Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 28
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Not only does the flesh lead us into sexual deception, which is this crazy idea that grace means you can do whatever you want to do—living grace is never that—but it also leads us into a superstitious deception. I want to make sure you understand something. In the two choices that we have, we have the choice of worshiping God and walking in truth or we have the choice of worshiping our flesh with a good name behind it, and being superstitious.|
The Superstitious Deception of the Flesh
Well, turn with me to Galatians 5. You say, “Wayne, last week you covered only one verse; are you going to do better this week?” Well, no, I’m going to cover two words. Hey, we’re inching our way through this. Somebody said years ago, “Yard by yard, life’s way too hard, but inch by inch life’s a cinch.” So we’re going to ease our way through it. Galatians 5, we’re going to be looking at verse 20 in just a few moments. Now, let me bring you into the current. Paul has already told us in chapter 5 how, and very clearly, how we’re to live the Christian life, verses 16 and 18. Verse 16 says—and it’s so simple; we make it so complex. We have to have a manual, how do you live the Christian life? How do I be this? How do I be that? It’s so simple. “But I say,” Paul says, “walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Walk by the Spirit. Take one step at a time. “Lord, I can’t, Lord, You can. Lord, I can’t. Lord, You can.” Situation by situation in life, walk by the Spirit.
Now, walking by the Spirit, he says in verse 18, should be the desire of every believer’s heart, and that’s implied; it’s not explicit, but it’s implicit. You see, verse 18 says that we are to be led by the Spirit. “He that is led by the Spirit,” if you are led by the Spirit, he says, “you’re not under the law.” Now that term “led” means to be willingly led. Now, I want to make sure we contrast these words so you can understand what Paul is saying here. Have you ever had to be dragged by the Spirit? Now, some of you all just won’t get honest, but the rest of us are. We haven’t arrived. There are days when God has to drag Wayne. There are days, and if you’ll be honest, He had to drag you. But that’s not the idea. The idea is that we are willingly led. Now when you’re willingly led you’re constantly pursuing the direction God wants to lead you. You’re constantly pursing His will and His Word. There are times He drags us, but there are also times and it should be all the time that we are willingly led by the Spirit.
Now how simple could that be? We only have two choices in life. Either we are willingly controlled by God’s Spirit—which is what it means to be willingly led, to walk by the Spirit, which also means that we’re letting God’s Word renew our minds, so His Spirit can transform our lives—or we’re controlled by our flesh. We’ve discovered the flesh, haven’t we, as we’ve studied through chapter 5 of Galatians. The flesh has a sinful agenda that will cripple our walk with Christ. “Wayne, where do you get all that stuff?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked: verse 17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.” And it’s in the present tense, “that you might not continue to do the things that you please.” It doesn’t mean that you’ll never do anything, what it’s saying is you cannot live consistently before Him. That’s what Paul said to the Galatians. Hey, you used to be running well. Who hindered you? Where is that sense of blessing you once had?
See, something happened that kept them from continuing to do as their hearts desired to please God. Both the Spirit and the flesh—now listen carefully—produce a behavior that is easy to determine. Now we’re going to see that. We’re only looking at the behavior of the flesh right now, but we’re going to look at the behavior of the Spirit. And once you begin to realize there’s two different behaviors—now listen carefully, two different lifestyles. One who’s walking by the Spirit is going to be seen a certain way; one who’s walking after his flesh—it may be religious flesh, who knows—but it’s going to be shown in a certain way. It’s the behavior of individuals that set up our witness before others. Either it sets it up or tears it down, one way or the other. The flesh and the Spirit produce a particular behavior.
Now, sometimes the behavior of the flesh is masked by religious good works. I want to make sure you hear what I’m saying. This is what happened in Galatia. This is why Paul is writing chapter 5 under the inspiration of the Spirit, verses 19-21, fleshly good, which they bought into. The legalizers came amongst them and said “You can do something great for God” and they bought the lie. You can do nothing great for God except bow before Him. And as a result of that they began to think they could do these things for God and that religious flesh masked the rest of what was there.
