The Great Conflict (Galatians 5v16-26)

If I had to nominate the greatest internally conflicted person seen in a fictional movie or T.V show I would have to nominate Gollum from, “The Lord of the Rings”.

A close runner up would be Gobble played by Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street parody called, “Lord of the Crumbs.” Both Gollum and Gobble experienced serious internal conflict.

Paul in our passage this evening shows us that believers experience serious factual internal conflict was we abide in grace. That conflict is between the flesh and the Spirit.

Tonight was we continue with Paul’s application of grace we’ll focus on three things.

  1. The conflict
  2. The contrast
  3. The choice

First in verses 16-18 we see the conflict.

So far in our studies we have seen Paul through both logic and scripture demonstrate that the law of God is insufficient to justify or to sanctify. Only basis that a sinner can be saved and more like Christ is on the basis of grace through faith alone.

Paul continues this same reasoning in chapters 5-6, but his focus is more on the practical outworking of grace in the believers daily life. Paul in these two chapters is going to show us four things that God is doing through His grace that is not possible by relating to God by the works of the law.

Two of the four were seen last week, first we saw that Christ has made us free from the law. Second God has been poured out His love in our hearts through the Holy Sprit. Now as we walk with Christ and love others we fulfill the law. The third thing we will see tonight is we can have victory over the flesh. Fourth next week we will finish the book of Galatians with looking at the fact that we are now a member of the body of Christ.

Concerning our victory over the flesh, Paul shows us that our victory is no light matter, this is an intense conflict.

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Paul gives the believer both insight and assurance on how to be victorious over the conflict with the lusts of our flesh. Some of the lusts of the flesh will be seen in verses 19-21.

Notice the basis of our victory is not works of the law, but by walking in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit implies a willing dependence on God’s power and direction for our lives.

A good example of walking in the Spirit is the life of Jesus in the gospels. Christ is seen being surrendered to both the Father’s power and His word.

If we as a believer chose to walk in the Spirit and deny the lusts of the flesh, then God through His Apostle promises us victory in this conflict. Now Paul describes our actual conflict in detail in verse 17.

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

This conflict has two contenders, the flesh and the Spirit. Let’s take a moment and look at each one.

The Spirit: the Spirit can refer to both the indwelling Holy Spirit that is given to every person who puts their faith in Jesus and the regenerated immaterial nature of the believer that we receive when we put our faith in Christ.

Before we are saved we are spiritually dead and slaves of sin and of our sin nature. Our sin nature dominates every facet of our immaterial nature such as our spirit, soul, mind, conscience, will, heart. Because of this the unbeliever has no power to not give his or her body over to sin. In saying this it is important to note that I am not saying that every none believer is as bad as they could. But Paul does tell us in Romans three that man has no power to do good, they are totally depraved.

But when we believed in Christ through grace we have become temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), we have been made alive through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:1). We are a new man being daily renewed daily by the Holy Spirit. This renewing is in reference specifically to our minds(Ephesians 4:17-20, Romans 12:1-2).We have the spirit in us to teach us God’s will and convict and lead us. We are given a hunger for the word of God like new born babies. We have the Spirit of God living in us who cries out, “Abba Father” (Galatians 4:6).

The believer is a new creation in Christ, with the desire to turn from sin and love God all with their heart, soul, strength and mind.

The Flesh: The term flesh has been used different ways in the scripture, it has been used to refer to the physical body, its also used generally of unbelievers.

In this context the flesh does not use this word to refer to the body, the unregenerate nature in all believers that exists as long as we are in this body of flesh. Better put the flesh refers to the evil impulses and desires after we are born again.

Paul in Romans 6:6-7, gives us some more insight concerning the flesh in relation to what is known as the sin nature.

6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7For he who has died has been freed from sin.

There is two distinct phases that Paul used in these verses. They are, “ The Old Man” and “The Body of Sin.”

The Old Man: The old man refers to the sin nature which all mankind inherits from Adam. Sin is passed on from Adam to all mankind with the exception of Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin. This inherited sin results in the spiritual death, with is that all are born depraved of spiritual things and separated from God without hope apart from God’s grace.

The Body of sin: Notice that Paul says that your Old Man or sin nature was crucified with Christ. This is past tense. But then Paul goes on and talks about the body of sin that the believer still must wrestle with.

While our sin nature was judged and crucified when we put our faith in Jesus, the body of sin (the flesh) is active in the present. Because the sin nature has been put to death and no longer controls the believer, but we are a new creation in Christ, we through walking in the Spirit can daily do away with the body of sin. In other words we can say no the evil impulses that remain. Paul says know this! If Paul was a G.I Joe he would have said, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Now that we know the contenders, let’s talk about how they are in conflict. Paul says that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. The word lust can be translated desires. In other words the desires of each of these contenders is to overcome and control the other.

These two natures with in you are contrary to one, they are in a constant, perpetual face to face battle. For evidence of this Paul says at the end of verse 17 Paul says just look at your, so that you don’t do the things you wish.

When you seek to walk in the Spirit and serve God you experience will be opposed by the flesh, but when you seek to walk in the flesh you experience the conviction of the Spirit.

One of the greatest illustrations of this conflict is given by Paul himself in Romans 7:14-25. Paul in poetic way describes the daily battle between his flesh and spirit, he says,

14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Even a mature believer like Paul, with the gifting of an Apostle realized this conflict. I think the closer you draw near to God the more you will recognize this conflict.

As Paul press forward with Christ and drew nearer to God to obey His word and follow His will, he realized there was a law of sin that remained in the his body. Paul’s conclusion was that even though his body still had evil desires and impulses he would serve Christ who would give him victory until Christ finally believers us from our flesh, either by death or rapture.

