Summary: Three central truths help us cut through the confusion of false teaching to the clarity of the Gospel.
"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 out there, 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.
In our text today Paul begins to wind up His argument about what God really wants from us and the nature of our relationship with Jesus. As he does that He gives us three central truths to help us cut through the confusion. If we can have clarity about these things, I believe the cloud of confusion will begin to subside.
Interrogative: So what are those three things?
Transition: Well I’ve got a What a Who and a Which. Let’s begin with the What. The First thing we need to be clear about is...
1. What Counts
v. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The false teachers were teaching that lot’s of things counted, specifically the requirements of the Old Testament Law, especially those outward things that helped to establish Jewish identity. Paul cuts through the confusion and says the only thing that counts is faith,and that faith, if it is genuine,will express itself outwardly.Not in merely symbolic ways, but in practical ways, in loving ways.
A surgical procedure doesn’t matter, a dress code doesn’t matter, a special diet doesn’t matter, only faith matters.
Yes, when that faith expresses itself through love, some of those externals may need to change, and we’ll look at that in a few moments, but those externals are not the main thing, the only thing that matters is a life changing faith in Christ.
Specifically it is trusting that the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross is sufficient to pay for all your sins, it is understanding that there is nothing you can do to add to what Christ has done, that your behaivior can never merit God’s favor. Faith is understanding that and then humbly accepting the offer of salvation.
Does a change take place in your life and behavior when you reach out in faith? Always. Does that change earn salvation? Never. Why? Because Faith is what counts, Faith is the only thing that counts.
Secondly, if we are to cut through the confusion we must be clear about...
2. Who’s Calling
v. 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice and they follow me." An important way to avoid confusion is to make sure you know the voice of Jesus, so you can discern who’s calling.
The false teachers will come, and they will be convincing, they will come wielding Scripture, they will come with followers, they will come Jesus said even working miracles. You need to know what the voice of Christ sounds like so that you can discern the voice of the confusers.
The way to know what Jesus sounds like is to spend time with His Word.
It would be difficult to recognize a counterfeit bill if one didn’t know what the real thing looked like. In the same way to recognize a counterfeit Gospel, You’ve got to understand the true Gospel. This can be confusing, especially when you are confronted by people who have been trained to take Scriptures out of context. The only defense is to know the central message--that we are saved by God’s Grace alone, through faith alone--and to be strong in the Scriptures, so that you will know when something has been taken out of its context.