There are three enemies:
DEVIL (Temptor) – The outside reference to sin. He cannot make anyone sin but he is seeking to lure me away. He came in the form of a creature over whom man already had dominion.
WORLD (Temptation) – This is the bait the devil uses to lure me away. The world is Civilization Minus God. I John 2) The world appeals to our lower nature. There are three bullets in the devil’s gun:
Lust of the Flesh
Lust of the Eyes
Pride of Life
FLESH (Tempted) -The Enemy Within the devil and the world cannot get in unless the flesh opens the door. This is the old nature. The world will never appeal to your higher nature.
There is a command: “…walk by the Spirit”. v. 16.
There is a promise: “….you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”. v. 16
The SPIRIT and the FLESH dwell in you and are in opposition. Only one person can defeat the flesh. It is the HOLY SPIRIT. We get into the picture and try to defeat the flesh ourselves. WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE BATTLE. Victory is the result of my SUBMISSION to the Spirit.
I. WE LIVE A LIFE OF CONQUEST. v. 17
Walking in the Spirit overcomes the desires of the flesh. This conflict will always be, but the believer determines who is victorious.
II. WE LIVE A LIFE OF CHRIST LIKENESS. v.22,23
Walking in the Spirit produces the life of Christ:
Joy (Our relationship to God)
Kindness (Our relationship to Others)
Gentleness (Our relationship to Ourselves)
You will have a CONSISTENT character.
You will have a COMPLETE character.
Dead leaves are pushed off trees by the sap flowing through them. In the same way, the vices of my old life are removed by the life of the Spirit flowing through me.
III. WE LIVE A LIFE OF CRUCIFIXION. v.24,25
“…walk by the Spirit” is a military term meaning to “keep in step with”. Say “NO” to the flesh and “YES” to Christ.
You overcome sin by submitting to a PERSON.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2004
INTRO: It might surprise you to know that many people are living under a curse. A greater surprise—who they are: the religious, upright, decent, moral, etc.
Greatest surprise is how they got under the curse: THROUGH RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY, FAITHFUL OBSERVANCE OF RELIGIOUS DUTIES, ETC.
ENDEAVORING BY THESE TO PLEASE GOD AND GAIN ACCEPTANCE BEFORE HIM.
OUR TEXT DEALS WITH THE CENTRAL ISSUE: HOW TO GET RIGHTLY RELATED TO GOD.
AND there are many who answer this question, not only with their lips but with their lives…by faithfully doing all God tells us to do, by human effort and resolve.
vs. 10: Under a CURSE: God originally intended blessing for all men, but many have brought themselves under a curse, rather than blessing.
THE LAW: Primarily the LAW OF MOSES, TEN COMMANDMENTS, but the definite article is missing often, indicating LAW IN GENERAL… applies to any system of religion or salvation that seeks to supplement faith with works…
Church membership, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, etc….Often claim to be trusting in Christ alone but when they look for assurance of their salvation, they took to the fact they’ve joined church, faithful to activities, the MECHANICS OF RELIGION.
UNDER CURSE: MEANING: Alienation from God, living under the judgment of God, His wrath that will issue in final destruction.
WHY IS THE LAW A CURSE? Redefine living under the law — effort, work, doing, etc.
I. LIVING UNDER THE LAW SHUTS US IN Vs. 22, 23
CONCLUDED: To be shut up, to shut in on all sides. In Luke 5: 6, the net enclosing the fish.
PICTURE OF A JAILER in which men are confined and Scripture is the jailer that sees we don’t escape.
Vs. 23 . . . KEPT UNDER THE LAW –‘To keep with a military guard….the law is a jailer…
Confines us to the prison of sin, never letting us forget it. To hold is custody those who were in sin, so they would not escape the consciousness of their sins and their accountability at judgment.
HOW DOES THE LAW SHUT US IN THE PRISON OF SIN?
1. THE LAW IS THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S CHARACTER
The question, “How Can I be right with God” leads to another question. WHAT KIND OF GOD IS IT I’M TRYING TO FIND FAVOR WITH? This is extremely important.
If he is a sinful God like some of the pagan deities, I’m okay. WHAT KIND OF GOD IS HE?
THE LAW TELLS US WE’RE DEALING WITH A RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY GOD, WHO CANNOT LOOK UPON OR FELLOWSHIP WITH SIN IN ANY DEGREE.
Immediately this demands that we also be righteous.
(1) That God is Righteousness is revealed in the written law, the commandments.
These are simply an expression of the nature of God.
(2) That God is righteous is revealed in the unwritten law, the Conscience.
Man made in the image of God. Man’s innate sense of right and wrong, especially in children a sentivity to fairness…which decreases as grow older in sin…searing the conscience… OUR OWN SENSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG, imperfect as it is, REFLECTS GOD‘S RIGHTEOUS IMAGE in us.
