Sermons

Sun, May 27, 2018

Set Free To Choose

God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. At 65 Sarah couldn’t believe it. After all she was past the age of having children. When nothing happened for 25 years, and God still repeated the promise... Sarah just laughed. Yet it was God who got the last laugh as at the age of 90 Sarah had a son, just as promised and she named him Isaac. His name means “laughter”. Here’s how Paul tells the story... Sarah had a son “through promise.” Isaac was the miracle baby. He was God’s work from start to finish - like our salvation. Whereas, Ishmael “was born according to the flesh.” Don’t forget, “flesh” is me, my efforts, my ability - just like our efforts under the legalism.
Series:Set Free
Duration:53 mins 53 secs

Series: Set Free

Text: Galatians 4:21-5:12

Title: Set Free To Choose



Galatians 4:21-31 (NKJV)

 

21  Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

22  For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.

23  But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

24  which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar--

25  for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children--

26  but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27  For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband."

28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.

29  But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.

30  Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."

31  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

 

Galatians 5:1-16 (NKJV)

 

1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

2  Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

3  And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

4  You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

5  For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

7  You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

8  This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.

9  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

10  I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

11  And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.

12  I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

13  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

15  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.






Galatians 4

 

Galatians 4:21-31  

21  Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

22  For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.

 

Paul is going to use an Old Testament story to teach a New Testament lesson.

 

23  But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

 

Bondwoman was Hagar who gave birth to Ishmael

Freewoman was Sarah who gave birth to Isaac

 

God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. At 65 Sarah couldn’t believe it. After all she was past the age of having children. When nothing happened for 25 years, and God still repeated the promise... Sarah just laughed. Yet it was God who got the last laugh as at the age of 90 Sarah had a son, just as promised and she named him Isaac. His name means “laughter”.

 

Here’s how Paul tells the story... Sarah had a son “through promise.” Isaac was the miracle baby. He was God’s work from start to finish - like our salvation.

Whereas, Ishmael “was born according to the flesh.”

Don’t forget, “flesh” is me, my efforts, my ability - just like our efforts under the legalism.



24  which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar--

 

This tale of two sons has spiritual implications. Paul uses this story as an analogy...

 

25  for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children--

 

Paul is saying I know they all think they identify with Isaac but they don’t because they seek to identify with God based upon their own works. Their identity is in Ishmael not Isaac, in the works of their flesh not the basis of faith.

 

Hagar represents the legal code given to Moses on Mount Sinai - which was later associated with another mountain - Mount Moriah, or the Temple Mount, in the heart of Jerusalem.

 

The whole system of relating to God that Paul is opposing in Galatia is a righteousness that depends on Law, on works, on the flesh - is epitomized in Hagar and Ismael.

 

Yet in verse 26 Paul says,

 

26  but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

 

The “Jerusalem above” is heaven. This is where the power originated that opened Sarah's womb. It’s also the source of our salvation. Heaven bestows favor freely - by grace, through faith, in the Spirit's power.

 

The Judaizers were boasting that they were descendants fo Abraham and Paul points out to them when Abraham offered up the works of his flesh it didnt go too well.

 

In an attempt to help God out, Sarah tells Abraham “why don’t you marry my maidservant Hagar and have a child with her”. Lets help God out. Hagar has a son whose name is Ishmael. At 13 years of age Abraham attempts to offer Ishmael

 

God tells Isaac in Genesis 22, “Take thy son, thy only son…” God didn’t recognize the work of Abraham’s flesh. Even though it was Abraham!  

 

27  For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband."

 

Quoting Isaiah 54:1. It speaks of two covenants as two women.

It predicts that a covenant that starts out barren (Sarah) will produce many more children than the covenant that claims to be fertile. Which means in the end Jerusalem above (or the New Covenant) will produce many more offspring for God than the Jerusalem below (which is the Law, Hagar).

Grace will prove more fruitful than Law.



28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.

29  But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.

 

Hagar was constantly digging at Sarah to the point Sarah couldn’t take it any more…

 

30  Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."

 

Paul quotes Genesis 21 and Sarah’s ultimatum. “She goes or I go”… And I’m not going…

 

These two women were going to be in conflict as long as they lived. Hagar had to go!

