preach the truth in love and not in retaliation or self-interest.
III. Guard against and reject false preachers [v 17]
The false teachers (Judaizer’s) were zealous in their teaching and they were out to secure as large a following as possible. Note how they went about it; by excluding the people and trying to separate them from the minister of God. They not only sought people through the merits of their own teaching but they attacked and tore down the minister in order to alienate the people from the preacher. Note the difference between what Paul the preacher was doing when compared to what the false teachers were doing. Or to put it in the form of a question what is the difference between the evangelistic efforts of the true preacher of God and false teachers? False teachers seek to focus people upon the law, rituals, ceremonies, rules and regulations, upon something that requires man to work at being good or doing good in order to become acceptable to God. And the true preacher of God seeks to focus people upon Jesus Christ, God Himself, His love, honor and praise, upon the fact that God Himself has provided the way for man to become acceptable to Him and that way is through His Son Jesus Christ. [Matt. 7:15; I Tim. 4:1-2]
IV. Receive true preachers always [vv 18-20]
Paul said the church should always receive ministers who seek to do well. Preachers, who labor for the churches welfare, now notice that he was encouraging the church, to not only accept his ministry but the ministry of other true preachers. They must reject false preachers [II John vv 9-11] tell us to have nothing to do with false preachers. However we must receive true ministers in order to grow in Christ. Paul himself demonstrated three reasons why the church is to receive true preachers of God. First of all, true preachers hold believers in their hearts as dear children. Secondly, true ministers agonize over the growth of children. They seek Christ to be formed in the believers and they want believers living as Christ lived and conformed to the image of Christ. [Matt. 23:37] Thirdly, true ministers guard the church against error. Now notice if there is any doubt about the matter he warns the church [Phil. 3:18]. No believer or church should ever reject the ministry of a preacher who seeks to help them and, grow them in Christ.
Appeal #3 Listen To What The Law Really Says [4:21-31]
The aim of this lesson is to, fine tune, our spiritual hearing and understanding. Memory verse: Galatians 4:28
Noted radio announcer Paul Harvey is noted for his famous phrase and now for the rest of the story and this is exactly the apostle Paul’s point to the churches of Galatia. There were some church members who did not fully understand all that the law was saying. What they needed was an adjustment to their spiritual hearing and once that adjustment was made then they too would come to know the rest of the story. And that is the way to heaven is not by works or by law. A person cannot do enough works nor keep enough laws to be perfectly good. And for a person to live in God’s presence he has to be perfect. What then is the way to heaven? By faith in the promise of God, God has promised heaven to those who believe in His Son. However most people in the world do not believe the promise of God. They still think that you have to earn and work their way into the favor of God. That they have to build up a long list of good works that will force God to accept them they think that they have to make themselves righteous by doing religious things and being good in order to enter heaven. Therefore they place themselves under the rules and regulations of the law and they do the best they can to make it to heaven and this is the appeal of this passage. The person who approaches God through the works of religion and law must listen to what the law really says.
I. Understanding #1 – A person must hear the law and grasp its implication [v 21]
The legalist and religionist are persons who approach God by the law or by the works of goodness or religion. The legalist and religionist needs to hear and really understand what they are doing just how they are trying to reach God. They need to understand the implication of what they are doing.
II. Understanding #2 – Abraham had two sons [vv 22-23]
Abraham had two sons. One son had been promised, by God to Abraham through his wife, Sarah. However many years passed without Sarah’s having a child. She seemed incapable, she became discouraged, so she sent a slave girl, Hagar, into Abraham. And Hagar bore a son, Ishmael. Sometime later however God kept His promise and the impossible happened, Sarah, well beyond child bearing, years bore a son and his name was Isaac. Now note the facts about Ishmael. He was born through a natural process. He was born into slavery being born of a slave girl. He was born because of the work, effort and will of Sarah. He was born of the fleshly impulses, urges and attractions of Abraham. Now note the facts about Isaac. He was born as a free man born of a free woman, Sarah. He was born by the promise of God alone. God had promised Abraham that Sarah would bear a son and when Isaac was born Abraham and Sarah were both well beyond the years of child bearing. Isaac was a miracle child born miraculously by the working of God all because God had promised Abraham, a son. Isaac was therefore a promised child. And the point is this and it must be remembered Ishmael the child born by human ingenuity, energy and effort was born into slavery. But Isaac the child promised by God was born miraculously by the promise of God. By His love and power alone all because He had made the promise. Isaac was born by the grace of God and by the grace of God alone. We must remember that even are best efforts fall short of gaining a place in heaven. It has to be grace and grace alone. Listen to this humorous story that illustrates the point so well.
In his mission field a certain missionary had to do many things for himself and his family. When the baby grew too big for the carriage he started to build a bed for the child. And after he had prepared the wood he glued the pieces and was ready to complete the bed. His wife thought it was too cold to work in the shed so he brought the materials into the kitchen and started to work. When the bed was finished the baby was brought to the kitchen and placed in it while his parents looked on admiringly. And suddenly the father had a disquieting thought, suppose the bed would not go through the door? Quickly he measured the door and found the bed one inch too wide to pass through. Now there are many people who spend their time building their lives according to the plan of this world. They take great pride in their work. The day will come when they suddenly realize the measurements will not allow them to pass through heaven’s door.
III. Understanding #3 – The two mothers represent two covenants [vv 24-28]
Paul says that these things are an allegory that is an illustration of truth can be seen and drawn from the event. Now when looking closely at the story we can see how the two mothers represent the covenant of law and the covenant of promise. Hagar was a type of the old covenant between God and man that is she was a type of the law. And two things are said about the law. Hagar that is the law bears children to slavery. The law says do this and do not do that. It demands and insists on obedience. It enslaves a person to do exactly what it says. Therefore if a person hopes to approach God in his own goodness, merit, virtue, morality and righteousness he is in bondage to the law. He must keep it in order to be good and moral and righteous and to earn the favor of God. The law of rules and regulations of righteousness enslaves people. Paul is not saying that the law is not good we are to live morally and righteously but we are not acceptable to God because of our goodness and self-efforts. We do not save ourselves and therefore we are not to be praised because of our works and goodness. Praise belongs to God because God is the one who saves us this is what is being discussed. And Hagar, which represents the law, also represents the very center of a religion of law and works, which was Jerusalem of that day according to verse 25. Note Paul makes two connections to stress the point. He says Hagar stands for Mount Sinai the mount in Arabia where the law was given. And he says Hagar and Mount Sinai both picture the very center of religion of law and works the Jerusalem of that day. Of course Hagar also pictures any religion, church, people or person who seeks to be righteous and acceptable to God and heaven through works and law. Now on the other hand, Sarah was a type of the New covenant between God and man. The covenant, grace and promise. Now two things are said about the grace and promise of God to man. First of all Sarah that is grace is seen in the Jerusalem above which is the heavenly Jerusalem. Heavenly Jerusalem is the spiritual city, which God has promised to those who approach Him through faith. Secondly, Sarah represents grace and the promise of a heavenly city, which are all free, to any person who accepts God’s promise of a heavenly city, which is eternal. Who accepts his promise enough to believe it with all of his heart basing all he is and all he has upon that promise is acceptable to God. God takes the man’s sheer faith the faith that has cast itself totally upon the promise of God and counts it as the man’s righteousness therefore the man becomes acceptable to God. He is given the promise of God freely and without price without having to keep the rules and laws. Note a second result as well the covenant of grace ends up with more children than the Jewish legalist. This is a prophecy, which simply predicted that more Gentiles would believe the grace of God than Jews. [Is. 55:1] Our faith is imputed counted as the righteousness, which we lack within ourselves, and this is the glorious promise of God’s grace. Man can now inherit the glorious promise of the Promised Land and live eternally with God. [Rom. 4:13-14]
IV. Understanding #4 – Legalism persecutes and enslaves believers [v 29]
Ishmael ridiculed, persecuted and mocked Isaac and Paul draws upon this very fact to show why believers are being persecuted. It is because men try to approach God in the flesh that is by their own energy and their own efforts in trying to be good and righteous. The person in the flesh trying to consciously or subconsciously is trying to secure credit, esteem, approval, recognition, acceptance and praise from God all by his own energy and effort. Therefore he mocks and persecutes the believer who says that self-effort and self-righteousness are not enough and will not make a person acceptable to God. Secondly a person in the flesh has to confess human weakness and inadequacy that is he cannot make himself acceptable to God because he is too sinful, too short of God’s glory, too unrighteous, too unholy, too polluted, too helpless, hopeless and too undeserving. The person in the flesh refuses to accept this fact. He wants to think highly of himself and place himself on a level close to God. Therefore when a believer comes along and says that a person has to be born again by the Spirit of God the natural man reacts. He refuses to accept the fact that his own energy and effort is unable to make earn, win and merit God’s approval. [Matt. 5:11]
V. Understanding #5 – Legalism is to be cast out and have no inheritance [v 30]
The law cannot co-exist with the grace of God. The son of Hagar shall not be heir with the son of Sarah that is grace. The fact of coming judgment could not be illustrated any clearer Ishmael was cast out so that he would not share in the inheritance with Isaac. Now that does not mean that Ishmael could not have believed and been saved. He was just not the child of promise he represented the law. But if he sought God and God’s righteousness and God’s salvation then he could’ve been saved. But God will never accept anyone who approaches Him by law or by works because the person has to stand before God saying, God here are my works, my goodness and my righteousness, a list of laws I have kept and a list of my contributions. Such a claim is merely deceptive and it is boasting and bragging of what you have done in the flesh. No matter how much of these works that we present to God they will not make us good enough for they do not make us perfect. But not so for the person of promise because the person of promise approaches God saying Father you are my Savior and Lord and I believe with all my heart that Christ died for me and I cast myself to His keeping. [Rom. 4:13]
VI. Understanding #6 – Legalism has no claim upon the children of grace [v 31]
Believers are the children of grace not of law the fact is clearly seen in all that has been said above. Believers, all men if the would accept the fact have so much for which to thank God. God has loved the world and demonstrated His love beyond any thing any person could ever ask. [John 3:16] God gives each of His children the assurance of His eternal care for them. Legalism cannot have us anymore we are now the children of grace. This reality gives the Christian believer peace of mind.