So many times you come to church and you see good people, good people. What does that mean? You see it’s got to be put in light of Scripture. And if a man’s character is not what it ought to be with people and the way he relates to others, then whatever good that you have seen is not of God. It’s of the flesh. So sometimes religious good can mask the sickness of wicked flesh. Flesh is flesh, no matter how you, what category you put it into, it’s still flesh. The Galatians found out that when you bought into their “good side,” not God’s good, but the good side, the deceiving part of it, you also buy the other part of the package.
I’ve said this before, but Paul Harvey, what does he say? Now for the rest of the story. Oh, they bought the good part, oh yeah. Now Paul’s showing them the rest of the story. When you get into flesh you have got it, the whole package. You can’t buy part of it and not have to experience all of it. Now he says in verse 19, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.” The word “evident” is phaneros. Phaneros means clearly visible to everybody. In fact, so clear he doesn’t even have to finish his list. Paul says you already know what I’m talking about. I guarantee you we really don’t have to do Galatians 5 to know what he’s talking about, do we? We know the behavior the flesh produces. We know the behavior the Spirit produces. You don’t have to be a Harvard graduate to figure that out. It’s clearly evident, and that’s what Paul says. He said “I’m not telling you something you don’t know. It’s evident in sexual misbehavior.”
Now see some people don’t think that can get inside the church. Oh, yes it can. The flesh is so deceptive that it can lead somebody into sexual deception. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident” he says in verse 19, “which are immorality, impurity and sensuality.” Now we saw the last time that the list is backwards. The real culprit, the real product of what flesh produces, is a sense that grace is license, and that’s the word “sensuality.” The word “sensuality,” aselgeia, means, hey, I can do anything I want to do. Well I can do anything I want to do.
I was sharing last night that some people come up to me from time to time and say, “Wayne, do you think it’s okay for a Christian to drink?” And they’re never asking you a question. They’re setting you up. And what they’re going to do is defend what they are doing. And I’ve learned something: you know a man by what he defends. Now remember that. You always know a man by what he defends. You see, we think we have rights. You know, I don’t know where we get that. I think in America we must fabricate this kind of thing. But as believers we don’t have rights; we have privileges; and they’re divine and they’re only to the measure and the degree that we choose to walk surrendered to Him. We’re servants and slaves of righteousness, love-slaves. We’ve chosen to be there.
But, you see, a lot of people just don’t catch it yet. The Galatians didn’t set out to be bad people. They didn’t set out to ruin their relationships with each other. They didn’t set out to do any of these things. They simply bought into a religious package and as a result they had to experience the rest of what went with it. They didn’t realize it wasn’t pretty. Without the control of the Holy Spirit of God, without the influence of God’s Word daily to renew our minds, we drift into this sensuality. And once we get the idea that grace is the license to do as we please—which is what casual Christianity says today—then that sensuality allows impurity.
Now impurity is wicked mindsets, dirty minds, when people have that they put a suit on or they dress up and they think that they’ve covered it. No, no; it’s inside. Nobody knows it yet, but at sometime it’ll show up in their behavior, a mind that is impure. You see, when you walk under grace and you think it’s a license then that allows for that kind of thing. You can get away with this and you can get away with that, and you can watch this and you don’t have to, you can do whatever you want to do with that kind of wicked mindset.
Well, once the impurity is there you can just about write it down; immorality at some point will take place. That may not have happened yet, so therefore you think, “Well I’m fine.” No, he mentions three things here. He doesn’t mention one. He didn’t say immorality and move on. He said immorality, that’s the ultimate. That’s the act. But everything he mentions here is sin. Impurity is sin. Sensuality is sin. So it doesn’t matter what stage a person’s in it’s still sin and it’s a product of deceitful and damaging flesh. Immorality’s the house that every sexual word lives in; incest lives in it, homosexuality lives in it, you, you, adultery lives in it. The King James Version puts the word moicheia, which means adultery, into that word. The New America Standard leaves it out. It doesn’t really have to put it there, but that’s fine because the word covers all of those sins.
