As American’s we love stories of makeovers. Here’s just a few examples of some of the reality makeover shows that have aired on T.V in the last ten years.
There was “What not to wear,” “Biggest Loser”, “Extreme Makeover,” weight loss edition, plastic surgery edition and the longest running edition has been the home edition, “Move that bus!”
Whatever makeover show you watch they all pretty much have one thing in common their desire is to take a person or house and situation and take it from bad to good.
I point these things out because Paul in our passage this evening mentions another makeover edition, it’s extreme makeover passage shows us “Galatians Edition.” The focus of the Galatian edition is spiritual things. The Judiazers were seeking to teach the Gentiles that they must act Jewish and convert to Judaism if they want to be saved and receive God’s blessings.
Paul in chapters 3-4 has pulled out the mirror or God’s word, to show the Galatians that they were better off before they came in contact with the Judiazers and their legalistic teachings.
As we look at Paul’s closing arguments in defense of the gospel of grace we’ll pull from this passage one specific warning and exhortation
- We are to beware of legalism and legalists because they give bad spiritual makeovers.
- We are to follow Paul’s advice and be ready to respond Biblically to legalism and legalists.
First in verses 8-29 we’re to beware of legalism and legalists because they give bad spiritual makeovers
As we all know one of the tools behind presenting the effectiveness of ineffectiveness of a makeover is a contrast, usually seen in a before and after picture. Paul in verses shows us three contrasting illustrations to prove to the Galatians that spiritually they were better off before the Judiazers started their make overs on them.
The first contrasting illustration is in verses 8-11 the Galatians went from freedom to slavery.
8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
Paul begins by reminding the Galatians of the work that God did in their lives through the gospel of grace. The Galatians were once enslaved to the worship of pagan gods. These pagan gods, were not gods at all, but worthless idols made up by Satan.
But all this changed when they heard the gospel of grace preached by Paul. They were freed from their bondage of idolatry its empty works based religion. Now they had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Paul describes the Galatians relationship as knowing God and He knowing us. This is a very simple description, but it’s filled with devotional thought.
Obviously Paul is not just talking about just knowing about God through study and Him knowing us through omniscience. This phrase to know God and He knowing us implies knowing by personal experience. It implies a close personal intimate relationship.
The best illustration I can give is the one that Paul himself gave of the Christians relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 5 says our relationship with Christ is like a marriage.
Not only did the Galatians have an experiential relationship with God, but they were experiencing the work of God in and through their lives. God was working miracles in and through the believers by His grace (Galatians 3:5).
This was their before spiritual picture. Now Paul at the end of verse 9-11 shows them their current picture, after they came in contract with the Judiazers.
Notice 4 terrible things Paul sees in this after picture.
First they were returning from strong things to weak things, they were seeking to be made righteous by the law, but it can’t save or make you righteous. The law in terms of salvation is just as weak as the pagan religion that they were saved from.
Second they were leaving their mature position as adopted sons and daughters of God to return to beggarly elements. The words “Beggarly Elements,” can be translated elementary principles.
As we learned last week the purpose of the law was to watch over God’s people until the time that God would send Christ. Paul illustrates this by the Roman custom of a child being looked over by a slave until they were declared a man. The Galatians were once immature in pagan religion, then they were declared mature through faith and yet now they are returning to a state of immaturity.
Third they were going from the freedom of living in a loving relationship with God back to the bondage of a works based religion. Paul points to one example of their bondage in verse 10.
10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
The Gentile Christians in Galatia because of the teachings of the Judiazers felt they were now obligated to keep the Jewish Calendar. They felt obligated because under the law the Jews were required to keep these things. The Galatians were observing days (this is the Sabbath Day and its laws), months (new moons), seasons (Israel’s feasts) and years (the Sabbatical year and Jubilee).
It’s important to note in talking about the law and Israel’s calendar of Israel that the law is not evil. Paul is a Jew who grew up loving the law. But God was done using the law. Also God established that the way to come to Him was faith in Christ, so any addition was no matter how good denies the sufficiency of what Jesus did.
11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
Wow this must have felt heavy coming from their pastor. All Paul could say when he heard about their spiritual condition was, “I am afraid that I preached the gospel to you for no reason.” They went from one state of bondage to another.
The second illustration is seen in verses 12-20, Paul in these verses shows a contrast between those involved in the Galatians make overs. The contrast will between the example Paul and the Judiazers. The purpose of this contrast is to show Paul’s love and to show them they were better off before following his example.
12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.
Paul encourages these believers to follow his example of walking in freedom in Christ. Just as Paul was not in bondage as a Jewish Christian to the law when he came to Galatia on his first missionary journey, even so these believers could also enjoy freedom in Christ.
Freedom in Christ as we will learn next week does not mean we have a license to sin, but it means that we can rest in God’s grace and rest in the fact that we are declared righteous by faith alone.
Also this means we are not obligated to keep the law with all of its rites, rules and rituals. The believers in Jesus is free to walk with God and express their love to Him in the boundaries of His word, just as husbands and wives are free to express their love for one another in the boundaries of their marriage.
What does Paul mean by the phrase, “You have not injured me?” Some scholars feel that is belongs with verse 13 in which Paul speaks of the his treatment by the Galatians when he first came to them.
13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.
Paul reminds the Galatians of their hospitality and reception of the gospel when he first visited them on his missionary journey in Acts 13-14.