* *Archeologist dig into the ruins of fallen civilizations, discover only a fragment, but that fragment proves the whole once existed.
LIKEWISE you can dig into the ruins of fallen human nature and discover, unearth a fragment of right and wrong. But that fragment proves the whole once existed.
Even these trying to do away with any moral code or standard . . . they are their own proof that there is an absolute moral law . . . because they base their campaign on WHAT’S FAIR, WHAT’S RIGHT. Even their perverted sense of right and wrong is a fragment that proves the whole once existed.
2. THE LAW IS THE MEASURE OF MAN’ S CHARACTER
RIDE AT SIX FLAGS: “You’ve got to be as tall as this sign.” Stand on tiptoes, etc.
GOD SETS US HIS LAW… You’ve got to be as tall as this.
Vs. 10,12– ALL THINGS. James 2:1O…offend in just one point.
SHALL NOT COVET: GOD DOESN’T GRADE ON CURVE! ENTRANCE EXAM. . . MISS ONE AND OUT!
II. THE LAW SHUTS US OUT OF SALVATION
1. WORKS RESCINDS, REMOVES GRACE OF GOD.
Rom. 4:16; 11:6
Salvation is the house that Grace built and only faith opens the door.
2. WORKS REJECT THE GIFT OF GOD.
Only we can escape our curse is through His curse for us. If works could do it, Jesus needn’t have died.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2004
Text: Galatians 5:25-6:6-10
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one shall bear his own load. And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
A person’s conduct toward others is largely determined by his opinion of himself. Now, Paul is picturing the church here as a caring community…as a family. You’ll notice that chapter 6, verse 1 opens with the word, “brethren,” and that chapter also closes with the word “brethren.” And in between he uses that expression, “the household” or “the family” of believers and what Paul is emphasizing is that we are a family…we are brothers and sisters in Christ. And our conduct toward one another is determined by our opinion of ourselves…and he’s going to talk about the conduct that we should have toward each other. But I want you to notice he is saying in that last part of chapter 5… “if we live in the Spirit” or “since we derive our life from the Spirit” let us keep “in step” or keep in line with the Spirit.
And then he says, “Let us not become conceited” or “boastful”…the idea is somebody who has a false illusion of himself…puffed up. That person is always doing one of two things…provoking or challenging someone and envying one another. Now, it’s interesting…here is a person who is conceited…I mean, he’s filled with pride…he thinks more of himself than he ought to think, and he’s boastful about whatever progress he may have made. Now, to those he considers inferior to him, he’s always provoking them…always challenging them in some way or another, always showing them that he’s better than they are and he’s going to prove it!
But, to those that he knows are superior to him, he envies them and is jealous of them. And so, a conceited person, a person who does not understand who and what he really is in Christ Jesus, who thinks more of himself than he ought to think…that he is the better member of the family will always be intimidating those that he thinks are inferior and will always be envying and jealous of those that are superior. And so, he says you’re not to do this…don’t do this…this is not what you’re to do, having been walking in the Spirit.
If you have been born again and you live by the Spirit…your life comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells within, then you ought to keep in step with the Spirit. And he talks about fulfilling the royal law, which is the law of love…which is, by the way, the first fruit of the Spirit as he mentioned there in verse 22… “but the fruit of the Spirit is love.” And so, we could say this…that a person’s conduct toward everyone else ought to be one of love. Now you would agree with me on that, wouldn’t you? Love one another…that’s the new commandment that Jesus gave us. We’re to love one another. He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You do love yourself…love one another.
But you know, we talk a lot about love. We really do. And it’s easy to talk about loving people in a general, abstract, vague way. But it’s a different matter to put that love into concrete practical expressions. And that’s what the Apostle Paul does in chapter 6. First of all, he paints the picture…here is a family…a family that’s united by their bond in Jesus Christ. They derive their life from the Holy Spirit and deriving their life from the Holy Spirit, then they want to make certain that they keep in step with the Spirit. That’s a good military word…means to keep in step. Well, how do you keep in step? And he tells us in that sixth chapter.
There are four imperative verbs there…four commands that the apostle gives us. And I would call these “the imperatives for a caring community…for a caring church…” what you and I are supposed to do as members of the same family for one another.
Now the first imperative that you find is right in verse 1. He says, “Brethren, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him.” So, the practical mark of love among the brethren is restoring…a restoration. He says, “If anyone is caught in a sin…”, the word “caught” there really means to be overtaken. It has the idea of happening suddenly and he’s surprised at it. It’s sort of like a person who has been walking in the Spirit, by the way the word translated “sin” (trespass) there means “to fall out of step” and so you have this picture of walking in the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit…but here’s a man who suddenly steps aside and falls out of step with the Holy Spirit. It’s something not planned…it is not premeditated, but he is suddenly caught, overtaken.
