Galatians: Part 1

By Pastor J.D. Link

Galatians 1:8-9 says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  (9)  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Here, the apostle Paul uses the most extreme language to communicate the seriousness of preaching any “gospel” other than his. “Accursed” comes from the Greek word “anathema”, meaning “Doomed to destruction; condemned to Hell; devoted to the direst of woes; damned.” If we add anything to the essential Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are on very dangerous ground.

Galatia was a region in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), which consisted of several cities, including Antioch Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Paul had established churches in this region during his missionary journeys.  Soon after leaving to other areas to preach the Gospel, he received word that false teachers had come in after he’d left and subverted the Gospel he preached.  These false teachers were adding works to salvation, such being circumcised (Gal 5:2); keeping certain days, months, times and years (Gal 4:10); being perfected by works (Gal 3:3); and observing the law of Moses for justification (Gal 2:16, 5:4). Paul writes to the Christians at Galatia a strong rebuke and warning against following such teachings, as well as condemns these false teachers and their doctrine.

In Gal 1:1, Paul affirms that his apostleship was not bestowed upon him by man or a group of men, nor did he call himself; but rather, the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ and God the Father called Him to his office.  In vs. 2 he mentions “all the brethren with him”, showing that he was not some reckless, unaccountable lone ranger; but that many of his fellow-helpers affirm what he says to be true.

In vs. 3, he shows his love for the Galatian Christians, by speaking the blessing “Grace and peace be to you, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace and peace come from God – not legalistic doctrines of false teachers.  The work of Jesus Christ was God’s grace bestowed upon us, and only through this grace do we receive genuine peace.

In vs. 4, we find many wonderful truths.  First, that Jesus gave Himself.  No man took Jesus’s life from Him.  He lays it down, and takes it up again (Jn 10:17-18).  He gave Himself “for our sins”.  Do you want to know why Jesus is the only way to Heaven? Because no religious leader on earth can take away even one of our sins, and we are all sinners (Rom 3:10, 23). Only Jesus – God manifested in the flesh – can take away sins (1Tim 3:16, Rev 1:5). His death was not only to deliver us from the wrath to come (the penalty of sin), but from this “present evil world” (the power and practice of sin).  His death benefits us now, and gives us victory – not just in the world to come.  This present world is evil – a wicked and perverse generation. We are delivered from it through Jesus, because it was the Father’s will.

In vs. 5, Paul takes a “praise break” as he is writing about this glorious truth.  In vs. 6, Paul is shocked at how quickly the Galatians were moved away from “him” (God), who had called them into the grace of Christ – unto “another” (different altogether) “gospel”. Which is no “gospel” at all (vs. 7). Gospel means “good news” – and it isn’t “good news” to have a salvation based on your own merits, for by the works of the law, “no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:16). But these false teachers troubled (stir up, agitate) the Galatians, by perverting (corrupting) the true Gospel.

Paul then pronounces the curse that is upon them that teach such things contrary to the pure Gospel (Gal 1:8-9).  He was not seeking man’s approval, but God’s (vs. 10).  His job was not to please men.  No one should be a servant of Christ if they’re concerned with winning man’s approval – for by default they lose God’s approval.  Men-pleasers are not fit for the ministry.

In verses 11 & 12, Paul makes clear that no one handed him his Gospel, nor did any man sit down and teach it to him. No, the reason he could be so emphatic about his Gospel, is because the Lord Jesus Christ gave it to him personally by revelation.  Jesus supernaturally communicated it directly to Paul. The Gospel of Paul is synonymous with the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and the other apostles acknowledged his apostolic authority, and the Gospel he preached. Selah.   

Galatians: Part 2

By Pastor J.D. Link

I encourage you to read Galatians 1:13-24.  Verse13-14 say, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”

Before he was the beloved apostle Paul, he was Saul of Tarsus, a former Pharisee so full of zeal for Judaism that he persecuted Christians unto death, arresting and delivering both men and women to prison. He belonged to the strictest sect of Pharisees, raised up at the feet of Gamaliel, a chief rabbi and Pharisee; and was the son of a Pharisee. He requested letters from the High Priest himself to make havoc of the church and waste it. He breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, and was exceedingly mad against them. He stood and watched as the first Martyr, Stephen, was violently stoned to death. He not only blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ, but compelled the Christians he tormented to do the same. He testified against Christians unto death, and punished them often, going from house to house and synagogue to synagogue to find them (Act 22:3-5, 26:4-5, 9-11; 8:1,3; 9:1-2, 13-14, 21, 26; 1Tim 1:12-14, Philp 3:4-6, 1Cor 15:9-10). Then, he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Paul is a trophy of God’s amazing grace, in that He took this notorious terrorist, and made him one of the greatest saints and preachers who ever lived. A man once so full of hate for Jesus and His followers, was made the greatest mind and mouthpiece of Christianity in the world. Paul says in Gal 1:15-16, that though he was separated from his mother’s womb (Jer 1:5), that it was according to God’s good pleasure to call him (Rom 8:28-30) into his apostleship and reveal His Son in him. He said in 2Tim 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

We must not only have Jesus revealed to us through the preaching of the Word; but must have Him revealed in us through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (2Cor 4:6). Man must preach, and the Father must draw (Jn 6:44, 65). However, in Paul’s unique case, no man preached to him.  The risen Lord Jesus Christ taught Paul personally.

Though he preached Jesus briefly in Damascus after his baptism (Act 9:18-22), he spent a unknown portion of three full years in the desert of Arabia before he came back to Damascus, and then went to Jerusalem (Gal 1;17-18, Acts 9:23-26).  Why was he in Arabia those years?  Like Moses, he was attending Burning Bush University! By revelation, Jesus was likely taking Paul through the Old Testament scrolls, and revealing Himself in every one of them.