But keep remembering they didn’t set out to be this way. I want you to know that no epistle is written and just says random things. It’s all in the context. Something has happened in Galatia that the Spirit of God has told Paul he needs to address it, and in addressing it this must be what they’re dealing with in that area. Any time we replace grace with law all these things begin to take place. When one chooses to buy into his flesh—and it might just simply be “I’m going to do great things for God,” that’s his attitude, instead of saying, “God can use me as a vessel to do great things through me”—he doesn’t realize that this part of the flesh breeds the rest of the flesh, the rest of the story, sexual deception.
Well, today we’re going to take it a step further. Not only does the flesh lead us into sexual deception, which is this crazy idea that grace means you can do whatever you want to do—living grace is never that—but it also leads us into a superstitious deception. I want to make sure you understand something. In the two choices that we have, we have the choice of worshipping God and walking in truth or we have the choice of worshipping our flesh with a good name behind it, and being superstitious. Those are the only two choices. You say, “Wayne, I’ve never thought about it being superstition.” Well, you’re about to because that’s what God says it is. Any time a person chooses to go after his flesh that is superstition. There’s more superstition today in the 21st century than there was in the book of Judges, because people are not living out of the Book.
People are not living renewed in their minds by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. If we’re walking by the Spirit then we are worshipping God with our surrendered lives. That’s what worship is. Walking by the Spirit means you’re not walking in superstition. Walking by the Spirit means you’re walking in the Word of God and you’re worshipping Him with a life that’s surrendered to Him. But if we’re not walking that way, if we have chosen not to willingly be led by His Spirit in our hearts, then we don’t have a clue what worship is all about. We live in superstition. What we have fabricated and called worship is nothing more than the superstitious mindset of men, and this is what Paul is about to address.
We don’t realize we have bought into the wicked and deceitful package of the flesh. You say, “Wayne, that’s all good, but where is it in Scripture?” I’m so grateful that you want to know. Verse 19: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident,” and here they are, “immorality, impurity, sensuality,” but look at verse 20, two words, he says, “idolatry and sorcery.” Now those two words are what we’re going to look at today, and I want to show you the superstitious deception that the flesh leads us into, superstitious deception. These two words, “idolatry” and “sorcery,” frame what I call a false worship. The word “idolatry” is eidololatreia. It comes from two words. It comes from eidolon, which means an idol, and we’ll look at that. But it also comes from the word latreia, which means to serve. But wait a minute, wait a minute. That word latreia is one of the three words translated in the New Testament for worship; in fact, the best place you can find that word meaning worship—and remember, there’s no coincidence here—that it means to serve, to surrender to God, but also that’s what worship is.
Worship is not a feeling. Oh, if we could get this through our head. Worship is not a feeling. Worship is a choice to bow down before God. If a man’s not serving God through surrendering to Him, then he is not worshipping. This is one of the key words that are used. Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore I urge you brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of,” what? “Of worship.” What is worship? Presenting your body a living sacrifice to God. What does that mean? Galatians, “Walk by the Spirit, walk by the Spirit.” Ephesians, “Be filled with the Spirit.” First John, it talks about “walk in the light as He’s in the light.” Jesus said, John 15, “Abide in the vine, abide in the vine.” It’s all the same thing. That’s what worship is. Worship’s not an event, worship is a lifestyle. Worship is daily saying yes to God.
In fact, the word is found and translated worship in Hebrews 9:1, “Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.” That’s the word, a form of it. In Hebrews 9:6 he says, “Now when these things have been so prepared the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship.” And then again in Hebrews 9:9, the last part of the verse, it refers to the worshipper and uses the same word. It says, “Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in conscience.” And so we see that the word latreia is the word for worship, and that’s part of the word “idolatry.”
The word translated “idolatry” has everything to do with one’s worship. The only problem is, it’s a false worship as we’ll show. It’s the product of the flesh. And, see, this is not what you intend to do when you step out to do things your way or I step out to do things my way. That’s not our intention. But the deceitfulness of the flesh leads us into a license to think any way we want to think and do any way we want to do. But it also leads us into this superstitious understanding of worship which has nothing to do with the Word of God.
