Summary: This message encourages us to live by promise not by law. If we want to enjoy life as God intended it, then we can’t live it trying to earn God’s blessings. We must live it in light of his blessings already given.
Freedom’s Promise (Galatians 3:15-22)
It was a battle, a wrestling match, a test of wills. Every day, at exactly the same time, Margaret would go to the bathroom cabinet, open it, and take out a huge bottle of castor oil. Then she would head to the kitchen to get a tablespoon. At the sound of the drawer opening and the silverware rattling, Patches, her Yorkshire terrier, would run and hide—sometimes under the bed, at other times in the bathtub or behind Margaret’s recliner. Patches knew what was coming.
Someone had convinced Margaret that her beloved dog would have strong teeth, a beautiful coat, and a long life if she gave him a spoonful of castor oil every day. So, as an act of love every 24 hours, she cornered Patches, pinned him down, pried open his mouth, and—as he whimpered, squirmed, and fought her with all his strength—poured a tablespoon of castor oil down his little doggie throat. Neither Patches nor Margaret enjoyed their daily wrestling match.
Then one day, in the middle of their battle royal, with one sideways kick, Patches sent the dreaded bottle of castor oil flying across the kitchen floor. It was a momentary victory for the canine, as Margaret let him go so she could run to the pantry and grab a towel to clean up the mess.
When Margaret got back, she was utterly shocked. There was Patches licking up the spilled castor oil with a look of satisfaction only a dog can make. Margaret began to laugh uncontrollably. In one moment, it all made sense. Patches liked castor oil. He just hated being pinned down and having it poured down his throat. (Kevin G. Harney, Seismic Shifts, Zondervan, 2005, p. 23-24; www.PreachingToday.com)
Isn’t that the way it usually is? We want what’s best for ourselves and others. We just don’t like having it poured down our throats.
And yet, that’s the way many good people live. In an effort to help themselves and others, they force down a bunch of rules, because they’ve heard somewhere that it’s good for people.
Now, most of the time the rules ARE good for all of us. The Bible makes it very clear that obeying God’s law makes life go smoother (Proverbs 3:5-6). And not only that, God’s ordinances “are sweeter than honey,” according to Psalm 19:10. The principles in God’s Word are not only good for us, they are tasty; they are enjoyable, especially when we are able to live them out.
The question is: How can we learn to apply God’s Word without all the struggle? How can we learn to obey the Lord and enjoy it? How can we learn to be all that God wants us to be without feeling like its being forced upon us?
Galatians 3:15 Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. (NIV)
I.e., in the case of God’s promises. God’s promises cannot be annulled or amended. Once He makes a promise, it stands forever.
Galatians 3:16-18 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” a meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. (NIV)
Our inheritance in Christ comes through a promise, not through a law. And therein lays the secret to living the life God wants us to live without all the struggle.
If we want to enjoy life as God intended it, then we must LIVE BY PROMISE, not by law. We must obey not in order to BE blessed, but in the realization that God has ALREADY blessed us. We must live our lives, not trying to earn God’s favor, but with the sure and certain knowledge that He already favors us unconditionally.
You see, God blesses the believer without conditions. There is absolutely nothing we need to do to earn his favor. So If we’re going to enjoy life, then we must simply depend on God’s unconditional promise.
That’s what Abraham did. In Genesis 15, God promised Abraham many descendants and a lot of land. But Abraham wanted a sure sign that God would keep His promise, so God gave Him one. He entered into a blood covenant with Abraham, the strongest kind of covenant there is.