Now, he’s not talking about somebody who is continually living a life of sin. I’m not saying we ought not try to restore someone like that in the fellowship, but primarily he’s saying this, “If you see somebody in the family and you know, suddenly, without warning, they just sort of get out of step with the Spirit…” which may mean they provoke, or they’re envious, or they in some other way are being unloving towards their brethren, he says, “What are we to do?” We are to restore that individual.
That’s a very interesting word, restore. It means “to set a broken bone” and it’s also used in Mark of the apostles when they’re mending their nets…putting them back together. And he says, “You’re a family, you’re a body and when one of the body falls into sin that’s like a part of the net being broken. As long as the net is broken that means you’re not going to catch as many fish.” That’s why they mend the nets every day. They would mend the nets in order to catch the fish. And there is a sense that you and I have to be practicing restoration, mending the nets, restoring these people because we’re not going to catch fish…we’re not going to win the lost. The ignorant lost person knows that the outstanding mark of a Christian is supposed to be love.
I think we’re having a difficult time overcoming today the world’s perception of the church, because the church is seen largely as judgmental of others…and we’re always pouncing on wounded Christians.
I had an occasion two or three years ago…not because I needed it…to sit in on a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I was there as an observer. And I asked myself, “What am I doing here” because the people in that group were not people that I lived next door to. I mean, there was one boy and his girlfriend. Both of them had long hair and they were in leather jackets and leather pants and their jackets had chains all over and they were wearing boots with chains on them, and they’d been into drugs and alcoholism and everything and here was a homeless person and here was an ex-convict. But there were two or three Christians in that group.
And I sat there amazed at how frank they would be with each other! And they’d get up and tell what was going on in their life and where they were hurting and where they were having a hard time. Afterwards, I talked with one of the Christians and I said, “What you said tonight was so frank and so open and so transparent. Would you ever say that in your church?” He said, “I’d never say this in a church.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “I’m open here because I know there’s nobody here that’s going to condemn me. We’ve all experienced it. I feel like if I were to say some of these things in my church, there would immediately be condemnation and judgment pouncing upon me.”
Now when Paul says that when you see someone caught in a sin, he doesn’t say to judge them and condemn them and criticize them. What does he say? He says to restore them…to bring them back into line…to say an encouraging word…to say something to them to help them to be brought back and be mended as a part of the body of Christ.
Now it’s interesting who is to do this work. Notice he says, “You, who are spiritual should restore him.” Who is he talking about? “You, who are spiritual”? Is he talking about the “spiritual elite?” No, I think you could substitute the word “mature” for the word “spiritual.”
For instance, I want you to turn back to Romans 15:1…
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and just please ourselves.” We who are strong ought to bear…put up with the failings of the weak.
You know, I’ve been a pastor and I’ve said this, and I’ve heard other pastors say this, “You know, the problem with our church is these weak people we have…these people who are weak in the faith.” As a matter of fact, in chapter 14 of Romans, verse 1, he says,
“Accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose
of passing judgment…”
I want to tell you something…the problem in the church is not the weak believers. The problem in the church is the strong believers who are not fulfilling their duty of bearing their problems and helping them and accepting them and restoring them. It’s the strong in the church…it’s their responsibility…we keep saying, “Man, if those weak people, if those immature people who really don’t believe like they ought to believe and they’re weak in their faith…if they’d just get strong then our church could do great things!”
Listen, who is supposed to make them strong? Whose responsibility is that? I’ll tell you…it’s those of you who are complaining about the weak! So, he says it is to be the mature…those who consider themselves strong in the faith…they are to do the task of restoration.
But notice the manner in which they are to do it…how they are to do it! He says, “Do it gently…looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted.” Why do you restore this brother gently? I mean, you don’t come in like a prosecuting attorney and tell him how bad he is and how awful he is…you gently with meekness and gentleness restore him. Why? Because, friend, the very same thing can happen to you!
Oh we see this brother over here and we say, “My goodness, do you see what he’s done? We ought to kick him out!” You know, you might want to be a little bit gentle in your judgment of him because I tell you something…the same thing can happen to you! The first thing is this, in a caring family we are to restore those who have stepped out of line in the fellowship of the Spirit.
You know they have all of the AA classes and NA classes and all of this and I thank God for them…I think they do a lot of good and everything, but I tell you, it seems to me if there’s any place that people ought to be able to stand and to say, “I’m hurting…I’m failing here” it ought to be in the fellowship of the church. And most of us are scared to death to do it! Why? We’re afraid of judgment…we’re afraid of condemnation from other people!
You know, we’re family! In my own family…my father and mother and brother and wife…if I’m not able to unload myself there and share with them my burdens and share with them the problems that I’m having, then where can I do it? That’s what the family is for! And he says the church is a family. The first command is that we are to restore one another.