When he finally went to Jerusalem, he spent only two weeks with Peter – not near enough time to be taught by him the fulness of the Gospel. This was Paul’s point: his gospel was directly given him by Jesus. No man taught him; no man called him; no man made him an apostle. The risen Jesus was his teacher.  That is why he could say with such confidence what he said in Gal 1:8-9.

Gal 1:20 is a sad verse. Paul, who had poured his life into the Galatian churches and was their father in the faith, was now having to convince his spiritual children that he was legit. How easily false teachers make prey of God’s people, and make messes wherever they go. This is why we must diligently study the Word (Act 2:42).

Finally, in vs. 21-24, Paul relates how God was glorified in all the churches at the transformation of the great persecutor into the great apostle. Our highest aim is to glorify God. It is His grace and work within a person that transforms their life. Paul was not glorified, but God was glorified in Paul. As I heard a preacher say one time, “Always remember: the best of us are just the donkey Jesus rides into town on. Don’t think when the people sing praises, that it’s for the donkey!” Selah.   

Galatians Part 3

By Pastor J.D. Link

           

Through revelation given to Paul by Jesus Christ; He, Barnabas and Titus went to Jerusalem – this most likely being the Jerusalem church council mentioned in Acts 15.   Though he declared unto the whole council the gospel he preached; he first privately shared it with Peter, James & John.  This is a good example to leaders, that they should confer with each other first, before going before the people (Gal 2:1-2).

Paul assures the Galatians that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised – which should show them these false teachers who came preaching circumcision were not from the Apostles at all (Gal 2:3). The same false brethren came into their meetings to “spy out their liberty”; which could speak of simply being wolves in sheep’s clothing, looking for any opportunity to condemn the gospel of grace; or they we’re literally spying – as in “peeking over stalls” to find out who was circumcised or not.  Legalism will mess your head up, and Paul didn’t put up with it for a minute, that the gospel might stand (Gal 2:4-5).

James, Peter and John added nothing to Paul in conference. Paul’s gospel was a perfect revelation from the resurrected Jesus Christ, and the Apostle’s fully accepted it. In fact, it is likely that they learned a few things from Paul (2Pt 3:15-16). They extended the right hand of fellowship, which means they were in unity. Though there is but one gospel, there are different gifts and callings. Peter was called to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles – for God’ s glory and purpose (Gal 2:7-9). The only advice they offered Paul was to remember the poor, but Paul was already doing that – so they truly added nothing to him (Gal 2:10).

Sometime after the Jerusalem council of Acts 15, Peter came to Antioch, where Paul was. Before some believing Jews came from James, Peter was enjoying being free from the dietary laws and was having some pork chops, catfish and fried shrimp (or, something un-kosher). But when they came, Peter played the hypocrite, and quit eating at the Gentile table.  The other Jewish believers – even Barnabas – were carried away in the hypocrisy (Gal 2:11-13).

Because of Peter’s status, Paul felt in necessary to rebuke him. It wasn’t that Peter would be wrong if his personal preference was to not eat un-kosher (Rom 14:); but the problem was the hypocrisy.  He knew it wasn’t wrong (Act 10:9-16), but then acted as if it was. It was his “keeping up appearances” that was the issue, and compromised the gospel (Gal 2:14-15). We must notice the humility of the great apostle. There is no indication Peter was offended, nor refuted Paul’s rebuke. It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong.

Paul then lays it out in no uncertain terms: a man is ONLY justified (declared righteous before God) by faith in Jesus Christ, and NEVER by the works of the law – for by the works of the law, NO ONE will ever be justified (Gal 2:16). The law serves a purpose, but NEVER concerning justification. As a godly standard and to crush self-righteousness – Yes. To make us righteous before a holy God – No.

When we seek justification by faith alone, and still have some sinful actions in our life – does this make Christ the minister of sin? Of course not. Why? Because if we build again the things which we destroyed (either sin or works of the law), we make ourselves transgressors.  In other words, it’s not the Lord’s fault if we go back to the old ways because we think grace means “free to live godless” or “grace plus works”.  Jesus, nor the apostles, ever taught that.  Of course, works are important, but not concerning justification. We will discuss that more as we continue through Galatians (Gal 2:17-19).

THROUGH the law, the believer is dead TO the law – that they might unto God.  The law has affected its purpose when it kills you. When it wakes you up to your utterly depraved and hopeless condition. When it exposes your absolute lack of holiness, and inability to please God.  When it drives you to despair, and forces you to totally rely on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to ever be right with God. Once you reach this point, you are now in the position to live unto God. Until then, you live under a curse (Gal 3:10).

This chapter concludes with Paul saying he has been crucified with Christ.  If we are in Christ, we were in His death; burial; and resurrection.  We are free. We are made righteous. Our life now is a life of faith and total dependence on what Jesus has done. We frustrate (disannul, set aside) the grace of God when we try to relate to God through the law.  Why? Because if righteousness comes by the law, then the death of Christ was without a cause. It was for nothing (Gal 2:20-21). If one person could be right with God by keeping the law, then that would prove man could indeed keep it. Christ wouldn’t have to die, and we would all be doomed, unless we kept it, too. Praise God, Jesus kept it for us.  Thank you, Jesus!  

 Galatians Part 4

By Pastor J.D. Link

Read Galatians 3:1-9.  Paul begins this third chapter with a stern rebuke of the Galatian Christians, calling them foolish.  He wasn’t saying this to be mean. He didn’t hate them.  Quite the opposite, He loved them dearly. Sometimes it is necessary to exercise “tough love”, in order to get someone’s attention.  He had only their best interest in mind.  He feared for them.