I. What your duty, as a minister toward false teaching, must be.
I. You as a preacher and other false teachers or heretics.
You must make sure that you yourself are genuine and not a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing. [Matt. 7:15] So obviously there were false teachers in Jesus’ day and the forecast that in our day there would be false teachers out there who appeared to be everything that a true preacher is but inwardly they were ravening wolves. We must constantly be examining ourselves. Am I sure that I am a genuine teacher of the truth?
False teachers start out as excellent examples of society but they lack two things. A life and a testimony changed by the Word of God [II Cor. 11:13-15] They go about doing what they know to do not knowing that what they do is corrupt and evil [Matt. 7:17] They appear as sheep but they consume all they can in order to fill whatever appetite, personal conviction or doctrine that they have. Some are out for nothing more than personal gain and comfort. False preachers have not been, put into the ministry, by God [I Tim. 1:12; II Cor. 4:4]; we must guard against preaching anything that would take away from the Word of God. [II John v 7] As a preacher your confession and preaching ought to be examined by believers this is reason enough for us to test ourselves. What a man believes about Jesus Christ either makes the man true or false. To the false teacher Jesus Christ is a great teacher but he does not believe that Jesus is the only way to God because he does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
A person who cast away some of the Word of God and turns and twists the truth of the Christ of scripture is called a heretic in the scriptures. How many people, have been, led astray by those, who are called heretics, in the scripture those who do not teach the doctrine of the scriptures. Two reasons are given as to why the false teacher teaches a false doctrine. First a false teacher does not consent to the words of Jesus Christ. The false teacher is just not willing to attach himself to Jesus Christ. Secondly the false teacher does not consent to the teachings of godliness. He is not willing to accept the righteousness of God revealed in Jesus Christ. He is not willing to set himself apart from the world, nor to set himself wholly unto God. One or both of these reasons is why the false teacher does not teach the words of Christ. But rather chooses to teach a different doctrine and a different way of life. He has committed his life to the profession of the ministry as a way to serve mankind and as a way to earn a livelihood. But he has not committed to represent Christ and His Word. As a result, the person, is called, a false teacher by both, the Holy Scriptures and Jesus Christ. [I Tim. 6:3-5] points out four reasons why a person is called a false teacher. Pride is the destruction of any preacher. The great preacher and teacher is not a purveyor of his own ideas he is an echo of God.
[See Rom. 16:15-17; II Tim. 3:5; II John 10-11]; is further evidence, to stay away, from false teachers.
II. You and other gospels; you must not pervert the gospel of Christ and preach another. [Gal. 1:6-10; Acts 20:29-30] you will be accursed if you preach another gospel because the gospel is the means by which men can be saved. Men are saved by the gospel not by the doctrines of men. Every person who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ shall be accursed. The false teacher shall suffer God’s eternal wrath. [Matt. 7:15,19,22,23; 23:33]
You must not bring destructive heresies into the church [II Peter 2:1] As a preacher of Christ you must not bring destructive heresies into the church that deny the Lord and His love for man. Heresies are any teaching that is contrary to the scriptures. [II Peter 1:19-21] To trample the blood of Jesus Christ underfoot is a terrible thing to do. You must not preach another Jesus other than the Jesus proclaimed by the scriptures. [II Cor. 11:4,13-15] As a preacher you must fear the preaching of another Jesus, this passage of scripture points out five significant points of false preachers preaching another Jesus. The strategy of Satan is to turn men away from the truth.
III. You and false doctrine and teaching; you must not teach the traditions and ideas of men as doctrine. [Matt. 15:6-9; Titus 1:14] You must not set aside God’s Word for tradition those things that give order and security for religious rituals. [Mark 7:13]. You must not be hypocritical by teaching the things of God and yet not personally receiving Christ as the Messiah and Savior of the world. As a minister you must guard against this danger by maintaining my personal walk with the Lord. We must guard against worshiping with an empty heart. [John 14:6; 17:17; I John 3:23]
We as preachers are to turn away from empty talk and the opposition of false science and knowledge. We are charged to do two things first we must keep that which is committed to our trust (the Gospel) and secondly we must turn away from false teaching. [II Tim. 4:1-3] See also Luke 8:13; 9:62; Rev. 2:4; Mark 8:15. Two things are needed if we are to take heed active thought and a discerning mind. We are to focus upon love and the teaching of love. The love we are to know and possess comes from three sources. First, from a pure heart, secondly from a clean conscience and thirdly from sincere faith in God’s Word only. We must commit our lives to know the love of God and live the love of God more and more. [I Tim. 4:1-2; Titus 1:10; Ecclesiastes 10:13] You cannot put your own ambitions and personal ideas above the truth. [Matt. 15:9; 22:29; I Tim. 6:3-5]
Galatians 5 – The Five fold appeal to be justified by faith alone [4:8-5:12]
Appeal #4 Stand fast in the liberty of Christ [5:1-6]
The aim of this lesson is to stand fast and live victoriously in the liberty given by Christ. Memory Verse; Galatians 5:1
It was the American patriot Patrick Henry who said give, me liberty or give me death. Henry knew what it was like to live under the thumb of a tyrant. Along the way he had good fortune to get a small taste of liberty and once he had tasted liberty his taste buds exploded with flavor the bland taste of bondage would never satisfy him again. In the same sense the law is a tyrant it shows no mercy and hates anything in the way of freedom. Anyone who welds, himself to the law will be entangled in the chains of bondage. What is the alternative to the Christian believer? The answer is simple liberty in Christ but why and how?
I. Stand fast because Christ has freed the believer [v 1]
Notice two things about this; first of all when a person believes in Jesus Christ he is freed from the law and its enslaving power. He no longer has to worry if he is good enough or if he has done enough good works to be acceptable to God. Why? Because Christ has fulfilled the law for him when Christ was on the earth he fulfilled the law perfectly he never violated it He was sinless. Therefore He secured the ideal righteousness and stood before God has the perfect man. But Christ did something else much more wonderful it was not enough for the ideal righteousness to be secured for man. There was also the problem of the penalty of the law and once the law had been broken the penalty had been enacted and it had to be paid. And this is the glorious message of the cross and what the glorious message of Christ is all about. He not only secured the ideal righteousness for us He took the penalty our trespasses upon, Himself and, bore them. If righteousness has been secured for all of us that have believed and if the punishment for our, transgressions have, been paid then we stand before God perfect and free from transgression and acceptable to God. Does this mean this mean everyone is accepted by God and covered by the life and death of Jesus? No and the reason is easily seen because not everyone accepts. Now all have been redeemed but all have not been saved. Not everyone accepts what Jesus has done for, them and not everyone believes in Jesus. Jesus Christ has set us free and we do stand in the liberty He has bought but only if we believe. If we do not receive the gift then we do not have it. The point is this Christ has freed the believer from the bondage of the law therefore we must stand fast in the liberty He has provided for us. The second thing about verse 1 is that the Galatians were about to become entangled again with the yoke of bondage. False teachers had arisen who were teaching that the basic work of Christ was to live as a great example and to bring up the great teachings of God. That is, they accepted Jesus as the Son of God but they did not accept the teaching of salvation by grace. They taught that Christ came to give us a new approach to God and add new teachings to the law. Therefore a person was still to approach God by undergoing the basic ritual of Jewish religion that is circumcision or by committing himself to the law or by observing all the rituals and ceremonies of Jewish religion. Now all of this of course sounds familiar to every generation for if we simply omit the word Jewish the three stipulations are seen to be present in so many teachings, religions and churches of our society today. The only person who will ever be acceptable before God is the person who stands free of sin and condemnation and set free by God’s very own son. [Rom. 8:2-3]
A duck hunter was with a friend in the wide-open land of southeastern Georgia for away on the horizon he noticed a cloud of smoke soon he could hear cracking as the wind shifted and he realized the terrible truth a brushfire was advancing so fast they couldn’t outrun it. Rifling through his pockets he soon found what he was looking for a book of matches. He lit a small fire around the two of them and soon they were standing in a circle of blackened earth waiting for the fire to come and they didn’t have to wait long. They covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and braced themselves. The fire came near and swept over them but they were completely unharmed and untouched. Fire cannot pass where fire has already passed. The law is like a brushfire I cannot escape it but if I stand in the burned over place not a hair on my head will be singed. Christ death is the burned over place. There I huddle hardly believing yet relieved the law is powerful yet powerless Christ death has disarmed it.
II. Stand fast because the law is not God’s way for man to be justified [vv 2-4]
The key verse to this is Romans 5:2 a believer stands in grace. Now three significant warnings are issued and the first warning is this if a person is ritualized Christ shall profit him nothing. Ritualized means a person is counting on some religious thing to make him acceptable unto God. In the case of the Galatians it was the ritual of circumcision but it can apply to anything. If a person tries to gain God’s acceptance by any other means than Christ then Christ shall profit him nothing. If a person is ritualized then he has to keep the whole law because he has accepted the law as the way to God [James 2:10]. The third point if a person seeks to be justified by law Christ can have no effect upon him for he has fallen from grace. What’s this mean? It means that they must not turn away from Christ and become apostates denying Christ. To deny Christ righteousness and death is bound to lead to the doom of the apostate. We must always remember that Paul himself said he was to be accursed if he preached any other gospel than Jesus Christ. Eternal security is not the issue here as is often the case. The issue is God’s very own Son, His righteousness and death, His very life and work, His honor and person no person who ever lived will be allowed to tamper with the righteousness of God’s dear Son. [Matt. 7:22-23; Rom. 3:20] If a person chooses to go the way of the law and live according to self-righteousness then they are rejecting God’s grace and they are fallen away from the grace of God that God was presenting to them as a free gift. In by no means is this teaching that a Christian is fallen from God’s grace by getting saved and then backsliding into the world the Bible never teaches that. A person falls from grace when they elect to keep the law instead of accepting the blood of Christ.