The second imperative verb is in verse 2… “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Bear or carry one another’s burdens. Now, when we get over here to verse 5, he says, “For each one shall bear his own burden (load).” He’s using two different Greek words. The word in verse 2 is a pressing load.
Here is a person in the church…a person in the family that right now is just so burdened…and it’s a crushing load…so much so that they’re just not able to handle it. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians and he said that he was in a situation where he despaired even of life and of course, what he was doing was trying to make the Corinthians understand because the Corinthians and some of the people who were leading them were criticizing and judging Paul because of the problems he was having. And he said, “I want you to understand that the trouble I had was beyond me…it was out of my hands and it was beyond my ability to handle…so much so that I even despaired of life.”
See, the problem with the Corinthian church is that they wouldn’t bear his load. Now, I want to ask you a question right now. How many of you right now at this moment are going through the greatest trial of your life? Not just going through a trial, but the greatest trial. How many of you right now are going through a trial? You have a burden that’s just about to crush you. You know what? You and I are supposed to bear each other’s burdens. It has the idea of going along and helping that person carry that load…through sympathy and encouragement and doing other things, there are a thousand ways that you can bear one another’s burdens. You see, there are some burdens that I can’t bear by myself. I’ve felt like at times that if I didn’t have somebody to help me in this situation I was despairing of my own life.
Now one of the things that I thank God for is Christian friends through the years who knew me and knew me too well and knew what I was going through and knew the burden that I was under and the trial that I was under and they’d come alongside and they’d say, “Let me help. Let me pray with you. Let me just be there for you.” We’re to bear one another’s burdens. See, nobody can live the Christian life by themselves. You just can’t. You’re not strong enough.
You know, I’m in many ways a very private person. My wife…one of the first arguments we had when we were married was that she used to say, “You know, your problem is that you could live forever without people. You’re so independent, individualistic, so private, you just don’t need people.” Well, she was fairly accurate. You know, I always thought that if anything tragic ever happened in my life, I didn’t want anybody around. I discovered something, folks. I discovered one day how desperately I needed people…Christian people…just to be there to put a hand on my arm or my shoulder just a hug…just to be there…and Paul said, “In doing this, you will fulfill the law of Christ which is the law of love.” Well, what did Christ do? He bore our burdens…right? And He’s still bearing our burdens. First Peter says, “We’re to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.”
So, there is restoring. There is bearing. There is testing. Now, he says bearing one another’s burdens and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Verse 3… “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself.” Now, what he means by that is he just said that you’re to bear one another’s burdens, but he said, “Some of you think you’re too good to do it. Some of you think so highly of yourself you think you’re really something! Some of you think you’re really something when you’re really nothing! You’re really something so it’s just beneath you to get down and grovel with somebody else and their problem. It’s just beneath you to go out into some areas and minister to somebody in great need.
Paul says, “Not only should there be restoring and bearing, but there should also be testing or examining.” Verse 4: “…let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.” We’re always comparing ourselves to somebody else, aren’t we? “Well, ‘so and so is not doing that, and I’m doing as much as they’re doing.” Listen, stop comparing yourself with one another. That’s not the test. Test your own work. You know the test there has the idea of exposing, of examining…examine your own work! And if your own work is up to par, then you’ll have something to boast about! Those of you that are too busy to help somebody else to bear their burdens then test your own work.
Then comes that next statement… “for each one shall bear his own load.” The word “load” is used of a soldier’s pack. And a soldier had a pack and it was up to him to carry that pack. It was not an unbearable burden. It was not a crushing burden. It was his task. It was his job! And so what the Apostle Paul is saying is this… “Are you carrying your load? Or are you wanting somebody else to come along and take your load, your task and do it for you?” There’s a load that each one of us is to bear and we’re not to shove it off onto somebody else, you see. There must be a testing of ourselves…an examination of ourselves. Test your own works, before you judge somebody else, before you think you’re doing enough, before you think you’re too good to do certain things…what about the load that God has given you to carry? Are you doing your share? Are you carrying your load? Test yourself!
You know, it would be a wonderful thing if every member of our church would occasionally say, “I’m going to sit down and evaluate my church work…the work that I’m doing for the Lord. Am I carrying my load? Am I carrying my load in praying and visiting and in sharing my faith? Am I carrying my load in teaching? Am I carrying my load?” You know, it would be amazing we would all sit down once in awhile and evaluate our own actions…our own works.