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Paul established that the victorious Christian life is the life of walking in the Spirit, which has to do with being lead by the Spirit. Paul reminds the believers in Galatia as he was been saying that those who are born again and walking in the Spirit are not under the law.

In light of this great conflict, why turn to the law, when the spirit lead life by grace is what gives us victory over the flesh. Legalism can’t give us victory over the appetites over the flesh, only a life that is filled with the Spirit and surrendered to God.

This is what Paul told the Colossians in 2:20-23,

Col 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—

Col 2:21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”

Col 2:22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

Col 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Second it could be said that those who are walking in the Spirit and experiencing the victorious Christ life will have no desire to be under the law. Our hearts and minds will be so occupied with Christ and the blessing and of having a relationship with Him.

Now we come to our second point in verses 19-24 we see the contrast.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,

21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul gives some of the outworking behavior of those who give into the impulses and desires of the flesh: here’s a quick summary of these works of the flesh:

Adultery: Adultery: is unfaithfulness in the marriage relationship. Jesus also said unlawful divorce and remarriage leads to adultery.

Fornication: Fornication is unlawful sexual intercourse. Or any sexual act outside of marriage.

Uncleanness: uncleanness is moral evil or sensuality.

Lewdness: Lewdness is shameless conduct involving the absence of restraint.

Idolatry: Idolatry not only refers to the worship of idols, but it also has to do with immorality that accompanies demon worship. Idolatry also can be described as putting anything before God.

Sorcery: Sorcery is witchcraft. The Greek word used is pharmakeia, which is where we get our word drugs. Drugs were used in the sorcery of Paul’s day. This can refer to any form of drugs that alter the mind.

Hatred: Hatred means strong feelings of malice directed toward individuals. Contentions: Contentions are discord, variance, quarrels.

Jealousies: Jealousies are distrust, suspicions. Wrath: Wrath is outbursts of hot anger or passions.

Selfish ambitions: Selfish ambitions are self-centered strivings to be “number one,” even at others’ expense.

Dissensions: Dissensions are separations caused by disagreements. Heresies: Heresies are sects formed by men with self-willed opinions. Envy: Envy is displeasure at the success or prosperity of others. Murders: murder is the unlawful killing of others.

Drunkenness refers to becoming intoxicated by drinking alcohol.

Revelries: Revelries are riotous gatherings for entertainment, accompanied by drunkenness. In other word wild sinful drinking parties.

And the Like: Those behaviors that are not mentioned, but that are clearly against God’s word and nature.

Paul closes this list of sins by reminding the Galatians of what he taught them when he was with them, that those who practice these things will not inherent the Kingdom of God. Paul is not saying that is a believer falls into sin, they will lose their salvation. But Paul is saying the person who claims to be a Christian and yet practices these things, or lives a habitual lifestyle in the flesh has never been saved, they are not going to heaven.

In contrast to the works of the flesh is the fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Commenting on these characteristics the Bible knowledge commentary says,

“The word “fruit” is singular, indicating that these qualities constitute a unity, all of which should be found in a believer who lives under the control of the Spirit. In an ultimate sense this “fruit” is simply the life of Christ lived out in a Christian.”

As you and I walk in the Spirit and become more like Jesus the following godly characteristics should grow naturally from our lives.

Love: the word love is agape. This love is a supernatural sacrificial love. God will grow this in our lives for God and others.

Joy: this word refers to a deep abiding rejoicing that is not based on circumstances. Peace: this is the peace of God, which is a deep inner peace, it is the opposite of worrying and fretting.

Long suffering: I am told this Greek word is makrothymia, which means long tempered. Scholars a say that long suffering is used in relation to people while endurance refers to circumstances. This being the case God will give us strength to bear with one another in love.

Kindness: kindness is love and mercy in action.

Goodness: goodness can be understood as an uprightness of the soul and also reaching out to others with good even when they don’t deserve it.

Faithfulness: to be trustworthy and dependable as a servant of God.

Gentleness: the word gentle and meek comes from the same word. This word implies strength that is under control. If you think meekness is weakness remember that Jesus called Himself gentle or meek (Matthew 11:29).

Self control: self control is the ability supplied by the Holy Spirit to say no to the flesh and its evil desires.

This is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a believers life. Paul finishes this list as he did in verse 18 and says again, the fact that we are born again by the Spirit of God demonstrates that our salvation or sanctification is not based on the law. The Christian is no longer under the law.

24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Once again the fruit of being a Christian and walking in the spirit is you will live a life that is dead to sin. This will be demonstrated by your daily walk of saying no the impulses and desire of the flesh. A person who lives a lifestyle other wise is either not a Christian or walking in the flesh.

Now we come to our third point in verses 25-26, we see the choice.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The believer has a daily choice of whether we will choice to walk in the spirit. Let’s choice the spirit tonight so we can have victory.

The Statutes Of Liberty (Galatians 5v1-15)

The Freedom that we have as American’s is a great blessing that comes with a great responsibility. That responsibility is to do our part and preserve the freedom we’ve been blessed with.

Former President Ronald Reagan said it well when he said,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Maybe like me when you think of preserving freedom you think of defending our nation from outside attacks by military action. This is true, its important to support those who protect us and pray for them and their families.

But also as American’s we must also preserve our freedom from within, by voting for leaders who hold to the traditional values established by our forefathers. For example we should not vote for a person who is a marxist or an antinomian because those philosophies are the root of communism and lawlessness which leads to the lack of freedom and a lack of value for human life and morality.

