Sermon notes: Galatians Number 6...

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Yes, there was a day when they sang, “Nothing in my hands I bring, but simply to the Cross I cling,” and meant it; but their soul grew weary of looking to God for all their needs; they tired of counting their richest gain loss and pouring contempt on all their pride; and so their hearts became fertile soil for false preachers and fake prophets who held out to them the vision of things more glorious than the simplicity of the Gospel.

True, not a message that denied the Gospel—that would be too crass and require too radical a movement from the Cross where they had first seen the light. There are not many who, having fallen in love with their Savior, are ready to spurn Him.

No, a more sophisticated method is required; we must not make the cost of apostasy so steep. Much wiser to make the abandonment of the Gospel a matter of degrees: Work in a little (just a smidgen) of pride at the beginning; lead the sheep over by the chasm where they can see the view and take in the glorious vista of freedom from the boundaries of their own provincial pasture; lead them to believe that they can spread their wings and fly and get them to dream dreams of swooping over the craggy cliffs on wings of pride...

NOTE: This is number 6 in a series on Galatians. If this is your first time reading sermon notes here, please take time to read a helpful explanation at the bottom of this post.

From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd

December 7, 2003; AM
Galatians Series No. 6

Am I Now Striving To Please Men?
Sermon Text: Galatians 1:6-10

This Lord’s Day, we turn to our sixth in a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Galatians. And this week, we turn to verses six through ten...

* Galatians 1:6-10 This is the Word of God, eternally true.

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (NASB95)

If there is one clear thing in this world, it is that man is fallen, corrupt to the core from the moment of his conception. Truthfully David spoke, acknowledging his own condition and that of all men who have ever lived from the first moment of their existence:

Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

Man is brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. Lest we place the entire blame for our condition on our federal head Adam, though, it is clear that all men of their own free will have taken what they received from Adam and made things worse. Finding himself inclined to hatred against his fellow man and rebellion against God, he gave in to those evil inclinations, embracing them and making them his home. No longer, then, could he simply blame Adam for his sin; rather, he had to face the fact that whatever predisposition he found in himself to do evil, and not good, he chose to follow that predisposition—in fact, to make that predisposition the principle of his life.

So it is no exageration when God’s Word declares:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know (understand) it? (NASB95)

Man has a depraved heart and stands guilty before the Holy God.

Scripture teaches it, and the experience of this world proves it—that man is corrupt in his mind, will, emotions, and heart. Inside of him dwells no good thing.

And if we seek to construct a system of education or government intended to limit, or even to reform, his evil bent, honesty will compell us to admit every such system to be a complete failure. As is often observed, the twentieth century was both the century most given to utopianism—to schemes of human effort aimed at bringing heaven to earth—and the bloodiest century in history. Hundreds of millions were murdered by men seeking to be good without God, compassionate wihout Christ.

When we stop to consider, then, Almighty God’s provision for man in the person of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; when we read of Jesus’ righteous life, Death, and Resurrection, purchasing pardon and eternal life for all those who place their trust in Him; if it is possible, we come to see man’s depraved heart even more clearly. Because now we understand that man’s utopian schemes are not the grand and glorious venture of benevolence and self-improvement he claims them to be, but only rebellious efforts at self-sufficiency that have at their heart resistance to their Creator and Redeemer, and all He has done to provide for their release from bondage to Satan, death and hell.

Christ Jesus was sent to reconcile the world to God, but man rejected (and continues to reject) God’s provision through His precious Only Begotten Son, instead giving himself to a form of godliness while denying the power thereof. He hates dependence on anything or anyone other than himself; he hates to admit his hopeless condition; he refuses to acknowledge the terminal state of his sinful heart; he denies the justice of a holy God condemning him for what he is powerless to accomplish in his own strength.

So the terminal patient comes to regard the remedy itself as poison, compounding his misery and hopelessness by spurning his cure. Secure in his pride, he refuses the message of salvation because—and this is the central truth of the book of Galatians—because that message requires him to give up on himself and place his trust only, exclusively, in Jesus. How excruciatingly difficult this is!

So difficult that it only happens when the Holy Spirit gives man the gift of faith—faith in the loving provision of our Messiah; Jesus, God’s Annointed One; the Spotless Lamb of God whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. Truly Scripture states, not that man calls God, but that God calls man. It could be no other way.

Man is dead in his trespasses and sins; he is a skeleton of dry bones lying in the valley of corpses, completely incapable of helping himself. Never in a million years could he lift a finger to redeem himself from the Judgement Seat of a Holy God.

But what man is powerless to do, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has done. And again, God has not just taken the steps necessary for the potentiality of man’s redemption; He has completed the work—all the work—of purchasing a people for Himself. He breathes the breath of life into these dry bones, and they spring to life ready to walk by faith, to take up the cross and follow Him. From beginning to end, it is all of Him:

Romans 8:29-31 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (NASB95)

Scripture, then, is the written record of the call of God being extended to those He has chosen for His Own, and their response by the faith which He gave them freely, through which He saved (and still saves) them.