There’s restoring. There’s bearing. There’s testing. And then there’s sharing. He says in verse 6 and following, “And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Now, there’s the basis for the pastor’s salary and a good text for love offerings. It is! I just may just ought to stay there and say a little more about that. But let’s read on… “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to this own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
There is to be sharing…sharing of our money, sharing of our heart, sharing of our time. As we have opportunity…and this life presents many an opportunity to do good to other people. Amen? As you have opportunity…one translation reads… “as you have time…” I don’t like that translation because we say, “Well, I’m too busy, I don’t have time…” I think the better translation is “…as we have opportunity…”
I never will forget one day I was in a meeting and we had finished the noon service but we were going out to eat and we were kind of in a hurry and we came to a stop light and we were the first ones at the light and so we waited and waited for that light to change and just before the light changed, one of those little Toyota type pickup trucks came along and the fellow was carrying a big old king-sized mattress in that truck bed and it just happened to slip off right there in the intersection. So he stopped his truck right there in the intersection and our light turned green, but we couldn’t go because he was blocking the intersection. So we sat there and watched him while he went around there and I tell you a king-sized mattress is not easy to handle. Here’s this man and he’d get it up here and it would fall down here and he’d go there. And I said, “Why doesn’t somebody get out there and help him?” And nobody did! Of course, I thought the pastor ought to do it.
Now, folks, I had an opportunity to do good and I didn’t take it. I didn’t share my time and my strength with him. Do good to all men. I tell you, some people are discouraging to work with. Some people are discouraging to try to help. Have you ever tried to help somebody and they just don’t come along? I tell you, sometimes when you try to help somebody who is an alcoholic or somebody who has been into drugs and you work with them and you work with them and they don’t seem to be getting any better, after awhile you just say, “Well, let them stew in their own juice.” No, listen to what Paul says, “We’re to do good to all people…” because he said earlier, “let us not lose heart (become weary) in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we don’t grow weary. Therefore,” he says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men…”
So here’s what Paul is saying, “If we want to be a caring community, a family that cares for one another, then we’ll be restoring those who have been overtaken in some sin, who have stepped out of line with the Spirit…we’ll be bearing one another’s burdens…some people have a crushing load…and we’ll in some way try to bear their burdens. We will test your own works…make sure we’re carrying your load and then we will share all good things with all men, but especially with the household of faith.”
That’s what the New Testament church is supposed to look like.
© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005
Text: Galatians 3:1-10
Preached at the Birmingham Convention, England
“Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of his present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. (Now I put a couple of exclamation points after that because that’s the way I believe Paul intended it. This immediately tells you what we’re going to be talking about in this epistle. Paul is very excited about it and it’s an excitement that has some heat with it and he says “Amen!” and then you’re not surprised when you read these next words…)
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ.”
This is one of Paul’s more heated…more fervent books because of this subject that’s very dear to his heart.
We were talking about the holidays with Phil that our two countries have in common. Last Sunday, in America, was Mother’s Day. And I brought out Mother’s Day cards that I had hauled all the way from the states because I wanted Kaye to have nice, beautiful cards on Mother’s Day. I hear you “Mothering Day” is in March and so we were saying that about the only holidays that we celebrate at the same time would be Easter and Christmas. And I mentioned, “What about July 4th?” And he became a little testy when I mentioned that. But, the truth of the matter is that we did fight what you call the War of Rebellion and what we call the War of Independence. The fact of the matter is that having gained independence, as all nations must, it is much more difficult to sustain that liberty than it is to obtain. Our country has lost more lives maintaining our liberty and our freedom and our sovereignty than we did in gaining it in the first place. That’s true of every country that is free.
Who was it that said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance? It’s one thing to gain your freedom, it’s another thing to maintain your freedom. And if I had to give tonight a theme for the book of Galatians, I think it would be this… “Set Free and Staying Free.” He’s writing to people who had been set free, but his concern is that they are not staying free.
He says, “I marvel…I’m astonished…I’m amazed that you have so quickly moved and deserted and abandoned the One who saved you by His grace. He says as a matter of fact in chapter 5:1… “it is for freedom that Christ set us free, stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…”
Paul is saying, “You have been set free, but now the problem is staying free in Jesus Christ.” And I was studying this passage this afternoon and the background and the context of it, I wrote here in my Bible… “these are people who have become with bored with Christ…bored with the Gospel.”
And I remember a time in my own ministry when we were doing conferences…there were several of us that were doing conferences together and I remember we had people driving from long distances to attend these conventions and these other two men were preaching on special subjects, you know, enticing subjects, sensational subjects…and I was praying about what God wanted me speak on that night and He kept bringing me back to Isaiah 53…to the suffering Servant…to the suffering Christ, and I kept fighting Him and I said, “Lord there’s nothing spectacular about that. There’s nothing sensational about that. Why should people drive all this distance to hear that same old story?” And God rebuked me. And He said, “You have become bored with the Gospel.” And when you are bored with the Gospel, then friend, there is something wrong.