I point these things out tonight not because I’m feeling extremely patriotic. But because Paul in our text writes to the Christians in Galatia about their freedom. Not national freedom but spiritual freedom in Christ. As we see Paul is going to encourage the believers in Galatia to stand fast in their liberty as a Christian.

The main focus of Paul in instructing these believers to stand in freedom is to tell them and us to abide in grace by rejecting any teaching or philosophy that denies the liberty that we have through faith in Jesus Christ.

Tonight as we look at Paul’s statutes of liberty we’ll focus on two teaching to beware of and reject. Those two things are:

  1. Beware of legalism which destroys your liberty as a Christian.
  2. Beware of license which destroys your liberty as a Christian.

First in verses 1-12 we are warned to beware of legalism which destroys your liberty as a Christian.

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

The Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C has above the many engraved names, “Freedom Is Not Free.” This memorial serves to honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

That memorial also serves as a reminder to all future generations who enjoy freedom, that liberty comes at a great cost and with a great responsibility.

The same is true when thinking about the fact that through our faith in Jesus we are free from the law and sin. This freedom was not free God had to send His own Son as the ransom for the sins of the world.

We have a responsibility in light of our freedom and that is to stand fast in liberty. Like the Statue of Liberty, which shines unmovable, even so we as believers are to abide in grace and shine the light of God’s word, so all who are outside of Christ can see.

The way the Galatians were to abide in Grace was to trust Christ alone for salvation and not go back to a work based religion. Paul warns them if they did turn to the law they would be putting themselves under a back to a yoke of bondage.

Paul and Peter both taught believers that turning to the law was bondage, Peter in Acts 15:10-11 said,

10Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Both Paul and Peter and knew that departing from grace to the law is a yoke of bondage. A yoke was a tool to bind two oxen together so they could plow.

The law with all of it’s rules and regulations was like this. In Christ that yoke has been broken, now we are yoked with Jesus who promises us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

What would it say to the many men and women who have died for the cause of freedom if our nation turned from our freedom and elected a communist dictator?

Even so Paul in a since says to turn to the law from the gospel of grace is to make Christ profit less.To once believe that they were justified by faith in Christ alone to now thinking that they had to add works such as becoming a proselyte of Judaism denies the very sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.

Not only does it deny the work of Christ, but trusting in your own works is profitless because blessings of God come upon those who are in Christ as Ephesians says. The only way you can be in Christ is by grace through faith alone.

The false teachers were promising the blessings of God by being circumcised and coming to God by works. Paul said don’t listen to them those checks will bounce. “Their ego was writing checks their body can’t cash” (Top Gun).

3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Paul gives a great reminder to the Galatians in this verse, he says, “you get what you pay for.” Or be careful what you ask for.

This bad chose reminds me of when back in 1 Samuel when Samuel warns Israel about wanting a king, he told them what the result would be and yet the people still wanted him.

Even so Paul tells the Galatians that if they chose to go the route they are going and abandon their liberty in Christ for seeking righteous through the law, then they are required to keep the whole law. A person who is under the law can’t pick and chose which laws they want to keep, they must keep all the 613.

Not only that but that person is a debtor to keep the whole law. Paul is addressing the impossibility of being made righteous by the law. In order to be made righteous by the law, you must continually keep all the law perfectly, any failure brings sin and the curse of the law which is death.

4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Another bad result of embracing the law to be made righteous is it will estranges them from Christ. Put another way they have fallen from grace

Often when reading this verse we think of the lose of salvation, there is no evidence for this in this text or the Bible. I don’t believe a genuine believer can be unborn again.

What I believe Paul is saying is they are hindering the blessings of God in their lives and their spiritual growth. We grow through grace and by abiding in Christ. But to seek the law is to turn from Christ and His word, thus the source of blessing is cut off from our lives.

The basis of a believers standing before God and our hope of awaking in the likeness of Jesus in heaven has never been nor will ever be on the basis of the law,, but by our faith alone in Christ.

Paul also taught this in Romans 5:1-2 when he said,

1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The basis of a believers standing before God and our hope of being with Christ in heaven has always been grace and always will be grace.

7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

The Christian life is described in the New Testament as a race. Paul draws their attention to this illustration and says that their embracing false teaching is like a person seeking to hinder you in your race. False teachers are like those sand people in Star Wars 1 who try to shot at the pod racers.

Legalism does not help you in running the race for God’s glory, it only hinders you.

8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.

This teaching did not come from God, who called them in His grace through the gospel. Rather their teaching was like an evil persuasion. Legalism is very persuasive, it is does not lead to blessing but bondage.

9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Jesus called the legalistic teachings of the scribes and Pharisees in the gospels the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees. Even so Paul said the teachings of the Judiazers were like leaven. The teachings of the Judiazers spread and was corrupting that whole church.

10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

Paul had confidence in two things because of the Lord. First because the Galatians were God’s children they would have no other mind than, than what Paul is teaching. In other words they would repent when they received this letter.

Second Paul was confident as he said in chapter one that false teachers who preach a different gospel will be judged by God. Notice regardless of who they are God will judge, God honors His word above His name, they would be judged.

11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.

The Judiazers claimed that Paul still taught that circumcision was essential for salvation. Paul said that he did not based on the fact that he was persecuted for teaching that salvation is by grace through faith alone apart from the law.

12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

Paul uses a little sarcasm in this verse. The judiazers thought they were righteous because of the cutting away of the flesh in circumcision, Paul says they should just go all out and castrate them self.

