Summary: How do you get where you want to be? Naturally we try hard and try to be motivated - and hope God approves of us. In reality we need to trust in the Holy Spirit instead of our own abilities.
What if you had to climb a really steep trail - and somebody came along and said, "here, use my brand new 2004 Dodge RAM SRT-10 with its 500 horsepower engine capable of 525 pound feet of torque - able to reach 60 miles an hour in 5 seconds and tear up that mountain trail!"
So you say "thanks" but then instead of getting behind the wheel and starting up that bad boy - you get out, go around behind the pick up and start pushing it up the slope yourself?
Seems pretty stupid, I know - but that’s kind of what its like to begin a new life in Jesus Christ - "all things have become new" - you get a new, indestructible life - free from sin, free from the law - and you set about trying to live that life by human effort.
Having the goal of becoming like Christ is great - but its how you attempt to get there that matters. Such is the case with the Galatians - and with us many times as well. Today we’re going to talk about that - and I’m going to give you a comparison between what its like to attain your goals in the flesh as opposed to in the Spirit.
Paul starts out by expressing his astonishment that the Galatians have abandoned grace and gone back to obedience through the Law to please God.
Foolish doesn’t mean ignorant or deficient - it means being intellectual but illogical. Intelligent, but not using that intelligence to perceive the truth.
It was so astounding to Paul that these people were going off on this false doctrine of being justified by obeying the law that they must of have been hypnotized by the false teachers (its sarcasm).
How often do we Christians act like sitting ducks - never really knowing our faith and able to defend it - but instead get swept into cults so easily. In fact Mormons are taught to prey on newly converted Christians.
That’s why its so important to study the Word and know your faith!
Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
Portrayed means "placarded" - the gospel was given so clearly that they could not have mistaken it for a message about the Law instead of grace through the death of Jesus.
The Spirit is the "deposit" or the evidence that we are saved (1 Cor 1:22, 2 Cor 5:5)
Acts 2:38 "Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"
We get the Spirit as a gift through repentance and faith, not obedience to the Law - this is a vital understanding for trying to live in Christ by obeying the Law instead of being empowered by the Spirit - and is a key error that plagues many Christians to this day.
It’s like flapping your wings on a jet to help keep it flying
It’s also turning your back on the cross - saying that what Jesus accomplished means nothing after we are saved
You simply can’t be saved by faith then become mature by works - but we all do it - it is natural human nature - and especially in our modern American society.
We’ll talk about the difference between living in the flesh and living by the Spirit in a few minutes
The new Christians suffered a lot of persecution at the hands of the Jews. Paul is saying - if that was worth it, why are you now turning back to the same Laws the Jews were mad at you for abandoning when you became believers?
Sometimes we think that if we pray real hard, say just the right words, live a really clean life - that God is somehow obligated to work miracles for us.
Remember the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel? Its legalism - one preacher said he has a contract with God that the Lord is obligated to fulfill - that’s ridiculous. The only agreement with God that we have is through faith in Jesus to do whatever Jesus wants.
Its reliance and trust, not earned return on investment.
This is all very freeing - freeing from guilt if something doesn’t get answered, freeing from having to act a certain way (again I’m not talking about sinful behavior).
The Jews rely on being Abraham’s children - but Paul turns the tables on them:
This comes from Genesis 15:6.
It happened prior to the giving of the Law
It was based on taking God at His Word
The faith was worked out in the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:9-18) but it was the faith that justified him, not the obedience