Galatians-Keeping it Real
Galatians – Keeping It Real
Only Jesus; No Substitutes
June 23, 2019
We are currently trying to finish up the last of the renovations on the house we have purchased, so we can move in. I want to say thank you for the patience we have been shown in allowing us to live so far away until the renovations have been completed.
You know what we are about to encounter as we prepare to move into this new home? We will soon sign a contract with a company for internet and television services. We will be given and introductory package and then we get that first bill and it is highly likely, there will be those dreaded “additional fees.” Additional fees will be added to our bill that make no sense and only cause us frustration.
The book of Galatians was a letter that reveals the frustration of the Apostle Paul about a teaching that was being circulated through the church in a given region. The teaching was of great concern to Paul because the teaching was adding requirements that were unnecessary to a Christian’s relationship with God.
Paul’s overall purpose in writing this letter was for the church to keep their relationship to Christ real and genuine.
Be mindful that during the early days of the spread of Christianity, there were problems with inaccurate teaching. The book of Acts, chapter 15 contains a great story where there were a group of Christians who attempted to persuade Christians who were not Jews (Gentiles), to practice some teachings connected to the Laws of Moses. Acts 15 describes how there was discussion about this from the spiritual leaders of the church such as the apostles like Peter, Paul and the elders of the church in Jerusalem.
Finally, the Apostle Peter stands up and said, “And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did us, and in cleansing their hearts by faith has made no distinction between them and us.” (vs.8-9)
Boom – done settled, the Gentiles, non-Jews who have put their faith in Christ are saved by the power of the spirit of God “cleansing their heart by faith…” just as much as the followers of Jesus who were Jews and there are no requirements to live by the Law of Moses including men are not required to be circumcised. Done were over this and moving on.
We are about to get into Paul’s letter because once again a false teaching was trying to add a substitute and requirement to the good news of Jesus Christ that wasn’t a part of the good news.
Paul saw it as a dangerous teaching. Read in the very beginning of chapter three and Paul asked “who bewitched you…” You hear the anger and concern in Paul’s words because this is about a teaching placing unnecessary baggage/requirements regarding a person’s relationship to God.
Paul was confronting this because if something was being added in order to be saved, then that something being added, really subtracted from depending solely on the forgiveness and grace of God through faith in God.
Paul used that strong rhetorical statement “who has bewitched you” because the good news of how we are brought into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ was being distorted.
One practical point - a circumstance such as this reminds us, correct teaching of the Bible matters. Each person can choose to believe anything they want, but that does not mean whatever one believes is true.
Therefore, Paul writes to keep the gospel real by keeping it about Jesus and only with no substitutes or extras requirements.
So, over the next three weeks were going to use the book of Galatians to help us keep it real in our relationship with Jesus. Next week we’ll look at scripture from chapter 5 concerning the little things that work against our faith and the third week we’ll consider some teaching from chapter 6 which reminds us the Christian life is not about going it alone, it’s about giving and receiving encouragement. This morning we consider only Christ; no substitutes.
Let’s begin by looking at 3:23-29 (read entire text)
Point One – “Before Christ before faith came…”
Paul began to explain and remind the church, that before Jesus, the people of God were once led by the “Law” - meaning the entire body of religious instructions, popularly understood as given by Moses.
Listen to how the Message Bible translates verses 23-24, “Until the time when were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were fully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.” Message Bible
In the culture Paul was addressing, there were caretakers/tutors who oversaw the children in some of the day to day routines. Paul makes a comparison and said God’s relationship to the world has been through a progressive process based on what people could grasp. The Law was given until the time humanity could grasp the coming of the messiah or Jesus.
Pastor John Piper writes,
“Before Christ, Israel was under the law as its tutor or custodian but couldn’t release the inheritance. The law couldn’t change hearts only show obedience or disobedience, couldn’t mature. The law exposes sin.”
The law including the Ten Commandments revealed God’s will; but it would also reveal our selfish tendency to what we tend to do = sin; Christ’s sacrificial love revealed the heart of God to forgive our sin.
Point Two - Jesus/New Covenant
Paul then says two of the most important words to keep it real that our relationship with God depends on ONLY JESUS; NO SUBSTITUTES.
“But now” v.25 Several translations I used to prepare the message use the same phrase. “But now” is critical, it means there came a pivotal moment in the plan of God to transition from one way, God would relate to the world to a new way to reach us, reach the world.
We can appreciate the definitiveness in which Paul speaks if we think and feel some of our own “but now” moments in our lives.
But now - you use to be single, then you got married and you have to start working out the give and take of marriage.
But now – a spouse who use to share the home, the meals, the problems, adjusts because, now one spouse is no longer going to be there.
But now you have to say to an important word in a relationship word of truth or confession in order to keep a relationship real.
