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

Posted by roberttalley in False Teachers, Galatians, Paul's Life.

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.



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