Summary: How do we find the approval of God? How do we come into a right relationship with God? How can we enter the favor and fellowship of God? The passage before us answers these questions, plainly and unequivocally
Some time ago The Wisconsin State Journal surveyed Vice Presidents and Personnel Directors of the nation’s largest corporations for their most unusual experiences interviewing prospective employees. Their stories included the following:
• A job applicant who challenged the interviewer to arm wrestle with him.
• A job candidate who said he had never finished high school because he had been kidnapped and kept in a closet in Mexico.
• A balding candidate who excused himself, then returned wearing a full hairpiece.
• A candidate who wore earphones to the interview and, when asked to remove them, explained that she could listen to the interviewer and the music at the same time.
• A candidate who said she didn’t have time for lunch, then started to eat a hamburger and fries in the interviewer’s office.
• An applicant who interrupted the questioning to phone her therapist for advice.
• A candidate who dozed off during the interview.
• A candidate who muttered, “Would it be a problem if I’m angry most of the time?”
These people sound pretty incompetent, don’t they? Yet it is not a stretch to say this is the same sort of incompetence we all bring to God when we want to find favor with God.
Today I would like to continue our series in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In the section we are going to study today, we shall see how we gain favor with God. Let us read Galatians 3:10-14:
"10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3:10-14)
Have you ever noticed how hard we work at trying to get another person’s approval?
People have an instinctive desire to have another person’s approval. We long to have the approval of our neighbors and friends. A child desires the approval of her parents. An employee works hard for his employer’s approval. All of us seek the approval of others even though we may not be self-conscious about our actions.
In similar fashion, people have an instinctive desire for the approval of God. People may not know his name (his name is Yahweh), but all over the world people are seeking the approval of the Divine. That is why every single people group on the face of the earth is religious in some way. Every person is either consciously or unconsciously seeking the approval of Yahweh, even though, paradoxically, the Bible tells us that we are by nature in revolt against him (cf. Romans 3:10-18).
The crucial question that every single religion in the world is attempting to answer is this one: How do we find the approval of God? Or, how do we come into a right relationship with God? The passage of Scripture before us, although it may be difficult in both concept and vocabulary, answers that crucial question.
Before we answer the question from the passage of Scripture, I want you to notice the description of a person who has found the approval of God. A person who has found the approval of God is described in two ways.
First, he is justified before God (3:11a). To be justified before God is the exact opposite of being condemned by him. As John Stott says, “It is to be declared righteous, to be accepted, to stand in his favor and under his smile.” A person who is justified before God has found favor with God.
Second, a person who has found the approval of God is described in this way: He will live (3:11b). The life referred to here is not physical and biological, but spiritual and eternal. It is not the life of this age, but the life of the age to come. The simplest and clearest definition of eternal life comes from Jesus himself: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). A person who will live, who has eternal life, has found fellowship with God.
So, “justification” means to be in favor with God. “Eternal life” means to be in fellowship with God. The two are inseparably related. We cannot be in fellowship with God until we are in favor with him. And once we are in favor with him, fellowship is granted to us too.