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ESGAL05 Galatians 5

Galatians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:12
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Galatians 5 NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5 NKJV
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 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. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! 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. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
.1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. This freedom came at a great cost…the laying down of the life of the Son of God. He rose from the dead to defeat death and the fear of it. Where O death is your sting? Where O death is your victory? Jesus ascended to God the Father where he is at the right hand side of God interceding there on our behalf saying to the Father: he/she is mine – my blood paid for them – my righteousness covers them.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. This freedom came at a great cost…the laying down of the life of the Son of God. He rose from the dead to defeat death and the fear of it. Where O death is your sting? Where O death is your victory? Jesus ascended to God the Father where he is at the right hand side of God interceding there on our behalf saying to the Father: he/she is mine – my blood paid for them – my righteousness covers them.
We only do ourselves harm when we try to seek God’s approval by working to please Him. We have forgotten we already have His approval because Jesus paid the price in full. He has accepted us. It is finished. There is no more to do. Freedom has been given – now we can revel in it. What is our response except to rejoice and to love Him in return – He deserves our allegiance. Now we want to do His will – not because we are compelled to, not because we are trying somehow to get to God – but out of our response to His amazing love – because our desire is just to please Him with no thought of benefit to ourselves. Our prayer should be that God reveals how wonderful His love is to us then we will be confident in our God who saves to the uttermost and makes us secure in Him. The more we realise how much we need God the more we love Him and want to please Him.
.1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. This freedom came at a great cost…the laying down of the life of the Son of God. He rose from the dead to defeat death and the fear of it. Where O death is your sting? Where O death is your victory? Jesus ascended to God the Father where he is at the right hand side of God interceding there on our behalf saying to the Father: he/she is mine – my blood paid for them – my righteousness covers them.
I think that whilst I always like to start a new series it seems I have an old one to complete! So, I will continue through Galatians that I started over a year ago to see what the Lord may have for us to understand and grasp so that we can be who God wants us to be.
We have inherited a new nature from God and we have been clothed in righteousness through the blood of Jesus. Freedom is to know that our salvation is not based upon works but is instead a gift given to us on the basis of faith. This, of course, is something we do need to keep reminding ourselves as Paul has done an admiral job of during this letter.
The key phrases in this passage are faith working through love, A little leaven leavens the whole lump, the offence of the cross, through love serve one another, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” And finally bite and devour one another.
Love connects 3 of these: Faith working through love, through love serve one another, and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Faith working through love, through love serve one another, and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
The point of this passage is one too easy to miss when discussing faith and works. But the overarching theme here is love. Once you know that it is faith and not works that gains favour with God:
(NKJV) — 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him.
It seems that in the freedom that we have we have choices to make:
they can either be selfish or giving,
they can be evil or good,
they can be jealous and envious or humble and content,
the choices can be for ourselves or for others,
the choice to live anyway we like according to the flesh or live according to God by the Spirit,
and the choice can be to bite and devour which sounds devilish:
(NKJV) — 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
(NKJV) — 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
or the choice is to forgive, let go, and be peacemakers and encouragers instead.
Faith and love are the essential ingredients for the godly life.
We are those who have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes to know what we would like to be done to us.
If we have known those who have had miscarriages, family who are grieving, friends who have been injured, those in financial ruin and place ourselves, in our mind’s eye, where they are then we get the sort of idea of what is expected of us in response. Compassion. There is a Christian song that starts: Everyone needs compassion. Are we those who are ready to give compassion to those who need it? Or do we skip over without hearing what is really going on in them? Of course it is easier to focus upon our own hurt, our own problems, our own feelings...but one of the ways we can overcome those things in our lives that cause us pain, is to give to others in time, in fellowship, in love, in compassion.
There are times when we want to rant and rave and be angry when people just seem oblivious to the destruction they leave behind. Patience and kindness are hard qualities to find but we have a choice and we fail and lack because we really do not want to walk the path of the cross. Remember this; that we are answerable to God for our response and reactions and not for the behaviour of others. And we have to watch what we criticise in others as it is often a mask for faults in ourselves that cover our own ungodly ways.
(NKJV) — 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.
I know that sometimes Christians can be a nightmare and do all sorts of things to us which are the opposite of Christ-likeness. Some read verses such as the one following as an excuse to behave in such a bad way expecting their brothers and sisters-in-Christ to do the right thing:
Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
1 Corinthians 6:7b NKJV
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
(ESV) — 7 Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
Things are not always what they seem are they? We might meet someone who is completely obnoxious but what we don’t know is what had happened to them that day or earlier on in their lives. There are so many reasons why people behave the way that they do other than the obvious sin nature. Compassion for even the worst people is Jesus’ response. Yes they are sinners but so are we. Jesus sought us out. Let us not be too harsh on others for we, ourselves, have been forgiven. And it seems that what these other people want is forgiveness and a new start too.
But, as a Christian let us be careful not to be defrauding.
(NKJV) — 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
To defraud: to illegally obtain money or deprive someone of something by deception or fraud. The only way out of this is repentance:
(NKJV) — 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Note that the crowd as well would not have wanted to go to dinner with this man because he probably would have already defrauded them but Jesus loved this man regardless. This is also, then, the call of the Church. We would not have given him the time of day but here was a man in need of acceptance despite what he had done...
Things are not always what they seem are they? We might meet someone who is completely obnoxious but what we don’t know is what had happened to them that day or earlier on their lives. There are so many reasons why people behave the way that they do other than the obvious sin nature. Compassion for even the worst people is Jesus’ response. Yes they are sinners but so are we. Jesus sought us out. Let us not be too harsh on others for we have been forgiven. And it seems that what these other people want is forgiveness and a new start too.