He then turns His attention to those who “bewitched” them; i.e., those false teachers who “charmed” or “cast a spell” on them.  What was their “charm”? That they had to keep the Law of Moses to be made righteous. Paul said simply, that this was disobedience to the truth! A rejection of the truth!  Even after he had preached Christ crucified so thoroughly, that it was as if they had witnessed the crucifixion personally.

He then asks them, “Tell me, how did you receive the Spirit (get born again)?  Was it by the works of the law, or the hearing of faith?”  The answer is obvious.  Before Paul came and preached to them, they were lost.  Paul didn’t come with the law.  He came with the Gospel.  No one gets born again through preaching the law, unless it is followed up with the Gospel. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

He proceeds to ask them, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?”  In other words, He was saying that they were going backwards.  The flesh (works of the law) could not bring you salvation to begin with – so why do you think that now, it all of a sudden works for your sanctification?  Don’t you realize, the faith by which you are saved initially, is the same faith that keeps you? God didn’t save us by grace through faith; to then say, “Okay, the rest is up to you to work for.”

They had suffered many things for Christ.  Persecution was common for Christians in the First Century, as it is now in so many nations. Much of the persecution in the first few decades of the church came from religious Jews who believed Christianity was a perversion of Judaism. Paul asked, “Did you suffer all these things for nothing?  If it is yet for nothing?” Paul held out hope for the Galatians. He did not believe they had utterly fallen, but they that they were on a very dangerous path that they must turn back from. Legalism never takes one to a good destination.

Was it through the law, or by faith, that they received the gifts of the Spirit, and had miracles worked among them?  Again, the answer is obvious.  He is reminding them that it was through his preaching of the Gospel, and their believing on Christ, that they received the gifts of the Spirit.  So, we see in vs. 2, that we are saved through faith; in vs. 3, that we are sanctified through faith; and here in vs. 5, that we receive the gifts and callings of God through faith.  The works of the law produced none of these things.

He then points to Abraham as an example.  How did Abraham have righteousness accounted (imputed) to him? He believed God.  Remember, Abraham was 500 years before there ever was a law. And yet, here is a man, without law, that was counted righteous because he believed God. So then, they who are of faith are children of Abraham (vs. 7). It is true, that the Jews are the physical descendants of Abraham; but those who believe are the true children of Abraham – and are blessed with faithful Abraham (vs. 9).

This is important to understand. A non-believing Jew is not a true child of Abraham, because they do not believe as Abraham did.  A believing Jew or Gentile are the true children of Abraham, because they believe as their father Abraham did – and it is imputed unto them for righteousness.

In vs. 8, Paul says the Gospel, by which the heathen would be declared righteous, was preached to Abraham in the phrase, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Abraham was made righteous through faith, and all the Gentile nations would also be made righteous through faith.  That is how “all nations” would be blessed through Abraham. That is the Gospel! If the promise was just to his physical descendants, faith is made void, and Gentiles are up the creek.  You just simply need to be born a Jew.  However, the promise is of faith.  It doesn’t matter what tribe, tongue, nation or color you are – if you believe as Abraham believed – you will be made righteous as he was made righteous – through faith. Read Romans chapter 4 carefully for a fuller understanding of this truth. Selah.

Galatians Part 5

By Pastor J.D. Link

We finished last week seeing that, “They which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham” and they are “the children of Abraham” (Gal 3:9). In verse 10, we see a contrast – that those who seek to be justified by the Law of Moses are under a curse. Why?  Because “Cursed is everyone that does not continue in all things which are written in the law to do them.” Here, Paul quotes Deut. 27:26.  The Mosaic law was a complete system of law.  If you broke any part of it, you broke all of it (Jam 2:10).  That’s why to be under the law is to be under a curse – because no one could keep it perfectly (except Jesus).

Paul continues in verse 11 clearly stating again that NO man is justified by the law in the sight of God – and that it is evident.  In other words, it’s as clear as the nose on your face.  Why? “For the just shall live by faith.”  Here, Paul quotes from Hab. 2:4.  He also repeats this in Rom 1:17 and Heb 10:38.  In verse 12 Paul continues, “And the law is not of faith.” The contrast could not be any clearer.  The just shall live by faith, and the law is not of faith.  Therefore, it is impossible to be made righteous before God by the works of the law, because it is contrary to faith. Justification cannot be by a combination of faith and works, for they are mutually exclusive (Rom 11:5-6).

“But, the man that does them shall live by them”. Here Paul quotes Lev. 18:5. Faith is excluded, if one seeks to be justified by the law. If one desires to live by the law, then they had better live by every jot and tittle of it, and leave nothing lacking.  In reality, people who try to do this just end up justifying their failure by various means – for they know as well as anybody they can’t keep it. They end up reasoning their effort counts for righteousness, but they could not be more wrong.  As we have already seen, they are under a curse.

Praise God, Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse in our place – for cursed is everyone hung on a tree (Deut. 21:23).  Though Jesus kept the law perfectly, He took our punishment as a law-breaker, and suffered the wrath of God against sin as our substitute (Isa 53).  Why? That the blessing of Abraham might come upon us through faith in Jesus Christ – which is the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal 3:14, 2). 

In civil contracts between two parties, they cannot be disannulled or added to, unless they expire, or are rewritten and agreed to by both parties.  In other words, they are binding (Gal 3:15).  Now, the promise (justification through faith, by which all nations would be blessed) was made to Abraham and his seed.  Seed here speaks not of his physical descendants, but singularly of Christ Jesus (Gal 3:16). Therefore, the covenant of the law, which was 430 years after the promise to Abraham, cannot disannul the original promise (Gal 3:17).  If the inheritance of this promise be through the law, then it is no more a promise. It becomes instead a conditional performance.  But, we know God gave Abraham the inheritance by promise (Gal 3:18). An inheritance, by definition, is gifted and not earned. Remember, Abraham believed God – and it was counted to him for righteousness.

