Summary: A holiness sermon from Galatians, preached at a men's retreat, encouraging the hearers to be filled with the Spirit.

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Galatians 5:16-26

Sermon objective: A holiness sermon from Galatians, preached at a men's retreat, encouraging the hearers to be filled with the Spirit.


The book of Galatians is an exciting and multi-faceted book. There are many different angles or perspectives you can use to study it but eventually they all dovetail together and merge into a focused theme – the power of the Gospel and the Gospel alone to save.

The book shows us quite clearly that there is nothing – NO THING – that we can do to earn or even enrich our salvation.

• You cannot keep the Hebrew Law (religious works) well enough to please God. This is clear in the book.

• You cannot be good enough (simple moral works) to please God. This is clear in the book.

What we discover is that the work of Jesus Christ alone is adequate (even more than adequate) to satisfy (“fulfill”) God’s requirements for salvation. In this sense it is a book of grace. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection provide everything necessary so that God can declare us righteous and be pleased with us. You are acceptable – fully acceptable to God – via the work of Jesus Christ.

I particularly find Galatians 3:14 to be significant. It reads (NIV) “14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

With this Paul turns a corner in the book. A subtle yet developing shift begins. This shift eventually mushrooms and becomes more and more important as the book moves onwards.

With this simple verse our focus is clarified and our faith is expanded. You see, until this verse “salvation” was a legal thing. Words like “covenant,” “law,” “regulations” are used. We see a series of arguments being offered that show how the Gospel is technically and legally superior (and essential) to any other proposition for salvation.

But with 3:14 a door is opened that we must walk through. As we do we discover that “salvation” is not simply a legal matter of satisfying God’s moral demands for holiness; it is also a relational / experiential encounter. The understanding of salvation shifts / deepens hereafter. We are called “sons” … relationship take precedence over merely satisfying a moral demand. Chapter 4 (verses 4-7) sets the tone for all that follows:

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

This, my friends, is a key difference of Wesleyan/Arminian theology and Calvinism / Reformed theology. The basis for reform theology is law. It is the satisfying a legal demand. No so Wesleyanism. Yes, we agree that this must be done, but it is not our starting point and we do not believe it is God’s either. The starting point is love. God loved us and so he sent His son. God wanted to restore relationship – not accomplish some legal requirement. The heart of salvation is God’s desire to have fellowship with us again … to remove the barriers to relationship.

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