Galations 8 - Hope 103.2

Galations 8

By Simon ManchesterSunday 2 Mar 2014Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


St Thomas’ Anglican Church
North Sydney

Galatians – 5:1-15

Our subject is Freedom.  And the Christian life is a life of wonderful freedom although you may not always feel it; nevertheless we have been wonderfully freed when we put our faith in Christ.  You may not think that believers look incredibly free but they are incredibly free and when they believe it and feel it,it’s often more evident in their lives.  So the Christian life is a life of freedom from the consequences of sin – from the fear of God – from the fear of death and condemnation – it’s a wonderful life of freedom.

The dangers are to fall off the bridge into knots of legalism or to fall the other way into currents of self indulgence – What are often called ‘legalism’ or ‘licence.  The Apostle Paul is going to set out a little of this in our chapter.

Now freedom of course doesn’t always come home to people who think they are as free as they really are.  Let me put that the other way.  People who think they are free (who are not that free),people in the community who think ‘I am free as a bird’ but they are not that free.  There are people who are under the waves of trouble and addiction.

I was reading through the week what is called the “Inebriation Scale”.  These are the 10 stages of progressive intoxication.  This is humorous but this is a serious subject but this little section that I am reading to you is I think quite humorous.  And the stages of progressive intoxication go like this:

Stage 1 – you are completely sober – brain is sharp as an army bayonet.
Stage 2 – 1 drink,feeling of pleasurable well being.
Stage 3 – 2 drinks,complemented on barmaid’s blouse.
Stage 4 – 2 drinks,brilliant discussion with guy at bar on how to win lottery every time.
Stage 5 – 4 drinks,explaining of life to people around you using beer mats and bowl of peanuts.
Stage 6 – 5 drinks,discover everyone loves you and start phoning friends to tell them that you always love them too.
Stage 7 – 6 drinks,words become slurred,much hugging and occasional falling over.
Stage 8 – 7 drinks,headache kicking in,play poker machine for 10 mins before seeing “Out of Order Sign”.
Stage 9 – 8 drinks,room suddenly full of identical twins.  Offer to have someone’s baby for them,fall and gash head on table.
Stage 10 – 9 drinks,manage to find door,throw up,get into taxi,throw up,get thrown out,fall through front hedge,find door,slump in hallway,sense of great satisfaction at how well evening has gone.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

There is a tremendous example,I think,of somebody under the illusion that they are increasingly free while it’s perfectly obvious to everybody looking at them that they are dreadfully trapped.

And I think we are aware that there are freedoms which are visible and there are freedoms which are invisible.  Just as there are slaveries that are visible and there are slaveries that are invisible.  So there are visible slaveries like people in chains – we can picture them in a chain gang – visible slavery.  Girls working the streets,chained to some kind of ruthless pimp.  Sad people in bars playing the pokies,losing all their income.

Apparently in Australia we have more people playing the pokies than anywhere in the world except in Las Vegas – visible slaveries.

And then you get invisible slaveries.  You get the addiction that nobody knows about or you get the sadness,the outward everything is OK but inside panic,anxious and depressed.  And those people who outwardly have everything but actually inwardly care about nothing.  These are invisible slaveries. 

It’s a great grief,isn’t it,for parents when you provide everything for your children hoping that they will be secure and then they discover that they are strangely frightened.

Or you provide everything for your children hoping that they will be happy but they are strangely angry all the time.

Or some slaveries do you realize are not solved by money or power.? And there is one slavery which we are told is the worst of all – this is the slavery that Jesus describes as slavery to sin.  It means that you disobey God,that we disobey God and we’ve got no way to hide the evidence – we are caught red-handed and we’ve got no way to stop doing it again.  You can’t see the chains of this slavery with the naked eye but it is real – the invisible chains are incredibly real.

And the consequences of this slavery to sin are more serious than any other slavery because this slavery keeps you from God.  And all talk of ‘God I believe in God,I like God,I love God,I pray to God – all of that is completely empty if you don’t know how to get rid of sin – if you don’t know how to deal with sin.  Jesus said in John chapter 8 “everyone who sins is a slave to sin,a slave has no permanent place in the family but a son or daughter belongs to it forever.  If the Son (that is Jesus Christ) set’s you free,you will be free indeed”.

And that’s why there are so many very happy millionaires in Sydney who are in still the worst possible slavery that you can be in and there are many people who are in our jails who have nothing visibly to applaud or enjoy but who are inwardly and deeply and wonderfully free because there is a slavery which is more serious than you can imagine and there is a freedom which is more wonderful than you can imagine.

