Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 11
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|So what is this foolishness we’re talking about? It’s when we know something but we choose to willfully ignore it. So it’s out of shear frustration that Paul says, “O foolish Galatians.” He didn’t mean to demean them. That’s not what he’s doing.|
The Foolishness of Denying Christ
Turn with me today to Galatians 3:1, and this really Part 2 of what we began last week. Galatians 3:1. Now, I hope you understand what Paul is doing here. If a believer, you or me, we chose to walk away from the relationship, intimacy, moment by moment depending upon Christ, and we choose to go back to a works mentality, a religious mindset; if the apostle Paul was living today he would stand here and say, “O foolish people.” That’s what he would say. You say, “How do you know that?” Because that’s exactly what he said to the Galatians, and that’s exactly what they did. He says in Galatians 3:1, “O foolish Galatians.”
Now, we learned last week that word “foolish” is the word anoetos. It’s an interesting little word. It means without understanding; “a,” which means without, and then noetos, which mean to understand, without understanding, when you are ignorant of something. But the interesting thing about this word that we discovered is that this is an intentional ignorance. It is ignoring what you already know. It’s not something that you do not know; it’s ignoring what you do know. I call it stupidity, but then, I don’t want to be offensive with that. I keep remembering how my mother said don’t call anything stupid. But I don’t know anything else to call it. I’m serious. If you know something and you do something differently that’s just stupid. Now if you don’t know, that’s ignorance. But if you do know and you choose to do it anyway, that is stupidity. That’s my definition, so again, I apologize if I’s offensive to anyone. I just call it stupid. “O stupid Galatians” is what he says.
We saw last time that Jesus actually uses this same phrase to two of His disciples walking down the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday morning. When they should have been celebrating, Jesus is alive, they’re walking down the road talking only about His death on the cross. And Jesus just came along and walked with them. He kept them from seeing who He was. They couldn’t discern that. And so He just started to ask them some questions and then He said to them, “O foolish ones,” He said, “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” In other words, you have looked at the Bible as a cafeteria line. You grab what you wanted to believe, but you didn’t believe all that the prophets have spoken.
And that term “slow of heart” means to intentionally delay making a choice. They knew that the prophets had spoken, but they just had an agenda didn’t they? Their agenda was they wanted Jesus to rule on this earth and set up His kingdom, kick the Gentiles out and everything would be wonderful. They didn’t understand; or if they did understand, they just ignored. They chose not to pay attention to Isaiah 53 and all of their prophets that said Jesus had to die on the cross.
So what is this foolishness we’re talking about? It’s when we know something but we choose to willfully ignore it. So it’s out of shear frustration that Paul says, “O foolish Galatians.” He didn’t mean to demean them. That’s not what he’s doing. How many of you here have had teenagers at some point in your life? Now, do I have to explain anymore about what he is doing? Now how many times have you told your child over and over and they know better, but they do it anyway? And you look at them and you understand what he’s doing here. He’s just exasperated.
Here is a teacher of the Word of grace and here these people he has taught walking away from it. Paul had clearly stated in 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God.” He says, “For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.” Do you realize what these Galatians have done and what we do when we choose to go back to this performance mentality, trying to earn our righteousness and righteousness is only in Christ? When we do that we actually, unwittingly what we do, we declare the death of Jesus Christ as being totally unnecessary. And that’s his point. You can’t have religion and Christianity and have them peacefully co-exist. They are two different things all together.
Religion denies the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why do I say that? Because it depends upon our works rather than depending upon what He did for us at the cross. By buying into the religious mentality they rendered the death of Jesus on the cross as needless. So Paul says in Galatians 3:1-3, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified? 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 and with faith? Are you so foolish having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Now we want to continue today to look and see what this foolish living is all about. We need to understand this. If for no other reason, at least you will know where you are in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ by what’s going on inside and outside around you. First of all, we have the situation. That is the first thing he identifies here, the situation. How many times have you heard me say, “sin will take you further than you ever want to stray, keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and cost you more than you ever dreamed you would pay”? That’s exactly what’s happening here. By saying, “O foolish Galatians,” again, he is accusing them of intentionally ignoring what they had learned and experienced about the message of grace.
Now, maybe you’ve just joined us today and you don’t really know the background. Let me just give you one verse to help you to see what happened. These religious false teachers had come into the southern Galatia and had deceived these people. And Paul has said, way back in 1:6, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel.” They had bought into deception. They had bought into this message “I have got to do something to earn or to measure up to what God wants in my life.” They had been deceived by the teachers of law. And therefore they had nullified the relationship that God offered them in Christ.
