Summary: But, after spending all this time in the book of Galatians, I just wonder if we are missing the point. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to the mall and interview people and ask, “What does Christianity mean to you?” And get the answer: “One word…freedom
Dance Lessons: License to ?Kill
Chenoa Baptist Church
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
What is Christianity?
[Slide]Several years ago, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons wrote a book entitled, “UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and why it Really Matters.” From their research with the Fermi group and Barna Research group, they came up with the six most common objections to Christianity from outsiders, ages 16-29. This list is hard to read. They said that Christians were:
Too focused on getting converts
This stings because we all know that these labels far too often accurately describe people who claim to know Christ.
But, after spending all this time in the book of Galatians, I just wonder if we are missing the point. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to the mall and interview people and ask, “What does Christianity mean to you?” And get the answer:
“One word…freedom! The people I know that are Christians are some of the most free, loving, caring, joyful, grace-filled people I’ve ever met! They’re amazing!”
What keeps this from being how we are perceived? Paul has an answer for that in the verses we will study today.
False Teachers Need to be Kicked Out
In our study last week, Paul took on the false teachers head on and said that they
hindered the Galatians race
They were not from God
They contaminated the whole church
They persecuted true teachers like Paul
Paul ends with some of the strongest language in the Bible:
“As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Gal 5:12)
As Luther paraphrased this verse, “I wish that the knife would slip!”
Paul wasn’t going to tolerate these false teachers cutting in on his spiritual children, these baby Christian Galatians, with the false doctrine of works-righteousness. He would rather they became castrated priests for the pagan god Cybele than confused and distract Galatians as they learn to dance to the rhythm of grace, joy, peace, and, most of freedom.
[Slide] Remember, that those who dance are thought crazy by those who can hear the music.
If you missed last week’s sermon, you can watch all the sermons from this series on our Facebook page.
Turn with me to Galatians 5 and we will start in verse 13.
Free To Serve in Love
Throughout this letter, Paul has been warning the Galatians about the dangers of legalism. Legalism is the idea that you can earn God’s favor by doing good works. That’s what the Judiazer’s were preaching. In order to be real Christians, you had to obey to the Mosaic law, follow the dietary rules, and, most importantly, enter the covenant community of the Jews, through circumcision.
Paul directly attacked this idea in his question that began chapter 3:
“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Gal 3:2)
The Galatians had not even heard of the Law when Paul came to them. They were pagan Gentiles. They knew that they had been saved by “believing what they heard” - by placing their faith in Christ’s sacrificial life, death, and resurrection.
Paul spend the first 4 chapter hammering this theme home - we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. If they allowed themselves to be circumcised, they would be saying that Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t enough, that they had to somehow finish the job. To Paul, this was blasphemy!
It wasn’t about our performance but our position in Christ as adopted sons and daughters of the King.
But there was an other extreme that could trap the Galatians - license.
The Judaizers were saying, “Listen, Paul says you don’t have to obey the Law anymore. How will you know right from wrong? If you sin, what will you do to feel forgiven? Don’t you see? What Paul is teaching is dangerous. Basically he’s saying that because of Jesus you are free to do anything you want to do. You can sin all you want. Who cares? God will forgive you. No, come back to the Law. It will make you feel safe and secure.”
Nothing has really changed all these centuries later. Some people fall into the extreme of legalism and add all kinds of extra rules to follow to be a “good” Christian. Others swing to the other extreme and teach you can sin all you want and God will forgive you.
Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is the concept of Christian liberty.
This is what Paul was teaching and he wants to start off with an a command, the reason for the command, and a warning.