To Live by Faith
January 9, 2016
We’re gonna begin in chapter two verse 18, the verses before this if you remember, were going through on Wednesday. We love our Wednesday study verse by verse looking forward to get into the depth of the word as well today. So Paul writes this letter to the churches, plural, of Galatia. So it’s in the area in what we would call Turkey, Asia Minor and he writes because he’s concerned for them. He’s concerned because there are some people who come from Jerusalem and are greatly troubling this church and these churches as they did in many places and here is how they brought trouble. They came with a message saying if you want to be a true authentic follower of Jesus Christ then you’re gonna need to take all the aspects of Judaism. You’re gonna need to get circumcised, you’re gonna need to follow all the Jewish feast and you’re gonna have to follow all the Jewish laws. Now why would he say this? Because Jesus was a Jew and if you want to follow Jesus and you’re gonna need to be a Jew also. The problem is that’s not the gospel and in fact it’s a great distortion of the gospel.
And Paul in verse 6 says ‘I am amazed.’ He is very, very concerned because he sees they actually believe it. But as he was taking this on and he is really, really concerned, so he writes, I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who call Jew by the grace of Christ for a different gospel. Some are disturbing you and they want to distort the gospel of Christ. This is not the gospel. In fact he wrote in chapter one, if anyone comes to you and preaches a different gospel let him accursed, let him be anathema. He then adds, I don’t care if it’s an angel from the heaven, if he preaches a different gospel. Let him be anathema he is like hard here. Now you might say how does this apply to us? We don’t have anybody coming over from Jerusalem here bothering us. There is nobody standing up here from Jerusalem saying ‘hey you want to be a follower of Christ? Then you’re gonna need to get circumcised surgeons are standing by.’ Surgeons are not standing by. We don’t have that problem here. So how does it apply then? Here is how.
He confronts these false teachings. And in so doing gives us the best description of the gospel found in the bible. You want to go deep in the faith; Galatians is the book to do it. I mean you’re gonna get some of the richest deepest understandings of the gospel right here. Not only that, but by answering these false teachers, he gives very practical answers to some very modern dilemmas. For example how does a sinner becomes justified before God? Okay now he’s got our attention because we’re all relating to that. How does a sinner have any possibility of a relationship to the Holy God of the universe? How is that possible? Great question. How do we live before God in a world which is very much opposed to God another question? It’s an interesting thing recent survey showed 93% of Americans believe in God. That’s an amazing statistic. Why is it then, that, the notion of living in a Godly way is so mocked and ridiculed today? Why is that? I suggest to you today because there is a great disconnect. People believe in God, even the demons believe in God, the question is what do you do about it? Do you live according to that belief?
One of the great things that come out of these verses is how to live by faith. He says no man is justified before God by the works of the law by the doing of good things. No man is justified before God by that. What does he mean by justified? That’s a good question that we need to understand. It means to be righteous. But how is a man made righteous? I mean if we are sinners and God is holy how do we connect the dots? How do we have any chance of being in a relationship to holy God? Can we pull ourselves up by our own righteousness? God is unimpressed and in fact he says the righteousness of men is as filthy rags. Now that’s not gonna do a thing. Well how does a man become righteous? How is a man justified?
Now the word justified is key here and somehow the phrase or the way of saying it easy to make it a handle on but it’s not quite right. It’s almost there. It says a man is justified and it means just as ified never sinned. Well that is true it’s not quite enough because there is more to be justified than that. Here is what I mean, the day that will come in the future where we all stand before the great throne of God and give an account of our lives, that day is coming and we know it is true. It’s an ominous thought well it’s a glorious thought. But here is really what we understand the gospel of Christ tells us that when we come to that great day when we stand before the great throne of the living God and we have to give an account of our lives we wil not be standing there wearing our sins. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be standing there before the Holy God of all and wearing my sins. It will be embarrassing and humiliating. I don’t want to be wearing my sins. That’s the glorious gospel he removes our sins from us just as if I never sinned.
