Summary: Through Christ’s death and resurrection you have been set free.
Intro: "It ain’t over ’til it’s over."
This is probably the single most famous quote from baseball legend Yogi Berra. It’s simple but elegant and must have come to him in a rare moment of linguistic clarity, because he is much better known as the master of confusion and doublespeak like this:
"This is like deja vu all over again." "You can observe a lot just by watching." "You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there." "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early." "Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical."
"A nickel isn’t worth a dime today." "It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much." "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." "If the fans don’t come out to the ball park, you can’t stop them." "It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility." "You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours."
"I didn’t really say everything I said."
Yogi’s not the only guy to ever get confused though. It can be a confusing world and even the most important things in life can be confusing. The whole point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was to clear up some confusion that was the result of false teaching that was going on in their churches. God wanted them to be free and He was going to use this letter from Paul.
History: The churches in Galatia were being confused by these guys, called Judaizers. A few years before this letter was written the Apostle Paul and Barnabas had gone on a missionary journey and planted or started some new churches – they were the first to spread the message of Christ to the Gentiles (non-Jews). They traveled thru Asia Minor what today we call Turkey.
After they left each city where this new faith that one day would be called Christianity was introduced some men, Jewish men, came into the new church and told them that since Jesus was a Jew, and followed all of the Mosaic Law, then they too should follow it. They said in essence, “we Jews are circumcised and you must be too, you must sacrifice the way we do. Everything must be done the way we do them.” This teaching became known as “Legalism.”
Soon, Paul heard what was happening and around the year 48 A.D. this letter was written and sent to be read in these new churches. There is a lot of teaching in these letters – Sound doctrine and practical living. In chpt 5 begins some practical advice from Paul. He gives us 5 ways to set us free.
I. Stand Firm in the Faith of Christ (vs. 1-3).
This first point sounds like an oxymoron from the sermon title, but it is not and let me explain why it is not. Paul states that God’s purpose for deliverance, our salvation, was for the freedom of each believer. “Christ set us free from the “guilt-establishing and deadening power of the law” through His death and resurrection.”
Going back to a yoke of slavery didn’t make sense, it was crazy. That is what the new Christians in Galatia were doing. They were tricked by the judaizers to go back to those old traditions. So Paul writes to them and gives them the command to stand firm in the faith of Christ.
Vs. 2-3: At the heart of what the Judiazers were teaching was a works based salvation. This is what every man made religion teaches. Here they were teaching that circumcision was necessary. The Jews were often referred to as the circumcised. This was their most distinctive outward mark and for many Jews it became a symbol of pride. Often they no longer viewed it as a God given symbol of His covenant promise (Gen 17:9-10). Instead most Jews looked at it as having some spiritual value in itself. In other words, they believed that being circumcised was a guarantee of God’s favor. A stamp of approval.
On the other hand what Paul taught was that the work of Christ is entirely sufficient. He paid it all for you and I. That is the biggest problem with any works-based salvation; it teaches that something must be done on the part of the believer in order to received the blessing, the gift of salvation. What this false thinking teaches is that when Christ said, “It is finished” it really wasn’t finished; it wasn’t finished until you do this work or that thing.
If you insist on following one portion of the Law then you must follow it all. “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point,” James says, “he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). God’s standard is perfect righteousness. Therefore, if part of the law falls short of His standard then salvation is forfeited. Even if a person were somehow able to keep all of the law for all of his life, if he broke a commandment during his last minute on earth, he would forfeit salvation. Or if he managed to keep all of the laws perfectly except one, he would suffer the same fate – no salvation.