So, what was the purpose of the law? It was ADDED because of transgressions, UNTIL the seed (Jesus – vs. 16) should come to whom the promise was made.  This verse shows us that the law was for a fixed and temporary period of time. It began on Sinai, and ended on Calvary approx. 1500 years later. Christ is the END of the law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to all who believe (Rom10:4). The law still exists, and still serves a purpose – but not for righteousness before God. Righteous is only imputed to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The law is now written on the heart of the Believer, and the keeping of it is a fruit of true relationship God – and not a means of merit or salvation. Selah.

Galatians Part 6

By Pastor J.D. Link

As we continue our study of Galatians, we will today look at chapter 3:21-29. Lest we start to get a negative view of God’s Law, Paul asks in vs. 21, “Is the Law then against the promises of God? God forbid! If there had been a law that could have given life, then righteousness should have come through the Law.  The Law is not sin (Rom 7:7) in and of itself. Rather, it is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12). It is in fact spiritual, but it is us that are carnal (Rom 7:14). We are the ones with the fault, not the Law; and this is why God ordained a New Covenant (Heb 8:7-8).

In vs. 22, we see the Scripture includes all – Jew and Gentile – under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  We must put faith in Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to receive the promise; no other way to be made righteous in the sight of God.  Why? Because we are all sinners (Rom 3:9-12, 23; 5:12, 11:32). No one is exempt. It matters not if you try real hard to be good or keep the Law. It cannot save.

You see, before faith in Christ comes, the Law encloses us on all sides (vs. 23). It is a prison. Every time we think we’re doing alright, another “Thou shalt not” reveals our sinfulness and inability. It shows us God’s perfect standard, and how we utterly fail to keep it.  Giving it the ol’ “college try” doesn’t count. Perfection is required (Gal 3:10, Jam 2:10), and perfection is impossible. So the duty of the Law is to destroy our self-righteousness, and also to keep us somewhat in line through fear. For instance, the wicked may have every desire to steal something, but many won’t simply through fear of punishment.

However, the Law was never meant as a permanent solution to our sin problem. It was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be made righteous through faith.  Once faith comes, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (vs. 24-25). Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness (Rom 9:30-10:4) to all who believe. It is not the end of the Law, period; it is the end of the Law “for righteousness”. In other words, it still serves a purpose; but that purpose is not to make us right with God.  Its purpose is to drive us to Christ. The Law was against us in this sense, that it accused us and condemned us. Jesus took it out of the way (Col 2:13-14). It is no longer our means of right standing before God. Only faith upon Christ makes us right with God. We can’t earn it. We can only receive it as a gift (Rom 5:17).

We are not all children of God. Only through faith in Jesus do we become children of God (vs. 26). We are all God’s creation, but only Believers are given the power to become the children of God (Jn 1:12, Eph 1:4-6, 1Jn 3:1-2). When we are baptized into Christ (spiritually) and become one Spirit with Him (1Cor 6:17) and are made new creations (2Cor 5:17), we “put on” Christ. We become clothed with His righteousness.  After this initial “putting on”, we then walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). We “put on” or imitate, His life and good works (Rom 13:13-14). This is bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

In vs. 28, we see the ground is all level at the foot of the cross. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile; black or white; fat or skinny; tall or short; male or female; free or in prison – Believers are all one in Christ. Of course, these distinctions exist in the world, and we’re at different stages of our race – but as a Chihuahua and Great Dane are both dogs, so the least to the greatest Christian are still Christians.

Finally, in vs. 29, Paul repeats what he said earlier: If we are in Christ, born again through faith in Jesus, then we are Abraham’s seed – and heirs according to the promise. It is not being a natural descendant of Abraham that saves you, but being a supernatural descendant. A spiritual descendant. A person justified through faith, as Abraham our father was. Selah.

Galatians Part 7

 By Pastor J.D. Link

As we learned last week in chapter three, the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but once we have been brought to Him, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24-26). Paul continues this theme in chapter four, when he says that as a child, an heir differs nothing from a servant; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. He is ignorant, and must be trained and disciplined, just like a servant (vs. 1-2). In the same way, before we came to Christ, we were under the Law. Though Gentiles are not Israelites, we are still all guilty of breaking God’s Law (Rom 3:19). 

However, in God’s timing, Jesus the Son of God, born of the virgin, born under the Law, came into the world to redeem them who were under the penalty of the Law. He did this, that we may be adopted as children of God (Gal 4:4-5). Because we are now children through the new birth, God has sent forth the Spirit of Christ into our hearts, by which we now cry “Abba, Father.” (vs. 6).  This is a term of endearment, like “Papa” or “Daddy”.  This speaks of a changed relationship with God. Through faith in Christ, we have become His true children, and He our true Father. We are not all children of God, but those who have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them are the children of God.

We are no longer servants, but sons.  Jesus said He no longer calls us servants, but friends (Jn 15:15). Therefore, being no more servants, we are called God’s children, and Christ’s friends and brothers (Heb 2:11); as well as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17, vs. 7). This is our legal standing. We have been adopted by God, purchased out of the Kingdom of Darkness with the blood of Christ. Like Paul, though we are children, yet we make ourselves servants to all out of love for Him (1Cor 9:19). We do not earn righteousness from it, nor is it from obligation; but from a heart of love and appreciation for all Jesus has done for us, we serve Him with all of heart.