If I am not wearing my sins then what am I wearing? Here is the glorious thing; he takes the righteousness of God found in the Christ Jesus and he gives that to us so that when we are standing before the great throne of the living God we are wearing a robe and it is a robe of righteousness. God’s righteousness given to us as a gift that is the gospel of Jesus Chris and that is how a man is made righteous before God. It’s simply given to him and we receive it by faith. Now let’s read it. Chapter 2 verse 18, if I rebuild what I once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. What does he mean by that? If I rebuild my relationship to God based on the law like I used to be why would I rebuild that when I have already destroyed that? Because if I live by the law; I’ll be condemned by the law. I’ll prove myself to be a transgressor. For trough the law I died to the law so that I might live to God. And then verse 20 which is very famous. I have been crucified by Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now in the flesh, which means in this physical world, I’m gonna live my life by faith in the son of God who loved me and delivered himself up for me. I don’t know of the grace of God if righteousness comes through the law then Christ dies needlessly. If a person can pull himself up by his righteous bootstraps Chris didn’t need to die.
So he goes on in chapter 3 verse one, you foolish Galatians, I don’t know but I think Paul is kind of hard here, you foolish Galatians who has bewitched you for whose eyes Jesus Christ publicly portrayed as crucified, this is the only thing I want to find out from you. Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? It is by faith. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the spirit are you going to be perfected by the flesh by the works of the flesh? No you’re not. Did you suffer so many things in vain if indeed it was in vain? Does he then who provide you with the spirit and works miracles among you does he do it by the works of the law or by adhering with faith? It’s by faith. It’s all about faith.
So he brings up Abraham who is the father of faith. Even so Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore be sure of this; it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. Now Abraham is a key figure in the world today so it’s really important for us to understand this. How is Abraham a key figure? How so, because, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all trace their heritage back to Abraham. How does Christianity do that, I’ll explain it in a moment. Judaism does that straightforwardly because they trace their roots back to Isaac’s son. What about Islam? All of the Arab nations recognize and state that they are sons of Abraham as well but through the son of Ishmael or the son of Hagar Ishmael. I’ll explain that in a moment but it’s very important for us to understand that all of these relate back to Abraham. That’s why, he says, be sure of this.
Verse seven; it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham. So the scriptures, verse 8, for seeing that God justify the gentiles by faith preached the gospel beforehand through Abraham. Saying all the nations shall be blessed in you. So how is that true? How are all the nations of the earth blessed through Abraham? Here is how, God gave Abraham a promise, he would have a son. Now it was an amazing wonderful promise. And here is why because Abraham was old, more to the point, his wife Sara was old and they had no children, she was barren. And so to receive a promise that he’s gonna have a son when his wife was old, like 80 years old, old, she’s like way old, she’s beyond the age of having a baby for sure. And not only will you have a son but there will be a descendent of that son who will bless all the nations of the world. How so, by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Abraham believed, he says, but it wasn’t quite so straightforward because there is a moment of disbelief first. What I mean by that is this, okay so he heard the promise of God that he would receive a son, so his wife Sara being old, said I’m old but how about this idea, why don’t you take my hand maiden Hagar and have a child through her. So he listened to his wife, he took Hagar, next thing you know she is pregnant. She has a son, his name is Ishmael.
The messenger of the lord returns, no, that is not what I said, that is not what I promised you, that took no faith at all Abraham. In fact it was a completely lack of faith. No, he said, your wife Sara will have a son. Now interestingly, Sara was over hearing all of this, she was in the tent listening. And when she heard the man say your wife Sara will have a son, she laughed. Later when she was serving the messenger said to her ‘why did you laugh?’ and she denied it ‘I did not laugh.’ And he said oh you did, and the fact he said this time next year when I return you’ll have a son and you will name him Isaac he laughs. Now why did he call the boy he laughs? To remind them the lack of faith, I don’t think so, I am convinced he named him Isaac he laughs, because you will laugh at lack of faith today but you’re gonna laugh at the rejoicing of the fulfillment at the promise of God. And indeed Sara had a boy his name was Isaac.