 

What was true in the relationship between Sarah and Hagar is also true of these two ways of relating to God. You can’t have both. They’re not compatible. Either it’s grace or Law, faith or works, Spirit or flesh! But you cant have them both.

 

31  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

 

We are free to choose. Will we walk by faith and enjoy our freedom or walk in the flesh and end up in bondage?

 

Love gets to choose.

 

Chapter 5.



Galatians 5:1-15 (NKJV)

1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

 

For freedom He set us free!

 

Christ set you free… as one pastor put it, grace isn’t a prison transfer, its a get out of jail free card

 

Grace isn’t about trying, its about trusting.



2  Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

 

The Judaizers taught that Jesus death on the Cross was only the down payment of their salvation, but to keep up with the payments you must be circumcised and keep the laws of Moses too.

 

They taught they needed to be circumcised. When Paul gets this news he is not in the region of Galatia. He has heard that they were about to be circumcised though they have not yet been circumcised, so Paul has something to say about that.

 

Circumcision was a gospel of human effort. And those who practiced it nullified the grace of God in their lives because they were saying by their actions Jesus death on the Cross was not sufficient to purchase their salvation. They needed to do something on their own to merit their salvation, to prove they were worthy.

 

You cannot mix the law and Christ. Jesus has provided us a complete salvation. Jesus + Nothing = salvation.

 

 

3  And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

 

Legalism requires men to keep the whole law. People under law cannot accept the easy commandments and reject the others. If a person attempts to please God by being circumcised, then he is under obligation to keep the whole law of Moses as well, all 613 laws.

 

God’s Law isn’t a spiritual smorgasbord. Its all or nothing. Man is entirely under law, or not under law at all. Obviously, if he is entirely under law, Christ is of no value to him.

 

The Lord Jesus is not only a complete Savior, but He is also an exclusive one too!

 

Acts 15:1-11,

1  And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

2  Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

3  So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.

4  And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

5  But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

6  Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

7  And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

8  So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,

9  and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

10  Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."





Judaism which was the cradle of Christianity, which almost became its coffin too!

 

The law was to point us to Jesus… everything points to Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word.

 

People leave relationship for ritual all the time.

 

The dispensation of grace was ushered in at the cross of Jesus, a new and a living way.



4  You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

 

It’s one or the other, you can’t trust in the work of Christ and your own works. Either you live under law or under grace.

 

Circumcision is a ritual that seeks to replace relationship.

 

God doesn’t love you more than He does right now and He won’t love you any less when you mess up or do things that don’t please Him. Gods love is not based on what you do.

 

God doesn’t love you more when you do good and He doesn’t love you any less when you sin.

 

God resists the proud… everywhere in scripture when you lift yourself in pride it does nothing to benefit you but actually works against you.



5  For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

 

The Christian who believes in liberty and understands grace isn’t soft on sin, they want to be holiness, they understand the definition of holiness is Christ, not the law of Moses.

 

We strive each day to surrender but we know we won’t be perfect until the day we stand before Jesus one day face to face.  

 

6  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

 

Our seriousness is equal to that of the legalist. Our effort is manifest in love. Loving God and loving one another.

 

All the law and the prophets is fulfilled in loving God and loving our fellow man. Thats what makes us like Jesus.

 

7  You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

 

When I was in Galatia you were doing so well! You were running well. You could not have become what you became by reading your bible. Who came along and broke your stride.

 

Who got you to run their race? We all have a race to run, run at the pace God has called you to run.

 

Stay in your lane! Run your race at your own pace… (Rabbit)

 

You need to learn to say no to legalism. To do so you need a bigger yes!

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

1  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

8  This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.

 

Jesus said His burden was easy and His yoke was light.



 

9  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

 

Everywhere else in scripture we read about yeast its compared to sin. Here Paul compares yeast to religion and good works.

 

Good things that take the place of the ultimate thing have the capacity to become the most dangerous

 

Yeast… it takes over and consumes everything it touches. Legalism takes the proverbial inch and turns it into a mile. Legalism is dangerous because it keeps going until it destroys whatever its been introduced into.

 

Legalism has been described as “taking a good thing and treating it as it were essential.”

