Summary: The Old Testament gave favored status to the Jews and considered Gentiles unclean. But the New Testament teaches that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.
Galatians is written to a group of Christians who were straying from the grace-way. They replaced grace with rule-keeping. We need laws and rules. I’m glad we have the law of gravity, or we’d all fly off into space. And, of course, we need speed limit laws for public safety. I can only imagine some of the excuses that policemen have heard when they pull someone over for speeding. One of my Alabama friends was a state trooper and his favorite story was about the time he pulled over a sweet little lady. He said, “Ma’am, did you know you were going 65 miles an hour?” She said, “That’s ridiculous, sonny, I haven’t even been GONE an hour!” He laughed so hard, that he only gave her a warning.
Mahatma Gandhi is considered the Father of modern India. His birthday, October 2, is a national holiday in the second-most populated nation on earth. In 1891, after graduating law school in London, he moved to South Africa to practice law. The racial system of apartheid was strictly observed in South Africa. Gandhi was fascinated with truth and studied the Bible along with other religious texts. He loved the Sermon on the Mount and seriously considered becoming a Christian. One Sunday he decided to visit a church in South Africa. Gandhi’s skin was light brown and as he entered the church a South African man said with a belligerent tone, “Where do you think you’re going kaffir?” (“Kaffir” was a racial slur, like our “n” word.) Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.” The man said, “There’s no room for kaffirs here. Get out of here, or I’ll have some of my men throw you down the steps.” Gandhi never seriously considered becoming a Christian again. This incident might have been one reason he would later make the famous quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Who knows what India would have been like today if Gandhi had been welcomed into church that day and given his life to Christ? We’ll never know, Gandhi rejected Christ because of the discriminatory practices of those “Christians” in South Africa. But before we’re harsh on them, I wonder how much damage has been done right here in America, especially in the South, by Christians who never came to understand this revolutionary truth from the Bible: “The Ground is Level at the Foot of the Cross.”
Galatians 3:26-29. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
A few verses earlier Paul recounted an incident that happened at the church in Antioch. The church in Antioch had both Jews and Gentiles (a Gentile was anyone who wasn’t a Jew). One day Simon Peter visited Antioch from Jerusalem, and even though he was a Jew, he ate with Gentiles, and even enjoyed a few pork chops. However, when some Jewish Christians from the church in Jerusalem visited, Peter changed his tune. Suddenly he refused to eat with lowly Gentiles, and he enforced the dietary laws of the Old Testament. Paul confronted Peter to his face, to both of his faces, actually. Then Paul devotes the rest of this letter reminding them that salvation is by grace alone.
The Old Testament gave favored status to the Jews and considered Gentiles unclean. But the New Testament teaches that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Let’s learn three truths from this powerful passage:
I. WHEN YOU ARE IN CHRIST, YOU ARE A FAVORED CHILD OF GOD
Notice how Paul used phrase “in Christ” or “with Christ.” He wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith IN CHRIST JESUS.” That’s one of Paul’s favorite phrases. He used it 83 times in his thirteen letters.
Paul mixed his metaphors when he wrote, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” He wasn’t talking about water baptism here. The word “baptize” means to “immerse.” We may say someone in college is “immersed in their studies.” That means they are so consumed by their classwork they have little time to think about anything else. When you are immersed into Jesus, He consumes your thoughts.
Baptism speaks of our immersion into Christ, but clothing speaks of our identification with Christ. When we’re clothed with Christ we show others whose team we’re on. Let’s imagine NFL Quarterback Peyton Manning signs with the Miami Dolphins next week. But next fall when he runs on the field for his first game he’s still wearing his Indianapolis Colts uniform. Could you imagine the reaction of the fans? They’d say, “Change your uniform or go back to Indy!” When we become a Christian we no longer wear the garments of the world, we put on the righteousness of Christ.