Now an interesting thing, there was tension in the house, between Hagar and Sara. Between Ishmael and Isaac, Ishmael being quite older, was picking on him. And so Sara at one point had enough and she actually said to Abraham ‘I want that woman out of here. And take the boy out also get him out of this house.’ And he listened to his wife and he put her out. And there is Hagar out there at one point with Ishmael and she sits down in despair. A messenger comes to her Ishmael will be a father of nations. But he will be a wild man and there will always be tension between him and his brothers. You know what is interesting, that prophetic word is being fulfilled before our eyes in the news practically every day. That tension between the descendants of Ishmael or the Arab nations and the descendants of Isaac the Jewish people, all the enmity and conflict even today and will continue to do so until the return of Jesus Christ who is our peace.
I. Don’t Rebuild What Should be Broken
It is important to understand all of these is related to what we’re reading here. Back to our reading of scripture, verse 9, so then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer for as many as the works of the law are under a curse. It is written, cursed is the one who does not abide by all things. All things written in the book of the law to perform them, now, that no is justified by the law before God is evident and then he quotes from Habakkuk 2:4; the righteous man, he will live by faith. Now let’s go back over these verses. There is a great point that he brings to us in verse 18 that we really need to start with. Don’t rebuild what should be broken. Don’t rebuild your relationship to God based on the way things used to be. See in that day there were two possibilities on how a person can relate to God, either the person a Jew living under the strict supervision of the law or they were of gentiles of the way of the world, they were living worldly, they were without God they were without hope. But those now in Christ who were formerly Jews who were formerly under the strict supervision of the law have been adopted. And now have a completely different relationship. Now they have God as a father good father. And then gentiles those who were once worldly are strange far off they’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ and they too are adopted and have God as a good father.
A. Don’t go back there again
The point he is making is your relationship to God whether Jew or gentile has been completely redefined don’t go back there again. Don’t go back there ever again. Let’s take each case separately starting with those under the strict supervision of the law. We start with this question, why did God even give the law? What was the point, if no one can live by its standards, if everyone is gonna fall short of the standard of holiness outlined in the law, why even give it? That’s a good question, he answers in verse 19, chapter 3 verse 19, why the law then? It was added because of transgressions in other words because of man’s tendency to our sin, God gave the law to the Jews to restrain them from sin knowing that sin is very destructive to people’s lives and it is. And in this chapter he says the law is like a tutor.
Unfortunately that’s not the best English word for that because whenever we think of the word tutor we think o somebody needs help with their math and so they go visit their tutors on Wednesday afternoons. No that’s not this at all the word in Greek is important here, it’s the root where we get the word pedagogy or the principle of teaching. It referred to a person who was a servant in a wealthy house. See the wealthier Greeks and romans would take a servant and give that servant a responsibility to watch over a child. And the whole idea is to watch over the morals to make sure that child did nothing wrong. And so you’ve got this servant with authority and that child cannot even leave the house without the pedagogues going with him everywhere he went, no you’re not doing that, no you put that back that’s against the rules, that’s against your dads law, no, sorry and I have authority put that down.
Here is the whole thing; there is no relationship to that. The whole job that he had was to be a strict supervisor there is no relationship, put that down, take that back, there is no relationship to that. Although when you think about it, it’s not such a bad thing in a sense, there is a lot of things that a kid can get in trouble with today. There are a lot of things that can melt a kid’s life down today there is more ways for a kid to melt down his life that ever before in the history of the world, so having a supervisor is not such a bad thing. The problem is there is no relationship to it there got to be a better way. There is a better way.
Galatians 3, verse 24 to 26, the law has become our tutor, our pedagogues, to lead us to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith but now faith has come, we no longer are under a tutor, and we don’t have that strict supervision like that. You are sons of God now through faith in Christ Jesus. You have God as your aba you have a relationship now. Strict supervisor pointing out every infraction, is that a way to interact to God? Is God your pedagogues, no he is not, he is your aba father. Some people were raised by very strict parents and for them they kind of relate that. They think, God is like my strict parent no he is aba father who loves you. It’s important for us to clarify this because there are some people who criticize the church. I don’t want to be a part of church because the church is a place where there is a bunch of do’s and don’ts, it’s just a bunch of regulations, it’s about what you can and can’t do. That’s the whole thing.
