Summary: The law is the hammer of God to break us so that we will be empty of our confidence in ourselves and declare our dependence upon His grace and glory.
“Broken and Blessed!”
Our experiences shape us. For most of us, “experiences” rather than “truth” carry more weight in defining our understanding of life than anything else. We arrive at the conclusion that what we experience, through our eyes, is truth. As a result of this way of thinking we can end up enslaved and led around by the nose by what we “think” is right and true. This was certainly the case with the false teachers of Galatia who had given their lives to propagating teachings that they held to be true, but were absolutely false. You need to know that God does not hold the same views of “experience” and “truth” that we do. Isaiah proclaimed,
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
Let me give you an example of how experience unchecked by the Truth of God will lead us to erroneous conclusions. Ben broke the law. He was a CPA for a corporation that turned a profit for the past ten years and Ben had prospered with the corporation. Ben was prospering even more than the corporation had budgeted as he was cooking the books and pocketing funds that weren’t his. Eventually, Ben was caught and he learned the hard way that “your sins will find you out.” Ben was tried and found guilty even though in his mind he was justified in his actions because the company hadn’t done him right. Ben, the corporate CPA who once wore $1000.00 suits found himself dressed in state-issue-designer-orange and living large in a ten by ten cell. Instead of taking stock of his surroundings and crying out to God, Ben shook his fist at the heavens and became hardened and defiant.
Monica was just a young girl who went to school, attended church with her family on Sundays, and minded her own business. When Monica began Middle School she met some new friends. Her father and mother didn’t know her friends very well as they were working three jobs between them to make ends meet for their seven children.
As the semester rolled into November they noticed that Monica’s personality was changing. She was becoming more “independent.” She was changing the way she dressed. Gone were the soothing sounds that once emanated from the CD player in her bedroom at night and replacing those sounds were thunderous noises of defiance and profanity that shook the whole house.
One day Monica’s father overheard her talking on the phone to one of her new friends. He heard them talking about the “gang” and he became afraid. Monica’s father spoke with her when she got off the phone and confronted her about the situation. Monica told her father that some of her friends were in the gang, but she was just their friend. He told her that she was not allowed to spend time with those friends any longer because she might get hurt. Monica told her dad that it wasn’t fair for him to take her away from her friends, but he would not relent.
Monica became more and more defiant. She ended up dropping out of school by the time she was in the ninth grade. She became pregnant and had a child by 17. She moved out of the house screaming and yelling at her family two days before her 18th birthday. Defiance, rebellion, bitterness -- Monica knew them well.
In both of these instances we can easily see that authority was challenged, the law was broken and rebelled against so that Ben and Monica could captain their own ship…and head it straight into the rocky shore. Both Ben and Monica suffered because of their decisions, but in their brokenness they became hardened and defiant. Oh my friend, make no mistake about it, brokenness comes to the heart of every living soul, but when it arrives we can either clench our fist, grit our teeth, and become bitter and defiant or we can recognize our brokenness as an opportunity to cry out to God and be blessed by His hand of restoration.
For the past several weeks, as we have been studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we have been learning about the unmerited grace and mercy of God. We learned last week that Abraham believed God and was justified in God’s sight more than 14 years before God gave him the mark of the covenant people of God and more than 500 years before the law was given by God to Moses. Since Abraham was justified by faith long before the law arrived, some in Paul’s day, and no doubt some in our day, would then conclude that we don’t need the law, we don’t need parameters for living life. They would conclude that we’ve been liberated from all moral, civil, and legal restraints so that we can kick up our heels, live however we want, and not bear any responsibility or consequences. Paul didn’t hold these beliefs, but the false teachers of his day surely believed that Paul believed this. They were telling the folks of Galatia “Paul is saying that the law is useless!” For the Jews that would have been nothing short of blasphemy.