The waring of Paul is clear in these verses for believers to stay away from legalism. Just as communism has shown may sad affects on formerly free countries even, so legalism Paul says bears horrible results in the lives of those who are free in Christ.

Paul says legalism brings the believer into bondage, it makes Christ profitless, it makes us a debtor to keep the whole law perfectly, it severs us from Christ and His grace, it hinders us in our races that God has called us to run, it is an evil persuasion, it is a corruption that spreads like leaven, those who preach this message are going to be judged.

Now we come to our second point in verses 13-15 we are to beware of license which destroys your liberty in Christ.

The question now arises, if believers are free in Christ and not under the law, does that mean that we can do whatever we want? The answer as we will see is no, but we are under the law of love.

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The believer was not saved to serve themselves and the flesh, but we have been called to freedom to love and serve one another. Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 2:16-17 said,

16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

We as believers are not to use our freedom in Christ as an excuse to live however we want, rather we are to remember that we are bondservants of God. A bondservant was one that was free but who willingly surrender their life and will to their master. Even so we are free but we have surrendered our lives and will to our good and faithful master Jesus Christ and His word.

The believer is no longer under the law of Moses as seen in the previous verses, but we are not lawless. The believer is under the grace of God and the law of Christ. The law of Christ are those principles that are expressed in the New Testament. Some of these principles are seen in the Old Testament because God has a moral law that never changes through out history. The way we now which laws from the Old Testament we are to keep and which are part of God’s moral law are those that are reiterated by the Apostles and the writers of the New Testament. For example nine of the Ten Commandments are reiterated in some form in the New Testament. The only command that is not is the Sabbath command.

When the Bible does not specifically speak about an issue, then the law of love still applies. The law of God is fulfilled through the law of love. God the Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom and power to fulfill the law by loving others.

This being the case walking in freedom is not walking in license but love and obedience to God. As we love God we will love others and notice Peter even says that we will honor the king. Peter is talking about giving the due respect the leader of Rome at that time.

How can we love others and represent God as free citizens of heaven? God’s calling is His enabling, because we are children of God who is love God will give us the power to love one another.

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

As the believer walks with Christ we will walk in love and in so doing we will fulfill the law, because the law is summed up and fulfilled by loving others as ourselves.

15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

Just as the believer must stand fast in the liberty and not give into legalism which leads to bondage, even so we not give ourselves over to sin. Sin leads to quarreling and division, which has a negative affect on the believer and the body of Christ just like legalism.

In closing the believer who is free by faith in Jesus Christ is not to move to the right hand or to the left. But we are to abide in so we can enjoy the life, liberty and joy that God has promised to His citizens through Jesus Christ.

Extreme Makeover: Galatian Edition (Galatians 4v8-31)

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

  1. We are to beware of legalism and legalists because they give bad spiritual makeovers.
  2. 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.


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.


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.

Act Your Age (Galatians 4.1-7)

As a kid growing up did your parents ever tell you “Act your age?” I recall being told this many times growing up (I was the class clown/goof ball).

Were you ever told this by your parents or someone else an adult?

If your answer is yes, you’re not alone. At least three groups of people in the New Testament are told, “act your age”, or better put, “grow up” or “be a mature.”

The first group is addressed by James, in the epistle of James. The theme of the epistle of James is maturity. James encourages his reads to walk in maturity and good works.

The second group that is addressed are the Hebrew Christians in Hebrews 6:1-3. The writer of Hebrews says,

1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.

2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.(NLT)

The situation in the book of Hebrews is that the Jewish Christians were thinking about returning to Judaism because of persecution. The writer of Hebrews writes and says there is no going back, they were to move forward and walk in maturity in their Christian life.

The third group is seen tonight in the book of Galatians.

As we’ll see the Galatians were walking in a mature loving relationship by grace through faith. Yet after all this the churches of Galatia were infiltrated by false teachers known as Judiazers who were teaching the Gentile Christians that in order for them to be saved and grow to perfection or maturity they needed to convert to Judaism and keep the law of Moses.

Paul responds to that teaching in these verses and points out through a couple of illustrations that, that thinking is childish and foolish. Rather than turning to the law, the Galatians were to press forward in maturity by abiding in grace.

Tonight as we look at Paul’s encouragement for the Galatians to “Act their age” we’ll learn in verses 1-7 about our position in Christ. As we look at this truth it will encourage us to abide in grace.

1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Whether a person was raised in the Roman, Greek or Jewish culture they understood that their was a specific coming of age ceremony. This coming of age ceremony was preformed for boy who reached an age in which they are now considered a man. Not only were they considered a man but they would also begin partaking of their inheritance the the blessing of their birthright.

It’s believed by most scholars that Paul in these verses focuses specifically on the Roman culture, since the time by which the child was “of age” was determined by the father.

The focus of Paul in talking about these customs was to show that before the time determined by the father, the child had no rights or freedom, in a since they were no better off than their guardian and stewards.

The guardians and stewards were slaves that were owned by wealthy Romans. Their job was to watch over and care for their children. Last week we talked about another position in the Roman household which was disciplinarian called a tutor.

Paul moves on in verses 3-5 and gives the application to the Galatians of his illustration.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.

“The bondage of the elements of the world” refers to the religious experiences of the Galatians before Christ. This would apply to both Jew and Gentiles in the congregation.

If a person was a Jew like Paul they grew up under the law, they knew that the laws, rules and regulations of Judaism could never save them, rather it just keep them in a form of bondage until the time of maturity determined by the Father.

Even so the Gentiles who were in bondage of pagan religions, were in bondage until the time in which God appointed for them to be free from bondage and come to Christ and maturity.