B. Don’t go back to the world either
No it’s not the gospel that’s a distortion of the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus Christ has paid your sins by paying them on the cross himself that you might have a relationship to God as your aba father. Galatians, chapter 2 verses 13 to 14, he made you alive. He made you alive together with him having forgiven all your transgressions. Having forgiven all of them, having cancelled the certificate of death, consisting of decrees against us, which is hostile to us and he has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross. You have a whole relationship to God now. ‘Why would you want to go back there?’ he says to them. What about the gentiles those who were worldly? He says the same thing don’t go back to the world either. If you were formerly far off and strange from God and now you’ve been brought by the blood of Christ, don’t rebuild what was once destroyed, don’t go back to what you once were, it was broken for a reason.
Galatians, chapter 4 verse 9, but now that you have come to no God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elements of things to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
A few years ago Pastor Mathew, many of you know Pastor Mathew he is our campus pastor here, a few years ago he brought a message and the title of it made great laughter and great conversation because the title of it was, avoiding the vomit that was the title of the message. I mean we’ve been regurgitating that sermon for years, all right, that was bad. But it was a great point based on a great scripture. The scripture he was based on was, a dog returns to its vomit, don’t do it. A sow returns to its allowing in the mud don’t do it. Don’t go back. Let me give you another illustration. There is an enormously popular song out right now by Adele called hello. Does anybody know this song? You can admit it, it’s okay, and does anybody know this song? It’s a very popular song, because, first of all you have it admit Adele has a great voice, and the song is very tender it is beautiful and it really helps make the point that I am making here. Here is why, let me quote to you, some of the lyrics, form the song hello.
Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you 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. Many people relate to it because it’s like an old boyfriend, pining for old boyfriend or girlfriend. So she goes and continues, I have called you for a thousand times but you were never there, you never answered. I’m sorry for how I broke your heart and then she breaks into this beautiful amazing powerful chorus that goes like this. I’m not gonna sing it but it’s really beautiful and people are like, oh I really like this song and they really get into it because it makes them pine over old flame. Old flame, you’re trying to call old flame? You know how many relationships have been damaged because somebody connected with an old flame.
II. Live to God by Faith
Can I say something? I love you, which is why I say this, if you’re connecting to an old flame through social media or whatever, you’re married, he’s married or she’s married or whatever, and you’re connecting through social media, can is ay something to you because I love you, stop it, and stop it right now. Isiah 43, verse 18 to 19, do not call to mind the former things, do not ponder things of the past, behold I will do something new, now I will spring forth, will you not be aware of it? Revival is in front of you but God wants to do his in front of you, God wants to do marvelous things, God wants to do awesome amazing things, revival is in front of you, don’t look back, don’t pine for the days of past. How’re you gonna live? It’s in front of you. What he’s telling us is, listen, Paul writes, the life that I now live I’m going to live by faith.
A. It’s no longer I who live
See, live to God by Faith, is the answer so he brings us to verses 19 and 20. I die to the law because that I might live unto God, famous verse 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 this flesh. In this physical world I am going to live this life by faith. I am going to live by faith and the son of God who loved me and delivered himself for me. That’s how I am going to live.
There are lots of choices today a lot of ways that a person chooses to live. How’re going to live? There are a lot of ways to melt down your life, a lot of bad decisions a person can make. Paul says I’ll tell you how I am going to live I’m going to live by faith. Now what does this mean? He explains it very well. He explains it by helping us to see in verse 20 it is no longer I who live. He says I have been crucified with Christ and I’ve been raised up with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ is living in me. What does this mean? What does it mean I’ve been crucified? What does it mean I died, I mean you look pretty alive to me, when did you die, how did you die? He says this is how, you were crucified in Christ. Now he is speaking spiritually. The spirit placed you into Christ so that his death is accounted to you, the wages of sinners death and so he takes the death of Christ and it’s accounted unto you. The payment has been made. All of your sins have been accounted for. It is paid and paid in full because he’s taken by the Holy Spirit and placed you into Christ that you have been crucified with him.
