Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 23
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Galatians chapter 5, we’re going to be talking about freedom, born to be free. As believers we’re all born of the Holy Spirit of God to be free.|
Born to Be Free
We’re finally in chapter 5 of Galatians. Do you believe that? Some of you thought you wouldn’t live long enough, but we made it. Galatians chapter 5, we’re going to be talking about freedom, born to be free. As believers we’re all born of the Holy Spirit of God to be free. I want to make sure we understand that. Freedom never means the right to do as you please; freedom is the power to do as we should. That’s the difference. God’s requirement has never changed. The difference is we’ve changed because Christ has come to live in us to meet the demands of what He has in each of our lives.
The word for “free” or “freedom” is used at least 10 times in Galatians, five times in chapter 4, that we just came out of. This is in contrast. There’s a huge contrast here to the word “slave” or “slaves,” plural, which is used five times in the epistle, and then the word “bondage,” which is used twice. You see what Paul has done. He’s set up a contrast, that which is free and that which is in bondage. And that’s what his point is. We’re free in Christ. If we choose not to obey Him and live surrendered to Him then we’ve put ourselves back into bondage. This freedom from the law is what makes us all slaves. Actually, we were slaves, and God sets us free from that which we were enslaved to before. The law is what enslaves us; freedom is what God gives to us.
In Romans 7:5 it shows us that the law initiates sin. Now you see what has happened is the Galatians have gone back up under law. They have actually initiated religious sin in their life. You see, there’s two kinds of sin. There’s rebellious sin and there’s religious sin. Any time we do anything in our own flesh, that’s sin. And Romans 7:5 says, “For while we were in the flesh,” he speaks of a time when we were lost, “the sinful passions,” now watch this, “which were aroused by the law.” Now, wait a minute. I don’t understand that. You mean the law’s a good thing. That’s right. But it arouses sin in our life. It says, “Were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit unto death.” The law affects each of us in different ways. Some of us rebel against it. Some of us religiously try to attain what we can’t attain and then be proud of what we’ve done. So either side it’s sin.
If you’re riding down the road and the speed limit is 75 and you see me driving I’ll probably be in front of you. I never have gone the religious route. My flesh pulls me the other way. I’m doing 83 to see if I can get by with it. And some of you, you see, are different. You’ll drive 74 and I’ll travel past you. And you’ll say, “Look at him. He doesn’t love Jesus as much as I do.” And so you make yourself feel proud because you’ve obeyed the law. That’s the way sin operates. So often we’re pointing fingers at those who rebel, but we’re not understanding the religious side is just as rebellious. It’s just masked by what we call good things.
Well, either way, no matter our response, it’s sin. And sin puts us into bondage. That is bondage; that’s slavery. Our flesh enslaves us, but the agenda of God is to set people free. That’s a beautiful word, isn’t it, “free.” Free to be in Christ what God desires us to be. And, as a matter of fact, if you go back into the gospels, John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth,” now remember this, “and the truth shall” do what? “Set you free.” But now what is truth? Well, we know that’s the Word of God. But wait a minute. In John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and I am,’” the what? “‘I am the truth.’” And He says, “I am the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” So who is it ultimately that sets us free? It’s Christ. Yeah, you say it’s His Word. Well, yes, but it’s the author of the Word; then the Word becomes important to us. It’s the God of the Word. He’s the One who sets us free, free from ourselves. If you’re wondering what He’s talking about, free from ourselves. And then John 8:36 says, “So if the Son makes you free you are free,” how? “Indeed, indeed.” Are you free this morning? Are you living in the freedom that Jesus has offered to you when you came and received Him in salvation? When we’re free in Christ then He can produce through us what He requires.
But here’s the key, and this is what Paul brings up in chapter 4. We have a choice. God respects us more than we ever respected Him. He gives us a choice. I can choose to put myself right back into bondage if that’s what I want to do. He gives me that choice. Or I can choose to walk in the freedom that God has given to us. And those choices are going to end up reflecting in our character; it’s going to end up in our behavior; it’s going to show itself at some point.
In fact, I want to divert just for a second. I won’t stay long. But in 6:7 he makes a statement that could have been made in 1:1, because it’s a magnet that pulls every bit of Galatians right into it. And look what he said, he says in 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not,” what? “mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.” And then verse 8, “For the one who sows,” and by the way, the sowing is the choices we make. We only have two, we either to do it our way or to do it God’s way. We only have two; that’s all we ever have. “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” And that governs the whole book of Galatians. The Galatians had made a foolish choice. They chose their flesh and put themselves back into slavery. They’re now enslaved to their flesh. They could have said yes to Jesus and continued in the freedom Paul knew they had at one point.