Paul I believe speaks of this in Acts 17:30-31 when talking to the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill, he says,

30Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Both Jew and Gentile were in a state of bondage until the time appointed by the Father to send Christ to bring them to salvation or a Paul illustrates it here a state of maturity.

4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

Just as the father in the Roman culture determined when the son was to become a man, even so God the Father in His infinite wisdom and knowledge determined a perfect time to send Christ.

Often we think that the perfect time would be in our age of technology and information. But Paul says were wrong, the perfect time to send Jesus was when He was born around 7-6 B.C.

What made this time the fulness of time? There are a number of things we can point to: the Jewish Messianic hope was at its highest, there was a universal language in Greek to share the gospel, there was a universal translation of the Bible in the Septuagint, there were roads connecting all of the Roman empire so missionaries could travel, there was an enforced peace making it possible for missionaries to spread the gospel, the Jews were in the Disporia and therefore synagogues were established which made it possible for Harvest crusade and apologetics conferences to take place.

Beyond all this the fullness of time could be prophetic. God for example spoke to Daniel through the angel Gabriel and gave him the specific time in which the Messiah would reveal Himself and die for the sins of the world.

You can read this prophecy in Daniel 9:25. The time that was set was from the command to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem given by Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 B.C.

From that date the Jews were to could 483 years or on a 360 day calendar would be 173,880 days. Most scholars are agreed that this date would be April 6, 32 AD. which was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey declaring Himself as their King and Messiah.

The gospel of Luke says that when Jesus came in and declared Himself as the Messiah some praised Him, but the religious leaders and Israel as a whole rejected Him.

In response to this rejection were told in Luke 19:41-42:

41Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

This was the day set by God the Father and Israel should have know it. They should have know as seen in Paul’s illustration that it was Bar Mitzvah time. All those years Israel had been waiting for the Messiah under the law and yet they rejected Him.

Paul in Romans 9-11 days this all happened because the Jews sought righteous by the law rather than Christ. Because of Israel’s rejection for a time they have been blinded and set aside. When the fulness of the Gentiles comes in then God through the great tribulation will give Israel a big spanking and then they will be finally ready for maturity and their Bar Mitzvah.

Not only was the time in which God send Jesus perfect, but the way God adopted man was perfect and one of a kind. mankind. Look at the end of verse 5 which gives us the doctrine of Christ in a nut shell.

Notice three things about who Jesus was;

First Jesus was the Son of God. The fact that Jesus is called the Son of God, should not make us think that He was created by God in eternity past.

The term Son of God actually implies that Jesus is also God, the second person of the Trinity (Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1,14, 8:58, Hebrews 1, 1 Timothy 3:16). Yet while Jesus is equal with the Father He choses to be submissive to the Father, as the Holy Spirit is submissive to both the father and Christ.

Second Jesus was born of a women. This phrase alone refutes the liberals that says that Jesus was just a normal man. If Jesus was just a man Paul would have not written this. This phrase also implies the virgin birth, which is how God became a man without a sin nature.

Through the virgin birth God took a human nature and added it to His divine nature, so that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

God did this so as man He could die in our place and as God He could meet the righteous requirements of a Holy God.

Third Jesus was born under the law. Jesus was not born to just any women, but Jesus was born of a women that was part of the blood line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Nathan.

It was essential that Mary was from this specific line because if she was from the line of David through Solomon would have been from the line of Solomon the Jesus could not be the Messiah because God place a curse on one of his later descendants whose name was Jeconiah found in the book of Jeremiah.

Jesus was born of this specific line of Israel to fulfill the promises of God made to Israel. Jesus was born of Israel so He could fulfill the law given as a covenant to Israel.

Jesus was born under the law, therefore He kept it perfectly and fulfilled the law through Hi perfect life. Christ also died on the cross and bore the curse of the law because all mankind have broken God’s law.

Two results are given in verse 5 to all who put their faith in Christ..
5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Christ first through His death and resurrection made it possible for all who believe on Him to be set from the bondage of the law and its curse of death for breaking it.

Second Jesus made it possible for who believe in Him receive the adoption as sons and daughters of God.

When we read terms like adoption in the Bible we need to understand it in the context of first century AD Rome. Commenting on this phrase William MacDonald says,

“Adoption in Roman culture differed from that in modern life. We think of adoption as taking someone else’s child to be one’s own. But in the NT, adoption means putting believers into the position of mature sons with all the privileges and responsibilities of that position.”

Think about this first in context of what was going on in Galatia. The false teachers were no doubt teaching the Gentiles that they needed to keep the law to be born again, filled with the spirit an walk in maturity.

Paul says you are ready are looked at by God as His child, He has granted you all His blessings and privileges, all you need to do is know it and walk in it.

6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

The evidence of our adoptions are not mere papers, but the indwelling Holy Spirit. This evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a changed life (Galatians 5:24) and a desire to love and serve God (Galatians 4:6).

7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Paul sums up his argument once again by showing the foolishness of thinking you have to turn to the law to be saved and have a mature relationship with God. Paul says it is foolish an childish to do so.

In closing remember you position and abide in God’s grace.

Law School (Galatians 3v19-29)

If you had to read the Bible and write a PD or job description for the Christian life what would it include? One of the things you would have to include, is at times you will be called on by God to do the work of a defense lawyer.

The Apostle Peter tells us this in 1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Every believer is to always be ready to give a defense for the hope they have. This hope is our salvation. The word defense is the Greek legal term apologia.

This legal term is seen many times in the New Testament, let me point out two.