Now, when any believer is foolish in their walk, any believer today or back then, immediately his whole behavior begins to change. Have you ever wondered how a believer can be so excited about Jesus one time and you see them six months later and all of a sudden there is something completely different about them? There is no joy in their life. They are condemning and critical, etc. Now, there is going to be a behavioral change when we choose to go back to religion. Now what we are going to see is when the rubber meets the road. This is when it gets down to brass tacks. This is going to get a little tough; I want you to know that ahead of time. And what we are going to say today is nothing compared to what is coming. I mean, I am just going to tell you. He is going to dig deep and he is going to show us what happens when we choose to live foolish lives.
Paul says this by asking a question. He says, “Who has bewitched you?” Now that little word “bewitched” is very picturesque. It is the word baskaino. It means to put somebody under a spell. When I was studying this word I was amazed to find that it was used with people, superstitious people, like in black magic, put somebody under a spell. And in the Old Testament when it was talked about giving an evil eye and their superstition when it was put in the Septuagint it would be, the word baskaino, their superstition would say that you could an evil eye on somebody and put them under a spell. That is where the word comes from. Who has put you under their spell?
But I found something very interesting. There is also the use of the word which means to puff somebody up by false words, to sort of walk around and say, “Oh, man, I just really appreciate you,” but you know good and well you don’t, and you begin to start building somebody up with false words. Now think about that for a second. Why would Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, choose this particular word to describe what has happened to the Galatian people? He compares being deceived and impressed with yourself falsely with witchcraft. He says you are under a spell. Somebody has duped you.
In other words, what has happened is when you are into religious works you can look at yourself and say, “Man, I am really spiritual. I had my quiet time four times in the last two days. I passed out 75 tracts on Thursday afternoon at 4:00. I have done all that; look, look how spiritual I am.” And Paul compares that kind of false ego, he compares that to witchcraft. You see religious works, look, our flesh loves it because it loves the credit. It wants to do something for God.
“Give me a list of things I can do. Don’t tell me I have to relate to God. That’s too hard, because if I relate to Him I have to see my own sinfulness. But if I can do something for Him that sure is a better way for me.” And Paul said, “Who has bewitched you? Who has put this spell over you that makes you think you can do anything for God other than bow before Him?” It had totally changed their whole behavior, totally changed their behavior. They lived now as if they had never heard Paul say a single word.
Now let me explain this behavioral change in a little bit different way. You can be foolish before salvation, and certainly you can be foolish after salvation. Foolishness is foolishness no matter which side of the cross you look at. And it always has the same progressive downhill plunge. You will see it on both sides of the cross. Let me show you that. Look in Titus 3:3. Paul uses this word again. He talks about the time back when he was a religious man. And he says something to Titus that is very important here. It says, “For we also once were foolish ourselves.” Now Paul takes us back to the time that he was a lost man, a religious man, but a lost man. He says, “We were once foolish ourselves.” Now he is going to add some words to this to help you better understand what goes along with this foolishness, where the behavioral change begins to take place.
He adds the word “disobedient.” That’s the next word. When you are foolish you are going to be disobedient. That word “disobedient” is the word apeithes. It is the word “a,” without; and then peithes, which means the willingness to be persuaded by truth. In other words, he says when I was foolish I was unwilling to let truth persuade me. I was unwilling to let truth change me; therefore, I was a foolish man. So disobedient and foolish go right along hand in hand. He may have known the truth, but he was unwilling to let the truth change his life. Foolish Christians are those who know better but refuse to be persuaded by the truth that they already know.
Then he uses another word in Titus that describes this word “foolish.” He uses the word “deceived.” Now, that word “deceived” is the word planao. It means to wander around, to be led astray. We get the word planet from it. It’s kind of, in my definition it’s like a person who is in outer space; he just wanders around. He’s wishy-washy. He doesn’t know where he is. I love that little term about the mugwump, a bird that sits on a fence with his mug on one side and his wump on the other and never can make up his mind which side he wants to go. Well, that’s kind of the way this person is. Do you know anybody like that? They claim to be a believer; they said they had received Jesus in their heart; but they don’t know where they’re going and they don’t even know where they are in their Christian walk. They are wishy-washy. One day they are hot and one day they are cold. They, you just cannot seem to predict where they are going to go.