But, Romans chapter 6, verses 3 to 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 become united with him in the likeness of his death certainly we shall certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. This is the glorious aspect of the gospel. Here is my point sin no longer has a claim for you. Sin no longer has a claim on you there is no longer a warrant out for your arrest you know it’s a red picture. Sin, doing sinful things, worldly things, and well sin has got a claim on you, like a warrant out for you. It’s got your day it knows who you are and sin has got accounting that’s still waiting for you. You’re living on borrowed time you might say. Here is a glorious thing of the gospel, oh yeah, not anymore.
B. Take hold of a promise
You’ve been set free. The warrant the claim was served on Jesus and he paid it all in full. You’re not living on borrowed time you’re living on eternal time now. You’re alive you’re free because the resurrected son of God is living in you. His resurrected life has been given to you as a gift. You’re living an eternal life right where you sit. You’ve been adopted by God. He is your father you’ve been adopted as a son or a daughter. Galatians, chapter 4 verses 4 to 6, when the fullest time came, God sent forth his son, that we might receive the adoption of sins and because you’re his sons God has sent forward the spirit of his son into our hearts. Crying aba, daddy, papa, father. How do you live by faith? Take hold of the promise, that’s why he brings up Abraham, father of faith. You see God gave Abraham a promise you’re gonna have a son. You have a son. And through that son a descendant would come through whom the world would be blessed.
Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Be sure of this he said it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. See here is the point he is making. When you are given a promise by God, when you take hold of that promise and hold it fast, and hear this, live according to that promise that is living by faith. What does living by faith mean? You’re given a promise, you take hold of that promise and you live according to the promise. See do you believe that there is a God? Good even the demons believe that but they do not live according to it. Live by faith. Take hold of the promise.
You know, over the last year and half, my granddaughter has asked many, many times, why has God allowed evil to exist? It’s not a theory it’s very personal. Why does God allow evil, this man, why? But you see, my answer, I don’t know all things. I can explain the best that I can but at the end of the day I don’t know all things but I do know this, he has given us a promise and I would take hold of that promise. He’s promised that he loves us I believe it. I will hold on to that promise. He loves you too. He’s promised to pour his fever out on us I will hold on to that promise. He’s promised to be with us, never to leave us, never to forsake us, I will hold on to that promise. He’s promised that he’s going to give us eternal life and that we will see your mother again I take hold of that promise. You hold on to that promise to. When you take hold of a promise and you live according to that promise you’re living by faith.
One of the best examples in the scriptures of taking hold of a promise, even in spite of everything that seems to go against it, it had to bring up Joseph. Here Joseph was, all the way back in Genesis, he was given a promise he was given a vision that God would use him in great and glorious ways giving him a position of authority so much so that even his brothers would come underneath his authority and greatness which they didn’t seem appreciate very much. Confirmed twice that he would have this promise but then everything went wrong. One thing after another gone wrong, his brothers, when they saw him coming towards them, there is that brother of ours and they seized him and betrayed him and they saw knights heading down to Egypt they sold him. Hey how much would you give us for this kid? They sold him into slavery. Next thing you know he’s down there in Egypt and he is a slave in this man’s house and then the man’s wife has eyes for him and wants to seduce him which he refuses to do. So in her anger she betrays him and falsely accuses him and next thing you know he is in Jail. How much more can go wrong? One thing after the other where is the promise? What happened to the promise God? If anybody can be angry with God it would be Joseph. But he doesn’t. If anyone can doubt God it’s be Joseph but he doesn’t. What does he do? He was given a promise. He takes hold of the promise but here is the thing, and then, he lives his life according to that promise. I’ll prove it to you.