So the freedom that Jesus brings by setting us free from our slavery to sin is his top priority.  That’s why he came into the world and that’s why he lived and died and rose to free people from that slavery to sin.  And it should be (as we prayed this morning) our top priority as well.  It should be our top priority for us and for our children,friends and our family.

And for a number of Sundays – in fact 8 we have been looking at the subject of freedom in the Letter of Paul to the Galatians in the New Testament.  And you will see if you look back at chapter 5 verse 1 (which is the first verse that John read for us) it is probably the key verse in the whole book of Galatians.  Paul says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm,then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”.

In other words if Jesus gets you ‘out of jail’ don’t fall for somebody who leads back into another cell.  But some people are doing that in the Galatian church and that’s why the Apostle Paul writes the letter.  Some people have seem to sneak into the church and are basically saying

‘Look if you add some rules and regulations to your faith in Christ,you’ll be truly free –
You’ll really arrive –
You’ll really be adopted –
You’ll really be in God’s good books.

And that’s why Paul writes the letter to say that is a jail. 

So three things this morning – if you are with me – the first is
1.  We need to make a decision about our Saviour – Galatians 5:1-6
2.  We need to make a decision about our Mentor – Galatians 5:7-12
3.  We need to make a decision about our Master – Galatians 5:13-15

So first of all,we need to make a decision about our Saviour.  If there are some here this morning,parents of pre-school children – we love to have you here – I really am saying this to you because it is THE most important thing you can possibly do for your children is to make them clear about their Saviour.  That’s what the pre-school seeks to do but we of course hope to just do what the parents are doing.

Verse 1 – Christ has set us free – says Paul – he is a Christian,he’s writing to Christians – he says some of you used to be Jews – you couldn’t keep the 10 Commandments – you needed to be set free – you needed a Saviour – you found Jesus.  Some of them used to be Gentiles (non Jews).  They were ignorant of God,they were disobedient and they needed freedom and they needed a Saviour and they found Jesus. 

And that’s why the Apostle Paul’s ministry was so wonderful.  He came into Galatia,he told them about the Lord Jesus and they listened and they discovered that Christ had died for the ungodly and could forgive and would forgive and they believed and they became people with eternal life and they rejoiced and then suddenly in came the heretics and said ‘that’s not enough – that’s not good enough – you are going to have to improve’.

And when you do put your faith in Christ and you believe that he died on the cross,
You are wonderfully free. 
Your sin is taken away.
Your guilt is taken away.
The law can no longer condemn you.
Death can no longer hold on to you.
Judgment can no longer threaten you.
You cannot be condemned.
You are in a wonderful,wonderful position.

And this is the promise of God who doesn’t tell lies.  And those of you this morning that trust Christ,you are wonderfully free,however you feel.  You are wonderfully free and you mustn’t fall for the person who sneaks in to tell you some religious extras or some hurdle that you need to jump – as if that will truly make you free.  You’ve put your feet in the dingy called “Christ” – you are free.

Yesterday my ex-neighbour came to see me – a lovely man.  He never understood Christianity as far as I know although I have talked to him many times – even took him to the Mens Convention at Katoomba which was a shock to his system!  We had another chat and he was reminding me that my ministry was basically positive thinking.  And I was trying to tell him that my ministry is not at all positive thinking.  I am trying to be a realist.  And he’s never really understood Christianity as I say so I said to him as we stood on the front of our little veranda of our house –

I said “you know if you want to be a Christian – see the doormat here – imagine the doormat is Christ.  You put your two feet on Christ and you say to yourself ‘this is the complete Saviour of the world,he is the complete King of the world – I am trusting him and I am committed to him’.

I said the problem of course is that for many people (and I thought about his particular denomination) you’ve sort of got a foot that occasionally goes near Christ but mostly your foot is on self – you are trusting yourself – your confidence is in yourself.

I tried to explain this a few times using the doormat on the front veranda and it didn’t really go anywhere and after a while another neighbour came past and interrupted us and so that was all over and I look forward to another opportunity to confuse him again.  That’s the point the Apostle Paul is making – you’ve come to put your faith in Christ – don’t fall for the person who tries to move one of your feet over to ritual and what you do and how you perform and how you live.  As soon as you do that,you are split in half.  You are in a fatal and hopeless position.

Well that’s how the Apostle Paul uses verses 2-6.  He talks about this “Do It Yourself” religion and then he talks about what I am going to call “SBJ” – Salvations by Jesus.  Just look at the Bible with me – look at chapter 5 verse 2.  If you go down,says Paul mark my words,if you let yourself be circumcised,if you go down the line of ritual,if you say this is what I will do to make God satisfied,then (verse 2) Christ will be of no value to you.  You’ve chosen the “Do It Yourself” process – Christ is useless to you.

