Summary: This sermon is an overview of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty. In the coming weeks we shall exmine the letter more closely in order to glean as many jewels from it as we can.
Major Scott Stanger, of Benton, AK, wrote an email to his wife Ronda from Baghdad on January 30, the day of the election in Iraq. Major Stanger describes his day, which included mobs of Iraqis thanking him and the other American soldiers for enabling them to vote. This is a part of Major Stanger’s letter:
"The Iraqis’ statements to us were all the same: ’Thank you for your sacrifices for the Iraqi people. . . . Thank you for making this day possible. . . . The United States is the true democracy in the world and is the country that makes freedom possible. . . . God blessed the Iraqi people and the United States this day. . . . We have never known a day like this under Saddam. . . . This day is like a great feast, a wonderful holiday. . . .’"
There is something in the human heart that yearns for freedom. We want to be free from those shackles that bind us. Whether those shackles are political, physical, mental, economical, emotional or spiritual, we long to live in freedom.
Some 2,000 years ago the apostle Paul wrote a letter addressing this very issue. We call it Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Today, we are going to embark on a study of this important letter. We will spend the next few months examining the spiritual freedom that the apostle Paul discovered and shared with his readers.
Let us now read Galatians 1:1-2:
"Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers with me,
To the churches in Galatia" (Galatians 1:1-2).
For the Christian, Paul’s letter to the Galatians ranks as one of the most significant works of literature ever produced.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians has been called by many The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty. Galatians shouts to believers in Jesus Christ, “You’re free! You’re free! You’re free from the bondage of the law. You’re free from tyranny of trying to earn God’s favor. You’re free by grace through faith in Christ alone. You’re free to live a life of unshackled joy based on grace and not on works.”
Perhaps no piece of literature in the history of Western civilization has been as profoundly influential as Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Many Church historians claim (rightly, I believe) that Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians was the foundation for the Reformation. Luther loved Galatians, and said of it, “The letter to the Galatians is my letter. To it I am, as it were, in wedlock. Galatians is my Katie von Bora [the name of his wife].” In Luther’s hands Galatians become a mighty weapon in the Reformation arsenal.
The letter to the Galatians has had a great practical effect on our lives. You may not be aware, for example, that the reason bacon and ham are eaten today is because of the truths found in the letter to the Galatians. Before the time of our Lord’s crucifixion, God’s people were not allowed to eat pork (cf. Leviticus 11:7-8).
Because of Galatians, clothing woven of two kinds of material can be worn. In the Old Testament, all the clothing had to be of one kind of material, wool or linen, for example, not wool and linen (cf. Leviticus 19:19).
Because of Galatians, any pot or pan in the kitchen may be used for cooking. The Law of Moses demanded that one set of pans be used for meat and another set of pans be used for cooking anything in milk (cf. Exodus 23:19).
It is because of the truths in the letter to the Galatians that we have been set free from following Jewish customs (cf. 2:14).
The message of Galatians is the message of freedom—the spiritual freedom believers have in Jesus Christ. It is the message of deliverance by Jesus Christ from the bondage of sin and religious legalism.
If you are struggling with sin, if you are struggling with religious legalism, if you lack power to resist sin, if you feel condemned and guilty, if you don’t feel forgiven, then I have good news for you! Galatians is for you! You can have freedom. You can experience it daily—wherever you live and whatever your circumstances. How? You can have freedom by applying the truths in the living letter to the Galatians to your life.
I invite you to join me on a journey from bondage to freedom in our study of Galatians. As Chuck Swindoll says, “You have nothing to lose except the shackles that tie you down.”
Today I would like to give you an overview of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty. In the coming weeks we shall examine the letter more closely in order to glean as many jewels from it as we can.