First in Acts 25:16 when Festus is talking to King Agrippa about the Apostle

Paul, he said, ‘To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’

Paul was a Roman citizen which meant he had the right to give a verbal defense or answer concerning the charges that were brought against him. Paul was going to represent himself as his own defense lawyer.

Second Paul in Philippians 1:17 used this word in reference to the gospel when he said, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.

Paul recognized that he was called to defend the gospel of grace against false teachers and teachings.

If you read Paul’s letters you will notice that Paul often defended the gospel of grace against those false teachers who taught that Gentiles must convert to Judaism and keep the law of Moses to be saved. We’ve seen this so far in the book of Galatians.

Paul’s defense against these teachers is to clearly explain the basis of salvation by faith alone and also teach believers the proper purpose and place of the law.

Tonight as the Holy Spirit brings us into the court room to show us Paul’s defense for the gospel of grace, we’ll learn two things.

  1. The purpose and place of the law in God’s redemptive plan.
  2. The position in Christ by faith alone.

First in verses 19-25 we learn the purpose and place of the law of Moses in God’s redemptive plan.

19a What purpose then does the law serve?

The focus of Paul up until this point in chapter 3 has been to focus on the promises given to Abraham in relation to the law of Moses.

The promises given to Abraham is also called the Abrahamic covenant which is given from Genesis chapters 12-22. God in these chapters made a number of unconditional promises to Abraham. Unconditional means, that it was not based on Abraham’s obedience to fulfill them, but God alone. This is illustrated in Genesis 15; in the covenant ceremony.

Theologians have divided these promises of God into three major categories which are; land, seed and blessing. These three aspects of God’s Covenant with Abraham are later expanded into the three unconditional Jewish covenants.

They are; the land promise which is seen in the Palestinian or land covenant (Deuteronomy 29-30), the seed promise, seen in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-14) and the blessing promise, which is seen in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Paul in this chapter specifically talks about the blessing aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham because it relates to His defense that through Christ both Jew and Gentile are saved by grace through faith alone just like Abraham.

We see this in Galatians 3:8 when Paul said, And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”

God in giving this promise to Abraham gave a prophecy that through Christ, Gentiles apart from the law, since this promise was given before the could enjoy the blessing of Abraham by faith apart from the law.

I point these things out because it gives us the back ground to Paul’s question. Paul in this verse anticipates the question from the Judiazers who would ask, if Jews and Gentiles were promised salvation by faith alone, then why did God give the law?

As we will see Paul in answer this first of two questions gives a good concise answer for both the purpose and place of the law.

19b It was added because of transgressions…

First the law was given because of transgressions. The law was a means of showing man their sins. Sin existed before the law, transgressions came with the law because a transgression is a violation of a known law. The law revealed to a person where they were sinning against God.

This revelation of sin also served as a restrainer of sin for the nation of Israel. Israel knew that a violation of God’s law brought judgment. This was one of God’s means to rule the nation of Israel as a theocracy and protect them from becoming like the Other nations of the world..

19c. till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;

The word till is a word that indicates a temporary period of time. The law was never established to be an eternal covenant. The law was a temporary institution in the working out of God’s plan off redemption. The law was added and commanded to be followed until to be temporarily until Christ the Seed of Abraham would come and fulfill the blessing promise made to him.

Often people who seek to teach that it is still a requirement for Christians to keep the law point to Jesus teaching on the sermon on the mount.

Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19,

17“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was very clear in these verses that He did not come to change the written law of God. Rather than seek to change it Jesus came to fulfill it and until Jesus fulfilled the law, not one jot or tittle would pass away.

How would Jesus fulfill the law? It was not with His coming to earth, but with His death on the cross. Until He fulfill the law in the cross He and His disciples did and were commanded to keep the law.

Once Christ fulfilled the law on the cross those who believe in Christ are no

longer under the law. Paul in Romans 10:4 says, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The fact that Christ fulfilled the law also affects how man relates to God and the covenants He made with Israel.

For example Paul in Ephesians 2:11-15,

11Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

The law separated Gentiles from receiving the promises of Abraham as Gentiles. Under the law in order for Gentiles to experience the blessing of Abraham they has to convert to Judaism. But through the death and resurrection of Christ He has made it possible for Gentiles to be saved by Gentiles by faith alone. Christ also tore down the wall of enmity that the law created between Jew and Gentile.

We’re given some more insight into the nature of the law at the end of verse 19-20.

19d and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

The law were told in this verse was a covenant. The law was an agreement between God and Israel. This covenant began when Israel left Egypt and came to Mount Sinai. It was there at this mountain that God promised Israel that if they obeyed His law, then they would be His own special people and a royal priesthood.

Paul in this verse contrasts the covenant that God made with Israel and the one God gave to Abraham. Notice three things that made this covenant of Moses inferior.

First as we just learned that law was temporary, while the covenant made with Abraham was eternal. Second the way the covenant with made was inferior. Paul says that God delivered the law to Moses through angels. But verse 20 in talking about the covenant that God made with Abraham says there was no mediator, the promises were made directly. Third the covenant that God made with Moses and Israel was conditioned on obedience, if Israel obeyed they would be blessed, if they disobeyed they would be judged. The covenant that God made to Abraham was unconditional, it was based on God and Him alone to fulfill His promises.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

The law was not given as an addition to the promise that God gave Abraham, nor did the law contradict this promise. Paul says God forbid. God can’t contradict Himself!

The reason why the law does not add to or contradict to the promise made to Abraham was the law was never given as a means of salvation. The law could not give life. The law was never given to make a person righteous, because the law could never make a person righteous.