Verse 3 – you must now keep the whole law “I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law” – you’ve chosen the “DIY” process – you’ve got to do the “DIY” perfectly.  That’s what you’ve chosen.

Verse 4 – you are alienated from Christ,you’ve left Christ,you’ve walked away from Christ,and you’ve chosen the “DIY” process.  Then verse 4 again – you’ve fallen away from grace.  There’s no more grace – there’s no more amazing grace.  You’ve chosen ‘works’ – you’ve chosen the “DIY” process.

People who insist on saying “I am a good person” don’t realize that they are refusing Christ.  Christians who start trusting Christ and then fall back into the DIY process are actually refusing Christ.  That’s the way the path goes,says the Apostle Paul.  It’s a terrible and dangerous path.

Now the “SBJ” path – Salvation by Jesus (verse 5) goes like this:

It’s a matter of faith – by faith,says the Apostle,by confidence in Christ we eagerly await through the Spirit – new life has come to us – the Spirit has come to us – we eagerly await the righteousness for which we hope.  That is,we are looking forward to the future which God has planned for his people where our salvation will be public and perfect.

Verse 5 – we wait for this – we don’t work for this – we don’t try and achieve this – we wait for this.  It is something God has promised the believer and we are like children whose father has promised us a holiday and he is a good father and he keeps his word and the holiday will come and so we wait for it.  It’s his promise,it’s his gift and he will do what he said.  That’s salvation by Jesus.

You see the two paths – 1. I am going to do this myself,I am going to be the person that I want to be,and I am going to satisfy God myself.  The Apostle Paul says – well you had better be perfect and actually you are walking away from Christ,you are walking away from grace and there’s no future.

Alternatively he says you can put your faith in Christ which will bring the Spirit of God which will bring righteousness immediately and righteousness to come because there’s going to be this perfect righteousness and you must wait for it. 

So that’s the first point this morning friends – I cannot tell you how important it is to make your decision about your Saviour.  It’s either self or Christ and the problem for many Christians is that they hear the Good News and then they veer back to the bad news.

The second thing (verses 7-12) Make your decision about your Mentor – in other words,who is going to give you your directions? 

Someone has said if you have no musical talent then you should be given two sticks so you can beat a drum. 
But if you have no gifts to beat a drum then someone should take away one of the sticks and you can be the conductor at the front!!

It’s a slightly rude comment because I gather being a conductor takes a lot of talent although I did see a cartoon once of a conductor and on his piece of paper it simply said “WAVE STICK TILL MUSIC FINISHES – THEN TURN AROUND AND BOW TO THE AUDIENCE”.  So I don’t know whether it’s difficult or not!

But you can imagine the Apostle Paul is saying here “I don’t know who is giving you your instructions,I don’t know who is conducting your life” says the Apostle Paul but if a person conducts you so that you start to think away from Christ,then you need to get another mentor.  You see (verse 7) “who cut in on you – you were going well?”

Interestingly he says “who (singular) has cut in on you?”  Some ring leader has come in and this is how Paul describes the enemy – the enemy mentor – the enemy conductor (verse 7) they keep you from the truth.  If the person that you follow,the person you listen to keeps you from the truth of Christ,you’ve got the wrong mentor.  You need to be listening to someone who drives you TO Christ.

Verse 8 – this person who is telling you to move away from Christ is not representing God.  They are not representing the one who called you.  God calls you to spiritual freedom.  This person is calling you to spiritual bondage.

Verse 9 – and they infect people. 

They are like leaven in the lump. 
They are like garlic in the food.
They are like curry in the meat. 
They are like a worm in the apple. 
They are like poison in the glass.            Error spreads.

Verse 10 – They will face God’s penalty for this.  People who lead people away from Christ are failing their No.1 responsibility.  It’s a serious word to us who are parents,isn’t it?  The person who leads a person away from Christ is failing their No.1 responsibility.  God will deal with them.

Verse 11 – If you preach circumcision – says the Apostle Paul – that is if you preach ‘you can do this yourself’ you’ll end up in slavery – slavery that is terribly wrong.  You can see how frustrated Paul is.

Verse 12 – He says,imagining these people who have got the knife and discussing circumcision – I hope they will go the whole way and emasculate themselves!  It’s a fairly earthy little note in the New Testament.  At his nicest he mean by that – I hope that those who are teaching this will suffer but it’s obvious something that distresses him greatly.