Now Paul says in 4:22, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.” Now these two sons represent two choices that Abraham made. And this is interesting, same father, two different women and two different choices. One was produced by Hagar; that was the bondwoman, the slave. Slaves can only bear slaves, and always the identity of the son was marked by the mother. And then the other was the free woman, or Sarah, and that was Isaac. So you had Ishmael and you had Isaac. Isaac was born of the promise. Isaac was born to the true woman. That was a choice that Abraham and Sarah made finally to trust God and here comes the Isaac. But then on the other side we have Ishmael and that was the choice they made to try to help God out to do it themselves.
In verse 23 Paul shows that “the son of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh.” Now he’s beginning to set us up. You’ll see this in chapter 5. In 4:23 he says, “But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh.” Now what does that mean? That means that this was a result of Abraham and Sarah’s fleshly efforts to accomplish what God had promised. And verse 23 goes on to explain that Isaac was born according to the promise “and the son of the free woman through the promise.” You see, what God required God enabled and she was 90 and he was 100 years old. If you’ve ever studied Hebrews 11, it says she was way past the years of childbearing. And God had to do a miracle to cause that child to come about. That’s the way God works.
When I do it Wayne’s way, it’s an Ishmael. When I do what God has put on my heart it’s an Isaac and that’s the two choices everybody has in life. You don’t have to have a committee meeting to achieve God’s promise unless you’re going to get together and pray and trust God to do it. You don’t work for it. You receive it by faith. You believe God and believe His Word.
Now, this lifestyle of trusting God, yielding to His Word, now listen, is the essence of what freedom is all about. You say, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound very free to me. I mean, it looks to me like you’re still a slave to somebody. Exactly; now you’ve got it. Jesus said no man can serve how many masters? Now, what did He just tell you? He just told you every man’s a servant. We’re servants whether we like it or not. Hey, we’ve got to make our choice who it is we’re going to serve. In Christ we’re able to see this happen daily in our lives as we choose to serve Him. As we choose to say yes to Him we enter the freedom, the right and the power to be what God wants us to be. Isaac was a result of believing God. That’s what freedom is. I’m not free unless I’m under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I am not free. I don’t care, positionally, what I can say I am. I’m not experiencing that unless I’m under the Lordship of Christ.
In verse 28, after comparing Hagar as a slave and Sarah, the wife of Abraham to two covenants—Hagar, the covenant of law; Sarah, the covenant of grace given to Abraham, of course—he brings up this point. “And you, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” You didn’t get saved because of your works. That’s law. You’re of another covenant. You trusted God, you bowed before Him and that’s where you were saved. That’s how you were saved. By simply believing God you received the promise. That’s exactly the way Isaac was born. We trusted Christ, we’re born again; instantly we were set free from the law. Isn’t that awesome! To be set free.
There’s a song in one of the hymnbooks that says, “Free from the law, oh happy condition.” I want to tell you something, there are a lot of Christians today that can’t sing that song because they’re not happy, because they’re still back up under that old mindset. “I’ve got to do something for God. He’s going to kick me out of the family.” And Paul says, what are you doing? You’re already in the family. You can’t be kicked out. You can’t be unborn. Now learn to enjoy what you already are. Learn to enjoy Him by saying yes to Him.
Well in verse 29-31 he shows how that the people with the law mentality, they’re two kinds of people. He tells us this, and they’re believers. Two kinds of believers in every church in America, in the world today. It doesn’t matter where you go, there are two kinds. One with the works mentality—I’ve got to go do something for God or it’ll never get done. It’s up to me and I’ve got to do something and do it now or it’ll never happen. And then you’ve got those people who say, no sir, I’m going to trust God and He’s going to do it His way, in His time and I’m just going to let Him do it.
Now you’ve got those two kinds of people. You know what Paul says? There’s going to be hostility between those two kinds. Really, he gets your eyes off of the people. The hostility is between flesh and Spirit, and he brings that up beautifully later on in chapter 5. Verse 29, he says “But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is also now.” He’s using this as an analogy. Don’t get hung up in the people here. Understand what he’s saying. Flesh and Spirit war against each other. Is he not going to say that in chapter 5? The flesh wars against the Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh. That’s verse 17 of chapter 5. War has been declared.