I wonder if you’ve ever considered that there are two kinds of worship. You know, I just would love to take a poll sometime and say, “Excuse me. Could you tell me the two kinds of worship?” And just to see where believers are. They think that worship is just something that they’ve been told for years is worship. They don’t realize that Matthew 15:9, he said they honor Me with their lips, but their worship is in vain. Now, wait a minute. He’s talking about religious people. He’s talking about the most religious people on earth at that time, the Pharisees. He says that their worship is vain when it comes to Me. You see, there’s one kind of worship that comes as a result—and which is worship—of walking by the Spirit. That is worship. That’s one kind. I can’t worship Him by a song I sing or a sermon I preach. I worship Him by saying yes to Him in the given situations of life. Walk by the Spirit. Walk by the Spirit and saying yes to Him, and yes to His work. That is one type of worship and it’s the only kind God accepts.
But there’s another kind; it’s fabricated by human flesh and emotion. And we have come to understand that as being worship. And it’s not, it’s vain. You see, just because one cries when he sings or she sings or they hear a good song, or when one gets goose bumps when a preacher preaches a message and uses an illustration that really grabs his heart, just because they do that, that does not mean they have worshiped. No, no. It might be the foolishness of their emotional flesh and the deceit their mind has drawn them in to think that this is worship. In fact, we’re going to check the way they treat one another and you’ll find out whether it’s valid or not. The word “idolatry” describes that which man comes up with in his sincere flesh that replaces honoring God in his life.
But this is not something new. I don’t know why in the world we look at it as something new. This has been around for a long time. Man has always had the tendency to want to be his own god. That’s why you have power struggles in some churches. You have people that want to run everything. They want to run everything. The Pharisees wanted to rule in the temple and when Jesus would come in they didn’t know what to do with Him. They couldn’t control Him and that’s what man wants to do. He wants to control. He wants to run, he wants to force you see. He wants to be his own god. He wants to control his own life and he wants to control his own worship. That’s been around for a long, long time. As a matter of fact, we’re looking at Galatians. It’s there and that’s been quite a while back.
But let me take you further than that. I know it’s been around because of the book of Exodus. In the Ten Commandments God made a commandment, and part of the commandments are loving Him; part of the commandments are loving each other. Jesus summed them up as the two greatest commandments and did exactly that way. But in Exodus 20:4, here’s what God had to say to a people who had a tendency to create their own god, to come up with their own idea of worship. He says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” The very fact that God had to command them not to do it is the very proof-text that they had the capacity of doing it. That’s why God had to put the command. Habakkuk tells us how an idol is the simple product of a man’s creativity and ability. I mean, we can do it in a committee meeting. Habakkuk 2:18 says, “What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own,” now listen, “his own handy work when he fashions speechless idols.”
So again, when you take the word, the etymology of the word “idolatry,” it has built within it two words, eidolos, which is the idol that man’s come up with himself through the deception of his mind, and then you have the word latreia, which is man’s response to that idol which is to surrender to it, to serve it. Can you imagine serving something you came up with? That doesn’t make much sense to me, but that’s exactly what the word says. An idol is anything the flesh deceives us into thinking is god, whatever it is.
Idolatry’s when man’s flesh leads a person to worship that which originated from himself. You see, we’ve gotten into this thing, in this day and time, we worship our worship. And it depends on what age it is as to what we call worship. We just worship our worship. It’s the same thing. Worship then becomes not for God; it’s not for God anymore. No, it’s not for God. It’s for man so that man might be pleased and man might be emotionally satisfied. And that’s what the deception of the flesh leads us to. This is exactly what the Galatians did. By buying into a religious mindset of thinking they could actually do anything to impress God with their lives, they just forfeited walking by the Spirit; and as a result of that they captured that deceit in their minds and ended up with a false worship. Serving one’s flesh is to worship one’s flesh.
You remember earlier Paul said don’t ever give an opportunity to the flesh. Any time that I choose to let my flesh-emotion, it may be anger, my flesh-emotion it may be whatever, and I let it rule in my life, I’ve just chosen to worship my flesh. You say, “What do you mean?” It’s the same way, when I choose to do what God says, I have just worshiped Him. When I choose to do what my flesh says, I have just worshiped my flesh. That’s idolatry. That is idolatry. It’s the sin of God’s people since all the way back when He began this whole process.