But now is the time to take steps because you seek a greater challenge in your career and so the application is sent to school or an employer for a new adventure.
But now – we find ourselves in a new spiritual home, new community and we seek fresh power and vision from God of what we’ll do.
If you’re keeping your walk with Christ real – you have talks with Jesus that begins with “but now” now what, when, where, how and why?
But now! We can relate.
Catch this, without using the words old covenant and new covenant that is what is happening in two words.
The old covenant of keeping the law was completed and the new covenant that is fulfilled in Christ has arrive. But now.
Paul’s teaching even makes the popular notion of “all we need to do is live by the Ten Commandments” wrong because of two words “but now.”
Its not what we do that matters; it is to whom we place our trust for life now and eternally.
Point Three – “But Now” Leads to Adoption v.26
Paul, just keeping it real goes on to say in verse 26, “By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.” Message Bible
Or the NRSV says, “For in Christ Jesus you are children of God.” NRSV
Just keeping it real the way one becomes a part of the family of God is faith in Christ. It is placing all hope for meaning in this life to be found in him. God accepts and adopts those who will receive his offer to be loved and led by Him. But now means the greatest gift to experience is to be adopted by God’s grace through faith to he his daughter his son.
Illustration: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. grew up under the shadow of a large man. His father was the hero of San Juan Hill and the President of the United States. The pressure to excel often caused him problems, but Teddy, Jr. went on to be a highly decorated Brigadier General during World War II, receiving the Medal of Honor for heroism. He was also the Governor General of the Philippines, Governor of Puerto Rico, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
During World War II, while waiting for a flight at an airport, Teddy, Jr. saw a sailor step to a ticket window and ask for a ticket. "I want to see my mother," the sailor explained. "I don't have much time."
The indifferent woman at the ticket window was not impressed by the sailor's sense of urgency, "There's a war going on, you know," she rudely replied.
At this point, Roosevelt, who had overheard the conversation, stepped to the ticket window and told her to give the sailor his seat. A friend of the general spoke in surprise, "Teddy, aren't you in a hurry too?"
"It's a matter of rank," he replied. "I'm only a general; he's a son!"
The Bible calls everyone who trusts in Christ a son. Only Jesus, no substitutes necessary.
Just keeping real, Paul doesn’t stop with explaining salvation = how we come to a right relationship with God. Paul moves on to what comes next after we come into a right relationship with God.
Point four- Put on Jesus – Just Jesus -v.27
“But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe – Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.” Vs.25-27 Message Bible
The English translation Bible translates verse 27 like this, “Therefore, put on Christ.” Which means put on the character of Jesus.
Put on the heart/mind of Christ to live through you.
Put on Jesus who said to the woman taken in adultery, I don’t condemn but go and sin no more.
Put on Christ who looked at the outsiders, people outside of his circle and ate with them, walked and talked with them.
Put on Jesus who trusted God’s plan despite facing suffering.
This is a great verse to apply to situations where we would like to deviate away from following him.
When you are faced with adversity – put on the persistence of Christ.
When your faced with rejection – put on Christ/his humility.
When your faced with the suffering of others – put on Christ and his compassion.
When faced with temptation – put on Christ and his love of truth and desire to please his Father.
Someone explained like this,
Suppose the University of Memphis hired a coach from Ole Miss. The coach from Ole Miss came to practice and games wearing an Ole Miss jersey. What WOULD THE COACHES AND PLAYERS DO? They will tell him to change his uniform or go back to Ole Miss.
Once you join a new team, you change uniforms. Coming to Christ is like that. We’ve joined his team and now we wear the “uniform” of the character of Christ so that everyone will know we belong to him." (Born Free: Seven Promises You Can Count On)
Point - Five
Gospel Consequences - Verses 28-29
Paul points out that there are consequences because of Christ has done.
Listen again to just these two verses – Read – vs.28-29.
Now there can be disagreement on what these two verses mean, but I would ask you to think about this point.
Because of what God has done in Jesus Christ there are consequences, rewards, blessings beyond what we can sometimes anticipate and at first even understand. Which means our faith relationship to God and with each other needs to be one that is always open to learning, growing, changing and being stretched.
We may not see today how putting on Christ and staying hopeful effects what happens today; but it might be tomorrow or 10 or 100 tomorrows and then we see.
Illustration: Meeting Jarvis Jernigan
Conclusion: Why Should this matter?
It might matter to some people who only feel good about their relationship with God when they are doing well but feel distant when they fail. – only Jesus.
It might matter to us because we tend in our own way to have substitutes for putting on the character of Christ in our lives.
I go to church once a week.
I live by the Ten commandments
Wisdom from Oswald Chambers
Be devoted to Jesus and you’ll b devoted to his church, his mission.
Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people—the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”—it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).
Keep it real pursue only Jesus, put on only Jesus.