Verse 30: “What does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.’” What he’s saying is the two cannot peacefully coexist. You can’t live after the flesh and live after the Spirit in the same breath. You cannot do it. One’s got to go; that’s what he’s trying to say. It’s just an analogy. He’s using people to bring about a beautiful point and scriptural truth.
And then in verse 31 he says, “So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.” In other words, act like it. When I was studying this it was like God was saying, “Hey, Wayne, are you paying attention?” Live like it, son! You’re a child of promise. Walk in the freedom that God has given to you. Those with the law mentality, those with the slave mentality; I’ve been there. Have you been there? I’ve been there many times. When I choose to handle something my way, it’s a mess. And I don’t like to be around people that are walking in that grace mentality.
My daughter walked up to me one time. I was really frustrated about something. And she walked up to me and put her arm around me and says “Daddy, remember who lives in you.” Get away from me. I don’t want to hear that. Don’t remind me of that. You see, there was even that hostile relationship there because I was walking after the flesh and she was walking in the Spirit. There is no peaceful coexistence when you have two mentalities trying to coexist. Let me ask you this morning, how about you? Have you been persecuted lately for walking according to the Spirit? That’s what happens. That’s what he said. He said the son of the bondwoman persecuted the one who’s the son of the free woman. You know, many times in my life I’m wondering what’s going wrong because everything’s going too good. I begin to realize, when you start walking, trusting God, at some point in time there’s going to be a battle royal by the one mindset against another mindset.
This leads us into chapter 5. You say, why so much review? Well, you see, they didn’t have chapters and verses. It was one flow; it was like a river. And you’ve got to get in that current. This is what he’s been saying. Now he says in verse 1 of chapter 5, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore”—don’t you love those “therefore’s?” Any time you see a “therefore” always look to see what it’s there for, okay. We just told you what it was there for. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. “Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
Freedom again, is never the right to do as you please; it’s the power to do as you should. Many people have said over the years in different churches, this “felt needs” thing that’s going around right now, well, “quit teaching Scripture and tell me how to be a better father.” “Well, come on, meet my needs every day. I’m single and I need to have some help here.” Or “I need to be a better husband.” Get a clue. That’s a felt need. That’s not even a real need. You know what the real need is? Let Jesus be the father through you that you can’t be. Let Jesus be the husband through you that you can’t be. Let Jesus be the One that you’re trying to be but you can’t. You go to these conferences “17 Ways to Be a Better Husband.”
Oh, good grief! Jesus said quit trying to do better and let Me do through you what you cannot do. This is the truth of Scripture. Everybody’s running over here, running over there. Churches are being built on felt needs. I’ll tell you what, when they’re tested it will not hold them up. Only God’s word will hold us up. God didn’t come to renew my flesh, God came to replace it. There was one guy in one conference that said put a teddy bear in the freezer and put a little note on it that says, “I love you” and your wife one day will find that teddy bear and it’ll really help your relationship. Is that not the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard in your life? If my wife ever finds a frozen teddy bear in my freezer she’s going to have me committed. That’s not the way you do it. She could give a rip about a frozen teddy bear. What she wants is to see Jesus in me. And that’s what Paul’s trying to say. You don’t make yourself a better person, you let the better person who’s Jesus replace you. You need to surrender to Him. You decrease, John the Baptist said, so that He might increase in your life. That’s the Christian life. That’s as practical as anything you can get. But people say oh, that’s too heavy teaching. Hey, come on.
Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Three things I want you to see in this wonderful passage in chapter 5. If you can’t get excited about this then this would be a great day to get saved. I mean, this is so good. This is what Jesus has done for our life. First of all is the priority of keeping our freedom. Now, I’m not talking about in positional way. You always have it in Christ. But what I’m talking about is experientially, keeping it, maintaining it, walking in it day by day by day by day. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Actually there are two commands in this verse. They’re not suggestions, they’re commands; and they must take priority in our life. This is the priority of every believer.