III. Stand fast because the hope of righteousness is by faith [vv 5-6]
The hope of the believer is for righteousness and hope does not mean the uncertainty of worldly hope that the believer might or might not secure righteousness before God. The believer’s hope is in the righteousness of Christ and it is as sure as God exists. Hope in the Bible means it is certain. The hope of righteousness is the Spirit of God, the presence who indwells the believer who stirs the hope and give us absolute assurance that Christ will do as He says. Neither undergoing a ritual (circumcision) nor being without a ritual brings hope. Neither having or keeping the law nor being without law brings hope. Neither working for righteousness or not working for righteousness brings hope. Nothing can give us the sheer hope of righteousness except Jesus Christ. The hope of righteousness comes by faith wrought by love. It was God who sent His Son to secure our righteousness [John 3:16]. If you realize that hope means it is something you can know for certain then you are going to be a much happier Christian in your Christian life and your daily walk in this world. [Rom. 8:3-4]
Appeal #5 – Let’s Obey The Truth [5:7-12]
The aim of the lesson is to stop backsliding and obey the truth. Memory Verse: 5:7.
A constant frustration for sailboat owners is barnacles. These tiny sea creatures attach themselves to the hull of the boat for the sailor who wants to keep his boat in ship-shape condition the barnacles must be removed. If the Christian believer wants to be in the best shape he too must be free of worldly attachments. And how is this done? He must stop backsliding by scrapping away the barnacles of sin until he sees the surface of the truth.
The Galatian churches were backslidden. They were turning away from the truth and Christ Himself. The only hope for any backslider is to turn to Christ and obey the truth.
I. Obey the truth because the Christian life is a race [v 7]
The Galatian churches had been running the race well. Having believed in Christ they had been running for Christ and living pure lives and bearing testimony for Him. They had been worshiping and serving Him with a great zeal. They had been living what they were professing. There had been no false professions about them. No counterfeit and no hypocrisy. They had not been Sunday only Christians. They had been busy for Christ seven days a week and people from all over the cities had been coming to know Christ. But notice something, some persons had stepped in and had become to hinder their running the Christian race. Some false teachers had arisen in the churches of Galatia. However the present reference is to a single individual apparently one person had taken charge becoming a ringleader of the false teaching. The word, hinder, means to cut in, to edge in and to obstruct. The picture is still that of running track. While the Galatians had been running the Christian race some had edged in on them and had begun to hinder and interfere with their running. They were no longer obeying the truth they were know trying to reach God by some other way than Christ. In [I John 1:8-2:2] we can easily see that if these people were saved then they were secure. But their fellowship had been broken with God that is if they were trying to approach Christ by some other than God and that’s what they were doing. They were now thinking that God had accepted them because they had been ritualized, circumcised and baptized. They were now thinking that God accepted them because they tried to keep the law. They tried to be as good as they could and they did good deeds as opportunity arose. They were now thinking that God approved of them because they were faithful to the church its rituals, ceremonies, rules and regulations. In other words they were no longer running well they had allowed some false teaching to hinder them and to turn them from the truth. They had a desperate need to think about the race they had been running and to think about, who it was that was now hindering their running. [I Cor. 9:24; Heb. 12:1] Has anyone tried to hinder you in your Christian race? Listen to this illustration of a little boy who knew how to keep on course.
The story goes this way. Dennis wasn’t a big fella but he played Little League baseball. His knowledge of the game made up for any lack of size. On a particular summer day he swung at the ball with all his might and to his amazement ball rocketed off his bat in the general direction of leftfield and so off he ran. As he rounded first base his head was down in doing so he failed to see if the ball had landed in fair or foul territory. Before he arrived at second base the second baseman on the other team flagged in Dennis and said go back it was a foul ball. Without hesitation Dennis ignored the second baseman and slid safely into second base. The umpire whose opinion mattered most signaled that the ball was fair. Now what is the lesson for us here? Well the lesson is to keep on running until the umpire of our souls, Jesus Christ, tells us to go back. We need to ignore any other voice that would hinder us running ahead to the next base. Fair or foul? Fair ball keep on running to the Lord in Him you will always be called safe.
II. Obey the truth for God called you to freedom [v 8]
Notice how concise and forceful this statement is it is direct and to the point. This persuasion does not come from Him who called you. Now the Greek word is persuasion. Any persuasion, any position, any teaching that leads away from the truth of Jesus Christ is not of God. God and God alone determines how He can be approached and He has already determined it a person approaches God through the righteousness and death of Jesus Christ. There’s no other way to be justified and saved other than by God’s Son. There is absolutely no other way to approach God. Therefore any person who teaches otherwise is teaching a false doctrine. And the person’s persuasion and teaching is no the persuasion of God. [Acts 4:12; John 14:6]
III. Obey the truth for a little untruth corrupts the whole [v 9]
What I’m about to say is a picture of the majority of churches today. Leaven stands for evil and corruption, fermentation and infection, it takes only a little leaven to permeate and influence the whole lump of dough. So it is with false teachers. Paul was referring only to the ringleader in this passage. Once one false teacher can inject his false teaching into the church and it will soon permeate and influence the whole church. This is what Paul and scripture are proclaiming if the Galatians did not rule out the false teaching the whole church would soon be corrupted and the church would soon be destroyed. Jesus Christ would no longer be the focus of the churches attention. The church and its people would be focused upon the rituals, ceremonies and good works instead of upon Christ. They would be trying to approach God on the basis of their own goodness and merit. Jesus Christ would soon be placed on the back burner, de-emphasized and lost sight of by many. His prominence and the absolute necessity of His righteousness and His death would be diminished and downplayed. This always happens when false teaching is allowed in the church. The only answer to false teaching is that you must root it out. [Matt. 16:12; Col. 2:8] Is there any way that you can avoid the corruption that falsehood brings to your culture?
There once was an old fashioned prophet who came to a large city. His agenda was pretty simple he said, “repent or perish.” At first glance many of the cities residents listened to his sermons but after a few days they went back to doing what they wanted to do. Listening to this prophet was not on their list of things to do. But the prophet did not stop preaching. Everyday he would stand in the marketplace and preach to those within the sound of his voice. A shopkeeper approached the prophet and asked why are you still preaching no one’s paying any attention to you? The prophet narrowed his eyes and responded I’m preaching so the hardness of the gospel will not change me. Are you allowing a little evil into your life each day? Most of us do. Or are you binding yourself to God so closely that evil has no room to get in? Don’t compromise and allow the leaven of the world to water down the gospel. You must preach the truth. Friend a little untruth corrupts the whole.
IV. Obey the truth for the minister of God has confidence in you [v 10]
What an amazing statement when you think about all that has been written in the book of Galatians and the attacks against Paul and the seriousness of the false teaching that had threatened the church, Paul’s confidence in the Galatians is shocking. However note that his confidence in through the Lord. That is the Galatians could overcome the false teaching only through the Lord and come out victorious. In fact Paul had confidence that the churches would heed his warning and turn back to the Lord and begin to obey the truth. The only false teaching or any other difficulty in the church can be handled is through the Lord [Jude vv 24-25] Jesus Christ is the only One who can keep us from falling and we need to remember that.
V. Obey the truth for false teachers will be judged [vv 10-12]
Now the fact is stated in no uncertain terms the false teacher who was troubling the church would bear the judgment of God. Paul gave four reasons while false teachers will be judged. First, because they trouble the church and its believers, by trouble is meant to unsettle and disturb. The false teachers were loosening the cords of faith in Christ. Disturbing the security and lives of the believers and the ministry of the churches. They were misleading believers and defiling the church of God with their false teaching. [I Cor. 3:17] Secondly false teachers shall be judged because they spread falsehood about the preacher of Jesus Christ. Paul did not preach that ritual was needed for salvation but false teachers were saying that he did. However the fact that Paul did not preach circumcision was the main reason the Jews persecuted him so much. And that is the reason Paul simply asked why am I persecuted by, the Jews so much if I preach salvation by ritual? That is circumcision, baptism or church membership. The point is this the false teachers had attacked Paul and attempted to discredit him and his ministry among the believers and one thing God does not tolerate is an attack on his anointed [Rom. 14:4] Thirdly, false teachers shall be judged because they are offended by the cross of Christ. Paul preached the cross that a person was justified and only acceptable to God through faith in Christ. The false teachers were offended by this and caused them to stumble in their approach to God. They had taught that the death of Jesus Christ was not enough to make a person acceptable to God. The cross was not sufficient by itself more was needed. A person, had to be ritualized, circumcised and baptized, and subject, themselves to the law of God. Salvation by works and law is false teaching salvation is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ and Him alone. Fourth reason false teachers shall be judged is because they deserve condemnation. Paul is gripped with an intense emotion here he wished that false teachers would just go and castrate themselves here, just cut themselves completely off. Now this is a repulsive thought to some and maybe rightly so for false teaching is the most serious offense and nothing surpasses it and particularly when it adds to or takes away from the cross of Christ. God gave His Son to die for men and if men miss His Son they miss the righteousness necessary to live in the presence of God. There is no other righteousness or death that can stand for man’s death not to God. God only accepts Christ death. If a man wants to come to God he must come through Jesus Christ. [Matt. 16:27; II Cor. 5:10]
The Believers Life And Walk It Should Be Free And Spiritual [Gal. 5:13-15]
The aim of this lesson is to demonstrate the love of God on a daily basis. Memory verse: 5:14. This begins the last section of Galatians and up until now everything has dealt with doctrine now Paul begins to deal with the practical day, to day affairs of the believer. Paul has six very practical subjects to discuss and bunching all six subjects together a simple title would be The Believers Life And Walk Should Be Free And Spiritual. In these few verses we have the believers great law of life, a walk combating the great enemy of life that is the lust of the flesh, a walk bearing God’s nature the fruit of the Spirit, a walk restoring the man who slips and a walk doing good to one’s teacher and a walk boasting in the cross of Christ.