The perfect illustration of false worship, for instance, is Israel. And you remember, Israel divided into two parts, 10 nations went up to the north and were swallowed up by the Assyrians. And then you had Judah, the two southern tribes, and they were the perfect picture of false worship, what they did. They forsook God. They chose to rule their own lives. Jeremiah 1:16, Jeremiah the lamenting prophet, if you’ve never read Lamentations. He says to them a message from God. Jeremiah 1:16 “And I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods and worshipped,” look at the last part of this, “and worshipped, worshipped the works of their own,” what? “Hands.” That’s what idolatry is. Any time a church comes together and they think they can do it for God, they have just worshipped the works of their own hands.
You know, how many times have we said this? Hopefully in this message it’ll come clear to you. In our study of the book of Judges, every time Israel sinned, every single time, it was idolatry. Now this led them to other stuff, but it began right there with idolatry. This is what Paul’s bringing out in Galatians.
Now, to get a better understanding of how flesh lures us into idolatry, I want you to turn to Romans 1:21-25. In verse 21, now this is interesting, Paul is going to describe the origin of idolatry. He’s going to describe it right here. “For even though they knew God,” verse 21 says, “they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.” Now, “even though they knew God.” What’s he talking about? You have to ask the question, how did they know God? I mean, if He hadn’t revealed Himself to them in some way, how did they know God? How did pagan man ever know God? He’s talking about pagan men, but he’s also talking about flesh. And flesh is flesh whether you’re a believer or a pagan.
Verse 18, he tells you how they knew God. And this is what takes the excuse away from everybody: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” But look at verse 19, “because that which is known about God”—look at this now, I didn’t write this—“is evident within them.” How? “For God made it evident to them.” Now you say, “Oh, come on, Wayne, how in the world did God make it evident to pagan people who had no idea that there was ever a God? And he tells you, verse 20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse”—being understood through the things that have been made so that they are without excuse.
One of my favorite people to go back and study from time to time and read is Spurgeon. I love Spurgeon. He’s a little bit of a rebel. He was a little bit of a renegade and he said some things in his time that were before his time; really he was way ahead of his time. And he said one time, he said in Psalm 19—I was looking at it one time, just reading through the Psalms according to Spurgeon, just enjoying it—and he said how the heavens declare the glory of God. And then he said a man who looks at the sky and sees the stars and sees the beautiful sunrise and sees the beautiful things that God has made and says there is no god, professes himself to be an idiot! I like him. I mean, you never had to worry about what he’s trying to say. Now, go on Spurgeon, tell us what you think.
Man, from the very beginning, from the very beginning, has known God just simply through creation. God has revealed it to his heart. God has given man an ability to know about Him. Now, to know Him is another step, but to know who He is and to know about Him, they knew about Him. They knew He exists. But man, even though he knew God, was not willing to honor God in his life. Now, that’s interesting. Verse 21: “For even though they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Now this is where idolatry is birthed right here, when a man is not willing to acknowledge God in his life. Just think, they knew about Him; we know Him; but flesh is the same. When I refuse to acknowledge Him what happens is my life begins to take a downhill slide. That’s when idolatry begins right there. I’m no longer walking by the Spirit. I’m no longer willingly led by the Spirit. Man’s flesh will never bow to God. I want to make sure you understand that. Man’s flesh will never bow to God. That’s why we have to say yes to God and He just puts the flesh to rest. It has its own agenda and it’s sinful.
So as a result of not bowing down before God and what that they knew about it, it says in verse 21, “For even though they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks,” and look what happens, “and they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened.” What happened to man’s thinking when he refused to acknowledge God? Well, it became worthless. His thoughts are futile. You say, “Oh, come on, look, we fly airplanes. We send rockets to the moon. We’ve got the smartest people in the world right here in this area.” That’s true when it comes to the technology of this world; but when it comes to the spiritual things of life and the eternal things that matter, man is a fool who has not acknowledged God in his thinking. And I didn’t write this. This is what the Scriptures tell us.