I think the more accurate translation is the Young’s translation and it reads, “In the freedom then with which Christ did make you free, stand ye and be not held fast again by a yoke of servitude.” That’s word-for-word in the Greek text. Paul refers to the way we received our freedom. How do we get free? Where did this freedom come from? I’ll tell you where it came from. We didn’t work for it, but Christ did what? Set us free. Now, that’s the truth he’s emphasizing. Christ set you free. Remember that. You didn’t have to do anything other than bow before Him, walk and trust Him by faith and He set you free. How did Christ do this? It’s by fulfilling the law for us. See, no man has ever been able to fulfill the law. And so Jesus came as a man and set us free from it. He fulfilled it and then paid our debt on the cross so that we could be free forever to walk in the relationship God has for us, becoming what He says we already are.
In Romans 8:1, “There is then now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh”—remember, Ishmael was born according to the flesh—“but according the Spirit.” Then verse 2, “For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of the sin and of the death.” The law, or better understood, the authority of the Holy Spirit of God, His very presence in our lives, says to the law, “Back off, you’ve been fulfilled. This person has been set free from all of your claims and all of your demands.” And then verse 3 continues, “For what the Law was not able to do in that it was weak through the flesh.” See, the Law has never been able to produce what it demands. To accomplish what the Law demands, no man can do that, because our flesh is too weak. It’s sinful, and so Christ did it for us.
Verse 3: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did”—watch this—“sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled [where?] in us.” What? The requirement of the Law, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body, soul and strength; love your neighbor as yourself—that’s the two summations of the Law—is going to be “fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Now, Paul says we’ve been set free from all that the Law demands. Jesus met those demands. There’s not anything you can do He’s not already done. Now let Him live His life through you. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke, or yoke of slavery.”
Now what’s the two commands? Keep standing firm; that’s present active, imperative verb. Imperative means a command. In other words, stand and keep on standing. That’s an order, not a suggestion; that’s an order. That’s a command. You stand. You stand. Now the first question that comes to your mind is: what do I stand on? What does the verse tell you? That Christ set you free, not by works, but by faith, “not by works lest any man should boast.” Stand on that truth. What is he saying? What he’s saying is the One who set you free is the only One who can keep you free. And the way He set you free was by faith, and the way He keeps you free is by faith. If you’ll trust Him, worship Him, offer your life to Him, be a vessel that He can use, you’ll walk in the freedom He’s already established for you. Stand on that truth. Don’t go back over here and say “I’ve got to do this, this, this, this, this and this or I’ll never be free.” If you want to remain free, stay yielded to the One who has set you free.
Well, the verb “stand” is the word steko. It means, it comes from histemi. It means stay put. Stay put, don’t move away from the attitude of simply trusting Christ. Now, you think about it for a second. How many times have we moved away from that attitude, especially when something unexpected happens in our life? Maybe it’s a tragedy, but something’s happened and we’re hit right in the face, and what’s our first response? Many times, of the flesh, is to run to do something about it ourselves, rather than to stand firm. Don’t move. You trust Him. You trust Him.
We’ve got a man in this church that I love dearly and I’ve loved his wife. She’s gone on to be with the Lord. And I was at the hospital that night when she died. And we were standing there; I want to tell you something, I watched a man refuse to budge. He stood on what God had said. He stood on the fact that his wife was about to be ushered into the kingdom of God, in the presence of Christ. He stood there and I walked away feeling like I had been ministered to. I didn’t minister to anybody; he ministered to me when we were there. That’s what Paul’s saying. Don’t you dare; don’t let any trauma, don’t let any circumstance, don’t let anything come into your life that causes you to step away from the freedom you have in Christ. You can be what God says you ought to be if you’ll stay yielded to Him. He will hold you up. That’s what his point is.
You ever seen those soldiers over in England, those palace guards? I’ve been in England several times and I’m sorry, but it comes out from time to time. And I tried my best to get those guys to blink. I got right up in their face and looked at them and yelled, you know, everything I could do and they wouldn’t move. They wouldn’t move. They wouldn’t even blink. How in the world they do that? They refused to move. That’s the word steko. Don’t you dare! Don’t be caught off guard! Don’t you let this catch you off guard! Are you listening, Wayne? Yes, Sir, I’m listening. Don’t let anything catch you off guard. Keep your focus on Him. Keep you surrender to Him, no matter what comes your way because He is the essence of your freedom. Anything else is all other ground is what? Sinking sand. And don’t ever forget that. The Galatians had stepped over on to sinking sand.