Have you ever received a letter in the mail that informed you of some great news like congratulations you have been pre-approved to use our credit card we think so much of you that we have extended your limit to $7500 dollars. At once your spending motor begins to turn on as you begin to visualize all those things you cannot afford. But that does not matter just charge it and all of a sudden you are tempted to cross the line between liberty and license, your in a dilemma how do you draw the line and control yourself? Jesus Christ has set the believer free from having to make decisions over and over again. You face the same temptations in your Christian life day, after day but fortunately the believer no longer has to work in order to secure God’s approval and acceptance. The believer is accepted by, God through the work of Jesus Christ however there is a critical fact that must always be remembered and that is Christian liberty is not a license that is being free to sin and so what a person likes. Christian liberty is being free not to sin. It is being free to overcome the passions and urges of the flesh that unceasingly wage war against the better judgment of man. The believer is a person who is so conscious of the Indwelling Holy Spirit and His power that he is able to purge and cleanse himself and to love his neighbor as himself. The point is this, the believer is not to walk in sin for he loves God and loves his neighbor. [I John 3:23]
I. Love is necessary we’ll talk about liberty versus license [v 13]
It has been well established that the believer can never become good by the law or by how much good he does. He knows that he far short of God’s glory and he understands that God loved him enough to send His Son to take his place and provide an opportunity for him to come to God. [John 3:16] When a person believes that God’s Son is his Savior God takes that man’s faith and counts it as righteousness. However having said this notice two things. First of all there’s a danger of license. A question really needs to be asked if Christ sets us free from the law does this mean that a person can believe in Christ and then live as he wants doing his own thing? Can he use his liberty as an occasion to satisfy the flesh knowing that God will forgive him? Can a person continue to seek the things of the world and give way to the desires and lust of the flesh? Can he believe in Christ and still live in worldliness? Yes he can. God will allow you as a believer to do anything you want to do but Galatians 6:7 says, Be not deceived God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. If a person says you can believe in God but can’t live in worldliness they just don’t know the Bible. Because you look at the parable of the sower and the parable of the soil there are four kinds of soil mentioned and one of those soils describes a worldly Christian and Paul talked about carnal Christians in I Corinthians 3. In the Bible belief does not mean just intellectual belief something in the mind belief means a very committed belief to believe something with one’s life. To believe Christ is to commit one’s soul to Him just think about it for a moment and it becomes very clear. If a person does not commit his soul to Christ he does not believe in Christ. Watch out for Lordship salvation that is these people who teach that if He is Lord at all He is Lord of all. Jesus Christ is not Lord of the believer’s sin as a matter of fact He is totally against it. And so to say that He is Lord over all would make Him Lord over your sins. Now if you say you haven’t sinned then you are calling God a liar [I John 1:8]. Now a person could not believe not really for if he really believed he would beyond all question give all he is and has to the Son of God. [Rom. 6:16; Heb. 5:9] Now to obey Him means to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is He died was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures and Paul said many times he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. So the obeying here is to obey his plea to accept Christ. Then there is the restraint of love. A person who thinks that believing in Christ gives him license to sin does not understand what love is. And this is the subject of the present passage. The true believer is free from having to secure God’s approval by law but love is the one restraint that is placed upon him. The believer needs no restraint but love. There are at least two reasons for this. God has loved him so the person who truly sees the love of God is drawn to love God and to love all of God’s creatures [II Cor. 5:14-15] The second reason is that love embraces all the commandments of God. [Matt. 22:36-40] The point is we should love God enough to walk in the Spirit but we have to remember that Romans 7 says we still have two natures within us. There is the old nature, which says give in to the flesh and there is the new nature walk according to the rules of God. There is an old saying that says, give a man enough rope and he will hang himself. And somehow some Christians feel that God’s love gives them enough rope that is license to explore the sins of the world. Listen to this example of a person who took advantage of God’ love.
My name is Sidney the sheep. I had the good fortune of belonging to the good shepherd. He treated me with great respect and provided me with the greatest care and I really had it made. He made me to lie down in green pastures and when I got thirsty he led me beside quiet waters. When I felt bad inside, he restoreth my soul. I could always count on him to lead me in the right path a path of righteousness. Sometimes life got really scary as I faced the shadows of death. But my good shepherd stayed with me and brought comfort to my troubled heart and kept me secure from the enemies who surrounded me. Life with him has been wonderful. He has promised to help me even when I stray from his side. I could kick myself with each of my four legs when I allow myself to be drawn to the other side of the fence the grass just looks greener at times but as I sample the grass I quickly realize that I have been deceived when will I ever learn to trust Christ for everything that I need? Have you tried the world’s green pastures? Then you will also come to realize what Sidney the sheep did and that is looks can be deceiving.
II. Love is serving others [v 14]
A believer is free in Christ he is set free of all law restraints and works. He is under absolutely nothing but Christ. He lives in Christ moves and has his being in Christ. The love of Christ is his law and restraint. Why? Because Christ love the believer served and gave Himself for the believer and the believer knows it. Therefore the believer loves Christ with all of his heart and life and he wants to please Christ and do all he can to serve Christ. And this is just the point how can the believer serve Christ? He does it by doing exactly as Christ did by loving and serving one another. Love is always unconditional and seeks to minister and serve others. [Matt. 20:28]
III. Love is not offending but cares for one’s neighbor [v 14]
It must be admitted that if a person cared for everyone else as much as he cared for himself he would need no law he would be living and doing exactly what he should. This is the reason love fulfills the law because love does not take advantage of other people. Love will not use other people to fulfill one’s own greed or lust. Love will not hurt someone else any more than we would want someone to hurt us. Love involves some very practical acts that are spelled out in scripture. [I Cor.13:4-7; Rom.13:8-10]
IV. Love is not biting it does not devour one another [v 15]
A.T. Robertson says that the picture of biting and devouring is the picture of a fight between a dog and a cat or of a fight between wild animals. Biting and devouring implies much more than just feuding and fighting. Men bite and devour each other when the violate each other for example nothing tanks a hunk out of a person anymore than the fighting that goes on between a wife and a husband. However love respects the other person no matter who he is or what he has done. Love does not bite and destroy others in any way whatsoever. Love does not snap, expose, hurt, slander, sensor, criticize, accuse, misuse, gossip, exploit, love does not take away from others. [James 4:2; Proverbs 10:12]
Our liberty in Christ provides us with freedom not to indulge the flesh but to control the flesh; freedom not to exploit our neighbor but to serve our neighbor; freedom not to serve the law but to fulfill the law. Everyone who has been truly set free by Jesus Christ expresses his liberty in these three ways. First is self-control, secondly in loving service to his neighbor and thirdly in obedience to the law of his God. This is the freedom to which Christ has set us free according to Galatians 5:1 and to which we were called according to Galatians 5:13. We are to stand firm in this freedom never relapsing into slavery on the one hand nor falling into license on the other.
The Believer’s Life And Walk It Should Be Free And It Should Be Spiritual
A Walk Combating The Great Enemy Of Life The Lust Of The Flesh [5:16-21]
When Christian people are overtaken in a fault they will read these verses and take them out of context or hear them preached that way and they will hear you can’t do such things and go to heaven. That is absolutely false because God saves sinners and once He saves sinners they are not perfect and sometimes they fall in and give way to the flesh and it is tragic when they do because they fall out of fellowship with God. However I John 1:9 says that God is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus will plead His righteousness on our behalf and God will accept that. We were in bondage but in Christ we have liberty. But some relapse into bondage and others use their liberty as a license.
Everyone who has been truly set free by Jesus Christ expresses his liberty in these three ways. First is self-control, secondly in loving service to his neighbor and thirdly in obedience to the law of his God. This is the freedom to which Christ has set us free according to Galatians 5:1 and to which we were called according to Galatians 5:13. We are to stand firm in this freedom never relapsing into slavery on the one hand nor falling into license on the other. Here Paul elaborates this theme and it is simply full of the Holy Spirit as a matter of fact He is mentioned seven times by name. He is presented as our sanctifier who alone can oppose and subdue our flesh, enable us to fulfill the law so that we are delivered from its harsh dominion and cause the fruit of righteousness to grow in our lives. So the enjoyment of Christian liberty depends on the Holy Spirit. True it is Christ that sets us free but without the continuing and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit our liberty is to degenerate into license. The theme of what we are talking about now can be divided into two, the fact of Christian conflict and the way of Christian victory. You will notice that when we talk about these things this list of things the flesh does they seem to belong to at least four different categories. That is sex, religion, society and drink. The first realm sex and it talks about immorality, impurity and lasciviousness. The second realm deals with religion and it talks about idolatry and sorcery. The third realm deals with society and it talks about quarrels, envy, fits of rage and selfish ambition or temper tantrums and causing dissension. The fourth realm is of drink and it talks about carousing, revellings, drunkenness, orgies and that kind of thing. We must apply the fruit of the Spirit because that is the way of Christian victory. In applying the fruit of the Spirit we must also at the same time crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit. When we do that as we study it we will see that deeds of the flesh are many and are evil. That the fruit of the Spirit is lovely and desirable that flesh and Spirit are in continuous conflict with each other so that by ourselves we cannot do what we won’t to do and that our duty is to crucify the flesh and its evil ways and to walk by the Spirit fostering the Spirit’s good ways and this victory is within the reach of every Christian. Our task is to take time each day to remember these truths about, ourselves and to live accordingly. If we our crucified to the flesh, which we have then we are to leave it nailed securely to the cross of Calvary where it deserves to be. We are not to finger the nails of the cross of Calvary. And if we live in the Spirit which we do then we should walk in the Spirit so that when the tempter comes with evil insinuations we must round on him savagely and say I belong to Christ I have crucified the flesh it is all together out of the question that I should even dream of taking it down from the cross. The Spirit dwells within and I shall live according to the Spirit’s rule and I shall try in all, my, endeavor to let the Spirit rule my life.