Well his ministry,by contrast,you see in verse 11 is that he preaches The Cross.  He tells people about the Cross.  He tells people what Christ has done – not what they must do.  He tells them that the Son of God took what we deserve to offer what he deserves.  That he faced at the cross the wrath of God in order to provide for us who believe the fellowship of God or in the words of Peter – “Christ died,the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God”.

Paul gets persecuted for this.  Why does he get persecuted for this?  Well it’s so unflattering.  You’ve got to go to a person and say ‘do you realise you have fallen short and you are in trouble and you can’t do anything about it and you need a Saviour?’  So he gets persecuted for this.  He gets persecuted because he carefully preaches the cross.

The cross,of course tells us that we are deeply sinful but deeply loved.  It tells us that we are deeply needy but we are greatly provided for.  So the DIY message never brings much persecution because it is so flattering – Do It Yourself – be a nice person and all will be well.

But the SBJ – Salvation by Jesus will bring persecution but it will also bring eternal life and hope and a future and freedom.

Well what sort of freedom is brought?  Is it freedom to do anything?  The Apostle goes on to say in these last few verses – you need to make a decision about your Master. 

You need to make a decision about your Saviour
You need to make a decision about your Mentor
You need to make a decision about your Master

Christianity is not a Rule Book like a dog tied to a post.
Christianity is not abandoning yourself to anything like a dog roaming the streets completely lost.
Christianity is a special freedom like a dog walking beside its master enjoying protection,enjoying provision and enjoying company.

And in verses 13-15 Paul tries to make sure that the Christians in Galatia don’t run from the post to the streets from legalism to licentiousness from the Pharisee to the Playboy because both are slavery.

In the heart of the real Christian is a new love from Christ and for Christ.  That’s what Paul says in these last 3 verses.  “You,my brothers,were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command:  Love your neighbour as yourself.  But if you keep on biting and devouring each other,watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”.

I wonder friends,if this danger in these verses is much more serious for us today?  I wonder whether it’s much more serious for us than legalism – is the whole area of indulgence.  I wonder whether a camera was allowed to watch your life during this last week – whether the camera would see us walking in faithfulness and joy with Christ or whether rather than veering into slavery of law we veer into the slavery of self indulgence.  That’s what the Apostle Paul is warning about. 

We do need the gospel to keep us from legalism so we don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘I am going well so Christ must love me more or I am going badly so Christ must love me less – that’s not the gospel.  The gospel is Christ loves me.  But we also need the gospel to keep us from licence. 

No spouse should be thinking ‘I am married I can do what I like’
No parent should be thinking ‘I am a parent I can behave as I want’
No child should be thinking ‘I am a child I can do whatever I want’.

When the relationship gets into you and you realise where you stand with Christ and Christ gets into you,you should find yourself with a great joy of freedom – being loved and loving in response.

I want to finish by reading to you some words of Martin Luther who wrote this back in the 16th Century but it’s a wonderful way to finish this morning.  He says:-

“Who is able to express what a thing it is when a man is assured in his heart that God neither is nor will be angry but will be forever a merciful and loving father for Christ’s sake?  This is indeed a marvellous and incomprehensible liberty to have the most high and sovereign majesty so favourable unto us that he doesn’t only defend,maintain and succour us in this life that our bodies shall rise again in glory and power. 

Wherefore this is an immeasurable liberty that we are made free from the wrath of God forever and is greater than heaven and earth.  Let us learn therefore to magnify our liberty which no emperor,no prophet,no patriarch nor any angel from heaven has obtained for us but Jesus Christ the Son of God by whom all things were created in heaven and earth which liberty he has purchased with no other price than with his own blood to deliver us not from any bodily or temporal servitude but from a spiritual and everlasting bondage under most cruel and invincible tyrants – the law,sin death and the devil and to reconcile us to God our Father.

Now since these enemies are overcome and we are reconciled unto God by the death of his Son,it is certain we are righteous before God and whatsoever we do pleases him and although there be certain remnants of sin yet still in us,they are not laid to our charge but pardoned for Christ sake”.

That friends is the freedom that Christ provides and he provides it for us and he provides it for those we love through the gospel.  So that’s our section this morning. 

There is a decision to be made,isn’t there?
There is a Saviour we must trust
There is a Mentor we must listen to
There is a Master we must obey.

Let’s pray – let’s bow our heads –
Our Heavenly Father,we thank you this morning for the freedom that you give to us in the Lord Jesus.  Freedom from the law,freedom from falling into licence but you lead us in the great liberty of the Lord Jesus.

We pray that you would help us and our loved ones,our children and our families to appreciate all that Jesus has done for us at the cross.  We pray that you would help us and them to trust and obey all our days.  We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.