So, first of all, stand firm on the truth that God set you free and God keeps you free. And only by yielding to Him, walking by faith can you enjoy that freedom. But secondly, Paul continues and says “Do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” This is slave talk here. He says, “Don’t be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” The verb “be subject again” is enecho. That means don’t allow yourself to be ensnared. Don’t allow yourselves to be held back. Don’t allow yourselves to be entangled. Young’s translation says, “Don’t allow yourself to be held fast again,” present passive. And, see, they’ve already done it once. But he says don’t you do this again. Don’t you do this again. There’s hope for you, but you need to come back to where you departed. Don’t do this again. Don’t get into the yoke of slavery again. Don’t let that choice to say “I’ve got to do something more for God” rob you of the freedom you already have in Him, of Him wanting to do something more through you. Don’t go back and live as slaves again to the Law. The Law will only put you in bondage to your flesh. Give up control of your life to the Lord Jesus.
Well, our priority, if we’re going to enjoy the freedom of allowing Christ to maintain our freedom, to keep our freedom, is to stand firm, not allowing the old mentality of the flesh to enslave us again. And that can go in any direction you want to take it. Don’t let the flesh rule your life, simply put. Let Jesus rule your life, period. How does Jesus rule your life? By using His Word as His authority in everything that we do. Say yes to Him. Say yes to Him and walk in the freedom God’s given. And remember this, remember He’s already told you, you will be persecuted for doing this. It’s not that people hate us; they hate the Jesus that lives in us. They hate the freedom that they see in us that they’re supposed to have, but have refused to enjoy. There will be hostility.
Well that’s the priority of keeping our freedom: that’s the main thing today. So if I run out of time, that’s my main point today, okay. But secondly he shows the peril of losing our freedom. Now, not positionally; you still have it in Christ. That’s not what he’s talking about. How we can experientially lose the freedom we have in Christ. When we choose to do things our way, we have just lost our freedom in Christ. We’re not under His control. We’re under our control and that’s not freedom. “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” The “if” there is a third class condition “if.” In other words, it’s suppositional. He’s not picking on them right now. What he’s basically saying is to build a point. He says, “I’m trying to tell you something and you’ve already learned it, but if you choose to go your route, Christ has no benefit to you whatsoever if you receive circumcision.”
Now actually, there’s two ways you could look at this. One is, perhaps, that if you receive circumcision as the means of salvation. Many of the Judaizers, the false teachers, taught that Jesus was not in any way the way to salvation, the Mosaic Law was. And circumcision was the initiation into that law. And so, therefore, if you were circumcised you became a Jew; you’re now in the family of God, and then the law governs your righteous standing before Him as you obey it. Now he says, if you’re going that route, then obviously Christ is no benefit to you and you’re lost and He can’t help you a bit. You’ve chosen not to turn to Him.
But the more contextual meaning here is that if you’re a believer and you go back to the law in trying to live righteously, then again Christ is no benefit to you. Why do people want to talk about Christ if you can do it yourself? Christ is no benefit to you. Paul says if you buy into the fact that circumcision; and, by the way, he’s not down on circumcision. I mean, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying any kind of law that says you have to do this in order to have this, if you bow to that mentality whether it’s positional in salvation, if you’re lost, or whether or not it comes to holy living as a believer it’s, Christ is no benefit to you. You’re on your own.
The word for “benefit” is the word opheleio. It means of no advantage, of no help, of no profit. It’s a special word; “It doesn’t help me a bit.” Christ has no benefit at all, no advantage, no profit. He says in verse 2, “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” Then he says, “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.” And this is the part that nobody ever tells you. The false teachers didn’t tell them. No man has ever been able to obey the whole law. And once you have received one part of it, you are now guilty if you do not obey all of it. You see what religion will do to you? It’ll make you a failure till Jesus comes back because you cannot do all that it demands.
James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point”—one point—“he’s become guilty of all of it.” James says even if you were good enough to keep the whole law for every day of your life until the last day you lived on this earth, and you broke one of them on that last day, you’re guilty of all of them, and everything that you’ve done that you thought was right is now wrong, and you’re a failure when you stand before God. Boy that’s a bummer. In other words, if you weren’t saved then you haven’t got a chance of being saved.
But then, let’s put this into context. The context is believers; if you are saved and you have just realized the futility of trying to obey a law that you can’t obey. I guarantee you, take five of them and try to obey them for five straight days, every one of them every day. I guarantee you’ll mess up in one of them. When you’ve messed up in one you’ve just shown yourself a failure. How many believers live in total failure? They’re always full of doubt. There is no joy in their life. What have they done? They’ve put themselves into bondage to a law they can’t even fulfill. It doesn’t matter if it’s the law in Scripture, or the law they put on themselves, you can’t even keep it.