 

1. It’s dishonest to ask people to pick and choose which laws they will keep.

2. You run out of resources. In Verse 12 the apostle Paul uses a painful illustration.

 

10  I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

 

Paul is coming down on whoever this person is. Paul doesn’t need to know this guy is but he says I know he is going to be judged for his teaching, for his message

 

James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”



11  And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.

 

Some were saying Paul is teaching the law and the 10 Commandments and circumcision. Paul is saying if I were doing that they wouldn’t be persecuting me. I’m still taking a licking and keep on ticking!

 

The Cross is an offense to the legalist, the self righteous person who believes they are saved because they are a good person, better than most people. They keep the laws of God. They believe they will make it to heaven based on self righteousness which is an affront to the Cross.

 

The Cross offends the legalist because Jesus is the only way.

 

Philippians 3. Paul use to be proud of his legalism. But when he discovered Jesus he saw all that he had accomplished through the law as dung, as a trash heap.  

 

12  I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

 

Paul is saying, if being spiritual is circumcising yourself. Wouldn’t it be even more spiritual if you cut off your whole self. Ouch…

 

If you add anything to grace you ruin it. Grace is only powerful when its pure. If you add anything to grace (works) it’s deadly. The Judaizers are trying add something to grace and when they do its diluted.

 

Remember its Jesus + nothing = salvation…

 

Paul says if I’d just preach something other than the exclusivity of Christ people would be Ok with it. Anything we do to make us feel like we have done something that merits Gods favor causes us to actually lose His favor.



In the book Accidental Pharisee author Larry Osborne writes… “Following Jesus isn’t a race to see who can be the most radical sacrificial or the quickest to burn out. Its not a contest to see who is willing to take the hardest road. For the Gospel to remain the Gospel grace and mercy must stay front and center. When the radicalness of my commitment, the intensity of my zeal or the extent of my personal sacrifice become the means to receive or maintain God’s acceptance and approval, the Good News of the Gospel is no longer good. Our hope is not in what we have done for God but what God has done for us.”  

 

Stand behind the sacrifice of Christ.

 

Our works don’t make or break our relationship with God. If they could we’d all be dead now.

 

Not the works of the law but by faith… faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us.

 

13  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

 

1 Peter 2:15-16

15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men--

16  as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  



14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

 

Legalism is self consuming. It causes you to turn inward. The law of the Spirit causes our focus to turn outward. Jesus sets us free to love!

 

Philippians 2:13

13  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.



15  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!  

 

A legalistic environment is one where your conversations focus on what you agree with and what you don’t agree with. Instead of being lead by the Spirit you are led by a critical spirit.

 

Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Listen to the Holy Spirit and obey Him when He speaks to you.

 

The life of liberty the law of love is realized when we figure out grace sets us free from bondage. We don’t have to do the Christian life, we get to do the Christian life! The law is “have to” where grace is “Get to”.

 

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

 

The “lust of the flesh” is a biblical name for “selfish desires.” And how do you overcome a lifestyle of selfish-gratification?

 

Some say the answer is “willpower,” or “the power of positive thinking,” or “self- discipline,” or “twelve steps,” or “months of psychological therapy.”

 

But the answer is much simpler... Paul tells us to “walk in the Spirit...”

 

When you’re caught up, and wrapped up, and overwhelmed by the influence of the Holy Spirit you don’t have time to concern yourself with the lusts of the flesh. You’re too busy loving God and loving others.

 

Dennis Quad played a Texas high school teacher and baseball coach who didn’t want to live with regret of what might have been he tried out to become a major league baseball pitcher and he did it. He was picked up by the Texas Rangers and worked his way up through the ranks of minor league baseball until he finally got his chance to play major league baseball. Along the way he got frustrated and almost quit. The long bus rides from town to town, the cheap hotels and restaurant food, barely making enough to pay the bills at home along with the fact he missing his wife and children at home he was ready to walk away from his dreams the next day.  

 

The night before he was going to quit he went out for a walk in his frustration and he saw some lights of a near by baseball diamond a short distance from the hotel where the team was staying and he watched a little league baseball game in progress. As he watched the kids playing with joy, a game played by kids who got paid nothing but played because they just loved playing baseball, he was reminded of why he wanted to play too. He went back the next day with a brand new attitude and in a locker room conversation with one of his team maters he said, “You know what we get to do today Brooks? We get to play baseball.”

 

Love is a powerful motivator. Its amazing what people will do because of love.








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