The Christians in Galatia had been called:

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;

But here we learn a truth that is all through the pages of Scripture, that man hates being dependent on God. Without fail he seeks self-suffieciency—or if not complete self-sufficiency, certainly a strong dose of self-improvement. And this is the story of the Galatians: They had been predestined and called by God, given the gift of faith in Jesus Christ and justified by His substitutionary atonement; day by day the Holy Spirit was sanctifying them, changing their hearts so that they grew in conformity to the likeness of their Redeemer; they could rest secure in the knowledge that God, Whose word cannot be broken, had declared that those he justifies, He will also glorify, and that the work He has begun in the believer, He will bring to completion; yet despite all these treasures of Heaven poured out on them, into the midst of the Galatians came men seeking to turn them back on themselves.

God had called them, the grace of Jesus Christ had redeemed them.

Romans 10:9 …if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…

The Galatians had been called by God; they had confessed Jesus as Lord and believed in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead; they were saved.

But now what?

These same Galatians were turning away from the provision of God to their own meritorious works, thinking that what God had begun, they must improve upon and complete.

Galatians 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Can we all see this—that believers who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for redemption from sin and death and hell, can (and will), after being born again, replace that faith in Jesus with faith in themselves; having died to their own religiosity and self-justification through works of the Law for salvation, and having fled to the Cross; these same men and women are never safe, this side of Heaven, from turning back to their own pride and giving themselves to arrogant self-sufficiency.

Yes, there was a day when they sang, “Nothing in my hands I bring, but simply to the Cross I cling,” and meant it; but their soul grew weary of looking to God for all their needs; they tired of counting their richest gain loss and pouring contempt on all their pride; and so their hearts became fertile soil for false preachers and fake prophets who held out to them the vision of things more glorious than the simplicity of the Gospel.

True, not a message that denied the Gospel—that would be too crass and require too radical a movement from the Cross where they had first seen the light. There are not many who, having fallen in love with their Savior, are ready to spurn Him.

No, a more sophisticated method is required; we must not make the cost of apostasy so steep. Much wiser to make the abandonment of the Gospel a matter of degrees: Work in a little (just a smidgen) of pride at the beginning; lead the sheep over by the chasm where they can see the view and take in the glorious vista of freedom from the boundaries of their own provincial pasture; lead them to believe that they can spread their wings and fly and get them to dream dreams of swooping over the craggy cliffs on wings of pride; remind them of all the nostrums of a religious, but not Christian, people—that God helps those who help themselves; that the Christian life is supposed to be a life of peace and victory, not daily dependence on the blood of the Lamb; that not just our paychecks, but even our mint and cumin must be tithed; that if there’s no such thing as a free lunch, surely there’s not such a thing as a free gift of salvation, either; that eternal life is entirely too precious to be bestowed on us without our meriting it in some way—some eeensy, teensy way.

Now take this matter of circumcision, for instance; can we really think that it no longer matters? I mean, really?!?

Have we so quicly forgotten the covenant God, Almighty God, made with Abraham?

Genesis 17:1-27 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. 2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” 9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13 “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” 15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” 19 But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” 22 When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him. 24 Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27 All the men of his household, who were born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

And what of Moses; remember the severity of God in dealing with him in this matter?

Exodus 4:24-26 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”--because of the circumcision.

If Moses was on his deathbed because of his neglect of this ordinance, how can we neglect it ourselves? Does not Scripture tell us the nature of God, that He is immutable?

Malachi 3:6 For I, the LORD, do not change…

And take a look at this fellow Paul—the one self-styled as an “apostle”—he himself has demonstrated, at the very least his doublemindedness, and worse his dishonest in granting to Timothy, his special son in the faith, this very same ordinance he refused to give you.

Acts 16:1-4 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.

What hypocrisy!

Listen, Galatians; what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

God has been good to you, allowing you to enter the covenant community; truly it has been said:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

But dear Galtians, you must improve your salvation; surely you were not added to the company of the faithful to sit and do nothing! Surely God did not intend you to continue in your own filthy way of life, refusing to clean yourselves. Remember, cleanliness is next to godliness.

* Read Philippians 3:1-14

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EXPLANATION: Sermons are pastoral, and therefore of only limited value to those who are not present when a pastor feeds the flock God called him to serve. Yet, knowing even notes may be of some value to others, I'm posting past sermon notes here on Baylyblog. Because the notes weren't written for publication, no editor has cleaned them up for reproduction on the web. So, for instance, although the notes I take into the pulpit have formatting that highlights quotes, I haven't taken the time to reproduce that formatting here.

Please keep in mind these are only notes and not a transcription of the sermon that was preached. It is my commitment to depart from them, seeking freedom from the Holy Spirit to proclaim and apply God's Word to the souls under my care in a way that is helpful to them and gives all glory to God.

Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (Updated '95 Edition). This is the best Bible available in the English language, having by far the closest correspondence of any English Bible in common use today between the original Hebrew and Greek and the English translation. We should all own a print Bible and it should be a two or three decade investment, so here are the NASB Bibles that will read easily and hold together best for twenty years. Their paper is opaque, their type is clean, their binding is superb, and I have no hesitation saying you would do well to spend one or two hundred dollars on one for yourself, your wife, and each of your children.

If the reader has good eyes, buy the Pitt Minion. It's very small and light and will last for decades. If the reader has fading or poor eyesight, buy the Clarion Reference. It has the larger typeface and, again, will last for decades. If the reader likes writing notes in the margin, buy the Wide-Margin Reference. It's big and heavy and you will be able to write to your heart's content.

Finally, near the beginning of each week's notes you will often notice repetition from the previous week. Each week I pick up where I left off the previous week.

May God bless you, dear brother and sister, as you study the Word of God and, only by faith, find it sweeter than honey.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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