Freed to be Free #12
Human Ingenuity or God’s Miracle?
Thank you for your prayers this week as Lisa was in the Hospital …
Now we return to the book of Galatians
Reminding you that Paul founded this church in Galatia. He founded it on the simple Gospel that we are brought into the Kingdom of God by the Grace of God through Faith in Christ. We cannot be good enough to receive entrance into the Family of God.
They had come to faith in Christ
They had left their old life of paganism
They had walked in the new life of Christ
But after Paul moved on to other work, some false brothers, false teachers came in behind Paul. They insisted that while Grace is wonderful, it must be attached to works of the Law. That they must keep the human action of the Law in order to live in the God action of Grace
They were in effect defacing the most beautiful thing God has ever done, the work of Grace
They took God’s beautiful Grace drew their own attempt at beauty all over the top of it.
It’s like trying to fix the smile on the Mona Lisa
Or maybe that is way too simple
Perhaps another way to see it is asking a 3 year old to Draw the Mona Lisa, when all they have the ability to do is stick figures
Our ability to birth righteousness into our lives is ZERO.
We are spiritually barren
We also can’t produce spiritual life through a spiritual surrogate …
We need New Life
We need a supernatural infusion of Fruitfulness …
Just like Abraham did …
Let’s pick up where we left off in the book of Galatians chapter 4 … let’s pick up in verse 19
Studying to share the word of God with you week in and week out is always a challenge. I read the scripture, I pray, I listen to the Lord. Sometimes he seems to speak to me directly. Other times he speaks through a series of things that I read to put words in my heart for you.
Other times, I will run across one writer that really speaks to me and makes it so clear, that I just want to take you down that path.
When that is the case I will always give credit where it is due.
In that light, I would tell you that much of what I share with you today comes from preacher, author, commentator, and theologian, Warren W. Wiersbe … in his Bible Exposition Commentary.
The Purpose of this letter from Paul from Paul was two-fold.
One) it was to correct his spiritual children. He was not doubting their salvation because he knew they had been saved by grace, but he wanted them to walk in grace too. He didn’t want them to sully the beauty of their salvation. He also didn’t want them to go backwards in their faith and return to bondage.
The second) purpose of this letter was to be sure that they did not get in the way of Grace and maintain purity in Evangelism as they shared the gospel with those who did not have Christ.
So he continues in his teaching using the Example of the life of Abraham …
Let’s be sure we know and understand the story so we can understand the application that Paul is making
So, let’s look at
The Lesson, and
Because the thing that is true of these Galatians and is true of most all of us here, is we WANT to live the way God would have us to live
We want the experience of being a child of God
We want REAL LIFE …
See from verse 19 that the bottom line for Paul was he wanted to see the Christ IN them to be visible in and through them …
He wanted them to grow up so the family DNA would show … and that was only possible through releasing ourselves to the hand and power of God
1. The Story vv21-23
Now this is definitely a TRUE Story. But Paul uses this Old Testament TRUE Story allegorically to teach us a lesson…
I love history. And if your own time, I would encourage you to read again the life story of Abraham found beginning in the latter part of Genesis 11 and going through chapter 21.
Interestingly Abraham’s life doesn’t really begin until he is in his 70’s …
Everything up until that point seems to be useless …
Can I say, your life hasn’t begun, until you begin to follow Jesus Christ
Let me also say, that it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, Life can begin again, if you will follow Jesus …
Oh is that good news for someone today?
I think it is
Let’s look at Abraham’s Spiritual Timeline
A. At 75
1. Called by God out of a pagan land and lifestyle
2. Promised to bless him with descendants and a great nation
3. They had wanted children but he and his wife Sarah had been barren
4. humanly speaking they were “as good as dead” no ability to produce a progeny
B. At 85
1. still no son
2. Sarah is impatient and suggests that she can’t fulfill the promise and suggests that Abraham instead use her servant, Hagar and have a child with her.
3. a common practice, but NOT the plan of God
4. Abraham follows her advice
C. At 86
1. Hagar gets pregnant, Sarah gets jealous and throws her out ... but she returns sent back by the Lord
2. Ishmael is born
D. At 99
1. God promises again to bless with a son by Sarah
2. His name will be Isaac
E. At 100
1. a Son is Born, Isaac
2. Ishmael, now 14 is threatened by the presence of a new Son
F. At 103
1. Isaac is being weaned at 3 with a feast and celebration when Ishmael no 17 begins to make fun of Isaac. There is an obvious rift between these two sons
2. there’s only ONE solution … Hagar and Ishmael must go
3. Abraham hates to do it, but sends them away as instructed by the Lord
And you thought that Shakespeare invented the family tragedy? Or perhaps you thought that Soap Operas started in the 20th Century … J
But is that all there is in this story? Just a tragic story?