You see, man’s thoughts are never God’s thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are higher, My ways are higher.” And what happens is, when we refuse to acknowledge Him in our life, which means we refuse to acknowledge His Word and His truth in our life, what happens is our speculations become futile. The word “speculation” is dialogismos. It’s the word that means reasonings that have finally ended up in conclusions. Man’s reasoning that finally led him to this conclusion is futile. Why? Because he did not receive truth, now he cannot know truth. And the result of this pitiful way of thinking is that he loses all sense of morality and integrity is completely lost. Having chosen not to honor God, to reject the truth, then he became unable to receive God’s truth. He would not, so therefore now he cannot. And God’s thoughts became useless to him. He couldn’t understand them anyway. How many times did Jesus veil the truth? He said because it’s for them, it’s for you and it’ll be revealed to your hearts.
Well, having chosen not to honor Him, to reject His truth, then they became unable to receive it and they’re “foolish heart was darkened.” Oh, when we reject God, folks, we’re on our own now, we’re on our own. Somebody told me years ago, “Wayne, remember this, you cannot grow anything, you cannot build a church, you can only equip it. You can feed it. God’ll take care of the building. God’ll take care of the rest of it.” But they were so quick to tell me, if you use a gimmick to get people to come, which is the norm of today, then you’re on your own. You’re going to have to use a gimmick to keep them. And I’ll tell you what, until Jesus comes back I will never use a gimmick to get anybody to come into this place. If God draws them, thank you, God, thank you, God, because if you’re sent and you went you’re put. But if we have fallen into this stupid trap of the flesh of saying, Oh, God, we’re going to do something to help you out. We’re going to grow this church, we have just bought the whole package of the flesh. That’s what the Galatians did. You see, verse 22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
When a man puts himself in the place of God—and I believe a believer or a pagan—he’s a fool, he’s a fool, and the Bible says he’s a fool. That’s not my language, that’s God’s language. Foolish, foolish! Flesh works this way, whether a person’s saved or unsaved. If we choose not to walk by the Spirit, you see what Romans says we have become, and everything that we come up with, our terminology, our reasoning’s, our opinions, our conclusions are based on darkened minds. They’re based on thoughts that are so far beneath God’s thoughts it would scare us if we could understand His Word.
Since God and His words are rejected because of the stubbornness of man’s flesh, he now resorts, now listen, to the insanity of idolatry. Verse 23: “And exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds, and four-footed animals, and crawling creatures.” And the whole process began when they knew God, but they would not honor Him as God in their life. It resulted in an inability to receive truth and it continued to moral degradation. It continued to where they became their own gods and professing to be wise they became fools. And it ended in the insanity of idolatry.
And look at the baggage that came along with it. Verse 24: “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity”—that’s our exact word we’ve been looking at in Galatians—“that their bodies might be dishonored among them,” sexual deception. Hey, that’s where it comes from. It’s all summed up in verse 25, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen,” Paul says. Don’t ever change this because this is right.
You say, “Wayne, this is the 21st century. Would you get off your soapbox. We don’t do that today. We love Jesus. We love His Word. We walk with Him daily. We don’t do those kind of things. We don’t worship the creature. We’re not going to have an animal in here and have an animal sacrifice. We’re not going to build a golden calf.” Careful, careful, careful. I took you to the book of 1 Corinthians last week, and I showed something, and I hope you saw it. These are believers. Paul said you’re babies. You won’t even come out of the nursery. You know what they did? They started worshipping man instead of worshipping God. What does that say? “Worship the creature rather than the Creator.” Some were of Paul and some were of Apollos. Isn’t it amazing?
I don’t know where I fall in the line of pastors here, but I wonder who you’re attached to? “Oh, brother Wayne, I’m of Charles,” or, “I’m of Norman,” or “brother Wayne, I’m of you.” See the problem. You can’t be of man. “Oh, brother Wayne, I’m of Calvin.” Boy you’ve really got a problem, don’t you. Let me tell you something, when you are of somebody like that they will divide the church. You’re of Christ. You’re only of Christ. And worship says I’m of Christ, I’m of Christ, I’m of Christ. We do the same thing right here today in the 21st century. It’s just put in different terms and we have missed it.