This is a behavioral change that comes when you go back to that old foolish way of living. But now, when that condition begins to be rooted in our lives, the behavioral change is immediate. First of all, we become slaves to sin. It says in verse 3, “enslaved to various lusts and pleasures.” Wow! The very thing he has chosen, now it becomes his master. When you choose to walk after the flesh, whether it be religious, or rebellious, it is going to control you. It is going to take over in your life. And as a result of that, the sin is rampant.
Have you ever seen a believer who has a particular sin, he has falling into that trap and now it somehow is overbearing in his life? That’s what he’s trying to say. If you go the religious route that’s what’s going to happen somewhere down the road. You’re going to end up being a slave to sin. You say, “I do not quite understand this.” Well, just ignore the truth that you know right now and you will understand it very quickly. You will become a slave to the very thing you have chosen to obey. That’s what Romans 6 talks about. He says whoever you submit yourself to, it becomes your master. But this behavioral change, it starts inwardly. The joy is gone. You do not even know where you are anymore. Church doesn’t do anything for you. Every Christian is wrong except for you. I mean it’s a bad state to be in. You are enslaved to the very sin that you have chosen.
But then it begins to show outwardly. Now inwardly it is the slavery, but outwardly you begin to realize it shows up in your relationships. He goes on to say in verse 3, “Spending our life in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” Have you ever wondered how a church could split? Have you ever wondered about that? How Christians that have been changed and converted by the blood of Jesus can all of a sudden become so mean and they can become so divisive and critical and judgmental and it can even split a church; have you ever wondered about that? Well, it’s easy. When people choose to ignore truth and they choose not to let it change their lives, it’s going to change their behavior. And it’s going to show up in their relationships.
I understand right now three out of every four marriages end in divorce. And I found out the other day that one of the surveys said that most of these people getting divorced are claiming to be believers. How can a husband and wife that enter into a covenant so quickly divide and walk away from each other, hateful and hating one another? It’s very easy. You can hear truth till you fall over in the floor. I can hear it. I mean, it doesn’t mean just you, that’s all of us. And if we choose to ignore it, we are going to choose a foolish way of living. As a result we are going to become a slave to whatever it is we have chosen, and it’s going to show up in our relationships.
Believers act as if they are under a spell when they go back to that religious mentality. And I want to share with you over and over and over again, religion offers you nothing, folks, no promise of the future. It offers you nothing but blood, sweat and tears. And I guarantee you there is a rung on that ladder you will never be able to attain. But Christ has accomplished every bit of that for you. And all we need to understand is—if we will just open our eyes—is just to bow before Him and let the One who can do it and will do it, do it through our lives. That’s what grace is all about.
And what Paul is trying to do by saying, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you,” he’s bringing them back to some sanity here. He’s trying to show them you are in the state that you are in because you have willfully ignored the truth of what sets you free. There’s a definite character that is produced when you are living under grace in contrast to what happens to us when we choose to walk after the flesh. Religious people do not relate. They ruin relationships. But Christ in us builds relationships. In 5:22 which we will get to, when we get there we are going to look at the character He produces in our life. The fruit of the Spirit working in our life is love, joy, peace, and you know the list. And all of these other things characterize that love. But that love is dismissed. That love is gone when we choose to walk and live a foolish lifestyle. When we choose to ignore grace we ruin relationships.
Now he says, “Who has bewitched you?” Now, this is most interesting. That little word “who”—and you know my mind; I’ve got to look at every word—“who” is in the singular there in the Greek. It’s the word tis. It refers to someone the author either does not know, or he chooses not to mention by name. And I don’t know what the situation is here. Knowing the apostle Paul, he probably knew who it was and just chose not to mention it. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But whoever this person was, he had many people doing his bidding. It doesn’t take but one person; that’s all it takes to propagate error, and that error begins to ruin relationships. And as a result of that the churches begin to falter in the midst of it. It only takes one.
Now we don’t know who this guy is, like I said, but everybody was up under his spell. You know, I tell you what, he must have been pretty good doing what he is doing. If he could affect every church in all of southern Galatia just by what he came up with and tried to put them back up under the Mosaic Law, man, he must have been good. He must have had the charisma. He must have had the looks. He must have had whatever it was that it took to captivate people and make them feel better about themselves, that if they would go to work for God rather than let God work through them, that that would be the best route, whoever it was. And by the way, it only takes one, it only takes one.