A Walk Combating the Great Enemy of Life the Lust of the Flesh and the aim of this lesson is to crucify the lust of the flesh. Memory Verse: 5:16
Do you experience the victorious Christian life or would you compare your life to that of a prisoner of war? Can your life be described by this graphic testimony and I quote. I lost my freedom while fighting in the spiritual war. Years ago the enemy surrounded me and forced me to surrender unconditionally and now I stare through the fence of bondage and long for the freedom that was once mine. Everyday I listen to propaganda from the enemy that there is no hope for escape. I’m asking you can you relate to any of this man’s testimony? I certainly can. Often we forget how to escape from the lust of the flesh and through this message God will remind us once again how to escape as well as how to stay free. We must let the Spirit rule in our life and if we do then we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
I. The answer to conquering the lust of the flesh; Holy Spirit [vv 16-18]
The believer is to walk in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and this is the only conceivable way he can keep from fulfilling the lust of the flesh. No person has the power to control the lust of the flesh within, himself. And the reason why is clearly seen by the four reasons given in scripture. First of all the flesh fights for dominance. It lusts against the Spirit and struggles and fights against it. The word lust means a yearning passion for. Every person has experienced the flesh yearning and pulling and desiring and wanting and craving and hungering and thirsting and longing and grasping and grabbing and taking. Every, person, knows what it is to have their flesh longing after something. The flesh is very strong and very difficult to control. This is why the believer’s only hope to control the flesh is the Holy Spirit. Secondly the flesh is contrary to the Spirit. The flesh has within itself a base and unregulated passions. A man senses and desires to do what he likes and follow his own passions. However the genuine believer has another force within his life the force of the Holy Spirit. And when the believer feels the constraint and the pressure between the flesh and the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit is given the power to overcome the flesh. The constraint is the power and the believer who listens to the constraint and walks away from the object of the pressure and calls upon God for the courage to stay away is the believer who walks in the Spirit at that given time. The believer is to know no such thing as a peaceful co-existence between the flesh and the Spirit. Thirdly, the flesh keeps a person from doing what he should. Every person has experienced the power of the flesh and everyone has caved in and done something he did not want to do. He knew it was harmful, hurtful yet he did not resist the power of the flesh he gave in and did it. He overate or got drunk or committed adultery or fornication or he cheated, lied or stole something. But notice something else all of us have been tempted but we have known how to combat and overcome the temptation. But we didn’t we gave in and did what we knew we should not do and the point is this, the flesh is so strong that it can keep us from doing what we know we should do. The only hope of controlling the flesh is to walk in the Spirit of God in His presence and in His power. [Rom. 7:15-20] This was Paul’s condition after he was saved. Only when we get saved can we experience the struggle the only way he could know that he was doing those things that he did not want to do was by the Spirit convicting him and telling him so it had to be a man after he was saved. The fourth reason is the flesh fails to keep the law. The flesh causes us to fail and no matter how much we try we cannot keep the law and we fail. What then is the answer? The Spirit of God is the answer [I John 3:9] because that Seed is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit and if you apply the Word of God and the Holy Spirit you will not sin in a given situation. Being filled with the Holy Spirit frees us to live as Jesus Christ lived. We live with the power of Christ and sense of living with Christ forever. And even when the believer sins and guilt sets in there is a tug, a power the Holy Spirit that draws him back to God and he asks forgiveness of God [I John 1:9]. And immediately upon asking the Holy Spirit instills an instantaneous assurance of cleansing and the believe feels free and full of life again. He is filled with the Spirit of life both now and forever. That is why Paul said [Romans 8:2-4]. Friend inch by inch is a cinch yet yard by yard is mighty hard. Don’t be left holding your rope alone walk in the Spirit and let the Spirit hold the rope with you.
II. The works or acts of the flesh [vv 19-21]
Remember we are talking about a Christian life under review and the reason the list is here is to warn the believer that he may fall into such sin. The context of Galatians 5:16-21 dictates that we be walking in the Spirit or else we will be overtaken in a fall. The works or acts of the flesh show just how strong the flesh is, but note a fact of extreme importance the flesh in itself is not sinful. It, the human body is given by God for God’s use and when a person comes to Christ their body becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. the Christian is not told to cleanse himself from the flesh but from the lust of the flesh [Gal. 5:16], the filthiness of the flesh [II Cor. 7:1], and from the works of the flesh [Gal. 5:19]. The works of the flesh are the fruit of sin within us and sin originates from the heart and it does not originate in the flesh. The sins of the flesh listed are found in all of society. The very presence of such fleshly sins shows just how helpless man is to control them and how strong the flesh is. There is the lust of the flesh, which causes a man or woman to commit sexual sins. King David was a man who committed adultery and yet he was a man after God own heart and he will be in heaven. So we have to be careful about taking this literally it is talking about a Christian who is out of fellowship with God. One who openly, manifest, a lifestyle is one who is not saved generally speaking. Fornication is a broad word that includes all types of immoral and sexual acts and all types of sexual crimes. Lot was a man like this he had sex with his daughters and yet II Peter says that Lot was a just man, in other words he was saved from the condemnation that came on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah he was taken out. There have been times that God has recorded where Christian men and women were engaged in these types of activities and they did not lose their salvation they lost their fellowship and they could be restored simply by repenting and asking God to forgive them. Then there is un-cleanliness that’s doing things that dirty and soil lives [Rom.1:24]. Lasciviousness is filthiness, cheapness, indecency and shamelessness a chief characteristic of the behavior is open and shameless indecency. It is giving in to shameless and brutish desires it is a readiness for any pleasure. It is a man who knows no restraint a man who has sinned so much that he no longer cares what people care or think. It is something far more distasteful than just doing wrong. A man who misbehaves usually tries to hide his wrong but a lascivious man does not care who knows about his exploits or shames. Unbridled lust and shamelessness and licentiousness and wanton manners and filthy words and immoral handling of males and females and public display of carnality and gluttony and sexual immorality and the scriptures are full of these kinds of things. The man who continually practices these things over and over again which would mean he is probably not saved. We can’t go so far as to say that he isn’t saved it is not our job to judge but it would appear he is not saved because he manifests the attitude I do not care. We have to come to the point in our life where we say Lord help me in this. Idolatry is the worship of idols whether mental or made by man’s hands. The worship of some idea of what God is like of an image of God of some person’s mind, the giving of ones, primary devotion, time, and energy, to something other, than God. [Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5-6] Witchcraft is the use of sorcery and drugs or of evil spirits to gain control, over others life or your own life. In the present context it include all forms of seeking control of ones fate including astrology, palm reading, séances, fortune telling, crystals and other forms of witchcraft. [I Chronicles 10:13] We’re not to seek fortunetellers and Saul lost his life because of that. [Is. 8:19-20] The Bible tells us not to seek wizards and witchcraft. Hatred is something else we are not to engage in it is described as animosity, enmity, hostility it is the hatred that lingers and is held for a long, long time a hatred that is deep within. Variance means quarreling and all married couples when they engage in this are acting as carnal Christians [I Cor. 3:3]. And so when the Bible says if you do these things you shall not inherit the kingdom of God everyone has done it. It means to continually habitually practice these things in your life [Prov. 26:21].
IV. The judgment of those who live by the flesh – see II Peter 1:4-9 (these verses are very important when you consider what we just got through talking about) the Bible makes it very clear in verse 9 that if you don’t exercise Christian virtues that you are blind, it does not mean that you are lost and dying and going to hell once you’re saved you are always saved but it says you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your old sins. You get the Holy Spirit when you accept Jesus Christ by faith as your Savior so we have to be careful when we deal with people on these verses because David, Lot and many others did things in their lives that at times would make you wonder whether they were saved or not. And based on Galatians 5:21 some people use this verse to say that you can lose your salvation and that simply is not true. However people who openly manifest these sins and I know that you can commit sins in secret and be habitual in it and die and go to hell I understand that, but what we’re saying is this is talking about people who openly show that they have no use for God, who openly practice these vile sins over and again and who openly commit one act or another with no regard to their neighbor. This is talking about those people who practice these things over and over again as a habitual lifestyle and they haven’t been saved. On the other hand Christian people can commit these sins according to II Peter 4:9, and we know that because of the church at Corinth. In the parable of the sower and soil we have four different kinds of soil and we have to come to the conclusion that most Christians are worldly Christians, they’re saved but they haven’t let go of the world. God will judge them and me for that because within us is two captains the flesh and the Spirit and they continually war against each other.
The judgment of those who live by the flesh, very simply that is those who live by a continual lifestyle the same habitual sin shall not inherit the kingdom of God. What some people do today is to divorce their religion from their behavior. That is they talk religion, defend religion and yet they go ahead live like they want to regardless of their religion. If they want to do they do it feeling that God will forgive them. They do it thinking that they will be acceptable to God because they have done enough kindness, religion, enough works and service. Let’s talk about this. Anyone who does not live or walk after the Spirit will eventually give way to the flesh according to Galatians 6:1. See also Luke 18:10-14, shows us that it was the publican who confessed his sin that went home justified. In this world the bad nature will win out over the good one if you do not apply the good one. The attitude that says God will forgive me no matter what I do, comes from a false view of God. It comes from the view that God is indulgent and who gives His children a license to do some wrong. This is a fatal mistake. It is a mistake that some of the Galatians were making and that teeming multitudes have made down through the centuries. Paul said in I Cor. 6:9, know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. God is not Lord over a man’s sin so we have to watch lordship salvation. God will let every man make his choice but we have to remember that every heyday has its payday because we will reap what we sow.
There was a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the little boy in danger the young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon. The child who was saved grew up to be a lawless man and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who many years before had saved his life so he, plead for mercy on the basis of that experience. But the words from the judge silenced his plea. The judge said young man then I was your savior today I am your judge and I must sentence you to be hanged. And one day Jesus Christ will say to rebellious unsaved sinners during that long day of grace and so far it has been 2000 years I was the Savior and I would have forgiven you but today I’m your judge depart from me you cursed into the everlasting fire. No wonder Paul says in many places, examine yourself to make sure you are in the faith. If you examine yourself and you aren’t sure you are saved then you need to get on your knees and ask God to save you. If you play with fire you will get burned. Christ has done all He needed to do to make you free. Have you done all that you needed to do in order to be free?
A Walk Bearing God’s Nature, That Is Apply The Fruit Of The Spirit [vv 22-26]
The aim of the lesson is to produce a life that is marked with the Fruit of the Spirit. Memory verse: 5:22-23. These verses show us that God is in the business of producing top quality fruit, which is abundant and eternal. The believer has done nothing to deserve this kind of fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is an act of mercy and of grace of a loving God. A genuine believer stands before God approved and acceptable, embraced and loved by God and is the recipient of eternal life because of Jesus Christ. The believer walks through life bearing God’s nature [II Peter 1:4; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; I Cor. 6:19-20] therefore the believer is not to cave into the sins of the flesh. He is to walk bearing God’s nature that is the Fruit of God’s Spirit.