Before the Galatians knew God, they served idols (vs. 8). All men do. We are made to worship, and we will. It may not be carved images, but it may be the idols of money, power, sex, entertainment, education, sports, nature, or simply ourselves. These by nature are not gods. Behind every idol is a demon. Satan wants worship, and any worship not directed towards the True and Living God, is by default towards a demon. Paul asks, “After you are now known of God, why are you turning back to weak and beggarly elements? Why are you putting yourself under bondage?” (vs. 9).

Why would Paul say they had “turned again”? They were pagans before, but now they’re putting themselves under the Law of Moses. He said this, because as it pertains to salvation, there is no difference. Of course, there is a vast difference in the form of worship between the two; but they are the same in this respect: neither system will bring you to Heaven. Not paganism, and not the Law. They were simply substituting one failed system for another (vs. 10). One set of days, months, times and years for another.

Paul was afraid he had labored in vain (vs. 11), even suffering a stoning to bring them the Gospel (Act 14:19). Was it for nothing? He begs them to be as he is, for he has been where they are (vs. 12). He knows the Law system doesn’t bring salvation. He lived it zealously. In vs. 13-16, He reminds them of the great love and affection they once had for him; receiving him as Christ Himself. Where had that gone? Why were they now counting him an enemy? Because he told them the truth? Yes. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Many times, when you speak the truth out of love for Jesus and love for people, you will be counted an enemy. People who once loved you, will now reject you. Remember you are in good company when such things happen. Selah.

Galatians Part 8

By Pastor J.D. Link

Last week, we finished by looking at Galatians 4:16, where Paul asks the Galatians if he had now become their enemy because he told them the truth. They had embraced him originally when he preached the truth of the Gospel, but after now being infected by the false teaching of the Judaizers, they were counting him an enemy. In vs. 17, he tries to open their eyes, by revealing to them that the zeal the false teachers have for them is not genuine.  They do not care for them as Paul had. They have ulterior motives. They want to exclude them from Paul – and therefore, the Gospel – and make them notches in their belt. If they were sincere, and not contrary to the truth – why would they sneak in behind Paul and try to lead them away from his message?  Like all false teachers, they crave a following. It’s not about love for Christ or love for truth; it’s about being someone’s guru. Paul said it was good for them to be zealous in a good thing (the truth of the Gospel), whether he be there with them, or when he was gone (vs. 18).

Paul loved the Galatians like they were his little children (vs. 19). He had already “travailed in birth” once to bring them the truth of the Gospel, and now is travailing again until Christ be formed in them.  This does not mean until they be born again, but until they mature in Christ (though perhaps some were not truly born again, but mere professors of Christ). He agonized that they were being led astray, and was writing this letter in sorrow. He wanted to be with them face to face, that he might change his tone (vs. 20). Though he was writing a hard-hitting letter full of rebukes, it was not because he hated them.  On the contrary, he loved them so dearly, that he felt it necessary to wake them up from their deception. A father, pastor or anyone in leadership may have to be “hard” sometimes, but it is done in love for Jesus, truth, the Gospel and the person (or, ought to be, anyway).

In the last eleven verses (21-31), he uses an illustration to further prove his point.  Up to now, he had laid out some very solid, scriptural proof in his defense of the Gospel.  Now, he uses a story.  A story is often a good medium to drive home the truth and make it click. He asks them, “Since you seem to want to live under the Law, let me ask: have you actually heard the Law?”  Although the Law of Moses didn’t come until 500 years after Abraham, all five books of Moses are called the Law, and even the entire Old Testament in general is called the Law (Jn 10:34, Ps 82:6).

He proceeds to go back to Abraham, and speak of his two sons – Ishmael, by Hagar; and Isaac, by Sarah. Ishmael was the result of the flesh or self-effort, while Isaac was the result of faith in God’s promise. They were types of the two covenants; Ishmael the old and Isaac the new. Hagar represent Mt. Sinai, and is a type of the earthly Jerusalem. As Hagar was a servant in bondage, so the Jews are in bondage under the Law. Sarah represents the Jerusalem above (heaven), the mother of believers; whose children are free, because she was free. The one represents what we do in our own strength, and the other what God does for us.

Paul then quotes Isa 54:1, and compares it to Sarah and the church.  She was the barren one, who now has many more children then she who had a husband (Hagar, who was fruitful). Where at one time there were no Christians, now the children of faith far outnumber the children of the Law. Like Isaac was, Christians are now the children of promise, born of faith; born of a miracle (the new birth); born of the Spirit; born from above.

As Isaac was persecuted by Ishmael, so religious people who think their works justify them persecute those saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. However, as the servant and her son were cast out (Gen 21:9-10), so those of the works of the Law shall be cast out, and will not be heirs of heaven with the children of promise. As Isaac was, so the Christian is – the child of faith; of promise. Selah.

Galatians Part 9

By Pastor J.D. Link

Last week, we finished by looking at the end of Galatians chapter four, where Paul uses Hagar and Sarah as an allegory to describe the Old and New Covenants.  Today we’ll start on chapter five of this letter. 

Paul encourages the Believers to stand fast (stand firm, immovable) in the liberty of Christ, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  The Law is a heavy yoke (Mt. 11:28-30) that we cannot bear, and Jesus came to free us from it.  Paul encourages us to not be entangled with a performance-based system once again, after we have been made free by Jesus.  Faith is a “good fight” (1Tim 6:12); and it must be fought, if we are to keep from slipping back into self-righteousness.

