Summary: Sermon 17 in Galatians series. Deals with false teachers as wolves in sheeps clothing, as well as comparing Christian life to a foot race.
“Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” (Gal 5:2-6)
There is an old fable about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. One of Aesop’s fables.
A wolf had his eye on a certain flock of sheep, but he couldn’t get any of the sheep he wanted because of the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs.
Then he saw the skin of a sheep that had been flayed, so he put the skin on as a costume and went among the sheep as one of their own.
The lamb who belonged to the sheep the wolf was wearing began following the wolf in sheep’s clothing. He led the lamb apart from the rest of the sheep and made a meal of her.
The wolf was able to deceive the sheep and keep feasting on them for some time.
But eventually, the shepherd, in examining his sheep, discovered the wolf, and killed him.
This story is an illustration of the fact that we should not follow blindly, that looks can be deceiving, and that in the end, the wolf gets what’s coming to him.
I want us to keep these things in mind as we read our passage in Galatians:
Gal 5: 7-12 (NIV) 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Today as we look at this passage, I want to touch on 3 concepts
I. The Race
II. The Ravenous Wolf
III. The Retribution
I. THE RACE (The Christian life as a race):
Comparing the Christian life to a race is something that Paul likes to do quite a bit.
We see references to running a race in 1Corinthians, here in Galatians, in Philippians, and in 2nd Timothy where Paul says he has fought the good fight, finished the race, he has kept the faith.
The race that Paul would be referring to and using as an illustration were the foot races that were ran at various festivals.
In Galatians, He gives his readers a compliment, he says that they were running a good race.
To understand what Paul means by that, let’s look at a couple of other places where Paul uses the comparison.
First we will look in Hebrews, chapter 12, the first 3 verses.
He 12: 1-3 (NIV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The great cloud of witnesses, who are they? Anytime we see the word therefore at the beginning of a passage, we know that we need to look at the passages just before this one to see what the “Therefore” is there for.
In chapter 11 of Hebrews, He is talking about the heroes of the faith, those who went before us who suffered for their faith. These are the cloud of witnesses.
Taking them into account, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
The picture here is like a race in a stadium, with a great crowd watching. When you run that race, you don’t carry anything with you that would burden you and slow you down, you get rid of that stuff so you can run the race, and you don’t want anything that you could get tangled up in, you have to be free from that stuff so you can run the race.
In our Christian walk, there are things that can weigh us down, sin that can entangle us, we need to be free of those things. Like a foot race, our life has but a single goal, a single focus, Jesus and His glory.
That is why we need to examine everything in our life to be sure that only those things that help us in moving toward the goal.