Well, Paul had to say to them in 4:15, as a result of their buying into what this guy had said, it says, “Where then is that sense of blessing that you had?” You have had a complete behavioral change. You’re not the same people that I used to know when I was with you, Paul said. “O foolish Galatians. Who has put you under their spell?” I will tell you, folks, don’t ever think that you are beyond being deceived back into works. It’s such a subtle thing. The moment you pick and choose anything to depend upon other than Christ and His Word, you have just made a serious mistake.
When I was at one church, people wanted to make us a mission-minded church and be known for missions. Others wanted us to be known for evangelism. Others wanted us to be known for teaching the Word. But I am telling you, folks, there’s a trap in all three of those. We need to be known for a Christ-centered church and the more we are focused on Him the more we are focused on missions. The more we are focused on Him the more we are focused on the Word. The more we are focused on Him the more we are focused on evangelism. But if anything clouds that focus, and you begin to put your dependence into anything other than the Lord Jesus having already accomplished what you are trying to accomplish and His sufficiency in your life, then at that very moment you have chosen a foolish thing, even though it looks good in the eyes of other people.
It is a very deceitful, subtle thing to get back up under the mentality of works. You begin to depend upon what you can do for God rather than what God wants to do through you. I have done it. Has anybody else done it besides me? Some of you just say, “Well, I’m not about to tell you. And your wife is sitting there saying, “Yeah, I know good and well you have, because I watch you at home.”
You see the great revivals that happened in the northern part of New York, by Charles Finney. Oh, my goodness! Charles Finney, up in the northern part of the state of New York, preached his heart out and there were revivals everywhere. But I was at a conference up in New York and they took me out to show what had happened. What is the result now? We were going up there now preaching the same message that he preached years ago, and we found the churches with chains and padlocks on them. And I said, “What in the world happened? This was where revival once took place.” They said the church went back to religion, they formalized and they died. God wrote “Ichabod” over every one of them. You see, folks, religion can’t do it. And religion and Christianity cannot peacefully co-exist.
So what is the situation there in Galatia? He says “O foolish Galatians!” How many times in my life has he had to say, “Oh, foolish Wayne, who has bewitched you? Who has put you under their spell? Wayne, you are spinning your wheels trying to do what you already know you cannot do. Why don’t you just let Me do it in and through you?” I wonder if that’s your situation this morning. Who has bewitched you? You are living behaviorally as if you have never even heard the message of grace. What’s happened?
Well, secondly, we have the humiliation. It’s a very humiliating thing when a person has been saved by grace, they participated in that grace and then they choose to walk away from it. Take me a moment or two to develop this. When a preacher preaches truth like Paul and he sees the people respond to it, and he sees their lives changed and then he sees them turn and go back to that old religious mindset where he has been himself; that’s a very aggravating thing. I sensed this aggravation when Paul says, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” Then he says “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified.”
Now, this verse doesn’t mean that they were there at the crucifixion. If you read it very carelessly that’s what it is going to look like. That’s not what he is saying. The little phrase “publically portrayed” is the key to the whole thing. The words “publically portrayed” are actually one word in the Greek. It’s prographo. Prographo means to set forth clearly by public proclamation. It means to say something in a preaching manner, in a speaking manner to where people see it so clearly it’s as if they were actually there. The word can mean to portray, to draw a picture. And the apostle Paul says, “When I came to you and when I preached the marvelous message of grace,” he said, “you saw it.” You saw it as if you were there. And in that very moment that’s the thing that broke your heart, when you realized that Jesus had to come and die for your sin.
All of a sudden all the religious direction you have ever had in your life disappeared and fell away, because you realized only Jesus and what He did on the cross could in any way ever effect our salvation. And that broke your heart and you saw it. It was clearly portrayed as I preached to you and you bowed before Him and you received the resurrected Christ into your heart. They had clearly seen it. This is the heart that is ripped out when a preacher preaches the message and people have seen it; they have seen it. They have been changed by it. And so now what they have done is turned back to a religious mindset which has in effect humiliated Paul; they have humiliated the Lord Jesus; they have humiliated the message itself by turning back. You were changed by that, Paul said. It’s so humiliating.
Now, let us make certain we understand this. For us to go back to an old works mentality—I keep saying this, somehow before Galatians is over you will understand it, I guarantee it because Paul is not going to let us off the hook. He is going to keep bringing us back, keep bringing it back, keep bringing it back. When I am trying to do it for myself, when I come up with a great idea and ask God to bless it, I have just humiliated the message of grace.