“Christ shall profit you nothing” (vs. 2).  What a wake-up call!  He warns, that if they be circumcised (as an act of righteousness), that Jesus will not profit them one iota.  This was no mere trifle. This is a heaven or Hell issue. It is serious business.  Paul does not let them off the hook with holding to a little Law-keeping (vs. 3).  No, if they are going to go the route of the Law, then they need to know they will be debtors to keep the whole thing (Jam 2:10). The Law is an entire unit.  You cannot keep little bits and pieces, if you’re going to be made righteous by it.  Circumcision is just the door-way into the entire Law. You can’t stop there.

Paul is essentially saying, “Look church, you can’t do buffet style with the Law. If you get circumcised in obedience to the Law, you must keep all the ordinances of the Law.  It’s not a little Sabbath day; a little Kosher; a little circumcision.  It’s either grace, or it’s the entire Law – but it ain’t both.  And, if you insist on going this route, you must know – Christ becomes of NO effect unto you!”

These are sobering statements, meant to wake up the Christians who are being deceived by these false apostles. Paul said, “If you go ahead with this, you are fallen from grace.” (vs. 4).  Grace is the highest level.  Christians who think that Law-keeping is a way up to God are actually going the opposite direction.  We don’t fall from the Law, we fall from grace.  We go from the Law up to grace. It is the High Way. Grace is the Gospel of Christ. If we reject grace, we reject Christ.

Not by the Law, but through the Spirit do wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (vs. 5).  Faith grabs hold of the promise now. Hope is the future expectation. Is our righteousness future? Yes, but it is also now.  In our spirit, we are righteous now (Eph 4:24, 1Cor 1:30); but we look for that day when we will be fully redeemed – spirit, soul and body (1Thess 5:23). It is faith in Christ that will bring us there (Philp 1:6), and not attempts to earn it by works.

In Christ, circumcision is irrelevant (vs. 6). It doesn’t matter either way (Rom 2:28-29). What matters is faith that works by love. Works are good, if they are works of faith. Works that follow faith, and are a result of faith. How does faith work? By Love. Love is the great commandment. Love generates trust, which is faith. If our works are not proceeding out of love, our works profit nothing (1Cor 13:1-3). Works done in faith out of a love for God and people are what is acceptable to God.

Paul said they had been running their Christian race well, but some had hindered them, and they stopped obeying the truth (vs. 7). The false apostles had also tricked them into not obeying the truth (Gal 3:1). Paul is saying, that any attempt to be right with God through the works of the Law is being disobedient to the truth of the Gospel.  Many think law-keeping is obedience, but Paul calls it disobedience.  Consider this carefully. We’re not talking about doing good deeds. We’re talking about trying to earn righteousness with God.  It cannot be earned, but only received as a gift (Rom 5:17).

Attempting to be right with God through the works of the Law is not from God. It is Satanic (vs. 8).  Satan just loves religious people who are trying to earn their way to Heaven. All he has to do is stand back and watch them destroy themselves. Merit will never save, and the one who is trying to work their way to heaven will end up in Hell with the Devil and his angels. At the end of the day, all of their hard work will be stacked up next to Jesus, and will be considered filthy rags and burned.
Why is Paul so adamant? Why does he seem to be so hard-core on this issue? Why is this so important? Because a little leaven will leaven the whole lump (vs. 9). Law-keeping never stops. So, you did this.  Now what are you not doing? Now you need to do this… and this… and this. It’s NEVER enough. Only Christ is enough. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It can never and will never be by any other means that the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  All glory and honor be to Jesus Christ forever and ever!

Galatians Part 10

By Pastor J.D. Link

Last week, we finished with verse 9 of chapter five of Galatians. In verse 10, Paul said he had confidence in the Galatians through the Lord, that they would not be otherwise minded.  Earlier, He said he had feared for them and stood in doubt of them.  Is he contradicting himself? Not at all.  Notice, he said he had confidence in them “through the Lord”.  In other words, he was praying and believing God that those with ears to hear would listen to what he was saying. He had no confidence in their flesh. He was seeing with the eyes of faith. He also warned that those false teachers who were troubling them will bear their judgment.  It will be a dreadful day when they fall into the hands of God.

We see in vs. 11 that some of these false teachers were telling the Galatians that Paul preached circumcision as well. Apparently, he must have forgotten to tell them. This is a lie, of course. Paul never preached that. He said if he did, he wouldn’t be persecuted – because the offense of the cross would cease. You see, the cross is offensive to those who trust in outward acts to justify themselves before God. It makes them angry. They are self-righteous, and resent that being taken away from them.  There is no boasting in faith (Rom 3:27), so they are offended – because they think they are better than others.

In a play on words, Paul wishes these false teachers would cut themselves off (vs. 12). The word literally means “mutilate”. He is saying, “I wish the false teachers who teach circumcision would just go all the way and castrate themselves.” Of course, the spiritual meaning is that they would be “cut off” from troubling these Christians any longer.

Paul is put out with these false teachers, because the Christian is called to liberty, not bondage (vs. 13). He encouraged the Christians to not use their liberty to indulge the flesh, but to serve one another in love. Our freedom in Christ is not freedom from morality. The ethics of the Law are still the same; only now they are written on the heart of the Believer.  No, our freedom is to love and serve in peace and acceptance with God. Being free from the heavy burden of the Law, we are now at liberty to love and serve God and others.

In vs. 14, he is telling the Galatians, “Look guys, if you are concerned about keeping the Law, why are you going about it in all these outward acts? Do you not know that the whole Law is fulfilled in loving your neighbor? If you want to be real Law-keepers, then love. Love your spouse; love your kids; love your friends; love your brothers and sisters in Christ; love others. This is the true fulfilling of the Law.”  Often times, Law-keepers strain out gnats and swallow camels (Matt. 23:24).  In other words, they nit-pick insignificant matters, and neglect the important things – just like the Pharisees did. So, if you do X, Y and Z; but you’re unloving, unmerciful, unforgiving – you have missed it completely. You’re just a clanging cymbal – making a lot of religious noise, but bearing no spiritual fruit (1Cor 13:1-3).