The deception that is in the church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century is absolutely heinous in the sight of God, and we’re not even seeing it. We’ve come up with our own ideas as to what worship is. We’ve come up with our own ideas what a church ought to be. We’ve come up with our own ideas instead of honoring God and acknowledging God as God in our life. We professed ourselves to be wise. When God’s Word which contains God’s ways are rejected in anyone’s life at all they have just bought idolatry. There is no gray area. They’re in idolatry. Immediately they’re in the superstitious deception of the flesh. You see, the Galatians didn’t realize that. They didn’t realize the cost of buying into the flesh. Well, this is why Paul had to say “O foolish Galatians!” I mean, he loved these people. He gave his life for them practically. He almost died when he was there. And now in their darkened minds, thought they could perfect themselves by their own efforts and oh, how they were paying a huge price for it. This is what happens, this is what happens.
I just beg you this morning—and I love you. I’m not here to get on anybody’s case. I sound like it from time to time. There’s a difference in anger and passion—I’m just trying to tell you something. I’m trying to stand up in the middle of a road, hold up a flag and wave it as hard as I can till Jesus comes back: the very moment we as an individual or as a church seek to do things based on our speculations, which comes from a darkened mind, not from the Word of God, and we begin to make this religion, we begin to make this doctrine, what we’ve done is professed ourselves to be wise.
I’ve heard it said right here in this church, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I’m going to do it the way I think it ought to be done.” I’ve heard that said right here. You think we haven’t got a problem in the 21st century folks; we better get back to what God says is worship, what God says is truth, what God says is the Christian life. This is what’s killing us and I’m here to help you. This is a freeing message if we can just see it and then come back to repentance and say “Oh, God, where in the world have we gone? We’ve come so far from dead center we wouldn’t recognize truth anymore.” Foolishness!
Well, Paul says to the Galatians they just committed an act of false worship. That’s what idolatry is. The next word Paul uses marries this thought. It is the word “sorcery.” It’s the Greek word pharmakeia. We get the word “drugs” from it, the word “pharmacy.” It’s the word that means also—now this is interesting. They were very superstitious people at that time. Why? Because they didn’t have the Word of God that they would bow to. As a result of it they thought that somebody could look in the evil eye and cast a spell on somebody. In fact, Paul uses that particular word. He’s already used it in Galatians. And you’re saying, “I don’t see any tie here with idolatry and sorcery.” Well, hang on, hang on. I’m glad you said that. Look back over in 3:1. I want to make sure you see it. What does Paul say? “You foolish Galatians! Who has,” and what’s the word he uses here? “Bewitched you.” Don’t you understand? That is the word for putting a spell on you. That is a superstitious thinking of their past. Now, Paul didn’t think that way. But Paul uses, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, a word that they would immediately grasp.
And by the way, I don’t have to justify this. Over in 1 Samuel 15, Saul has disobeyed God. He told him to kill Agag and his people. You take all the animals out, everything. You kill it all. But Saul didn’t do that. Saul kept Agag and he also kept the best of the oxen and the sheep. And Samuel the prophet comes to him and says, “Hey, have you done what God said?” He said, “Oh, yeah, I obeyed God.” And old Samuel said, “Well what’s the bleating of the sheep that I hear? The lowing of the oxen. You’ve disobeyed God. You’ve been insubordinate.” And look what he says in 1 Samuel 15:23. “For rebellion,” now, see, I want to show you how these things are tied together. “For rebellion” —which means I’m not going to honor You God in my life. I’m not going to get in the Word and live my life according to the Word. I want to do church the way I think church ought to be done—“Rebellion is as the sin of divination,” or in other translations, “witchcraft.” You see the tie? And look what he says, “And insubordination”—the unwillingness on a man’s heart to say yes to God and acknowledge Him and His Word—is as sin or iniquity and idolatry. I don’t have to tie them together; God’s already tied them together.
I just want to make sure you understand that you have entered into a superstitious world when you’ve chosen idolatry. The two are married together. And it’s like a drug. It’s no coincidence it means to cast a spell or to be under a drug, that word “bewitched” over in chapter 3. It becomes like a drug baskaino. It means that the people of Galatia were living lies and treating each other like dogs and they walked away not even thinking a thing about it. And what he says is you’re acting as if you’re under a drug. It’s amazing what you have done to yourself. This is where idolatry has taken you. So with that thought, there is a huge connection to sorcery. The Galatians because of their idolatry were acting as if they had a spell, or as if they were drugged.