Now, what happens usually is when we become bored with Christ and bored with the Gospel, we begin to add things to it and to once again work up enthusiasm. I know in the States, we have mega-churches now and I’m not saying this to be critical, but we have churches, of course, that offer Olympic size swimming pools and “Jogging for Jesus” classes and “Slender for the Savior” diet classes and everything, you know, a full recreation…a full service church…because we’re trying once again to get people excited about the church and excited about going to the church, but the problem in many instances, not in all instances by any means, but in some instances men are even taking away from the Gospel, soft-peddling the message of the Cross, trying to make it more attractive to the general population.
But, I want to say to you tonight that if you add anything to Christ, you subtract everything from Him. Christ plus anything equals nothing. And that’s what Paul is saying. He’s saying “if anybody preaches to you another gospel than I’ve preached to you…” Is he stubborn about this? I should say so…he wouldn’t get along very well today because he’s a stubborn, obstinate man. He says, “I tell you that even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches a different message than I’ve preached to you, let him be accursed…let him be eternally condemned.”
Why? Because if you add anything to Christ, you take everything from Him. Christ plus anything equals nothing! But, there had come some Judaizers into the church by some means who were telling these believers, “Oh, it’s not just Christ, but it’s Moses…it’s not just grace, but it’s Law…it’s not just the Spirit and faith…but it’s works.” And we may talk about this later where he says, “Are you so foolish as having begun in the Spirit, do you now believe that you can be made perfect by the works of the flesh?”
There’s always that tendency. So, tonight I want to speak to you on this subject of Paul’s opening statement and that is this…that Christ and Christ alone is sufficient for our salvation. Now when I say “salvation” I do not mean just the initial act of being saved. I’m talking about salvation from start to finish.
You see, in the Christian life you don’t start off with Jesus and then graduate to something better. Sometimes people make me feel like a poor relative, because all I have is Jesus. And they may say, “How did it go at your church yesterday?” I may say, “Oh, we had several people converted to Christ. We had several give their life to Christ.” And one man said to me, “You should have been over to our place…we had three legs lengthened.”
Well, he topped me, he thought. Now, I’m not against lengthening legs, you know, if you have a leg that needs lengthening and God wants to lengthen it, I’m not against that, but he was literally saying, “Oh, is that all that happened at your place? Just people saved? You should have been to our place.” And there are sometimes you are made to feel like a poor relative…or a poor stepchild…because all you have is Jesus, but listen, let me tell you something…in the Christian life, you don’t start out with Jesus and then graduate to something better! You don’t pick up the Cross at the entrance of the way of life and after you’ve moved on for awhile, lay it down and find something better and more sensational and more spectacular. Christ and Christ alone is sufficient for our salvation…just at the beginning of it, but from the time we are taken into His presence.
Christ is sufficient is because of the death of the Cross.
It is the cross that Jesus bore. In most of Paul’s letters he always has something nice to say to his readers. But, he doesn’t have anything nice to say to the Galatians. He says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”…and that’s about as good as it’s going to get as far what he has to say to his readers… “…Who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father to Whom be glory forevermore. Amen.”
In other words, he starts at the very beginning…I mean…right at the very opening of his letter, he makes it clear that what he’s talking about is the death of Christ on the cross and he’s saying, “Christ and Christ alone is sufficient because of the death of the cross.” The death of the Cross was necessary because the Bible says that He died for our sins…literally “on behalf of our sins.” And nothing else can take away our sins from the very moment in the Garden of Eden when man first sinned…however you want to interpret all of that with the fancy interpretations that we’ve had through the years…one thing I know is clear is that God had to shed the blood of any innocent animal in order to cover the nakedness of that young couple…to cover that sin…and all the way through the Bible, it’s been nothing but the blood…nothing but the blood….nothing but the blood. All the way through the Bible, without the shedding of blood there is no remission! And that is offensive to our generation!
I was reading the other day in a magazine article where somebody was complaining about this “bloody Gospel” that we preach… It was the same week that the move, “Independence Day” came out. It’s blood and guts all the way. It’s amazing that you can go to the movie or you sit down at your television set and you watch all this violence…and we cheer it on and we say, “Great! He got him! Good! He plugged him right between the eyes! He got him! That’s good that it happened!” And then we come to church and suddenly we’re squeamish and we say, “Don’t talk to us about the blood of Christ!” But, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
And Christ is alone sufficient for our salvation, because He alone has died on our behalf…for our sins…voluntarily… He said that He gave Himself. The word is a gift of grace. He gave Himself. I love the words of Jesus when He said, “No man takes My life from Me.” I love that! “But,” He said, “I lay it down and if I lay it down I’m able to take it up again.” He gave it voluntarily. It was not forced upon. Jesus was not a victim. I hate it when I hear people say that He was a victim of circumstances…and that that’s what brought Him to the Cross! Oh, no! He said, “For this cause I came into the world…” He was born to bleed…born to die! And I say to you that Christ and Christ alone is sufficient tonight for your salvation, for your wholeness, because of the death of the Cross.
