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Righteous Indignation (Galatians 2:1-16) March 12, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in False Teachers, Galatians, Paul's Life.
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RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION
Galatians 2:1-16

Do you get angry about what angers God? God doesn’t sweat the small stuff that gets under our skin. There are, however, some things we need to get angry about.

When we worked in Germany as church planters, we received a call once from another American missionary. He was not someone we knew or had ever met. The city where this man labored had received an influx of asylum seekers from a non-western culture. This man had baptized some of these people but they were being moved by the German government to housing in our area and he wanted to know if we could help them spiritually. We agreed and soon we had as many as a dozen of these people meeting with us for Bible study. What we then found out made us angry. These people he had baptized did not know the gospel. They did not understand the significance of Jesus Christ, some not even realizing that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God in flesh. He had apparently simply asked them if they believed in Jesus. They had said yes and he had baptized them. Some of them now thought that they were Christians because they had been baptized.

Also Paul got angry when the gospel of Christ was circumvented. He knew that performing some ritual was not enough to bring a person into the kingdom of God.

A. That is why it is important that we to make sure that we are teaching and living the truth (2:1-3, 7-10). Paul was a unique individual. He had met and seen the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. He had received direct revelation from God much of which we have in those of his epistles gathered together in the New Testament. Yet he consulted with the earliest disciples, that is, he compared notes with them to make sure that he was preaching the same gospel as they were. If he was preaching salvation by grace through faith in Christ and they were preaching salvation by keeping the law, then his whole work among the Gentiles would be in jeopardy.

1. There is only one truth (2:1-2). Paul was making sure that they were agreed on that. There are some things that we can disagree on but not on the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

2. There may be multiple ways to live it out (2:3, 7-10). Circumstances may affect how we live out the truth but it does not change what that truth is. For a Jewish Christian to be circumcised was not a big deal. That was their heritage from God. It is not what saved them but it was not wrong to maintain there heritage. For a Gentile, however, to become a Jew through circumcision was to deny the saving power of Jesus Christ. That is what Paul was guarding against. Paul was not against rules and regulations. He was against making them a means of salvation or spiritual completion.

B. We need to stand against those who would take our spiritual liberty (2:4-6, 11-16). Chuck Swindoll tells how “the life cycle of a silkworm from egg to worm to moth includes the state at which the worm spins about itself a remarkable cocoon. This little sack is composed of 400 to 800 yards of silk fiber which seals it from the inside as it waits for metamorphosis. At the completion of the cycle, the adult moth will break the cocoon, tearing apart the fine silk cords that bind it, and fly free. But the silkworm farmer does not allow most to become adults. At a key point in the cycle, he steams the cocoons to keep the moths inside from maturing. If he didn’t do this, they would go free, leaving a trail of broken threads which are useless to the exploiters. If they were allowed to mature and escape, by the way, the reproductive moth would lay up to 350 eggs. But they are not allowed to do so…” Spiritually, if I lay down laws for you to keep that cause you not to trust in Christ for your eternal hope of salvation or for your spiritual walk now, then I am bringing you into a type of spiritual bondage.

1. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ not in works of the law (2:4-5). Paul says that he did not submit even for an hour to such foolishness. There can be no toleration of salvation by works in any form.

2. Our significance is in Jesus Christ not in works of the law (2:6). This is why Paul was able to stand against these men. He had come to understand that any significance that he might have is in Jesus Christ alone.

3. Our manner of life is governed by Jesus Christ and not by the pressures of man (2:11-14). There are those who will try to put pressure on you to do this or that so that you might fit in with the religious world. We do not, however, tolerate for one minute any pressure that would cause people to separate themselves from Jesus Christ for salvation.

i. Ethnic pressure by man (2:15). There were actually two aspects to this pressure. One was racial and one was religious. Racial pride should never be a part of our makeup as believers in Christ. Why? Galatians 3:26-29 puts it this way, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

I trust you will allow me a rabbit trail. I am ashamed of the number of Bible-believing Christians who use racial slurs. If the verses I have just read are true, then every person is potentially in Christ Jesus if they believe the gospel. President Obama has been president for over three years and yet I am still hearing white Christians use ungodly racially charged language in reference to him. It is not a joke. You may say, I am not a racist, I just thought it was funny. Let me ask you a few questions. If you tell one lie, are you a liar? If you steal one time, are you a thief? If you kill someone, are you not a murderer? If you use a racial slur one time, are you not a racist?

Anyway, there were some who because they were descended from Abraham felt that only those who found a way to become a physical Jew, that is, through circumcision, were pleasing to God. Circumcision was never able to bring anyone to God.

ii. Religious pressure of man (2:16). This group also felt that you must keep the right set of religious rules. Religious rules are not evil in and of themselves. The problem comes when we think we can earn grace, forgiveness, and salvation by keeping those rules. We should live right, there is no question but to demand rule keeping or ritual keeping for salvation is a denial of who Christ is and what Christ has done for us on the cross.

The problem of course is self-righteousness. If you are trying to get enough works to please God, to let you get into heaven, then you may be unsaved and self-righteous. You may be religious but lost. Turn to Christ alone and His work on the cross on your behalf alone for salvation.