I shared with you recently about that lady that said, “Brother Wayne, I had the worse day in my whole life last Thursday.” I said why? She said, “I didn’t have my quiet time.” What? You failed in the quiet time law? Well, then you’ve messed up in everything. You’re just a total failure. That’s what the law says, you see.
That’s not the way it goes. Paul’s point is, as it has been throughout the book, law and grace cannot peacefully coexist. “You have been severed from Christ,” he says in verse 4, “you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Whoa, what a verse! Man, I’ve heard this thing used and abused like you wouldn’t believe. “You who are seeking to be justified by law” is the key to the whole verse. The term “justified” can be used two ways. It can be used for salvation, dikaioo is the word; or it can be used for holy living, one or the other. If you’re a believer, seeking to be justified simply means seeking to live in such a way that God says yes, that’s right. If you’re not a believer then seeking to be justified would be for your salvation.
Now, this is what many of the Judaizers taught, as we said earlier, that to be saved is this way of the law. Romans 5:1, however, says, “Therefore, having been justified by,” what? What are we justified by? “Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” There’s only one way to be saved. So, to me, that’s not the context. You can go that route if you want to. It’s certainly true. But the context is believers who have bought into the law. They sought to go the way of living holy before God. Saving grace, they had no trouble with; living grace, they completely did not understand. So justified, in the one who’s a believer, has the meaning of living righteously and holy before God. Law never produces righteousness of any kind. And I’ll tell you when we’re going to discover that. It’s when we stand before God one day and our deeds are judged either by wood, hay and stubble, or precious stones and it’s going to be tested by fire. Then we’re going to find out what we did after the flesh and then we’re going to find out what we let Jesus do through our lives.
So first of all, he says if we have chosen the law or our flesh, “You have been severed from Christ.” Now, what does that mean? The word “severed” is the word katargeo. It means to be disenfranchised. It means to be set aside, taken out of the sphere of the grace of Christ. That’s a simple truth is all he’s saying. He’s not saying you’re going to get kicked out of the family of God. That’s not what he’s talking about. Severed from Christ simply means that you’re no longer under the sphere to where He can be of benefit to you, which came up previously. “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law.” Whether you’re lost or whether you’re saved, if you don’t put Christ in the equation you’ve just been severed from the sphere of where He can do something in your life.
And then he says, “You have fallen from grace.” Boy, I’ve heard that taught that a believer loses his salvation. Well, if that’s the case, throw the rest of your Bible away, because God’s a liar. When Jesus comes to live in you He never leaves you nor forsakes you. Isn’t that what he said in Hebrews 5? And, by the way, how can you be born from above and be unborn from above? I wish somebody would explain that to me. When Christ comes into you, your spirit, His Spirit are united forever. That’s what Romans 6 teaches us so beautifully. So he’s not saying you lose your salvation. My goodness!
Ekpipto is the word, “to fall out of something that you were in.” Now, I’ve done this before, but I want to make sure you’re paying attention. These keys are in my pocket. I take them out. Now these keys originated in my pocket. That’s where they came from. I’ve taken them out from it now. That’s ek; that’s a preposition in Greek that’s very important. Eighty percent of Greek words have a preposition in front of it, and that tells you what it’s talking about. Now, there’s another word “from:” I put my keys up next to my pocket, take them away from it, big deal, they were never a part of my pocket to start with. You see the difference? Something that was in it; it’s an origin there. Something was happening.
Now, what is he talking about? What’s the context? The context was, he asked them earlier, “Where is that sense of blessing that you once had? You used to be living under grace. How did you fall out from under that sphere of living and choice that you used to make?” Talking about falling from grace, losing your salvation, that’s nowhere in Galatians. That’s not even the context of what he’s saying. Galatians is written to believers who have lost that sense of blessing. They never rejected Christ as the means of their salvation. Good grief, they had that down! They could witness to fence post. But what they did, they rejected Christ as being the means of their sanctification. They thought now they could be perfected by law. That’s what, back in 3:1-3, he talks about that.
Well, how many of us have walked in and out of the sphere of grace over and over again in our lives? Besides me, has anybody else done that since they’ve been saved? Now, do you understand what he’s talking about? How in the world have you fallen out from under? And the word pipto for fallen is the word “stumble.” How did you stumble out of that sphere of grace? What happened in your life that caused you to be over here? What’s going on in your life that you’re not living in the freedom you once had? Well, I’ll tell you what, when you get out you know it real quickly.
