Summary: What happens to people who prefer to live by the letter of the law rather than by the Spirit of grace? While the Bible urges us to perfection, you do not become holy through the keeping of the law. Do not give in to pressure.
Avoid being blinded to the Spirit by relying on works of the flesh.(Gal 3:1-5)
Question - What are the problems of living by the flesh and not by the Spirit?
What happens to people who prefer to live by the letter of the law rather than by the Spirit of grace? While the Bible urges us to perfection, you do not become holy through the keeping of the law.
1. Paul saw in the Galatians, people who were going back to their former legalistic traditions. The Judaizers convinced them to return to the law of offering sacrifices for sins instead of relying on Christ’s atonement. The Gnostics tried to convince the Galatians of the importance of getting God’s favor through superior knowledge. Both were using heretical substitutes for the sufficiency of faith in Christ.
2. Paul saw in the Galatians a dangerous tendency to give in to the pressure from the Gnostics.
Lloyd J. Ogilve, in his book Life Without Limits, tells the story of a pastor who in the space of one week heard the following comments from various people:
A woman said, "I’m under tremendous pressure from my son these days. I can’t seem to satisfy him, however hard I work. He really puts me under pressure."
A young man said, "My parents have fantastic goals for me to take over the family business. It’s not what I want to do, but their pressure is unbearable."
A college woman said, "I’m being pressured by my boyfriend to live with him before we are married. You know...sort of try it out...to see if we are right for each other."
A husband said, "My wife is never satisfied. Whatever I do, however much I make, it’s never enough. Life with her is like living in a pressure cooker with the lid fastened down and the heat on high."
A secretary said, pointing to her phone, "That little black thing is driving me silly. At the other end of the line are people who make impossible demands and think they are the only people alive."
A middle-aged wife said, "My husband thinks my faith is silly. When I feel his resistance to Christ, I wonder if I’m wrong and confused. As a result, I’ve developed two lives; one with him and one when I’m with my Christian friends."
An elderly woman said, "My sister thinks she has all the answers about the faith and tries to convince me of her point of view. I feel pressured to become her brand of Christian, but I keep thinking if it means being like her, I don’t want it at all. When she calls, I just put the phone on my shoulder and let her rant on while I do other things. A half-hour later,
she’s still on the line blasting away, but I still feel pressure."
A young pastor at a clergy conference said, "I hardly know who I am any more. There are so many points of view in my congregation, I can’t please them all. Everyone wants to capture me for his camp and get me to shape the church around his convictions. The pressure makes me want to leave the ministry."
All of these persons have one thing in common. They are being pressured by other people. We all, at one time or another, experience people-pressure.
The question is how will it effect our judgment? That is the question Herod faced. After making an oath to a pretty young girl that she could have up to
half of his kingdom, she surprised him and asked for the head of the Baptist. Mark 6:26 indicates that the King was thrown into distress, he knew it was wrong, but because of his oath and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. He sent the executioner and on a platter was delivered the head of a holy man. Do not make the same mistake by giving in to human pressure.
Brett Blair, www.SermonIllustrations.com, July, 2000. The John Ogilve book
is out of print.
3. Paul saw in the Galatians a tendency to rely on the flesh instead of the Spirit. They tried to substitute the law for the reliance on the Spirit for righteousness.
Illustration: An ethics professor at Princeton Seminary asked for volunteers for an extra
assignment. About half the class met him at the library to receive their
assignments. The professor divided the students into three groups of five
each. He gave the first group envelopes telling them to proceed immediately
across campus to Stewart Hall. He told them that they had 15 minutes and if
they didn’t arrive on time, it would affect their grade. A minute or two
later, he handed out envelopes to five others. They were also to go over to
Stewart Hall, but they had 45 minutes. The third group had three hours to