This is why he warns the Galatians about biting and devouring one another, lest they consume one another (vs. 15). This is where legalism always goes. Instead of loving and serving one another, we start to look down our nose at others, and we become everyone’s judge. It produces envy and strife, and every evil work (Jam 3:16). Of course, there is a godly manner in which Christians are to live; and we are to restore a brother who is off in a spirit of humility. However, we are not to go around making up our own laws; trying put others under them; or adding to the finished work of Christ for justification.

Rather, the way to live righteously and overcome the flesh, is to walk in the Spirit (vs. 16). It is walking (trending all around, abiding) in the Spirit that will bring us to maturity and bring forth fruit – not going back under the Law. Seeking to live under the Law to overcome the flesh, is like trying to put out a fire with jet fuel – it’s counterproductive. Why? Because the Law only strengthens sin (1Cor 15:56); gives the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20); gives sin dominion (Rom 6:14); and causes sin to abound (Rom 5:20). Again, through faith and love, the ethics of the Law remain in the Christian; but we are talking about keeping the Law as a means of righteousness. This is what we must avoid at all costs. Righteousness only comes through faith upon Christ. So, we are to walk constantly under the leading of the Holy Spirit – and the Holy Spirit will never lead us into sin. Selah.

Galatians Part 11

By Pastor J.D. Link

Gal 5:16 – This I say then, Walk (live, tread all around) in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill (complete, make an end of) the lust of the flesh.  This does not mean the flesh will stop desiring those things contrary to the Spirit, but only that those things will not be fulfilled as we walk constantly in the Spirit. We are to “reckon ourselves dead to sin” and “let not sin reign in our body” and not “yield our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness” (Rom 6:11-13). This is largely done in our minds. We must see ourselves truly free and in union with God. As we do, the flesh loses and the Spirit rules.  Before the new birth, the lust of the flesh was fulfilled in us (Eph 2:3); but now, when we walk in the Spirit, we may still be tempted, but sin will not have the dominion in us.

Gal 5:17 – For the flesh lusts (set the heart upon, desire, longs for) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. The Spirit and the flesh are opposites (Rom 8:5-9). They desire different things. When Paul says, “You cannot do the things that you would”, he is not saying we are helpless. He is saying, that through self-effort and the works of the Law, we will always fail. The flesh is powerless to live truly righteous. Why? Because dwelling within the flesh is an inherent evil, called the “law of sin”. This we will always have to deal with as long as we are in these mortal bodies. However, in Christ we have the victory, because the Spirit is greater than the flesh (Rom 7:14-25).

Gal 5:18 – But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. As we have already seen, the Law is only the knowledge of sin, and not the cure. Under grace, sin does not have dominion over us (Rom 6:14). All the law is fulfilled in this: Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:14). Therefore, The Spirit walk is the grace walk. The Spirit walk is the love walk. As we walk in grace and love, we bear the fruit of the Spirit – and there is no law against them (Gal 5:22-23).

On the contrary, the works of the flesh are evident (apparent, obvious) (Gal 5:19-21). These are what the flesh naturally produces. Adultery, sexual immorality of any kind, impurity, unbridled lusts & excess, idolatry, witchcraft (drug abuse), hatred, contentions, misguided zeal, heated rage, strife (to put oneself first, must always be right), divisions, heresies (following one’s own tenets), envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling (loud drinking and drugging parties going late into the night marked by indecency and sexual immorality), etc.  Those who do (practice habitually, commonly) such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:24 – And they that are Christ’s have (past tense) crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. The saint is crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), that we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6). Now that this is a spiritual reality, we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin – because in spirit we are (Rom 6:11). We must reckon ourselves dead. We must reckon Christ living His life through us. This is walking in the Spirit, and is the pathway to victory.

Gal 5:25 – If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Poole said, “operations naturally follow principles of life”. If indeed we live in union with Christ, then our walk ought to reflect that union. If we have reckoned ourselves dead and Christ alive in us and working through us, then the fruit of the Spirit is what we will bring forth. There will no longer be a performance-based striving, but rather a resting in the finished work of Christ and a trust in Him to live His life through us. The Galatians had traded the Spirit walk for the works of the Law.

Gal 5:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Or, “Let us not be prideful and conceited, full of ambition, only caring about ourselves. Provoking one another with strivings about the law and envying one another.”This is the legalistic pattern. Spiritual pride causes one to go back to the works-based system. Then, they start provoking others. “If you were really a Christian or really holy, then you would do xyz or not do abc” (on things the Word is silent on). Finally, it causes envy. “Why am I not like them? I guess I’m no good.” Does this produce life? No. It causes self-centeredness, pride, hopelessness, envy, strife, division, heaviness, bondage, etc.  The Spirit walk; the grace walk; the love walk; the Gospel walk – this produces life, freedom and happiness. This produces the fruit of the Spirit. This produces the abundant life. Paul encourages the Galatians to return to it, before it’s too late (Gal 3:4).

Galatians Part 12

By Pastor J.D. Link

Gal 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The word “fault” can mean side-slip or unintentional error; or it can mean willful, unrepentant sin. I believe in this context it means the former, because he says “overtaken”.  One overtaken is not running to sin, but from it. The Christian who has fallen into error and is remorseful, is not to be kicked while they’re down, but restored by the one walking in the Spirit.  The one coming alongside and restoring should do it in humility, knowing that there is no temptation except what is common to man, and they are not immune to sin.