I. The believer is to walk bearing God’s nature [vv 22-23]
The Holy Spirit has only one fruit however it is broken down into a list of traits in order to help us understand His nature. However the Spirit has only one nature, one fruit therefore when He lives within us all these traits are present. The believer does not experience and just bear some of them the Spirit of God produces all of them in the life of the believer. Whether or not a believer displays the traits or not depends on whether the believer suppresses the Holy Spirit or calls on Him to live actively through his life.
Love – this is agape love and it is the love of the mind, of the reason and of the will. It is a love that goes so far that it loves regardless of feelings, whether a person feels like loving or not. It is a love that goes so far that it loves a person even if the person does not deserve to be loved. It is a love that goes so far that it actually loves a person who is utterly unworthy of being loved. It is the very love of God displayed by the cross. It is the love of God for the ungodly [Rom. 5:6], it is the love of God for sinners [Rom. 5:8], it is the love of God for undeserving enemies [Rom. 5:10]. This love is a gift of God and can be experienced only if a person knows Jesus Christ [Rom. 5:5]. See also notes on Ephesians for more on agape love.
Joy – is an inner gladness a deep- seated pleasure, it is the depth of assurance and confidence that leads to a cheerful heart. It is cheerful heart that leads to a cheerful behavior.
Peace – it means to bind together and weave together and means that a person is bound and woven together with God and with others. The Hebrew word is shalom, and it means freedom from trouble and much more. It means experiencing the highest good and enjoying the very best possible and possessing all the inner good possible and holiness and soundness and prosperity in the spiritual sense. It is the peace of conquest [Jn. 16:33]
It is the peace of assurance [Rom. 8:28]. It is the peace of intimacy with God. It is the source of peace it is born out of reconciliation with Jesus Christ. [Eph. 2:13-14]
Longsuffering – it means patience bearing and suffering a long time, perseverance, steadfast and enduring. Longsuffering never gives in it is never broken no matter what attacks us. Pressure and hard work may fall upon but the presence of God helps us to suffer long under it all. Disease or accident or old age may afflict us but the Spirit of God helps us to suffer long under it. Discouragement or disappointment may attack us but the Spirit of God helps us to suffer long under it. Men may do us wrong but the Spirit of God helps us to suffer under it all. Now two significant things need to be said about longsuffering. First of all longsuffering never strikes back. Secondly longsuffering is one of the great traits of God has pointed out by the fact that it is a part of God’s very own Spirit. God saves believers so that they may be an example of longsuffering [I Tim. 1:16]
God withholds His judgment of the world because He is longsuffering [II Peter 3:9]
Gentleness – it is being kind and good, useful and helpful, gentle and sweet, considerate and gracious through all situations no matter the circumstances. A person who is gentle does not act hard or indifferent or harsh or too busy or bitter. Gentleness cares for the feelings of others and feels with them. It experiences the full depth of sympathy and empathy. It shows care and gets right into the situation with a person. It struggles with those who struggle and works with those who work.
Goodness – it is being full of virtue and excellence, kindness and helpfulness, peace and consideration. It means that a person is full of all good and he does all good. It means that he is a quality person. A good person does not take advantage of others nor does he stand by and let others take advantage. He stands up and lives for what is right and good and just. [II Tim. 3:16-17]
Faith – it means to be faithful and trustworthy, to be loyal and steadfast in devotion and allegiance, it means to constant and enduring. A faithful person denies and sacrifices himself all he is and has and trusts God and cast himself wholly upon God. Faithfulness does not doubt God or begin with God and then back up. Faithfulness trusts God totally. It begins with God and continues with God and it never slackens or surrenders. [I Cor. 4:2]
Meekness – it means to be humble, tender, mild, considerate but strongly so. Meekness has the strength to control and discipline and it does so at the right time. Meekness has a humble state of mind but it does not mean that a person is weak and cowardly. The person simply loves people and loves peace therefore he walks humbly among men regardless of their circumstances and status in life. The meek man does what God would have done because of what Christ has done for him. [Matt. 11:29; Gal. 6:1]
Temperance – to master or control the body, the flesh with all of its lust, it means to self-control to master desire, appetite and passions especially sensual urgings and cravings, it means to be strong and controlled and restrained, it means to stand against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life according to I John 2:15-16. Keep in mind that self-control is of God it is a fruit of the Spirit. The believer is to proclaim self-control to the lost [see Acts 24:25]. Felix wasn’t a believer but Paul preached self-control to Felix. The believer is to control his sexual desires [I Cor. 7:9] but if they cannot contain let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn with desire. The believer is to strenuously exercise self-control just as an athlete controls himself. [I Cor. 9:25] The believer is to grow in self-control [II Peter 1:6]. The aged believer is especially to be on guard to control himself [Titus 2:2]. In concluding our discussion we should remember that the fruit of the Spirit is the very nature of God [Eph. 5:18; Gal. 2:20]. The believer is to walk in the Spirit that is he is to walk in such a consciousness of God and in such open confession that he is kept constantly clean from sin. God keeps him clean and pure and acceptable as though he were perfect. As the believer so walks in such, an awareness of God he assimilates the very nature of God and the Holy Spirit’s fruit is produced. And the Bible says no law can stand against such things.
II. The believer is to walk bearing a crucified flesh [Gal. 5:24]
This is a striking verse and lets notice several points. The verse says they that are Christ’s a person, becomes the possession and property of Christ when he first, trust Christ’s as his Savior. When a person comes to Jesus to save them he is coming because he wants to be released from the bondages of sin, slavery and judgment. He wants to live forever with God. He wants to be saved from a corruptible world and he wants to turn away from the flesh and turn to God. Consequently the believer no longer belongs to the flesh he belongs to Jesus Christ. The flesh no longer possesses the believer Jesus Christ possesses him. The believer no longer serves the flesh he serves the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another point notice the believer has crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts and so we ask how? And the answer is by dying with Jesus Christ. How can a person die with Jesus Christ? By an act of God only God can count a person to have died with Jesus Christ and it be true an actual occurrence. This is exactly what God does when a person genuinely believes in Jesus Christ God takes that persons belief and counts it as his death with Jesus Christ. God honors his faith by identifying him with Christ. God counts and considers the person to have died in Christ death, to be placed in Christ death, to be identified with Christ death, to be a partaker of Christ death, to be in union with Christ death and to be bound in Christ death. Now notice the point if the believer is counted by God to have been crucified with Christ then the believer has died to the flesh, has died to the passions of the flesh, has died to the lust of the flesh, is freed from the flesh, and freed from the passions and lust of the flesh. Once a person has died he is dead the rule and reign and the habits of his flesh no longer have control over him that is as a practice. However you better read Romans 7:14-25 and see that you have two natures and as long as you walk in the Spirit you will have victory but when you walk in the flesh you will suffer defeat. The flesh when the Spirit is applied ceases to have a place or position in your life. The believer is freed from fleshly habits, fleshly control, fleshly bondage, fleshly judgment, fleshly enslavement, fleshly condemnation and fleshly death. To be crucified with Christ means we no longer live in the place or position of the flesh we can know live apart from the flesh. We are free from living in the flesh with all of its passions and lusts and practice. We are not perfect and we need to remember that [I John 2:1] The Christian believer belongs to Jesus Christ and when the flesh rises up and wants to rebel against Jesus Christ remember this soldier’s example and I read.
At a dinner given at an Army post a veteran soldier was introduced as one of the speakers. In making the introduction the presiding officer referred to the fact that the man who was to speak had lost a leg in the war and the veteran was greeted with loud cheering as he rose to make the address. He began by disavowing the introduction. No he said that is a mistake I lost nothing in the war for when we went into the war we gave our country all that we had and all we brought back was so much clear gain. I lost nothing in the war. Now the closer you walk with Jesus Christ the farther away you will be from fulfilling the lust of the flesh. What have you crucified lately? Or better still is it crucifying you?
III. The believer is to walk consistent with his position in Christ [v 25]
To be in Christ is to be in God’s Spirit. When a believer believes in Jesus Christ God takes and places His Spirit in the heart of the believer. God places His Spirit there to guide the believer day by day. Therefore the believer is to walk in the Spirit and to live just as God directs and this is the point of this verse. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk by the Spirit. The Spirit gives us life, the life of God therefore let us walk and live out the life He gives us. [Rom. 6:4]
IV. The believer from super spirituality and envy [v 26]
When believers are challenged to live spiritual lives there is always the danger that some will become super spiritual and others will begin to envy the gifts of those that are super spiritual and greatly blessed by God. First of all there is the danger of super spirituality. There is the temptation of pride and of showing superiority, it is the attitude that says I have it and you don’t. This attitude will of course irritates and provokes people it causes division within a church [Luke 6:25]. Secondly there is the danger of envy. There is a fine line to walk between living in the Spirit and in the flesh. One of the things that will trip us up is pride. Pride comes when we forget the cross of Calvary. Listen to this illustration and see if you can relate to its point.
The growth chart had slipped from the playroom wall because the tape on its corners had become dry and brittle. Five year old, Jordan hung it up again meticulously working to get it straight. Then he stood his sister against the wall to measure her height. Mommy, Mommy, Anika is 40 inches tall he shouted as he burst into the kitchen I measured her. His mom replied that’s impossible sweetheart she is only three years old, let’s go see, they walked back into the playroom where the mother’s suspicions were confirmed. Despite his efforts to set the chart straight Jordan had failed to set it at the proper height. It was several inches low. We easily make Jordan’s mistake in gauging our spiritual growth or our importance. Compared to a shortened scale we may appear better than we are. Only when we stand against the cross of Calvary that great leveler of men can we not think of ourselves higher than we ought to think. Christ, Himself, must be our standard.
How faithful are you? God wants you to be growing in His fruit day by day and He has told you how it is to be done. The believer is to walk bearing God’s nature. The believer is to walk bearing a crucified flesh. The believer is to walk consistently with his position in Christ. The believer is to walk free from selfishness and super spirituality and envy. It is harvest time do you have any fruit to offer to God and to others?