My little grandson, Jonathan, hid, conveniently hid the paddle. He used it for a long time as a baseball bat and that was his way of getting it to where he could hide it. Well they found it the other day. His mama was in the room cleaning up with him and found that paddle. And she looked over at Jonathan and said, “Jonathan, you know what this is?” And Jonathan said, “The paddle.” And then he said, before she could say anything else, “Sin hurts.” Hey, at three years old, he’s already figured it out. The Galatians couldn’t figure it out. Sin hurts. You can lose your freedom in the Lord Jesus Christ. The moment we choose our flesh buddy, it’s going to be painful. It’s painful what happens to you, what happens to others.
And then finally, the picture of walking in the freedom of Christ. We’ve got the priority; we’ve got the peril of losing it; and now we want to talk about the picture of walking in our freedom. Verses 5-6, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” Now, I will not be able to fully get this one, so I’m going to have to pick it up next week. But let me get as far as I can. Paul makes a distinction. He says, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” He puts that category of those who are living in the freedom. How do they live? They live by faith. That’s how they live. The same way they received the freedom, the same way they continue to walk, which means God’s Word has a very important role in their lives.
“For we through the Spirit, by faith.” Not “for we in the power of the flesh,” but “we through the Spirit, by faith.” The word “by” is the really that word ek again, out of faith. Everything that’s produced in us is produced out of faith, trusting Christ. And then he says, “through the Spirit,” and “out of faith.” “For we through the Spirit, by faith.” The believer who chooses to walk in his freedom operates out of faith. Galatians 2:20, and that’s the key verse to the whole epistle, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Then he says, “And the life which I now live in the flesh [or this body] I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” So Paul again makes this distinction.
Now, those believers who walked by faith, trusting only on Christ and His Word, have hope. And what is this hope centered in? “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” Now, anytime you see the word “hope” anywhere in Scripture it means for certainty. Never with God is it uncertain. The certainty of something. What is that certainty? The certainty of righteousness. Now, what’s he talking about? Ultimately he’s talking about the day we see Christ and when all righteousness will be revealed. But that’s not the context. The context is talking about when you do something out of the flesh—now listen to me carefully—you can number it, you can measure it. People who walk after the flesh are always interested in noses and numbers because they can see results. But people who walk by faith know that the results are there even if they can’t see them. Because if they walk by faith they believe in the certainty that righteousness is being done. And many times you can’t measure that.
Do you see the trap we’ve fallen into in the 21st century? Churches everywhere, church growth, the whole church growth movement is based on what man can do for God. It’s achieved ministry, measured by achieved results, and we have fallen right into that trap. But God says no sir, people that walk by faith, they believe that righteousness is happening. It doesn’t matter if the numbers decrease. It doesn’t matter if the money doesn’t go. It matters if whether or not you’re saying yes to God and you’re hearing from God. And people who live that way believe, and they expect, that righteousness is being done. I don’t know what that does to you, but that tremendously comforts my soul. I don’t have to see the results. God takes care of the results. That’s what he’s saying.
And these are two kinds of people in a church, aren’t they. They’re those who have to see the numbers and there are those who are willing to trust that when we obey God that whatever happens is right. Righteousness is being done. Then he says in verse 6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything.” Any external work when it comes to Christ Jesus means nothing. And when he says any external work he also means any external result means nothing in Him. “But faith working through love.”
Faith working through love. How do you know when something’s really being done by faith? How do you know? How do you know? I’ll tell you how. By the love in the relationships of the people who say they’re walking by faith. What did Jesus say? “By this shall all men know that you’re My disciples,” by the fact that you had 3,000 in services on Sunday. No. By the fact that your budget was $100,000 over what was required. No. By the fact that what, that you what? Come on. That “you love one another.” How is it then, what’s the measure that God has? Not the numbers; the quality, not the quantity. When people learn to love each other they’re walking by faith, and faith working through love.
Well, the priority, keep your freedom. Keep your freedom. Don’t let anything take it away from you. The peril, you can lose it if by choosing to go back to your flesh, by having to do it your way instead of God’s way. And then the picture of what it really means to walk by faith. It’s saying yes to God and not trying to measure anything. Just say yes to God and walk on and walk on.
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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.