Gal 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Rom 15:1).  The Galatians had gotten caught up in the deeds of the law, but Paul was informing them that fullfilling the law of Christ (law of love – Jn 13:34, 15:12) was not in days, moons, foods, etc.; but in bearing each other’s burdens. Coming alongside and lifting the heavy load of others through prayer, encouragement, wise counsel, help, etc. 

Gal 6:3 “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Again, we are to humbly bear each other’s burdens, and not think we’re really “something”, because we don’t eat that and keep this feast, etc.  We ought not think of ourselves to highly (Rom 12:3), or that we know anything yet as we ought to know (1Cor 8:2).  We must always acknowledge that our only sufficiency is of God (2Cor 3:5).

Gal 6:4 “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”  I believe the idea is this: If a man keeps a sincere conscience in his own calling, he will find happiness in knowing his heart is right with God, and will not rely on praise of others. In other words, when we live humbly with a sincere heart and clear conscience towards God, what others think of us won’t matter. We won’t need our ego stroked. We’ll rejoice in ourselves, in the sense that we know we’re living honestly before God (2Cor 1:12).

Gal 6:5 “For every man shall bear his own burden.”  Thayer defines “burden” as “faults of the conscience which oppress the soul.”  I believe the sense is, as related to the verse before it, that we cannot bear the burden of conscience for someone else. We must all give an account of ourselves to God (Rom 14:12).  This is not contrary to verse 2.  These are two different subjects. We are to bear the burdens of the weak, as come alongside and help them; but before God we must bear our own burden. I can’t give an account of you before God, nor you for me.

Gal 6:6 “Let him that is taught in the word communicate (share with and partner with) unto him that teacheth in all good things.”“Communicate” means “share with” or “partner with”.  To give physical things to the person who teaches you spiritual things is God’s plan. He ordained it (1Cor 9:14).  In fact, Paul said, “Is it any big deal?” (1Cor 9:11). In other words, he is saying this has always been God’s system.  It is not to be debated, but obeyed.  Spiritual things are much more important than physical things. We should highly value the teaching of God’s Word, and greatly appreciate those who labor in Word and doctrine (1Tim 5:17).

Gal 6:7-8 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”  Although this is a general principle of the Christian life, it is related to the previous verse.  In other words, to not give to the church at which you are spiritually fed, is to mock God. It is to sow to the flesh, instead of the Spirit.  What can one expect to reap, but corruption?

Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). Our priority should be God’s kingdom in our finances, for only what is given to His work will follow us into eternity. Selah.

Galatians Part 13

By Pastor J.D. Link

In Gal. 6:7-8, Paul repeats a Kingdom Law: Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit, we reap life everlasting. This not only means eternity in heaven, but the abundant spiritual life right now (Jn 17:3, 10:10). We cannot expect to reap life while we’re sowing to the flesh, and we cannot blame God when we reap ruin. Every seed produces after its own kind.

In Gal. 6:9, we learn a crucial precept: Do not be weary in doing what is right, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we faint not. Don’t quit; don’t give up; don’t allow weariness to get into your heart. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap a harvest of good fruit. It is a law. It will happen. It cannot do otherwise. We must stand on God’s Word in faith. It is truth. We must not faint. When we reap, we will be glad we stayed faithful and didn’t quit.

While we ought to do good to everyone as we have the opportunity; we must do good to the saints first (Gal 6:10). It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do good to unbelievers; but we are not to step over a Brother or Sister in Christ in order to do it. As a father is to provide for his family before he provides for a stranger, so the Christian is to help a fellow believer before and unbeliever.

Paul wanted to make sure the Galatians knew he has personally written this letter with his own hand (Gal 6:11). This added emphasis to the fact he considered the Galatians in grave danger. He again reiterates that the false teachers didn’t truly care for them, but only wanted “notches in their belt” (Gal 6:12); and to look good in front of the Jews. They only wanted to glory (boast in) their flesh.  He also adds, they that teach the Law don’t even keep it themselves (Gal 6:13).  Those false teachers are cursed, and the Galatians themselves will be cursed as well by following them (Dt 27:26, Gal 3:10, Jam 2:10). Therefore, being born again is all that matters, and circumcision is irrelevant (Gal 6:15).

The only thing Paul boasted in was the cross of the Lord Jesus (Gal 6:14).  He could have avoided all the suffering and persecution he endured, had he just compromised the Gospel – but he would not. Therefore, he was crucified to the world.  The world scorned him; looked on him with contempt; and persecuted him – just like it did Jesus.  However, the world was also crucified to Paul. There was nothing in it he wanted. It is full of evil, pride, immorality, corruption, filth, spite, jealousy, injustice, perversion, etc.  It is shameful. What does it have that we should want? It should be crucified to us.

As we walk according to the truth of the Gospel laid out in Galatians, peace and mercy will be upon us (believing Gentiles), as well as believing Jews (the “Israel of God” – Rom 2:28-29). Without faith in Christ Jesus, there will be no peace and mercy with God – for Jesus is our peace (Eph 2:14) and Mercy seat (Lev 16:14-15).

A summation of Paul’s sign off in vs. 17 might be, “Alright, Galatians, I’m done talking. Believe it or don’t believe it – but I have laid out the truth plainly and without apology. I know whom I serve. I know from whom my Gospel came. I bear the scars in my body from standing for this truth without compromise. I’ve not only preached it, but I’ve lived it. It has cost me. So, trouble me no more. Repent. Know the truth and remain faithful to it. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, amen” (Gal 6:18).  The true Gospel is God’s grace, and through it alone comes true spiritual transformation. Selah.

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