Or are there deeper spiritual truths to learn?
A Lesson to Learn?
2. The Lesson vv24-29
What is the allegory that this true story is teaching us?
Paul Bunyan wrote a story called “Pilgrim’s Progress” it is one of the greatest stories ever written and is an allegory. It is the story of a man named Christian who travels out of the City of Destruction in which he lived, to Heaven. So as you read the story, you have the actual events, but under them you have a symbolic meaning being taught.
Remember that this Word is God inspired so when Paul uses this real story to paint an allegorical picture it is because GOD says that is what he was teaching. It does NOT mean that every story in the Old Testament is an allegory and we should read into it. But we know this IS because God the Holy Spirit said so, through our teacher Paul.
My Title was
“Human Ingenuity or God’s Miracle?” … because there are TWO Options …
Do we Do our Best?
Or is our Best never good enough and it takes God’s Intervention?
Ishmael and Isaac show two births … our physical birth and our spiritual birth
Old Covenant and Old Nature versus New Covenant and New Nature
Let’s focus in on two of these characters, for the Lesson, Isaac, son of Abraham by Sarah … and Hagar, mother of Ishmael
A. Isaac – represents the born again Christian
1. he was a result of the plan, gift, hand, provision of God. Paul says he was “born of the Spirit”. Abraham and Sarah couldn’t produce this child on their own. Isaac was the result of Faith just as we come into spiritual life by Grace, likewise, Sarah was God’s Gift to Abraham, like Grace the means by which came Isaac … by faith through Grace …
2. His name was laughter because he brought joy to his parents in their old age. And salvation is the only way to joy
3. Isaac grew up was weaned … - salvation is the beginning of a process of maturation we were predestined to be conformed to the image of God … and there comes a time to put away childish things (1 Cor 13:11)
4. he experienced difficulty with the old nature – Ishmael persecuted Isaac. Our old nature constantly wars against our new nature. Our sinful nature fights against our new Spiritual nature. Have you noticed that since you came to Christ you have problems you NEVER had before? Ishmael didn’t create any problems until Isaac came along.
Hagar and Sarah were in conflict – just like law conflicts with grace
Ishmael and Isaac were in conflict just as the flesh and the Spirit.
Hagar couldn’t control Ishmael nor can the law control our sinful nature
There’s a saying “the old nature knows no law and the new nature needs no law”
So Isaac is the Christian but what about Hagar?
B. Hagar –
1. the 2nd “wife” Abraham didn’t have Hagar first … she came second … God gave Abraham Sarah … Grace came FIRST … NOT the LAW … that came SECOND as a result of sin. God even showed Grace after the sin when he dressed Adam and Eve. God’s promise to crush the head of the serpent Gen 3:15 … was an opportunity for faith.
God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was an act of Grace …
But … Gal 3:19 says “the law was added” … just like Hagar was added … it wasn’t what God intended nor promised …
2. Also, She was a slave – Sarah was a free woman … Hagar was intended to be a servant not the mother of Abraham’s children. The Law was to be a monitor, to lead us to Christ and a mirror to reveal our sin but not a mother to birth us as God’s Children … Slavery can’t give birth to freedom … Only Freedom can give birth to freedom
3. she wasn’t intended to mother Abraham’s child. The law neither was intended to birth us to life, to give us righteousness, family identity and inheritance. All of those things were intended of the Spirit through faith.
4. the child she bore, Ishmael, was also a slave … that’s all she could produce. The Law and the Flesh cannot produce life and freedom, that only comes from the Spirit and Faith.
5. Hagar was thrown out – Sarah and Hagar couldn’t be reconciled to exist together … nor can the law and grace …
6. Hagar wasn’t given another husband – nor was the law given to another … not another nation, not the church … Mt Calvary did away with Mt. Sinai. It may be difficult to part with the Old … but it’s the only way to liberty
So, we have a real life story, a soap opera it would seem … a tragic drama …
So … Paul is telling this story 1500 years and showing the Allegory in the story … so there must be something practical for them and some application for us too, 2000 years later …
3. The Application vv30-31
Paul goes back to Gen 21:10 – here in verse 30 “get rid of the slave woman and her son … never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son” … and then says in verse 31 “ we are NOT children of the slave woman, but of the free woman”
Paul is bringing us down to the point …
When you give your heart to Christ, you are born of the Spirit, you are reborn into the family of God, you become a child of God with all the rights, privileges and inheritance
As Sarah, a free woman, was the Mother of the Free child of Promise, Isaac
So Grace is the mother to being Free in Christ.