Verse 13 tell us why he came into that area, God used circumstances to bring him there. Those circumstances was some type of physical illness, since Paul in these verse refers to his eyes it could have been an eye disease. Some scholars even suggest it could have been Malaria, that he received while traveling through the swampy areas of Pamphylia. We also know that Paul was stoned and left for dead also while also in this area.
Whatever the case Paul’s illness was bad and probably even affected the way he looked. I say this because Paul was amazed that these believers did not despise or reject him based on how he looked. The words despise and reject imply a repulsive loathing.
Rather than reject Paul because of his illness they received him and the gospel he preached as if a mighty angel of God of Jesus Himself came to them.
These believers were hospitable they would have even given Paul their eyes if need be. This reference could either refer to an eye disease or as a way to express their hospitality and reception, they would have given anything, even the most important thing to them their own eyes.
This was the before picture now we see the after picture.
16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
The one who risked his life to bring them the liberating news of the gospel was now looked at as if he was their enemy because of the good new he preached to them.
The root behind the change in the Galatians all pointed to the Judiazers the bad make over artists. Paul takes a moment to expose these false teachers. Concerning their motives behind their teaching was not good, it was pride. These false teachers went after the Gentiles zealously and tried to keep them away from Paul and his teaching so they could make them followers and slaves to them and their doctrine. The implication behind this tactic was so they could brag about how many Gentiles they had subjected to the law. These teachers did not care about pointing them to Jesus or even their growth in Christ.
18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
Paul reminded these believers that there was nothing wrong with being zealous for a good thing, Paul was a great example of that. Paul was zealous for these believers in a good way in contrast to the false teachers.
Paul as a Pastor was zealous to keep these sheep away from the wolves that would destroy them. Paul gave his life to bring them the gospel and he would give his life again if need be to protect them until Christ was done with His work in them.
It was not personal glory that Paul was after like the Judiazers, he truly loved them as his own children and he was in pain thinking of their spiritual state.
Paul closes this second illustration by saying he wishes he was there with them to talk personally, so he could change his tone, the reason was he was concerned about their response to his firm writing.
The example we learn from this contrasting illustration is clear we are to beware of legalists. Legalists are not the people you want leading your spiritual make overs. Rather like Paul we are to follow those who point us to Jesus and His word.
The third illustration Paul gives is in verses 21-31, the focus of this illustration is to contrast the birth of two of Abraham’s sons. Paul is going to use this historical story as an allegorical illustration to show the difference between following the law and abiding in grace.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
Paul points his readers to the birth stories of two sons of Abraham which are found in the first book of the law which is Genesis. Abraham’s first two sons were named Ishmael and Isaac.
Concerning Abraham’s first son were told in verse 23 says that he was born according to the flesh while Isaac was the son of promise.
The reason Ishmael is said to be born of the flesh was of because when h was born and to whom he was born. God gave Abraham and Sarah a specific promise that from them would come a great nation. This would imply that they would have a male child. Yet after God gave this promise Abraham saw no soon fulfillment.
Because of impatience and discouragement Abraham followed Sarah’s advice to take her slave Hagar and have a child by her. The hope was that they would help God to fulfill His promise.
God later came to Abraham and told him that Ismael was not the promise son but one who would come from Sarah would be the heir. Sarah was the free women, that is she was Abraham’s wife not his slave. Sarah as God said did have a son miraculously, God granted Abraham and Sarah a child when they were past the age of child bearing.
24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—
Hagar and Ishmael represented the covenant that God made with Israel at Mount Sinai in Arabia. This conditional covenant is known as the law of Moses. The result of this covenant Paul says is bondage, just like Hagar was a servant of Abraham And not free, even so those under the law specifically the Jew that were living in Jerusalem were in bondage.
26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written: “REJOICE, O BARREN, YOU WHO DO NOT BEAR! BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR! FOR THE DESOLATE HAS MANY MORE CHILDREN THAN SHE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
In contrast to Hagar, Ishmael, Mount Sinai, the physical city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Christians are free like Sarah, we are sons of God like Isaac and citizens of the New Jerusalem which will one day descend out of heaven.
Paul also in the context of our freedom an blessing in Christ quotes Isaiah 54:1 which speaks of the future blessing of God that will come upon all those who are part of God’s remnant by grace through faith in Jesus Christians.
Now we come to our second point in verses 29-31, in these verse we see were to follow Paul’s advice and be ready to respond Biblically to legalism and legalists.
29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
Our first response to to be ready and not surprised when they are mad at us for rejecting their makeovers.
Just as Ishamel mocked Isaac even so Christians who abide in grace wi be persecuted by those who claim to be religious. Christians such as Stephen were persecuted by Legalists that considered Christianity blasphemy against Moses and his law.
Through out church history Christians have been killed for preaching salvation by grace through faith alone apart from works by legalists who seek to add works such as rituals and sacraments to the gospel.
30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREEWOMAN.”
Our second response is just as when Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac and commanded that she and her son be cast out of their house. God approved this charge to cast Hagar and Ismael out.
Even so we have God’s word and authority to reject legalists and legalistic teaching. We are to cast it out and not try to bring the promise of the gospel and the addition of works by the law together.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Third and finally we as sons and daughters of God walking in freedom and maturity are not to be entangled with the bondage of a works based religion.
Look at the next verse in chapter 5:1Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
In closing Paul’s advice to us as Christians is clear and accurate. If we are seeking to be made over, then abide in grace and continue to be transformed by the Holy Spirit and the word of God which changes you from the inside out. Don’t turn to legalists and legalism, as seen in this extreme makeover the Galatians were better off when they were abiding in grace.