I wonder if we hear the seriousness of this today. Do you recognize that the percentage of churches in America, particularly, that have bought back into that old religious mindset? Legalism is rampant. There are church buildings that are built in many places under guilt. People are afraid not to give because the preacher said it is going to cost you in your rewards one day when you stand before Jesus, and that guilt mindset comes over them. As a result of it their behavior changes, and they lose that sense of love and they lose that sense of the fullness of Christ and experiencing Him day by day. They literally humiliate the message of grace. They humiliate Him dying on the cross for their sins.
Well, there are those who are doing just that. Paul says in Philippians 3:18, “For many walk of whom I have often told you and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” Paul said there are many, there are many. Now that was true in his day in Philippi, it is also true today in our day. He even identifies them in Philippians 3:1. He says “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” Again he says, “To write the same things again is no trouble to me and is a safeguard to you.” And then he says, “Beware of the dogs.” Whoa, Paul, that’s a little tough is it not. He calls these religious people dogs. It’s interesting that in the gospels the Gentiles were called dogs. He is calling the Jews here, the Judaizers that say you have to be circumcised, the law of Moses, that’s the way to righteousness. He says, “Beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.”
Folks, I don’t know how to say it, but they are everywhere. And they use the name of Jesus; and they will put it right up in front of them and you are constantly hearing them on tape and you are watching them on television and you are reading their books. I want you to know, filter through what’s being said and find the root of where it’s coming from. If it has anything to do with me trying to better myself in God’s eyes, then automatically you are hearing a wrong message. The message is Wayne comes before God and offers Him only one thing, sin, unworthiness, pride. And God says thank you for being honest. I have never said you were any different. Now let Me exchange My presence, My fullness, My character. And that’s what the Christian life is all about. That’s the message of grace: not me doing for Him, but Christ being free to do and be in and through me.
It is humiliating to the whole message of grace when we try to do something for God and ask Him to bless it. It’s humiliating. But when we just get in touch with Him ministry is received, it is not achieved. That’s the difference. When this hit me it dawned on me that even though it has to be taught, it also has to be caught. And a little chain pulled in my mind. And it was like a light came on, and I have never been the same. That was 26 years ago in my life. It has been incredible the adventure since that time. Oh, have there been times that I have chosen to be foolish? Absolutely, I could write a book on how to do it. But every time God brings me right back to the message that is so overwhelming in my life. And that is Jesus being Jesus in me. And that’s what Paul is trying to say to these Galatians. “Who has bewitched you? Who has put you under a spell? You understood when I preached it to you that Christ died for your sins. What are you doing trying to add to what He has already done?”
And then finally, we have the illustration. He wants to make sure we fully grasp what he is saying. Paul does not want anybody to be confused so he says in verses 2 and 3—he has some questions here—but it says everything he wants to say. Verse 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?” Now, this question is to you this morning also. It’s to all of us. And this question is critical to his whole argument. He wants to know, how did you become a believer? How did you do that? “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the flesh, or the law, or by hearing with faith?”
You see, receiving the Spirit, by the way, is salvation. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Not earning, but receiving, receiving the Spirit; when you asked Jesus to come and live in your heart, receiving Him into your heart. Did you do that by the works that you earned the right to do it, or did you do it by faith? Did you realize that you couldn’t save yourself and you cast yourself upon Him and you cried out to Him and received Him into your heart? You see, if you didn’t do that way, then what did? He says, “By hearing with faith or by the works of the law?” He puts a contrast here. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Hearing with faith, obviously. Everybody knows the answer to that. They knew the answer to that. Faith in Christ is the only means of salvation. There is no other means.
I mean, there are some people who say, “Oh, no, no, no, no. You can worship the school bus if you want to, I mean you can believe anything you want to believe. Everybody believes.” No. Jesus is the only way of salvation. And receiving Him by faith is the only way to be saved. Hearing with faith is important. The word “hearing” is the word akoe, which means hear and fully understand. Do you realize that is the thing I pray more than anything else when we preach, that people hear, but they understand. I can’t give that understanding. The Holy Spirit has got to give that understanding. To hear and fully understand. Then the word “with.” Hearing “with faith” is not the word “with,” it’s the word ek. It means out of faith. You see, the faith comes out of the hearing and the understanding. When you hear and you understand, within that is the faith to believe it.