The Law, Hagar, our Old Nature, Ishmael, fight against the freedom in us and want to bring us back under old bondage …
So how do we deal with this conflict within?
A. Change them?
1. we think, “I can reform my nature” – John 3:6 – what is born of the flesh is flesh … always so …
2. I cannot make religion work for me to turn me into a righteous person
3. neither one of those is possible … religion can’t make you righteous and can’t reform you sinful nature
Option one doesn’t work …
B. Compromise WITH Them
1. do we need to revisit the story of Abraham to see if compromise works?
2. That’s what the Galatians were trying to do. They were trying to make a compromise between truth and lies, between Grace and Works, between old and new.
3. This is one of the greatest tools of Satan in the church today. He tries to get us to compromise truth and error. He won’t tell you to reject Christ, he’ll just tell you that you need Jesus PLUS something else.
4. The problem with that is that Jesus plus anything subtracts Jesus from everything. God is a jealous God and he will not share you with anyone or anything.
Jesus DID say “I am the way the truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME …”
5. Jesus plus NOTHING … before, during, or after salvation. It is Faith FIRST TO LAST Romans 1 says
6. Compromise is a liar. Compromise disguises itself as a road to peace and unity when instead it is the pathway to conflict and division.
7. You can’t bring your false lover and illegitimate child into the house and expect good things to happen. That is the road to bondage and battle … that’s why Paul shook his head in 4:9 and asked … how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles … do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
We try to change them … but that will never work
We try to compromise with them and find that instead we lose to them …
We are left with one other option
C. Cast them Out
1. there is only one way to freedom … to cast off the old nature, cast off the pride of the law and personal attempts at righteousness
2. put on Christ, take the way of Christ, live by the power of the Spirit.
3. Hagar and Ishmael had to go …
4. Jesus was the child of Promise, just like Isaac. Isaac was born by the Power of God … Jesus was placed in Mary through God the Holy Spirit. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose, now the law must Go because the Son had come to his fullness.
5. When Jesus comes, the righteousness that comes from the ordinary way has got to go for the Extraordinary, Supernatural Son to rule and reign
6. In verse 27 Paul quotes from Isaiah 54:1
SING – barren woman
BURST into Song
SHOUT for Joy …
7. Joy came to Sarah in the child of Promise --- the Woman who could never produce life … found life in God’s gracious promise
8. Sarah did what we are tempted to do, TRY … Sarah couldn’t do what God said she would do … so she TRIED it a different way.
9. You may have tried by “turning over a new leaf” … but you can turn over a new life, but guess what … it’s still the same leaf … You can turn your dirty shirt inside out but it’s still dirty … If you want different fruit you need a different tree, if you want different clothes you need new clothes … Sarah didn’t see anyway to do it so she tried something different and brought in Hagar and found more trouble than she ever thought
10. We have to stop Trying something different and start TRUSTING in what God has said
Life is IN Him
11. Abraham thought maybe he misunderstood God … and instead of trusting in the word of God he asked God to Bless Ishmael instead.
12. We try to live a good life, and ask God to bless that instead of giving us NEW LIFE …
Jesus told the Pharisees “you diligently study the scripture thinking that through them you will find life, but you refuse to COME to me and HAVE life”
We need to stop asking God to Bless OUR Efforts and Start asking him to Give us New Life … Live in his Truth
Come to Jesus
We are going to see as we finish this book that Paul is NOT saying that we shouldn’t have Godly Biblical Standards but that worshipping them in legalism, thinking that they MAKE us something it useless idolatry.
The Pharisees did all the right things, the didn’t do all the wrong things, and yet the didn’t have LIFE, they didn’t know God …
What are we going to do?
Cast off the Old Man
Put on Jesus
Live by the Spirit
Life comes by Grace through Faith
Stop Trying and
Start Trusting …
Human Ingenuity? Nope … I’m not that smart, I’m not that Good, I’m not that Strong
I’ll Take God’s Miracle
The Miracle of the Transforming Grace of God
You don’t like what you see … Look to Jesus
You don’t like what you have
… Come to Jesus
Ingenuity won’t help you, you aren’t that good
A Miracle, that’s what you need, it’s what God does
Come to Jesus