Summary: The world today is full of false doctrine and false teachers. Paul in his letters to church at Galatia, gives a stern warning about both.
Fallen from Grace
Gal 5: 2-12
The text before us tonight is the beginning of the third section of Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia. In the first section (Ch. 1-2) Paul defended his apostleship, in the second section (Ch. 3-4) Paul preached his message of justification by faith. Paul now in this third section begins to apply that doctrine to practical Christian living; emphasizing that right doctrine should result in right living. The life of genuine faith is more than the belief in divine truth; it is also the bearing of divine fruit.
In making his appeal for living the Spirit-filled life of freedom rather than reverting to the futile self-effort living, Paul begins with a warning against false doctrine and false teachers. He continues from there to show the spiritual dangers of false doctrine and the corrupt character of the false teacher.
I. The Dangers of False Doctrine (vv. 2-6)
As Paul combats the heretical notion that circumcision leads to salvation, he points out four of its tragic consequences. The person who trusts in circumcision forfeits benefit from Christ’s work on their behalf. They place themselves under obligation to keep the whole law. They face from God’s grace and exclude themselves from God’s righteousness.
A. Christ is of No Benefit (v. 2)
• Paul here is no saying that circumcision is wrong.
o But if you are being circumcised just to gain God’s favor, you are wrong and Christ is not benefit to you.
o Christ perfect and complete sacrifice cannot benefit a person who trusts in anything else.
• Paul here in v. 2 is addressing both the lost and the saved.
o To the lost, he is telling them that they could not be saved, if they continued to trust in their circumcision.
o To the saved, he is saying to belief is circumcision is not consistent with salvation and they could not expect to grow in Christ.
• To trust in Christ for salvation is to acknowledge that one cannot save himself.
o A person becomes acceptable to God only by placing 100% trust in His Son, and after they are saved they live a life acceptable to God by continuing to trust in Christ alone.
B. Obligated to Keep the Whole Law (v. 3)
• A second consequence of trusting in circumcision is that the person is now obligated to keep the whole law.
• To live by part of the law as a means of attaining righteousness demands living by all of it, this is impossible.
• James 2:10 says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
• Because God’s standard is perfect righteousness, fulfillment of only part of the law falls short.
• Christ is the only way.
C. Fallen from Grace (v. 4)
• When you trust in anything other then God, you become severed from Christ and fall from grace.
• Paul is not dealing with the security of the believer, but with the contrasting ways of grace and law, works and faith, as a means of salvation.
• Paul’s primary point in this passage and the whole letter, is that law and grace cannot be mixed.
• As a means of salvation they are totally incompatible and mutually exclusive.
• To mix law and grace is to obliterate grace.
• For a believer to start living again under the law to merit salvation is, in fact, to reject salvation by grace.
• Legalism does not please God or bring a person closer to God.
• It offends Him and drives Him away.
D. Excluded from Righteousness (vv. 5-6)
• The Judaizers hope of righteousness was based on adding imperfect and worthless works of law, to complete the work of Christ which they saw as incomplete.
• As believers we already possess the imputed righteousness of justification, but the righteousness of total sanctification still awaits us.
• Paul here mentions three characteristics of the godly life, the life that continues to live by grace through salvation.
• It is a life lived through the Spirit rather then the flesh.
• It is a life lived by faith rather than works
• It is a life lived in patient waiting and hope rather than in anxious uncertainty.
*That is the fate of all human religion. Nothing a person does to earn God’s favor can leave the room of this earth where self-made works are created.
II. The Character of False Teachers (vv. 7-12)
A. They Hinder the Truth (v. 7)
• The first and most obvious characteristic of he false teachers was that they distorted and hindered the truth.
• The church has always faced the danger of legalism, because the inclination of the flesh is always to live for its own purposes and power.