Category Archives: Galatians Series
Finished up our Series of Messages on the New Testament book of Galatians yesterday at Bridge Church. I had a lot of fun tracking through it this Spring and found myself again convicted, changed, and reassured by the Word of God. Here are a few highlights from the series:
- The Gospel = Jesus’ sacrificial death, because of our helplessness to save ourselves, for our rescue from sin’s penalty. Galatians 1:3-4
- Distorted and Different Gospel – 1) “To be right with God you have to become a __________.” Doesn’t matter what goes in the blank. 2) Jesus + __________. Adding to the work of Christ.
- When you see the real Gospel you realize that nothing in your past is sufficient for salvation. Galatians 2:1-14
- Christianity is about BEING, not DOING. It’s about who you are because of what Christ has done, not WHAT you do. Galatians 2:15-21.
- If you say, “I’ve got to do more to be saved” (go to church, be a good person, recycle, etc.), what you are saying is that Christ life, death, and resurrection was insufficient and ineffective.
- Two ways to live: 1) By the Law – “I’m trying to be a good person.” 2) By the promise – “Understanding that I can’t be accepted by God on my own, I put all my hope in Christ’s accomplishments. Galatians 3:13-14.
- In Christ, there is POWER TO BECOME something brand new. Not based upon what you look like or what you do. Galatians 3:26-29; John 1:12-13.
- Practical Outcomes of a False Gospel: Idolatry, Disunity, Impure Motives for serving. Galatians 4:8-20
- Legalism is a lethal dose of self-salvation and pride. The Gospel shocks self with its irrational generosity and free grace.
- You might be a legalist if: 1) You devalue the work of Christ and love of God, 2) You feel an obligation for you and others to be perfect, 3) You feel a sense of insecurity with God because you are not perfect, 4) You hinder and belittle the growth and progress of others, 5) You’re offended by the thought of loving and serving sinners as Christ did. Galatians 5:1-15
- A legalist can’t trust God to change someone from the inside out.
- The Spirit of God produces “whatever it takes” and “I don’t care who you are” kinda love. Galatians 5:22-23.
- The Set Free life means death to impression management, death to risk management, and death to self-salvation and self-reliance. Galatians 2:20, 5:24, 6:14.
Love this song by Jason Gray. Fits well with our current message series at Bridge Church on the book of Galatians. Hear the song here. We’re incapable of producing righteousness on our own. Religion is about rules, lines, statements. Christianity is about a love relationship with Christ that leads to transformation.
Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling in love
Give me words
I’ll misuse them
I’ll misplace them
‘Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It’s gotta be
…It’s like I’m falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me
Finishing up our Galatians series in a few weeks. This weekend spent some time talking fruit bearing.
“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control” – Galatians 5:22-23
Do you find it hard to love those who won’t or can’t love you in return? Are you often overwhelmed by life’s circumstances and unable to see God’s goodness in life? Do you give up on people easily or often write people off as unchangeable? Are you unmoved by the needs of others? Do you seldom put your faith to action by serving? Do you jump in an out of commitments and struggle to stick with people and projects? Do you feel the need to have control of situations no matter the cost? Are you easily overcome by temptation?
If you have wisdom enough to see and admit that any of these are true then you’re seeing the gap between what your life is producing and what God’s Spirit will produce in you if you yield to him.
The spirit of God produces “whatever it takes” and “I don’t care who you are kinda love,” inward joy and belief that is unchanged by outward circumstances, a willingness to stick with things and people at all costs, a heart of irrational generosity and compassion that drives a response to the needs of other no matter who they are, a loyalty and dependability that has the end in mind, submission to God over emotions and selfish desires.
Probably will never hear that one. This is an accusation generally only aimed toward the church. Here are a few of the best comebacks I’ve heard when someone says, “I don’t go to church, because there are too many hypocrites.”
- From my 91 year old grandmother from Grant Parish, “There’ll only be one more if you show up.”
- From Mike Miller, pastor of FBC Kenner, “What a great place for hypocrites to go, right?”
- From a church sign I saw once, “This Church is not FULL of hypocrites. We have room for a few more. Join us Sunday.”
- From another friend, “There are hypocrites at Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t keep you from going there.”
- The harshest, “I’d rather go to church with hypocrites than go to hell with them.” Ouch!
I like my grandmother’s answer myself, because it’s true. We all tend to demonstrate hypocrisy at times in our lives. It comes with being a part of the human race. Sin divides our heart, giving us a desires to please others or be pleased by things instead of pleasing and finding pleasure in God. Until we are rescued from this cycle by the power of Christ we will be powerless to take off the mask.
Here’s a few different levels of Hypocrisy. Where are you and how can you change?
1. Intentional Dishonesty. At it’s root hypocrisy is living a lie. Whether it’s being a two faced cheater or hiding what’s really on the inside or in the past just so people will like you, deceit drives hypocrisy. But some seem to do hypocrisy on purpose. Often it appears that way, because they’re caught in a way of life that causes them even to believe the lies.
