Summary: Paul confronts the Galatians about how they lost their first love for God and for the servant God had sent because of their following a false message.
• How discouraging is it to invest so much into something only to see it go in a dangerous direction after you are no longer there to influence it.
a) Business you once owned
b) A child after he/she moves out of the house
c) Church you once were a member of(or pastor of)
• Paul is dealing with a problem in the Galatian church that has the potential, if not dealt with, to undermine the enter message Paul has preached to establish the churches.
PAUL APPEALS TO THE PROBLEM: 8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
I am told that after the Emancipation Proclamation that many of the slaves chose to remain in their slavery because they knew of no other life. When Paul came he preached a message of freedom and deliverance which sounded wonderful. The underlining problem was the when those who followed him came with a message of legalism and strict religiosity that it found more of a home in the minds of those who were used to those things in the past.
• Paul says that it is the difference between knowing God and not knowing God.
a) Legalism is being a slave that that which you think is God but is not(8)
b) It makes the gospel preached to you as something done in vain.(11)
• It is also the difference between the deeper things of God and the weak and worthless elementary things that we are to move beyond.(9)
Elementary: Do you think that it made sense to these churches that to do more was to actually do less?
What God did through the lives of the Jews was meant to be a preparation for what He would do through the church. It is not a step up to go back to a more religious system just because the more rules makes you feel more religious than others.
10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
• Sometimes we are deceived because we can do so much that it must be more right than those that seem to be doing less.
A good example of this is John Wesley. Before his conversion:
• He was the son of a clergyman and a clergyman himself.
• He was orthodox in belief, faithful in morality, and full of good works.
• He did ministry in prisons, sweatshops, and slums.
• He gave food, clothing, and education to slum children.
• He observed both Saturday and Sunday as the Sabbath.
• He sailed from England to the American colonies as a missionary.
• He studied his Bible, prayed, fasted, and gave regularly.
Yet all the time, he was bound in the chains of his own religious efforts, because he trusted in what he could do to make himself right before God instead of trusting in what Jesus had done.
Later, he came to “trust in Christ, in Christ only for salvation,” and came to an inner assurance that he was now forgiven, saved, and a son of God. Looking back on all his religious activity before he was truly saved, he said: “I had then the faith of a servant, though not that of a son.”
• The world is filled with religious people. Religion is man’s nature without God. If the criteria were based upon just doing works alone how would the average Baptist compare to the average Muslim? Hindu? Mormon? JW?
11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
• Paul was concerned that all his labor and love for this church had now been in vain. In a sense it was now worse than if he had never come because the church would now preach a gospel that was false which is worse than no gospel at all.
• Church of Laodicea in the last days: Preached a message that made them think they were rich and wealthy and in need of nothing but Jesus came to tell them that they were really poor and wretched and naked. Is that the direction the modern church is going when they no longer focus on the Word of God?
PAUL APPEALS TO THEIR PAST:
His Example before them: 12 I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are.
1 Cor 9:19-22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law(not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.