- Sermon Notes
To Live by Faith
Paul writes this letter to the churches of Galatia. This was an area in modern-day Turkey, known as Asia Minor. Paul planted these churches as he did throughout his journeys. Notice that he writes ‘to the churches’ – plural – of Galatia. He expected them to have this letter read at all the churches there.
He writes because he is concerned about them. People have come from Jerusalem teaching that if they wanted to be authentic followers of Christ they had to take on aspects of Judaism. True followers of Christ should get circumcised, they said, they needed to keep all Jewish holy days, and all Jewish laws, etc. “After all,” they would say, “Jesus was a Jew, therefore, His followers should also become Jewish.”
Verse 6 – “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel. Some are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
How does this apply to us today? After all, our church isn’t bothered by anyone from Jerusalem trying to tell people that they have to get circumcised if they want to be saved. We wouldn’t tolerate that for one moment. So how does this apply?
Here’s how; he confronts this false teaching by giving one of the best descriptions of the gospel found in the Bible. Not only that, but by answering these false teachers, Paul gives practical answers to some very modern dilemmas.
How does a sinner become justified before God? How do we live before God in a world which is very much opposed to God? It’s interesting, a recent survey showed that 93% of Americans believe in God. Why is it then that the notion of living in a godly way is so mocked and ridiculed today?
How does a person live by their faith? If you believe in God and have faith to take hold of His promises, what bearing does that have on how you live every day?
One of the great themes that comes out of these verses is how to live by faith. No man is justified before God by the works of the Law, Paul wrote, rather, we are justified by faith in Christ. In other words, no man is able to pull himself up by his own righteous bootstraps. We are justified before God by receiving righteousness as a gift and we receive that by faith.
We were just discussing on Wednesday why the works of the Law cannot make a person justified. If you sin on a point of the Law, what do you do to erase it? If you lie can you tell more truth? If you steal, does not stealing make up for it?
This has everything to do with our relationship to God and how to live out that relationship every day by faith.
I. Don’t Rebuild What Should be Broken
- Verse 18 – If I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor, Paul wrote.
- In other words, your relationship to God has been completely redefined, so why go back to what it once was?
- In that day there were two possibilities for how people related to God. Either they were under the strict supervision of the Law, or they were estranged from God; living a worldly life, without God and without hope.
- But now in Christ those who were formerly under the strict supervision of the Law have been adopted and now relate to God as a son or daughter with God as a good, good Father.
- Those who were estranged and living a worldly life have been brought near by the blood of Christ and they too have been adopted and have God as their good, good Father.
- Let’s take each of those cases separately, starting with those who were under the strict supervision of the Law.
- Why was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, Paul wrote. (3:19) In other words, because of man’s tendency towards sin, God gave the law to the Jews to restrain them from that sin, knowing that sin is very destructive.
- The Law was like a tutor, although that’s not the best word. In Greek, it’s the root from which we get the word pedagogy, the practice of teaching. The wealthier Greeks and Romans would use a ‘paidagogos,’ a trustworthy servant, to supervise the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.
- If you think about it, that’s not such a bad thing. There are many influences that can destroy a person’s life when they are young.
Galatians 3:24-26, The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
- The Law was a strict supervisor pointing out every infraction. Is that the way to relate to God? Some people think the church is like that, saying, “It’s just a bunch of do’s and don’ts.” No, we relate to God as our good, good Father.
- Some people were raised with very strict parents and feel they were under the Law. Perhaps so, but God is not your ‘paidagogos,’ He’s a good, good Father.
Colossians 2:13-14, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
B. Don’t go back to the world either
- Others were formerly far off, estranged from God, without relationship and without hope, but now have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- And in the same way, we should not rebuild what was once destroyed. Don’t go back to what you once were before Christ. It was broken for a reason.
Galatians 4:9, But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
Illus – A few years ago pastor Matthew gave a sermon and the title of it made for great conversation. He called it, “Avoiding the Vomit.” We’ve been regurgitating that sermon ever since. But the point is a good one – don’t go back to what you were before.