2. Best Intentions. Most of us are not intentional hypocrites, but we just don’t live how we intended to live. Researchers call this the Halo Effect. We often give ourselves credit for what we intended to do, even if we didn’t do it. Example – Every year around 60% of people tell pollsters that they voted, but the actual voting roles usually show that around 40% actually do. The other 20% intended to, and gave themselves credit. Church attenders do this often. As a pastor I occasionally meet people who say they attend my church when they never have. What they mean is, they feel a connection with our style or location, and if they ever do go to church they intend on going there, so they give themselves credit. Is that not hypocritical?
Best intention hypocrites live with a gap between what we say we believe and even what we want and how we actually live day to day. Do you find yourself saying things like this?
- “I know what I should be doing, BUT…”
- “I know what the Bible says, BUT…”
- “I know what God wants me to do, BUT…”
You’re revealing the gap between what you know to be right and where you’re actually living at the moment. Thus you are a HYPOCRITE.
3. Fear of Man / People Pleasing. Then there is the people pleaser. The chameleon. The person that lives their lives one way in front of one group and another in front of the next group. He/she is double-minded and thus unstable. This was Peter’s story as told by Paul in Galatians 2:14. Peter found freedom from the law in Christ, began partaking with the gentiles of food traditionally considered unclean for the Jews. However, when Jewish leaders who believed that you had to accept Jesus AND keep the law showed up he did as they would have wanted. Why? Because he was afraid of what they might think of him (Galatians 2:12).
4. Bondage. However you define it and whatever it looks like, the truth is, the hypocrite is in bondage. Afraid someone may find out who you really are or who you’re really not, frustrated with why you just can’t live by your best intentions, tired of hiding. Hypocrisy enslaves.
My hypocrisy will keep others in bondage as well. The often quoted words of Ghandi in reference to Christianity are so pertinent: “If Christians lived by the teaching of Christ, all of India would be Christian.” Another friend of mine said it like this, “If it weren’t for Christians, there’d be more of us.”
Psalm 86:11 is a prayer I pray often, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; UNITE MY HEART to fear Your name.” I don’t want to have a divided heart, living one way in front of certain people and another way later.
I don’t want to always be saying what I believe but failing to live up to it. To overcome my hypocrisy, I need a power outside of myself. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings real change and can turn my many faces into one.
So asked yourself:
- If I really lived like I say I believe, how would my life be different?
- If I closed the gap between what I know and say and what I actually do, how would my life and the lives of others change?
- If I were to really get honest about my life, can I say that I am free from what others think of me? from personal preference? from prejudice?
Next week at Bridge Church we’ll turn to another vice that tends to enslave when we discuss being Set Free from Legalism.
Last Sunday, Bridge Church began a series of messages on the book of Galatians called Set Free. Follow the series at bridgenorthshore.com. The intent of the letter written by Paul the Apostle, to churches that he had been a part of planting in modern day Turkey, was to confront the false teaching that Jesus wasn’t enough. Along with Jesus, God expected a person to keep the law. Paul accused the Galatian Christians of deserting God by receiving this false gospel.
One reason I trust the Bible as authoritative is because of its timelessness. The theme of this letter is as relevant today as this hours news headlines (with technology, the morning newspaper is already outdated). So many today have a distorted and different view of the Gospel.
What is the Gospel? Paul defines it well in Galatians 1:3-4 – “the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” The Gospel is the truth that Jesus lived, loved, died, to deliver/rescue/save people from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. And this deliverance/rescue/salvation has nothing to do with our works or effort, but God’s work and will (John 1:12-13, John 6:44).
Here are some common ways we distort the Gospel today:
1. Become a _____________. The false teachers in Galatia were basically saying that to be a true follower of Christ you had to become a Jew. You had to believe the Gospel and be circumcised and keep elements of the Old Testament law. Today we fill in that blank with other things. “I’m going to become a BETTER PERSON” is the most common. “I’m going to become a CHURCH MEMBER.” “I’m going to become a CATHOLIC/BAPTIST/METHODIST.” Not that these are bad things, but if they become something that we trust for our deliverance/rescue/salvation, what we’re saying is Jesus is not enough. I can do this by becoming ____________.
2. Jesus + ______________. Another way we do this is seeking to add to what Jesus has done with our activity and effort. Cults do this. Churches sometimes communicate this when talking about membership. In our desire to assimilate people into our churches we must be careful that we don’t communicate Jesus +. When you add to the work of Christ what you’re really doing is taking away from the work of Christ. What you’re saying is Jesus is not enough.
3. Reversing Roles with God. Here’s the Gospel: “I’m accepted, forgiven, set free by God, so I’m transformed by God, so I obey God.” Here’s a distorted gospel: “I obey and I’m made changes to my life, so now I’m accepted by God.” The question is, whose work is it? A distortion of the gospel takes the work of salvation out of God’s hands and places it somewhere else – self, a church, a path of enlightenment, etc. Self-salvation is no salvation at all or as Paul says, “You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6-7 NLT).
Looking forward to Part two of our series this Sunday at Bridge Church, 10:30am, at the West St. Tammany YMCA.