A WALK RESTROING THE MAN WHO SLIPS [6:1-5]
The aim of the lesson is to learn how to help fallen and hurting believers. Memory verse:
The Christian army is the only one that shoots it wounded. This is saying that is often stated but is this really true? Are Christians really guilty of shooting their wounded? Sadly Christians all too often put other Christians down when they fail or fall. Far too often believers become judgmental and critical when others slip and are wounded by the effects of sin. But notice the issue is not to be why was a believer wounded by sin but how can a believer be restored. We have been given an opportunity that has been birthed in the heart of God. God is a God of restoration and He does not hold a grudge. [Luke 15]
The Christian has been charged with the responsibility to restore fallen saints. Will we be found faithful in this critical ministry of restoring fallen saints?
Notice the word man in verse one this means a person who is just like the rest of us. That is he has desires, passions and urges just like we have. He walks and lives in the flesh just like we do therefore he faces the very same temptations as we do for all temptation is common to man [I Cor. 10:13]. What is to be done when a Christian brother has succumbed and fallen? What is to be the spirit and attitude of the church? How are we to approach the problem? Are we to ignore him, isolate him, ignore him spread rumors about him, or slander him? No and notice something very important no sin is specified. The sin may be large or small, black or gray, despicable or acceptable to man, serious or innocent, harmful or harmless, the point to know is this a true Christian brother can be overtaken by sin. It can be slowly or unexpectedly. However when a brother is caught in sin and slips and falls what is to be done? The scripture is very clear Christian brothers are to restore him. Believers are to help restore, mend and cut the sin out and lead him back into fellowship with Christ. However there is a right way and a wrong way to help the fallen brother and this is the point that is being stressed and that is desperately needed by believers in the church. All believers are men with like passions of all other men and there are always some being overtaken by sin. This of course means that we need to constantly stay alert and be available to fallen brothers. But again how we approach a fallen brother is of utmost importance. For it is a very delicate matter. The brother could be very sensitive and is ashamed. He could become so ashamed that he could be too embarrassed to return to the fellowship of believers. He could also feel that he is unwelcome for what he has done is just not acceptable among the believers. He has failed and failed publicly and he has damaged the image of Christ and of the church. He knows the attitude of the church and its believers about the matter. Therefore unless he is approached in the right spirit he could be lost to the cause of Christ upon this earth. This of course means that the ministry of restoration is of paramount importance for the life of a dear brother is at stake. What the church needs to do is realize the ministry of restoration is the ministry of God. It is the ministry to which God has called us. We’re to walk, restore, and mend the kingdom of God and the fellowship of His church.
I. Let the spiritual believers handle the matter [v 1]
Spiritual believers are those who walk in the Spirit. Now how can a church tell if a believer is spiritual? If he is truly walking in the Spirit, does the believer bear the fruit of the Spirit? Does he walk in love? Is he a joyful person? Is he at peace with God and his fellow man? Is he longsuffering? Filled with goodness? Does he exercise faith, meekness and self-control? Now obviously some believers are more mature than others. A second question that could be asked does the believer live a crucified life with Christ? That is a sacrificial, self-denying life. Has the believer crucified the flesh with its lust? Thirdly does the believer walk in the Spirit living a life that is consistent with his position in Christ? Fourthly does the believer walk freely from super spirituality, envy, pride, jealousy, arrogance and selfishness? Sometimes Christians can act just like sharks when they sense blood in the water they circle in for the kill but this is not God’s way.
One of the great preachers of the south was marvelously converted when he was a drunkard. His ministry was quite demanding and after a great deal of pressure and temptation he got drunk one night. He was so ashamed that the very next day he called in his board of deacons and turned in his resignation. He told them I want to resign and they asked why and he frankly told them I got drunk last night. A preacher should not get drunk and I want to resign. It was obvious that he was ashamed and do you know what those wonderful deacons did? They put their arms around him and said lets all pray they would not accept his resignation. A man who was sitting in the congregation that next Sunday said I never heard a greater sermon in my life than what that man preached. Those deacons were real surgeons they set a broken bone and restored him. There are some people who would have put him out of the ministry but these deacons put that preacher back on his feet and God marvelously used him after that.
II. Approach the brother in a spirit of meekness [v 1]
How desperately this spirit is needed for too often what is displayed is a spirit of harshness and indifference, rejection and criticism, censorship, rumor, slander, reproof, super spirituality and I’m holier than you and ostracism. This approach of course is not ever concerned with restoring a brother it is bent more on damaging and ruining him. And the great tragedy of course is that it forces him to turn more and more to the world to those who are more understanding of his weaknesses because they too are weak. However the spirit of rejection is not what the scriptures are telling a believer to show scripture is telling believers to approach the brother in meekness being gentle, loving, warm and caring. Discuss the sin, yes, but with him not with others. Approach him love him reach out to him help him and above all else stay after him showing care and concern. Let him now that he forgiven by all and accepted by all warmly and tenderly [Eph. 4:1-2]
III. Consider yourself [v 1]
You too can be tempted and overtaken by sin and this is a critical point. For all believers are tempted with all kinds of sin [I Cor. 10:13]. There’s a real possibility that we can be overtaken by sin therefore we want to love and help our brothers just like we would want to be loved and helped. The word, consider means to look to oneself and give attention to oneself. It means to keep an attentive eye oneself. If we really consider the matter then we will reach out in love to help our fallen brothers we have to help them because we are all ever subject to being overtaken by sin [I Cor. 10:13]. We all fail and therefore we are not to put our confidence in the flesh.
IV. Bear one another’s burdens [v 2]
Now the law of Christ is the law of ministry and love [Matt. 20:28]. Christ gave and sacrificed Himself to reach out to man He bore the sins for man. We of course cannot bear the sins of man but we can bear the burden for each other for we all suffer under the weight of sin whether the sins are known or not. We can be compassionate, encourage, pray, forgive and be warm and tender sharing the promises of God, we can sympathize and we can empathize [Rom. 12:15].
V. Confess your own nothingness [v 3]
This is the reason so many brothers are locked out of the fellowship and churches for they are looked upon as being unfit, less capable, weaker, too tarnished, less spiritual, and insufficient. This attitude of course is contrary to the Spirit of Christ. Christ came to save sinners and all men are sinners whether they know it or not. Even believers after they are saved are sinners and this is too often forgotten yet believers are both saved and kept by the righteousness of Christ and not by their own righteousness. We must forever remember this for the only acceptable approach to God is through the righteousness of Christ. The point is this no person is better than any other person not in righteousness and godliness. All men stand before God as sinners as nothing they stand as totally depraved sinners there is not a single man who is righteous no not one. If a man wants to stand in God’s presence he has to come by Jesus Christ and Him alone therefore there is absolutely no place among God’s people for super spirituality, snobbishness or spiritual pride. Within the church there is to be only one attitude that of confessing our nothingness before God and our total dependency upon God. When a believer understands this then he is ready to reach out to his fallen brother [Matt. 23:12; Proverbs 20:6]. All ground at the foot of the cross is level there is no mountain to climb for one to be better than another. See I Corinthians 3 for here we have a clear-cut example of nothing plus nothing equaling one if we are doing what God wants us to do.
VI. Examine your own work [v 4]
The word work here refers to conduct and behavior not employment of course employment of work is involved but the point is we are to be judging, and examining, the behavior of our own lives, not the life of a brother. Scripture is forceful on this point every man is to keep busy examining his own work and his own life and no man is exempt. There is so much evil flying around the world and the flesh is so weak that it is difficult for a person to remain unsoiled and clean. The flesh lusts for position, honor, acceptance, compensation and approval. The flesh lusts to look, to taste, to feel, to do, to have and experience. Now every one of these desires is needful until it crosses over into the forbidden and it is taken too far. Tasting food is good tasting too much food is bad. Wanting recognition is good loving recognition is sin. The point is temptation swirls around all of us therefore we must be busy judging and examining ourselves and not others. The Bible is very clear that when we turn away from ourselves to criticize and judge others we have sinned. We must measure ourselves against the Word of God and our attitude toward others is to be that of love and restoration not criticism and judgment. Deep joy comes from knowing that we are pleasing God by the way we walk [Matt. 7:5].
VII. Realize your own responsibility [v 5]
The believer is personally responsible to the Lord for his behavior and shall be judged for what he has done. Every believer has his own burdens and own weights and faults to bear it is these that he is to be carrying looking after examining and judging. He can never overcome them unless he gets his eyes off of the failure of others and concentrates on the burden of his own failure [Matt. 12:36; II Cor. 5:10]. God has called each one of us to be a wounded healer for this is the ministry of restoration.
A Walk Doing Good To One’s Teacher, Sowing And Reaping [6:6-10]
The aim of this lesson is to strengthen your commitment to your preacher or to your teacher. Memory verse: 6:9
Are you moved to respond after your preacher shares God’s Word? The student has a responsibility to respond to God’s Word. Do you ever wonder why churches have to beg for teachers in the church? A large part of the problem is the lack of enthusiasm from the students.
One day a frustrated teacher decided to pull out all the stops he decided to take a risk and take a personal interest in each of his students. The teacher concluded that the cold facts were not enough to attract the interest of his students. The only thing that would breakdown the walls of apathy was the power of relationship. Months later his class was the most exciting class in the entire Sunday School. When one of his students was asked what made the difference the reply was before our teacher just read us the Bible stories now we have so much more he challenges us to act out the stories in the Bible and to join him in doing so. For the first time we feel like we are ministering together. Few people are as important to society or to God as are teachers. The relationship between student and teacher is a subject that is never stressed enough within the church. The present passage deals with this subject in particular the student’s responsibility to the teacher. Keep in mind that every believer is a student who sits at the feet of God’s teachers whether they, be ministers and or Bible teachers.
I. How to do good to a teacher by sharing in ministry of the teacher [v 6]
How does a believer do, good to a teacher? Very simply by sharing in the ministry of the teacher. This means much more than financial support. The scripture points out that the learner has a responsibility to the teacher just as the teacher has a responsibility to the learner. What is that responsibility? To share with the teacher in all good things, and to participate in the ministry of the teacher the learner shares in the ministry of the teacher by being present when the teacher teaches being attentive and learning what the teacher teaches. Sharing in discussion with what the teacher teaches and passing on what the teacher teaches and encouraging others to come and learn from the teacher. Note another point the reference to the word means the Word of God in verse 6. A teacher should always be teaching the Word of God and a learner should always make sure that he is sitting under a teacher who is teaching the Word of God [I Tim. 5:17-18] One of the most rewarding aspects for the teacher is when his students catch and apply what has been learned. A good teacher reproduces what is in him. A good student shares what he has learned with others.