You might be here this morning, you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And suddenly it is beginning to come clear to you what He came to do. He came to live in you. That’s what salvation is all about, not just to get you out of hell. He came to bring heaven to put it inside of you. And when you begin to see that, at that very moment, if you have never received Jesus, at that very moment of hearing and understanding, there is the ability to receive it. The faith is there. Romans 10:17 says the same thing. “So faith comes from hearing [and it’s the same word] and hearing by the word of Christ.” And the word “from” there is not “from,” it is out of. Born in the understanding, born in the message that is understood comes the ability to receive it.
Paul has preached the word of God to the Galatians. And as he began to preach it, God took over and gave them understanding. And as they began to understand and were broken by the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection, and the gospel message, they reached out and they received Jesus into their life. So Paul is reminding them of this. And he wants them to understand, how did you receive Christ? Go back to the root. You did not receive Him by any works you did. You received it by faith; when you heard the message it was clearly understood.
He says in verse 3, after saying this now, and asking that question, he says, “Are you so foolish?” because he already knows the answer, and he knows they know the answer. He says, “Are you so foolish?” Are you so stupid? Are you so intentionally ignorant that “having begun by the Spirit now you are being perfected by the flesh?” Don’t you love that word picture, “having begun”? When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior it is a beginning, not an ending. Isn’t that awesome! The journey began. I love that. Just think, some people say, well, this Christianity is getting old. But buddy you don’t know the Christ I know. I mean, every day is a fresh day. Every day is a brand new day on the journey. And it is a beginning and it goes on for all of eternity.
“Having begun by the Spirit,” he says “are you now trying to be perfected by the flesh?” And that word “perfected” there is the idea of accomplishing something. Are you trying to accomplish a righteous lifestyle by your own efforts when you already know you couldn’t accomplish salvation by your own efforts? He says, somehow this doesn’t mix it; you’ve got to come back. The very thing that saved you is the very thing that sustains you, Christ in you. Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you [same idea] will perfect it [same exact word, He will accomplish it] until the day of Christ Jesus.”
You know, sometimes I feel so frail and I just can’t seem to verbalize what gets inside of me. I’m just trusting God is going to pull the chain in somebody’s understanding and they’re going to say, “Whoa, wait a minute, Jesus lives in me! You mean to tell me all I need to do is get to know Him, be in His presence, let His word renew my mind, transform my life? You mean to tell me when I start living as a vessel before Him I don’t have to worry about the works, that He will do the works through me?” That’s exactly it. That’s Christianity. But when I have to come over here and come up with it, when I have to feel like if I’ve missed my quiet time, somehow God is displeased with me, when I have to believe that if I didn’t witness to somebody yesterday I’m not a real true spiritual person, I have just put myself back into the most terrible tragedy, tragic situation that I can think of. You see, that’s what religion does. It puts it up to you. Under grace it’s up to Him. Under law it’s up to us.
These Galatian believers knew good and well what Paul was saying. They knew the answers. He’s just having to bring them back to sanity. In fact, they had lived this way at one time. Verse 4 says, “Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it was in vain? You know what he is referring to? He is referring back to Acts 14 when the church was first formulated and they experienced grace and how they were persecuted for living under grace. And the very people that persecuted them are now the ones that they have bought back into and they have completely forgotten. Boy, have they been bewitched. “Who has bewitched you?” You’re living as if you don’t have a clue. You’re living as if you’re under a spell. They were bewitched.
Let me ask you a question. Anybody here ever been bewitched in your Christian journey at all at any time? Anybody besides me? Well, I guarantee you, you’ve been bewitched. Every one of us has. We ought to know this trap very well. If you have walked with God for any period of time you already know what we’re talking about here. The very moment that you begin to be overwhelmed by what you need to do rather than what God can do through you, you have just been duped. No, sir, it, it’s in God. And God orchestrates life to drive us to this truth. Do you realize that? He puts us in circumstances that are so overwhelming we have to depend up on Him. And when we depend upon Him we watch Him do what we know we can’t do and it just is awesome. And that’s what begins to rekindle the message.
Well, it is amazing what we think we can do to bless God. I can give you a lot of examples. But my time is running out. The situation: they have been bewitched. Who has put a spell on them? The humiliation: by what they have done they slapped God in the face, they slapped the message in the face, they have slapped Paul in the face, they have slapped Christianity in the face and they have gone back to that old religious mindset. The old rotten flesh now is in control. And their relationships are completely ruined. You ever wonder how you can say such judgmental and critical things towards somebody and then turn right around and say you love Jesus in the same breath? That’s a foolish man. That’s a foolish believer, a woman or a man. That’s foolishness. It’s going to have a behavioral change in your life when you choose not to let Jesus be Jesus in you.
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.