Christ is sufficient because of the deliverance of the Cross.
Notice again, he said He gave Himself for our sins to deliver us…to rescue us from this present evil age! Now some translations read “from this present world, but the best translation there is “age.” Because it has to do with this “present” evil age. Not the world in general. Not the world of earth and mountains and sky and trees…not that! But this age, this Godless age.
See, the Bible makes it very clear that there two ages running on parallel tracks. There is this present evil age when we’re caught up in the moirés and the standards and the custom of this world and we let the world set the agenda for our life…we let the world set the standard for our ethics and our morality…there is this present evil age and running on parallel tracks there is the kingdom age.
You say, “the kingdom is coming…” Oh yes, but it is already come. And what I’m doing and what you’re doing if you’re saved is you’re living in “kingdom come.” We’re living in “kingdom come.” Christ has died. Why? To deliver us out of this present evil age so that I don’t have to be captive by this evil age in which we live! So that I can belong to the new age…not the “New Age” that everybody’s talking about, you understand…the “New Age” is the evil age, warmed over, and given a new title…but I’m talking about the new age that Jesus Christ ushered in when He arose from the dead.
The kingdom is coming, but thank God, it has already come. And Christ leaves us in the world, but not of the world. So He delivers – rescues us. That’s strange language! You might think he would say that He gives us the option, but when he uses the word “deliver” or “rescue” He implies danger. Right? How many people passing on the streets tonight believe they’re in danger…and they need to be rescued? You see, that’s the blindness that Satan brings upon lost people’s minds and hearts. They don’t realize they’re in danger. Not just in danger of being eternally condemned, but in danger of missing out on the fullness of this life…of all that God has for them…of no longer being a slave, as we come to the end of the Galatian letter, Paul says, “Let henceforth no man trouble me for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” And there’s another place where he says there were some people who seemed to be important, but who they were doesn’t matter, they were nothing to me, it was God who judges. I like that!
The Bible says “The fear of man brings a snare.” And yet there is something about when Christ saves a person He rescues him from the snare of this present evil age. He’s not just rescuing him from hell. He’s rescuing him from this age…this life that he’s living. See, we must emphasize those words…deliver, rescue…implies that they are in danger…that this evil age is a danger.
Kaye and I were watching the news tonight on TV and they were talking about education. We’ve become enlightened. We think we’ve found such a better way. Isn’t it interesting how now we’re returning to the old ways…how we see that need now…and I told my wife, “It’s not just in education, but it’s in morals and ethics and we’re reaping what we have sown.” Why? Because folks, this evil age is dangerous. It’s hazardous to your health. So, Paul says that we have been rescued.
But, there’s another interesting thing about that word rescued. In the Greek tense it means “rescued for myself.” What he’s saying is that when Christ died on the Cross, He was rescuing us for Himself. And so it’s not just being passed from this age to the future age, but it is also being possessed by God Himself. God did this so we might belong to Him…so that we might be His possession! So, what we have here is the death of the Cross…that makes Christ and Christ alone sufficient for He was the only One who was able to die for our sins. But, also because of the deliverance of the Cross.
Christ is sufficient because of the design of the Cross.
Now, I didn’t intentionally plan for all these to start with the letter “d”…it just came out that way. I’m not hung up on all that. It just happened to be that way. I usually don’t like to use alliteration because then you begin to anticipate and sometimes you finish my outline before I ever get there. Don’t do that…I might slip a “c” in on you next!
The design of the Cross…notice those words, “…according to the will of our God and Father…” People say, “why does it have to be through the Cross? You evangelicals are so narrow minded! Why does it have to be through the Cross? Why does it have to be your way?” Because that’s the way God wants it! That’s why! Oh, but why does it have to be through faith? Why does it have to this way? Well, I could give a hundred reasons, but there’s only one big overarching reason…and that’s because this is the way God wanted it! It’s according to the will of God!
Down in verse 11, Paul says, “I want you to know brothers that the Gospel I preach is not something that man made up.” And I tell you something else…it’s not something that God thought up at the last minute. I remember somewhere in the Bible that Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Isn’t that something? Did you know that God is a Savior before He’s a Creator? You know, most of the time, when we think of God, all of God’s activities, we would start out with Creation, wouldn’t we? And then, down near the last, we’d say Redemption…but the fact of the matter is long before He was a Creator, He was a Savior! Because before there was ever a tree in the Garden of Eden, there was a Cross on the hill of Golgotha in the mind and eternal purpose of God. It’s according to God’s will. What we’re preaching is divine in its source. It’s not something made up by man.
Did you notice something here? He says in verse 6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting…”…not the Gospel but… “deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ.” Did you pick that up? Did you notice that? You see, Paul is startled that they’re doing it so quickly. It shows you how fast the devil works. But he’s also startled because they’re not forsaking a theological position. They’re not deserting a doctrinal ideology. They’re forsaking a Person! They are deserting a Person!