II. Why do, good to a teacher? [vv 7-9]
Two strong reasons are given. First of all a person can be deceived about, facing the judgment of God. The word, deceive means to be led astray. Some of the Galatians were being led astray they were failing to share in the ministry of Paul becoming critics instead of supporters and note what attacking the teacher of God equals it equals mocking God. The word mock means to turn ones nose up at God rejecting God’s minister the teacher God has sent to them. However the scriptures declare that God is not mocked for whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. If a man sows a life that is not present when the teacher teaches, that does not pass on what the teacher teaches, that does not participate with the teacher in his ministry, that does not encourage others to learn from the teacher if a man sows this rejection this turning up of the nose he rejects and turns his nose up at God Almighty. And if he rejects God he shall, be rejected by God. What ever a man sows toward his teacher that shall he also reap. He shall bear the judgment of God for his behavior toward his teacher. If a believer sows corruption to his flesh he shall reap corruption and if he does not listen to his teachers warnings about the lust of the flesh he shall reap the lust of the flesh [v 8]. If a person saved or unsaved sows to the flesh he shall go the way of all flesh [I Cor. 3:15] die and face the judgment of God for God will not be mocked. There is no escape for God is not mocked.
Romans 8:6-8 – if a person accepts Christ and sows to the Spirit he shall reap life everlasting. If he listens to the teachers exhortations about the salvation that is in God’s Son and the life that God expects him to live he shall reap the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will actually enter his life and take up permanent residence there. The Spirit will implant the divine nature of God within the heart of the believer the Divine nature that shall live now and forever. The believer will be given the strength and power to live a life of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control and he shall live forever with God in the new heavens and new earth. Secondly a person shall reap if he does not faint in serving with his teacher. The believer or pupil must join with his teacher in the ministry if he wishes to reap the reward. He must not withdraw, slack off, or allow weariness and pressure and persecution and temptation for if he does he will lose his reward, not his salvation but his reward. The believer must be constant, steadfast and preserving just as he is taught by, his teacher. Note the motive for not fainting the student shall reap in due season. The day of reaping is coming. God is going to reward the believer who serves and works by the side of his teacher [Matt. 10:42].
III. When do we serve with the teacher? [v 10]
The answer is as we have opportunity to do so. The believer should serve at every opportunity. The idea is that he is to serve at every opportunity to look for opportunity to rush into all opportunity. When the teacher goes to meet a need the believer is to join in to help minister with him. No chance to minister should ever be missed. With each missed opportunity the believer misses the chance to minister and of being greatly rewarded in the glorious day of redemption. Therefore he must stay alert and not be weary if he wants a full reward. Note he is to minister to all men. He is to minister to his own family first and then to all, the world. We must meet the needs of our own family before moving out among the unbelievers. [Luke 6:35]
How willing are you to do God’s will? This is a question that every believer must answer when the opportunities to minister become available. God has provided plenty of work to do the key is to serve when God opens the door. Sometimes that open door comes with great spiritual sacrifice.
You’re going out to die in a year or two. It’s, madness. That is what a tutor in Oxford England told a brilliant student who had given himself to the auspices of a missionary society for service in Africa. It turned out that the young man did die after being on the field for only a year. But he answered his tutor with these wise and weighty words. I think it is with African missions as it is with the building of a great bridge you know how many stones have to be buried in the earth to be a foundation. If Christ wants me to be one of the unseen stones, lying, in an African grave I am content certain as I am that the final result will be a Christian Africa. As the hymnbook reminds us wherever He leads I’ll go.
Is that true with you?
The Believer’s Life and Walk Which Should Be Free And Spiritual [6:11-18]
The aim of this lesson is to focus our entire life upon the cross of Christ. Memory Verse: 6:14
Should the Christian believer ever boast? Is boasting justified? If you are a successful person there’s a great temptation to boast about all that you have accomplished. And this is the point many people take pride in boasting about all they have accomplished. This attitude is particularly wrong when it is applied to salvation for man had absolutely nothing to do with the saving work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ needed to no help from man to solve the problem of sin. Consequently the believer is exhorted to brag on Jesus Christ. Christ and Christ alone is worthy of our praise we are to boast in Christ and His name alone.
I. Paul, himself writes the letter [v 11]
The reference here to writing a large letter is too large print. Why did Paul write with large print? Several explanations are given. First of all Paul wanted boldly emphasize the points of what he was saying. Secondly because Paul could not write well so he had to write in bold print in order for it to be read. This is very unlikely for Paul was a well- educated man. Thirdly because Paul had some kind of eye problem or blurred vision of all the explanations this seems the most likely. The message of this passage is important enough for Paul to have taken the pen from the scribe and written it himself. Therefore we need to give utmost attention to what is being said in this letter.
II. False Ministers make a good showing in the flesh they seek popularity [vv 12-13]
See earlier notes on the false teachers. Paul charged the false ministers of being driven by worldly motives and what he had to say is a strong lesson for every generation. First of all the false teachers sought to gain the approval of their peers and to escape persecution. They sought the favor of men over the favor of God. It was unpopular in the ministry of that day to proclaim that Christ alone was the way to God. The minister who proclaimed Christ alone, were persecuted by mockery, bitterness, and rejection. A preacher who preached salvation by Christ alone was thought to be destroying both the law and established religion therefore the preachers of established religion persecuted the preachers of the cross and as a result it took real courage to stand up and proclaim the truth. Most chose the easy way out going along with established ministry in order to avoid persecution. How many today do the same? Secondly the false teachers sought to make a good showing by adding to their statistical numbers. They wanted to have people circumcised so they could boast in their numbers. The interest was not so much in teaching people to obey the Lord and the law as it was in building up their own security. They wanted recognition of their peers of a growing ministry. They sought the approval and the acceptance of people more than the welfare of the people. For some reason people are impressed with increased numbers on statistical growth. Every one knows this, both religious and lay leaders and as a result preachers are often drawn to stress growth in baptism, church attendance, Bible study, programs and or activities. Increased numbers build image, boost egos, convey success, enlarge reputation, secure position, increase opportunities, point to gifts and abilities, stress charisma, open doors, help to increase income and attract attention.
III. True Ministers boast in the cross of Christ [vv 14-17]
The cross of Christ is the only boast for a true preacher of God. For there is no other approach to God, God accepts a person who comes to Him by way of faith in the cross. There is no other way to become acceptable to God therefore the true minister has no other message no other truth of which to boast. Paul gave four reasons why the cross is the true ministers only boast. First the cross crucifies the world to men and men to the world. The world has all kinds of attractions that appeal to men and men lust after the attractions. But the end of it all is death and judgment there is nothing on this earth that last eternally. If man wishes to live forever then someone has to destroy this world and everything in it and make a new one. And the glorious news is that God has done this very thing. God has shown that He loves this world and He has demonstrated that love by sending His Son into the world to free them from the world. When Christ died on the cross He took the condemnation of death for us therefore any person who believes that Jesus Christ died for them shall be saved from this world of death. The cross crucifies men to the world. What does this mean? When the believer dies to the world he is to turn away from the attractions of the world. Therefore the believer becomes un-attracted to the world consequently the worldly want nothing to do with the believer. They want him to stay out of their way as non-existent as a dead person to them. Therefore when a person comes to the cross of Christ the cross crucifies them to the world and its ways [Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20]. Secondly the cross creates a new man. Nothing makes a person acceptable to God except His Son Jesus Christ. Now a very practical question arises how does using the name of Jesus Christ make a person live forever? Does a person become acceptable to God by just approaching God and saying God I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ? No, and there is one good reason. God knows who is really sincere and who is not. God cannot be deceived. Words and false profession just using the name of Jesus Christ will not save anyone. A person has to be genuinely sincere however Paul said in [Rom. 10:13] whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved and don’t forget that. Now the point is this, a person who is sincere in his belief God gives the person a new spirit a re-created spirit by placing His own Spirit into them. [II Cor. 5:17; I John 4:7]. Third, the cross is a preacher’s only boast because it brings peace and mercy according to verse 16. Those who walk by the rule of the cross and the new creature the person who walks by the rule of the cross seeking to live as a new creature in Christ will be given the peace and mercy of God. He will experience the forgiveness of sins and the acceptance of God and most wonderfully he will be given the assurance of eternal life and God’s care. Note that churches and believers are called the Israel of God this simply means that the church and the believers are the true Israel of God the ones in whom God fulfills His promises.
Fourth, the cross gives purpose to the scars of life. Christ had suffered for Paul therefore Paul was willing to suffer for Christ. Paul had subjected his body so much and had suffered so much persecution for Christ that his body bore the marks of such subjection and suffering. He could say that the marks upon his body were the branding marks of Christ the marks that proved his slavery and service to Christ. Therefore let no man deny his call and service for Jesus. [Matt. 5:11-12]
IV. A benediction of grace [v 18]
Paul ends the letter abruptly he will have no more attacks upon his ministry and the cross of Christ. The churches in Galatia need to repent and get rid of their false ministers and until then Paul said brethren the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit amen. The choice is clear either we choose a life that is bound to the law and its legalism or we choose to bind our faith to the grace of God.
Lilly Bartrip is a good bus driver, in fact according to the Fort Worth Stat Telegram of June 17, 1988 the Houston School District nominated her for a safe driving award. Her colleagues even trusted her to drive a busload of them to an awards ceremony for safe drivers. Unfortunately on the way to the ceremony Lilly turned a corner too sharply, flipping the bus over sending, herself and 16 others to the hospital for minor emergency treatment. Did Lilly accident free for the whole year get a reward anyway? No she did not. Award committees rarely operate on the principle of grace. How fortunate we are that even when we don’t maintain a spotless life record our final reward depends on God’s grace and not on our performance. Amen and Amen.