Are you allowing your sensitivity for other belief systems to cause you to soft peddle the gospel of Christ? We do not have to be hateful but we do need to stand for the truth, we need to boldly proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

The Blessings and Curse of the Cross (Galatians 3) March 5, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Crucifixion, Galatians, Lord's Table.
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THE CURSE AND THE BLESSINGS
Galatians 3:7-14

We saw last week that Paul was opposing those who were perverting the gospel. They were changing salvation by grace through faith in the gospel, that is, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ into a salvation by law: circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, zealousness, the Ten Commandments, or some other way in which one can make himself acceptable or at least presentable before God. Paul says, “You can’t change what God has set forth.”

Warren Wiersbe tells how “a new employee was instructed how to measure valve parts to make sure they were ready for the final assembly. But after a few hours, his foreman was receiving complaints that the parts he was approving were faulty. ‘What are you doing?’ the foreman asked. ‘I showed you how to use that micrometer. You’re sending through parts that are oversize!’ The employee replied, ‘Oh, most of the parts I was measuring were too large, so I opened up the micrometer a bit.’” The cross is God micrometer. It is by the cross that we determine our spiritual welfare.

A. The curse of the cross was on our behalf (3:7-14; 5:11; 6:12-13).

1. The curse was pronounced by God (3:7-14). Paul quotes six different Old Testament passages to make the point that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. He also says that through the law comes the curse. Actually, there are two curses here. The first, a general curse, is on anyone who breaks one law (verse 10). This is in contrast to the justification that comes through faith (verses 8-9, 11-12). Justification can simply mean that you are getting what’s coming to you. That is not the way Paul is using this word. He takes an Old Testament concept and speaks about God taking a sinner’s account and stamping it “righteous.”

There are four stamps God could use. He could stamp our account as “guilty.” That is what we deserve. Or he could stamp us “not guilty.” That means you’re not condemned, that is, the evidence does not condemn you. But, of course, that is not true. God could stamp our account “innocent.” That is better than not guilty but the evidence still is against us. God uses the stamp “righteous through faith” (see Abraham’s case in verse 6). What Paul is saying is that righteousness is put on my account by grace through faith in Christ and his death on my behalf.

One might say faith in the second curse pronounced by God, that is, the curse of the cross (verses 13-14). It is faith in the righteousness, the redemption, the payment, provided by Jesus Christ on the cross for our account that justifies us with God.

2. The offense of the cross provoked persecution and derision (5:11). Certainly the cross was despised by the Jews because of the curse pronounced by God on anyone hung from a tree. It was also a most shameful death in the eyes of the Romans who were actually carrying out the act of crucifixion. It was reserved for criminals and slaves. Jesus was neither. Robert Gundry feels that Mark’s gospel may have been written to counteract the shame of the cross by recording the power of Jesus, for no Roman would trust a crucified Savior. The Roman senator and orator Cicero said “the very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the perons of a Roman citizen but also from his thoughts, his eyes, and his ears…the mere mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man” (In Defense of Rabirius taken from Gundry’s A Survey of the New Testament). The shame of the cross was not theoretical but real.

3. The cross is incompatible with profiteering from believers (6:12-13). It is more respectable to belong to the right group than to be associated with the cross of Christ. Heroes did not die on the cross but in battle. Those who profit from religious faith have no use for the cross unless they can turn it into some type of work. If I preach a certain type of message so that it might attract a crowd, am I any better than these? Not that we should not try to reach as many as we can and any legitimate method should be used. At times the message of the cross has been more popular than others but whether it is the “in thing” or not, it is still our only message.

B. The blessings of the cross come through Christ living in me (2:17-21; 5:24; 6:14-17).

1. Our lives are transformed by grace through faith in Christ (2:17-21). When we baptize tonight, we will being testifying that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ through His death and resurrection. Verse 21 is a sobering verse. If we have life through any other way, then the cross of Christ was a waste, a wasted life.

2. We actively war against sin (5:24). We will speak about this more at a later time but the fight against sin in our own individual lives must take place under the banner of the cross. Apart from the power of the cross to give us new life, we are helpless against the sins listed in this chapter. Our flesh will give in but we are alive now in Christ, the Crucified One.

3. Our boasting is dependent on the cross (6:14-17). Unlike the profiteers, our boasting is dependent on Jesus. My rejection of the sins of the flesh, of this world is based on my new life in Christ. Paul even notes that he has brands or marks on his body that identify him with Jesus. In those days an idol worshipper might have the brand of his idol burned into his body. Slaves were also marked with brands. Circumcision itself, though not a brand, served the same purpose. Paul said, “My brands come through my daily life with Christ.”

Let’s take our micrometer and measure ourselves.
1. Have you been saved by the grace of God? If you feel in anyway that you deserve salvation, you are too big for the micrometer of the cross.
2. Are you trying to mix law and grace? Are you trying to adjust the cross for yourself or someone else? God will not accept that mixture.
3. When we celebrate today the Lord’s Table, will you be boasting in the cross of Christ or will you be trying to impress God by your sanctified worship?
4. Are you walking in spiritual liberty? We are celebrating spiritual liberty today through the Lord’s Table. Do you live your liberty out in the world during the week?
5. Are you willing to defend the truth of the gospel of Christ? Or do you let it slide when people say, “Well, I think I’m good enough for God. I’m better than the average Joe?”
(Questions adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s Be Free).

As we partake of the Lord’s Table, let us dwell on these questions and respond to God’s call to salvation and to walking in spiritual liberty.

Next week: Righteous Indignation (Galatians 1-2)