The law law was given rather as an absolute standard of life and morality. It was by which a person who was righteous by faith in God was to walk.

22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

While law could not save anyone, it does show man that he needs to be saved. The law confines all the world under sin. The reason is the person who breaks one of God’s laws is guilty of them all and is under the curse of God’s law. The only person that could save man is Jesus Christ.

This is seen in the classic illustration of Joshua and Moses. Moses could only lead Israel to the promise land, it was Joshua which is the Hebrew name for Jesus that was the one to lead them in. In the same way, the law can show you are a sinner, but it is Christ alone that can give salvation.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

The law kept man in confinement, until Jesus would come and free man from their sin and the law.

24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

The law before Christ was like a tutor. This is not a school teacher, but a slave who had the responsibility to be the disciplinarian of the children. The children would be under this tutor until they were of a mature age. In the same way, God established the law to keep man, but now that Christ has come and fulfilled the law, man is not under law but under grace.

Before we move on let me point out two application.

First when God keeps His promises. Second when God speaks as works in our lives they are for a reason.

Now we come to our second point in verses 26-29 we see our position in Christ by faith alone.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

The previous verses have been legal, now in talking to the believers Paul get’s personal. In these verses we leave the courtroom take off the tie and go home to our family.

Paul reminds us of the blessings that we have through Christ and the promises made through Abraham.

First you and I are sons and daughter of God through faith. Second through our faith we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. When God looks at us He sees us as a son or daughter.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The law brought distinctions, but grace reveals that all are equal in the eyes of God. No one has a higher standing with God than another. We are all sinners saved by grace. While all are equal in Christ God does still have roles for men and women and a distinct plan for ethnic Israel.

29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

God made the promise of blessing to Abraham that through Christ His seed all the earth would be blessed. God fulfilled that promise. Since we are Christ’s we inherit this blessing of Abraham. This does not mean we take the place of ethnic Israel, or that we are now spiritual Jews.

What Paul is saying is you and I are no longer excluded because we are Gentiles as we were through the law. Because the law has been fulfilled we have been blessed with the blessings of Abraham.

In closing, God wants to use us to defend our faith, let’s be bold and allow the Holy Spirit to use us to give to every man an answer of the hope that is within us.

Bewitched (Galatians 3v10-18)

It’s not uncommon for some of Disney’s classic love stories to tell a story of a person who was under a curse and then got rescued by their true love.

This is the testimony of sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Beast, from Beauty and the best. These princesses and prince were without hope, until their lover often through heroic acts freed them.

Here’s a funny question. How many of these lovers after being delivered from a curse would have happily and knowingly put themselves back under a curse? Sound crazy? (This could be a new ABC series).

Sadly this is what was going on in the lives of the Galatians. Let me explain. The believers in Galatians were under the curse of sin and in bondage to paganism. While under this curse and in bondage they were rescued by Jesus, through the preaching of the gospel by Paul.

While these Galatians were living happily ever after with Jesus Paul says these believers were seeking to return to a curse. Paul in Galatians 3:1 asked them, Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

The believers in Galatia were being bewitched by the Judiazers to not trust in the gospel alone for salvation, rather they were being instructed to also keep the law of Moses to be made righteous.

As we will see Paul says this is foolish because the law brings a curse. Rather than return to a curse These believers were to stay focused on Jesus and His amazing grace.

As we continue with Paul’s defense of the gospel of grace we’ll focus on two things;

1. Don’t be bewitched to turn from the love of Christ to the curse of the law.

2. Keep your eyes on Jesus who bore our curse so we could have a relationship.

First in verses 10-12 we see a warning not to be bewitched to turn from the love of Christ to the curse of the law.

Last week we saw that Paul used 6 six logical questions to show the Galatians through their salvation experience that were not to seek salvation by the law.

Paul now in verses 10-14 uses six Old Testament scriptures to show that these believers were not to seek salvation by the law.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE IN ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO DO THEM.”

Let’s begin by defining the law that Paul is talking about in this passage. The word law is used a couple of different ways through out the scriptures.

The most common way as seen in this passage is referring to the law that God gave Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai. The law includes the 10 commandments but there is more then just the Ten Commandments. The law is given from Exodus 20 to the end of the book of Deuteronomy.

Rabbinic Judaism has divided these teachings up into 613 commandments, both positive and negative. These laws have also been divided up into ceremonial, legal and moral laws.

It is important to point out that, while breaking the law up into three divisions of ceremonial, legal and moral is helpful for study, we must still look at the law as one unit.

James 1:10 says, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Paul in Galatians 5:3 says, And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Also Paul here in verse 10 points to what Moses said in Deuteronomy 27:26 which says that the curse of the law comes on all those who do not do all the law.

Some religious groups falsely want you to believe that Christians are under as Paul calls it the works of the law, yet they only point to various laws that you at to keep.

They point to various the various dietary laws and the Sabbath. But they forget about the other 611 commandments. They forget about the laws of cleanness and uncleanness. They forget that three times a year all males must go to Jerusalem for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Failure to do so is sin.

You can’t pick and chose which law you will keep and will not keep. If you are going to seek to be made righteous by keeping the law then, the Bible teach you must keep all them perfectly.

If I fail to keep the law then I am under the curse of the law. In some cases in the Old Testament this meant capital punishment. For all sins Paul says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), that is eternal separation from God in hell.

The first warning we get from this passage is do not turn to the law for salvation, you can’t keep it. In order to keep it perfectly you must be perfect like Jesus. Failure to keep the law puts you back at the place where Jesus saved you from.