In the original passage we read it says a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Leaven is another name for yeast. A tiny bit of yeast in dough makes it rise. The whole loaf of bread is affected. Now, as in this passage, it is clear that the leaven is not good. Yeast often has evil attached to it in Scripture. It is amazing just how quickly gossiping, backbiting, complaining and false doctrine spreads.
We have to be on our guards. What kind of yeast would we rather be putting into the bread of fellowship here? Kindness, encouragement, praise? We all have an effect upon each other. It can bring us all down or it can lift us all up.
So, lastly we come to the offence of the cross. What is it? Why is it so offensive?
Steve Chalke call God a child-abuser for sending his own Son to die rather than He Himself. Forgetting that the Father and Son are One, he (Chalke) along with others show their contempt for lack of sound knowledge but go on in a man-pleasing way to preach a gospel which is not a gospel at all. This all sounds familiar to the Galatians argument.
What, indeed, makes anything that we do uniquely Christian or is it that it doesn’t really matter. You can be religious and do good or even non-religious and do good so what is it that makes it Christian? Surely we already know that no one can be good or do good for all that is good is tainted in some way by sin and our sin nature. Even Jesus said something about this:
Unfortunately, today, the Christian Church are not aware of the dangers that come with such heresies, thinking that action is better than arguments about doctrines. The problem with that view, though, is that their action is based upon doctrines or teachings whether correct or incorrect. It is unavoidable that the reason why people act or do good is based upon something that they have learned.
But once you start down a path of wrong doctrine it keeps sliding downwards. Whilst Chalke said these things quite a number of years ago last year he went a step further advocating homosexual marriage in the Church. Truly doctrine affects what we believe which then affects our action which like yeast can spread for someone who is called a leading evangelical. They go astray and lead many others down the same path.
What is it about our so-called leading evangelicals that they are leading in the wrong way? Compromise abounds and no doubt soon, if not now, it will not be a necessity for Jesus to be our Saviour. What, indeed, makes anything that we do uniquely Christian or is it that it doesn’t really matter? You can be religious and do good or even non-religious and do good so what is it that makes it Christian? Surely we already know that no one can be good or do good for all that is good is tainted in some way by sin and our sin nature. What makes Christian good works different is that it is as a result of God’s saving grace at the cross that we are now co-workers with Christ.
What makes Christian good works different is that it is as a result of God’s saving grace at the cross that we are now co-workers with Christ.
We know from other teaching of Scripture that Jesus is God but again I wonder if I was to ask you to back it up whether you could. How do we counter people who say He is not such as Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses and atheists?
What makes Christian good works different is that it is as a result of God’s saving grace that we are now co-workers with Christ.
Some know that Jesus came to save us and that may be the limit of the knowledge that they have and it may be enough to act in a particular way consequentially so even this is based upon knowledge and doctrine. Paul considered doctrine to be of the highest importance and each of his letters has an astounding amount of doctrine. Jesus also taught His disciples. We have to be careful not to dis doctrine. We should be those who know what we should believe for it will affect our outlook on life.
The offence of the cross which is lost on us in our modern and post-modern world was that the Jewish Messiah died on a tree as a common criminal and shed his blood. To die on a tree was a curse. That the Messiah should be proclaimed Lord and Christ as a result of being hung on wood and enduring such a death was incredibly insulting and intolerable. Their Messiah was supposed to come in power and reign supreme and overcome the Romans. But this Messiah laid down His life. For the Jews this is a stumbling stone. For others this was the height of folly that one who could save himself from such a notorious and gruesome death could have done so but didn’t.
The doctrine of the cross is offensive because it takes away any possibility that we can achieve salvation in God on our own and on our own terms. It destroys our pride. We have to acknowledge that self-achievement and self-help is not the way to improve the quality of our lives. We cannot add anything to the cross. It is only, only, through the cross that salvation can be given. The cross sheds light upon our sinful nature in that it reveals our hearts to be evil and full of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy because we have to pretend we are better than we really are but there is nothing that anyone, you or me, can contribute to gain salvation. In Galatians the only little contribution that they were wanting to make and were expecting it to be OK was to be circumcised. This is really no hardship. But anything added to the cross devalues it so it is excluded.
The cross is offensive because it declares to the world that this is the only way of salvation. Jesus did not endure the cross so that the world could avoid it but come to God through it. It is the central plank upon which all the world must come through to find favour with God. It is not eye pleasing or ear pleasing but it is the power of God for salvation to all who would come to the foot of the cross and be covered in His blood. There is no other path to salvation otherwise the cross was completely unnecessary and this makes us enemies in the world, and it turns out, in the Church too, as Jesus also found.
And it is the cross that we are to take up and follow Christ. This pathway is full of pain, of torment, of persecution, of hardships, of long-suffering and letting Jesus’ life be the life we live. Not returning pain in response to pain, not hitting back when tormented, not reviling in reaction to persecution, not taking the easy road, but instead giving back in kindness, love and peace; to love our neighbour as ourselves. To love Christians as ourselves. To love the unlovable as ourselves.
Matthew 7:12 NKJV
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
(NKJV) — 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
(NKJV) — 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
If we behave in this way then perhaps we will be a different kind of yeast that may inspire others to faith and good works. We need to repent of the lives we are living where we are living for ourselves and not walking the walk of faith in light of the cross, in taking up our own cross and bearing it with no grumbling, knowing that God will reward us in the end. Faith working through love has to be our motto. And when we get it wrong, as we invariably do, let us learn from it and repent. Let us live God’s way no matter what the cost. Let’s take this journey together encouraging each other looking for the Day when Jesus will come back and reward us handsomely for just allowing Jesus to work out His purposes in our lives. Our joy and pleasure is to please Him.
(NKJV) — 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.
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