C. The righteous will live by faith
When Potifer’s wife tried to seduce him he gave an answer based on his faith. You can see from his answer that he was holding on to this promise and he was going to live according to his faith. Genesis 39 verse 9 he said to the woman how could I do this great evil and sin against God. In fact if we can remember that verse it would save us a lot of trouble. How could I do this great evil and sin against God? He is living according to his faith. Why is he living according to his faith when everything is going wrong in his life? Because he believed the promise, he’s holding on to that promise and he’s going to live according to it and he’s gonna honor God every step of the way. Abraham believed God. He believed that God would give him a son and that the world would be blessed through that son he believed it.
Has God given you a promise? Are you holding on to a promise? Absolutely, you know what promise God has given you? That same son that God promised to Abraham he promised that same son to you. The descendant of Isaac is Jesus Christ the savior of the world. I send forth a son, it would be a miracle, the government will rest on his shoulders, he will be called almighty God, eternal father, prince of peace, and I send him to you, will you receive the promise? Will you take hold of that promise? For through that son, you will receive the forgiveness of sins, I promise. Through that son you will receive eternal life, I promise. Through that son you will receive adoption as sons and daughters, I promise. Through that son the love of God would be poured out to you, I promise. Now will you believe that promise? Will you hold fast to that promise? Will you live according to that promise?
Here is why, verse 11, the righteous will live by faith. In verse 11, he quotes from Habakkuk 2 verse 4, now interestingly he only quotes half of the verse, I want to give you the whole verse. Habakkuk 2:4 reads this way, behold as for the proud one his soul is not right. That is a great opener to that verse. Behold as for the proud one his soul is not right. Okay we’re gonna make that personal. How’s your soul? Is your soul right? Is your soul made right with God? How is a person made right with God? That’s a great question. How do you get right with God? How does a sinner get right with God? That’s a really great question.
You know the entire reaffirmation can be traced back to this one verse, Martin Luther Catholic, Augustinian monk, he wanted to be right with God and so he did what others were doing at the time in the hopes of finding favor to get right with God. So he bit his body black and blue hoping to purify the flesh that’s what people did. He would sleep outside in freezing temperatures hoping to concur the flesh people did this. He went to confession repeatedly over the slightest matter, in fact Got to the point, where Abbot said either go out and commit a sin worth confessing or stop coming in here. He decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome, he lived in Germany, and it’s a tradition to take a pilgrimage to Rome and to climb the stairs that Jesus climbed. Supposedly they had secured the original stairs that Jesus climber up that led to the great judgment hall of the governor by which Jesus was condemned and his blood was on the stairs and they brought it to Rome and it is common to make it right with God you need to climb these stairs. On your bare knees while whipping yourself with something and he did it. So he goes to Rome rolls his pants up and he starts rock stone steps. He’s going on these steps beating himself with something he was bloody he was swollen. He’s climbing up these stairs and a verse comes to his mind Habakkuk 2:4. The righteous will live by faith he had just read that verse as he was coming towards Rome. And it was pressed upon his mind the righteous will live by faith. Because it’s just occurred to him because he know that verse as the proud one his soul is not right. But the righteous live by faith simply and purely by faith. And it occurred to him what am I doing, this is not going to make me right with God.
And he got up and stood right there and looked around and he rolled his pants down covered up all his bloody knees and walked right down the steps and walked right home to Germany. I’m done with this and the reaffirmation followed. We are received by God by faith and faith alone. No man makes himself righteousness enough God is not impressed. My relationship to God is a gift it is a beautiful gift. He later wrote before those words brokered into my mind I was angry with God. Because not content with frightening us sinners by the law and miseries of life he further increased our torture by the gospel. But then by the spirit of God I understood those words a just man lives by faith. He said I felt born again. I was like a new man. I am free and he whom the son sets free is free indeed.
How is your relationship with God? You’ve been given a promise will you take hold of that promise? Will you live according to the promise? Will you honor God as you go? He’s given you a gift. It is a beautiful gift simply receive it.