11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

Paul goes on and says that even the righteous believers in Old Testament understood that no one could keep the law perfectly and be justified by it. Justification by faith alone is not a New Testament teaching. Last week we saw that Abraham before the law was saved by faith alone.

Now Paul points to the testimony of the prophet Habakuk in Habakuk 2:4. Habakuk knew that no one could stand righteously in the sight of a Holy

God, on the basis of keeping the law. Those who are righteous are such by their faith in God.

King David also said this in Psalm 32. Paul in Romans 4:5-8 says,

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8Blessed is the man to whom

the LORD shall not impute sin.”

Isaiah who also lived under the law also said this in Isaiah 64:6 that all our good works are like filthy rags in the eyes of the Lord.

The context of this passage in Isaiah was that Israel was going through the motions of keeping the law but their hearts were far from God. Isaiah points out that it is not the works of the law that please God, it is the heart and faith behind the works. God wants a heart that is surrendered to Him, by grace through faith alone.

Our second warning is to think Biblically. While a teaching sounds appealing and spiritual, we must judge how it lines up with the Bible. If the Bible teaches other wise then reject that teaching. If the Bible is silent and it is a liberty issue then fall back on the principle of word.

12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “THE MAN WHO DOES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”

Paul now gets to the heart of how the law is fulfilled. The stress of the law is works obedience as seen in Leviticus 18:5. Paul shows here that adding the requirement to keep the law with believing in Jesus is a contradiction.

The gospel teaches believe and be saved, believe and you will be justified.Yet the law stresses obedience to be righteous? Not just obedience but perfect obedience, the person who is under the law, must continually keep them, they must live by them.

The point of Paul here is either we are justified by our faith, or you are seeking to be made righteous by continual perfect obedience. The two can’t go together. Pick one! As we just saw if you chose the law you are doomed to fail because there is none righteous no not one.

Back to our illustration: With this insight of the law, it would be crazy to be bewitched by false teachers and return to a curse by seeking to be righteous by the law or legalism.

We must be wise and reject false teaching so we can abide in our living relationship with Christ. We don’t want anything to get in between the intimacy an joy that God promised us as the bride of Christ.

Second in verses 13-18 we see that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus who bore our curse so we could have a relationship.

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”),

As we just saw all who break the law are under the curse of the law. All mankind had broken God’s law and therefore have been sentenced to death and eternal separation from God because of our sin. This is the bad new.

Here’s the good news, Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. How did Jesus did Jesus do this?

Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 which refers to the fact that under the law their were some cases because of sin that a person was put to death (usually by stoning) and then had their dead body hung up on a tree or stake for all to see the curse that their sin brought.

Paul uses this verse as an illustration of the work that Jesus did for mankind on the cross as a penal substitution. God placed upon Jesus the sins and punishment that we deserved for breaking God’s law.

In this passage we can see three results of Jesus death on the cross.

First those who put their faith in Jesus are redeemed. The word redeemed is an interesting word, it is a Greek word that can mean to buy out of slavery. All mankind because of sin are held captive, we are under a curse with no hope, yet through our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ we are saved and set free.

We see two more results in verse 14.

14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The second result that Paul gives for Jesus’ death is that He made Gentile salvation possible. Through the cross Jesus has made it possible for all men to be saved. Christ is the savior of all men especially those who believe.

Third Jesus death, Resurrection and ascension makes the permeant indwelling of the Holy Spirit possible through faith. The Holy Spirit is given to the bride of Christ like a wedding ring, it is to remind us of our future hope.

Paul goes on and answers an objection concerning the fact that the law was given after the promise of salvation to Abraham. If the law was given later does that mean that God replaced that promise with the law?

Paul’s answer is no. He goes on and shows clearly that salvation is by grace through faith alone, just as we saw in the life of Abraham and the other Old Testament believers.

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

The point of Paul in this verse is to stress the importance and immutability of the promises made to Abraham. Paul pointed the Galatians to their own culture and laws and says, look covenants made by man can’t be added to or changed once they have been signed and sealed, how much more than the one given by God Himself to Abraham.

The covenant that God made with Abraham is unconditional. This is illustrated in Genesis 15 that God alone passed through the sacrifices.

Not only is Abrahamic covenant unconditional but it is eternal and guaranteed.

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “AND TO YOUR SEED,” who is Christ.

The promises and blessing that Paul refers to here in this context refers specifically to salvation. Notice Paul points out the promises were not just made with Abraham but also to his Seed singular which is Christ.

Since God made this promise to Abraham and Jesus the promises were guaranteed. Also the spiritual blessing that God promised in Genesis 22:18 would find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Paul plainly say that the law which came later could not change the promises that God made to Abraham and Christ. The mention of 430 years probably refers to the last time that God passed the promises of Abraham on to Jacob while he was on his way to Egypt. God would have gave Jacob this promise 430 years before He gave Israel the law on Mount Sinai.

William MacDonald says concerning verses 15-18,

“Paul’s argument in this section may be summarized as follows: In Gen 12:3, God promised to bless all families of the earth in Abram. This promise of salvation included Gentiles as well as Jews. In Gen 22:18, God also promised: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” He said seed (singular), not “seeds” (plural). God was referring to One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was a direct descendant of Abraham (Luk 3:34). In other words, God promised to bless all nations, Gentile as well as Jewish, through Christ. The promise was unconditional; it required neither good works nor legal obedience. It was a simple promise meant to be received in simple faith.”

Nothing could change the promise that God gave Abraham, which was that through Jesus Christ all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

In closing let’s keep our eyes on Jesus so we can continue to enjoy His wonderful love and grace.