Now the behavior of the flesh; remember I told you, the Spirit has behavior, the flesh has behavior, including their false worship was brought on by their rejection of the message of God’s grace and they exchanged the truth of God—Christ in you the hope of glory—for a lie, and the rest is history. Their false worship was now their addiction. It was now their habit. A drug addiction, you’ve got to have it. I’ve got to have my fix. Is this not what’s going on in the 21st century?
I’m telling you, folks, we’re right here, and I didn’t plan this. This is God’s Word. It becomes like a drug in a fix; if I don’t get my fix of having it done the way I have come to realize through my darkened speculations, not in God’s Word, not in God’s Word, then buddy, I’m going to raise a fuss. And it’s on every age. I’m not throwing anything at you. I’m just saying it’s all of us, every one of us in here. Can’t we see it in Scripture? I mean, all I can do is put it in front of you. I can’t make anybody understand it. I’m just trying to tell you that worship is not a feeling, and worship is not for me. Worship is for God. And if I don’t have a walk Monday through Saturday, I have nothing to do with worship on Sunday. It’s a joke. It’s a sham. That’s what I’m trying to say.
And I’ve been there too many times in my life, and, folks, I don’t want you to go there. It’s an empty place, it’s an empty place. Why in the world do we end up fighting each other on this earth and in the church when we’re the body of Christ? If we’d just walk by the Spirit we wouldn’t understand what worship is.
Well, you see what flesh did. It all started when the Galatians had a teacher come in; I guarantee you he used PowerPoint and he had all this wonderful stuff and he had outlines and he passed out handouts, and they bought it. They bought it. And they exchanged the truth of living grace for a lie, and now look where they are. That’s what happens. That’s what religious does to cripple the church. They chose to do things their way. Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees? He says, “Man, the traditions, you’ve made it law. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way,” Jesus said to those religious people, He said, “that doesn’t make it right.” Now it doesn’t make it wrong, but it doesn’t make it right. And He said you’ve taken it and made it as a doctrine of God. It’s nothing more than traditions of men. They chose to do things their way. And as a result they walked into superstitious deception.
Again, we must be reminded Paul’s not saying these things to condemn them. And if you ever hear that come from me, I’m not so sure if it is me, then you pray for me, because I don’t have a condemning thought in my heart. I love you with all my heart. But I want to tell you something, I love God and I love His Word more, and I’m trying to tell you something. What we have bought into in the 21st century is nothing more than religious superstition. If it’s not right here in God’s Word, if it is not echoed by the way we behave and love one another, what did they say? Oh, look, look, they must His. Look how they love one another. Jesus said they’ll know you’re My disciples not by the fact that you have a big church, but by the fact that you love one another, and that’s the fruit of walking by the Spirit. It’s not there when you walk in the darkened foolish speculations of the mind that has rejected God and His Word in your life.
So I’m asking you a question this morning; what’s your worship like today? Is it worship? Is it really worship? What is your worship like? Maybe it’s exactly right. And I’ll tell you what, when the choir and orchestra and all, when they’re doing their thing, I just love it. I love it. But I wonder how many of us truly worship. You see, worship and praise are two different things. Worship is your surrendered walk before God. Praise is the outflow of it. So when we come in here we don’t come into a worship service. We have a worship life and we just extend it into this building. And what we do in here is celebrate. We praise. It’s the overflow for having worshiped Monday through Saturday, walking by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, step by step. Lord, I can’t. Lord, You can, situation by situation. That’s worship. And what goes on in here can be fabricated if we’re not careful. If it appeals to the emotions of man, it appeals to his flesh and flesh produces false worship. Worship is not for us. Worship is for Him.
One of these days we’re going to take these concoctions of foolish speculations as to what worship is; it has nothing to do with God’s Word, we’re going to take it and we’re bury it under the blood of Jesus and we’re going to get to the point that we become worshippers of God. That’s what He wants. It’s going to start with me. It’s going to start with you. Get our minds back to where it ought to be.
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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.