My dear friend, when you change the Gospel…when you attack the Gospel…you are attacking God Himself. So, the design of the Cross is that it was according to the will of God.
There’s something else.
Christ is sufficient because of the doxology of the Cross.
“Amen!” he says. “To whom be glory forevermore”…verse 5. “Amen.” Did you know that the only thing that will give glory to God is our salvation through the Cross? If I add anything to it, that takes away from the glory, doesn’t it? If I should add just a wee work…”just one work, Lord, so I can just kinda feel good about myself…so I can feel like I’ve contributed something…maybe, Lord, one little work…” What that does is it takes away from the glory of Christ. Do you know something? There’ll be no strutters in heaven! There’ll be nobody in heaven saying, “I’m here because I was such a good person. I’m here because I did this and that.” Oh no! All of us will fall down before the Lamb, and worship Him. Why? Because it is only because by the death of the Cross that God is glorified, you see! If you add anything to it, then you take away from His glory and His honor and His majesty.
One more word…
Christ and Christ alone is sufficient for our salvation because of the command to preach the Cross.
I told you the “c” would come. I warned you!
Why else would God command us to preach that? When Christ commissioned us He didn’t send us out to build men’s self-esteem. He sent us out to preach repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 1:23…
“…but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block
and to Gentiles foolishness.”
Now, let’s think about this for just a moment. You’re going to start a new religion. You’re going to start a whole new dimension of faith and religion. Then, how can we best do it? Well, certainly we don’t want to do anything that would be a scandal to people! And secondly we wouldn’t want to do anything that other people would think is nonsense! Would we? That’s not the way to win people! Isn’t it amazing? That’s exactly what God chose! He said, “…to the Jews it’s a scandal!” Why? The thought of their Messiah being crucified as a common criminal! That’s a stumbling block! It’s something you’d trip over and you just can’t get by that because I just can’t bring myself to believe that the King of glory should die as a common thief. And to the Gentiles…that’s the rest of us…it’s nonsense. You’re telling me that the death of a Man 2,000 years ago is going to save me today? How can that be? Well, what if I were to tell you that my grandfather died at birth? I wouldn’t be here! You see, even on the human level the life and death of a person a hundred years ago affects my life. Paul says, “It pleased God by the foolishness of what was preached…” not just the foolishness of preaching, but “by the foolishness of what was preached to save them who believe.” And he says, “I want you to know that the Gospel I preach is not something that man made up…I didn’t receive it from any man…nor was I taught it…rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
“But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s
womb, and called me through His grace was pleased to reveal
His Son in me, that I might preach Him among Gentiles, I did
not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up
to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went
away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then
three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted
with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.”
See, what Paul found out when he got to Jerusalem is that Peter was preaching the same thing he was preaching. See, what Paul is emphasizing is that this message…this Gospel…I received from direct revelation from Jesus Christ. I wasn’t taught it in a seminary. It wasn’t passed down to me by any tradition. He said that it was a direct revelation from God.
So, he said in verse 10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I want to end on that note. I believe that one of the greatest dangers facing those of us who call ourselves “evangelicals” is the overanxious desire to be accepted by the world…to please men. One of our leading churches in the States…and the pastor is a good and godly man…and I think his preaching and the work of his church have brought thousands to Christ. But, he did something that just grieves me to no end. He took down the cross because it offended lost people who came into the building.
Let me say something to you. If you start out and your aim and your goal is to please men, you’re going to be forced to compromise the truth of the Gospel. Paul said, “if my ambition is to please men, then I cannot be a servant of God.” Isn’t that amazing? So we still face the task that’s before us and that’s to reach a lost and dying world. But you’ll never do it by pleasing them! You’ll only do it by being a scandal and an offense! And that comes by preaching the Cross of Jesus Christ! Amen!
Would you pray with me please?
Our Father, as we stand in Your presence, we come here to
worship You, to honor and to glorify You. And if I know
anything about what the Bible teaches, that all begins with
our acknowledging the Cross.
I pray for anyone here tonight who does not know Jesus Christ
as Savior. If they’ve never had that experience of salvation
and they cannot know without a doubt that their sins have
been forgiven. I pray that as pray that they would pray, asking
Your forgiveness for their sinfulness and asking Christ to come
into their lives to save them.
For those of us who are Christians, Lord, we live in a world in
which we’re pulled in so many directions. It is not wrong that
we should use new methods and new technologies…but it is
wrong that we should ever compromise the message.
Now, Lord, I pray the thought that You would leave with our
hearts tonight is that we cannot at the same time please men
and be a servant of Yours.
Bless Your word to our hearts…we pray in Jesus’ name,
© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005