Illus - There is an enormously popular song out right now called, “Hello,” by Adele. It’s very tender and beautiful, and it actually helps make the point out of these verses. “Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet, to go over everything… Hello, can you hear me; I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be, when we were younger and free.”
The problem is that people relate to it because it reminds them of some long-lost relationship from their past. Do you know how many relationships are damaged because someone rekindled an old flame?
- Don’t go back there again and in the same way don’t rekindle the relationship you had to the world.
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?”
II. Live to God by Faith
- That brings us to verses 19- 20; I died to the Law, that I might live to God, Paul wrote…
- The life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me…
A. It’s no longer I who live
- This is a great key and an insight for any who want to be victorious in how they live to God.
- I have been crucified with Christ and I have been raised up with Christ also so that it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
Romans 6:3, 5, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? … For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
- Sin no longer has a claim on you. There is no longer a warrant out for your arrest; you’re no longer living on borrowed time; not anymore.
- You’ve been set free. The warrant for your arrest was served on Jesus and He paid it all Himself. You’re no longer living on borrowed time; you’re living on eternal time because you’re alive, you’re free, because the resurrected Son of God is living in you and you have now been adopted by God.
Galatians 4:4-6, When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son… that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
B. Take hold of a promise
- The life that I now live, Paul wrote, I live by faith in the Son of God… What does it mean to live to God by faith? Paul brings us to the father of faith; Abraham.
- God gave Abraham a promise that he would have a son and a descendent would come through that son who would bless the world (verse 8).
- Verse 6 – Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Be sure of this, Paul wrote, that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. (Also verse 29)
- When you are given a promise by God and you take hold of that promise and hold it fast and live according to that promise, that’s living by faith.
Illus –Over the last year and a half my granddaughter has asked many times why God allows evil to exist. All I can say is that I don’t know all the answers, but I do know this, “God loves you, He is with you, He is pouring His favor on you, and He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I will hold on to God’s promise.
Illus - One of the best examples of holding on to a promise is Joseph. He received great promises that God would use him in high and glorious places, but then spent many years suffering; betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave into Egypt, betrayed by the man’s wife, held in prison falsely accused. But he held on to that promise and he lived according to that promise. That’s living by faith. He didn’t know how God would fulfill that promise, but he believed that He would.
If anyone had reason to be angry and doubt God’s love, it would be Joseph. But he held on to that promise and honored God as he held onto it.
- When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him he gave an answer based on his faith…
Genesis 39:9, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
- Abraham believed that God would give him that son and would bless the world through his descendent.
- God has also given us a promise; that He would give us that Son and through Him we would receive eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, and adoption as sons and daughters.
C. The righteous will live by faith
- Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in verse 11, saying, that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident based on that verse. Here’s the complete quote…
Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right with him; but the righteous one will live by his faith.”
- In fact, the entire Reformation can be traced back to this one verse. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk and deeply desired to find favor with God and did all the things others were doing in the hopes of finding it.
- He beat his body black and blue hoping to purify the flesh. He slept outside in freezing temperatures.
- He went to confession repeatedly. Finally, the Abbott said, “Martin, either go out and commit a sin worth confessing or stop coming here so often.”
- He decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome so he could climb “the stairs that Jesus climbed;” supposedly from Pontius Pilate’s judgment hall. He was climbing these stairs on his knees while whipping himself when suddenly Habakkuk 2:4 came into his mind. The truth of that verse immediately took hold of his heart.
- He stood up and ran down the stairs in complete freedom and went straight home to Germany. Later he wrote, “Before the words of that verse broke upon my mind I was angry with God, because, not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life, He still further increased our torture by the gospel. But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words, ‘The just shall live by faith!’ I felt born again like a new man.
Galatians 2:18-3:11 NASB
18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed ascrucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations will be blessed inyou." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them." 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith."