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Text: Galatians 6:11-18
FCF: We often struggle understanding and executing our role in sanctification.
Prop: Because Christ alone produces change in us, we must live to be transformed by the cross of Christ.
[Slide 1]Turn in your bible to Galatians chapter 6. Today we will complete the 3rd book of the bible that we have completely gone through together. Philemon, Jude and after this morning, providing that the Lord does not take us home beforehand, we will finish up the book of Galatians. It is customary in long books studies (of which this really wasn’t) to conclude the series with a summary sermon and as enticing as it would be to craft 1 more sermon on Galatians making an even 20 – Paul does a far better job summarizing everything from the letter in these last 8 verses than I could ever hope to. By way of context we have just seen Paul describe how we might live in the Spirit. We have seen him describe to us the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. We have seen the importance of bearing one another’s sin burdens and compassionately rebuking those who have fallen through the ice. To help them not only get victory over the sin and to keep from sinning in that way again, but to restore them so they are fellow restorers of others. Finally, Paul shifts to his closing remarks. He wants to highlight the main points of this letter in this last section. To the extent that if you follow these last 8 verses and use them to interpret the entire book, you’d be safe to do so. So, for the last time, at least for a while, please look again with me in the book of Galatians chapter 6 and I’ll start reading in verse 11. I am reading from the NASB but please follow along in whatever version you prefer.
[Slide21]Kadie and I have an expression we like to use when we get immensely distracted by something on the internet. Tornados have a habit of picking things up and throwing them elsewhere in no time at all and against the will of whatever is being picked up. Well we take the end of nado and add that to whatever distracted us. If it is news, then we got caught in a newsnado. If it has to do with living all-naturally it is a crunchnado. If it is interesting articles it is a clicknado etc. It doesn’t happen often but every now and again we get caught by these on facebook or just the internet in general and don’t come up for air for 10 or 15 minutes. All of a sudden the one who is not in the nado asks, what are you doing. That seems to pull us out of it. One of the worst versions of the clicknados is the “10 things” articles. You know the ones. 10 things you didn’t notice when you watched Remember the Titans or top 10 one liners from celebrity interviews. The worst ones are when it is 10 things but you have to click about 20 times to read about the 10 things. You know how many clicks they get from me on that one? 1. You have 1 chance to get my attention and if I gotta click more than that, I will live without knowing the other 9 things. But I am guilty of this and perhaps you are too. Even when there are 10 things listed on 1 page, what do you do? You read the bullet points don’t you. Oh yeah. Explanations are for chumps. Just give me, in 5-7 words each of the 10 things and I am good. 10 ways to enhance your bible study. I don’t care about your explanation just number the page 1-10 and give me 5 words next to each number. Boil it down for me. Right? Well if that is you. Then today you are in luck. Paul is about to boil down everything that he has been saying in this entire book in 8 verses. Not only that, but he is going to boil down the meaning of life to a couple verses. Not only that but he is going to boil down the essence of Christianity in 4 words. If you have missed all of Galatians up to this point but are joining us now – you must listen to every word the apostle Paul says today. Because literally every word is chalk full of meaning. There is not a stroke of his pen today that you can afford to miss. And even if you have been with us up to this point and have heard every sermon and have followed along with us by some other means, you cannot afford to sleep today. You cannot afford to let this message slip through because these last 8 verses define Galatians. The last 5 define our existence as humans and the last 4 define what Christians are. If you have ever wondered what beign a Christian is boiled down as far as it possibly can be – you cannot afford to miss 1 word today. Paul will definitely conclude his defense of the gospel today by stating in no uncertain terms that Christ alone produces lasting change in us. [Slide31]That change then, becomes our sole aim in this life… to be transformed by the cross of Christ.
So first, we will see Paul conclude his assault on the doctrine, motives, and methods of the Judaizer. In so doing, he reveals to us a timeless truth that transcends the Judaizers and encompasses all religions of men save faith in Christ. [Slide 4]That truth is that all other paths to God, at their core, bring glory to men. Since that is the case, our lives then should be lived to be transformed by the powerful application of the cross of Christ.
I.) All other paths to God bring glory to men, so live to be transformed by the cross. (11-14a)
a. [Slide5] 11 – See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
i. Back in chapter 4 we learned that Paul was probably not going to stop in Galatia on his missionary trip at all. However, a sickness forced him to go there. We also learned that this sickness was somehow a test for the Galatians to accept what he was saying as truth.
ii. What the sickness was, is anyone’s guess, but we supposed that perhaps it had something to do with Paul’s eyes. A problem that no scripture passage clearly speaks of, but we are given hints at throughout Paul’s letters.
iii. Here, at the end of the letter we learn a couple things.
1. Paul has not been, up to this point, writing the letter. He has been dictating it to someone else to write.
2. Paul grabs the pen from this person and writes in large letters, presumably so he can see what words he is writing.
iv. Why would he do this?
1. In our culture, when you back something or agree to something what do you do? You sign it right. You provide your signature.
2. Paul is doing the exact same thing. He is bringing an added layer of authority and sincerity here. No transcriber would write these words, he would write them himself.
b. [Slide6] 12 – Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh
i. Obviously referencing back to the Judaizers.
ii. This last section of scripture is tying together the book, so he resurfaces the judaizer problem to bring it definitively to an end.
iii. They want to make a good showing – or they want to look like they are pious, holy and righteous
iv. in the flesh – in their own effort and by human standards.
c. try to compel you to be circumcised
i. Their desire to look good to men produces evangelistic fervor.
ii. They desire to have the glory of converting you back to Judaism or some Judeo-Christian hybrid.
d. simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
i. These people live in fear of the Jewish world in which they live.
ii. They are afraid to claim Christ as the Messiah and cast off the law because they are afraid that they will be persecuted by those in Judaism.
iii. If they can convince a bunch of Gentiles to adopt circumcision and take on the ceremonial aspects of the law, they perhaps can make a case for themselves when they are found out.
iv. This again muddies the water for us as to whether these people are Christians or not.
v. Believing part of the gospel is believing a false gospel
e. [Slide 7] 13 – For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves
i. While this reference is somewhat ambiguous, it makes most logical sense that Paul here is referring to the entire nation of the Jews of which he can personally speak.
ii. We have, in our study of Galatians, speculated as to the nature of Paul’s conversion and that being a successful Pharisee perhaps he was fooling himself to think he kept the law. A statement like this is, perhaps, the evidence for the tumult in his heart as he approached Damascus.
iii. No Jew has ever kept the law, except for the one who was and is God.
f. but they desire to have you circumcised so they may boast in your flesh
i. No doubt a devout Jew would consider it a great victory to cause a Jewish believer to doubt. And greater still a Gentile believer.
ii. To bring a Jew back to Judaism is good, but to bring a Gentile to Judaism is what they thought God had commissioned them to do in the Old Testament. Of course, the truth is that they were to be God’s people and bring outsiders to Him.
iii. In any case, the truth is obvious, that men get much glory in the Judaizing of these people.
iv. A stagger modern correlation here, is the pride that some sects of Christianity levy in winning souls and counting baptisms. May I submit to you that no man has ever won a soul to Christ and no man has ever led someone to God. They are drawn by the Spirit. We simply took part in the harvest.
g. [Slide 8] 14a – But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
i. May it never be is the strongest way to say no in Greek. The King James authors tried to capture this by saying God forbid, but do so by somewhat polluting the meaning of the words.
ii. Not may it die, but may it never have been born. May it never have been in existence.
iii. That I would boast. Paul is saying that he would never, ever, boast in anything. Not just in winning converts to his religion… but in anything. Because in nothing does he have any right to boast.
iv. Except 1 thing. 1 thing that he will boast in. And it is not from him.
v. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is there to boast in here?
vi. To boast on someone else is to bring them glory. To praise them.
vii. To praise the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is to bring glory and honor to the one who sent the Son of God to it. It brings glory and honor to the One who hung on it and it brings glory and honor to the one who invades our hearts because of it.
viii. To boast in this – brings no glory to men and all glory to God the Father.
h. The cross of Christ is at the forefront of this entire discussion and it is the only thing that produces any change in us.
[Slide 9 (blank)] And we must change… but more on that in a moment. In these first few verses we see Paul revealing the religion of the Judaizers and by extension, every other religion on the planet save one. That all of them give at least some glory to men. There is glory from other men in being devoted to your creed or traditions, there is glory from other men as you convert more and more to your creed or traditions and because there is glory and respect from men, there is not persecution. But what about this 1 faith that is different? What does that look like? [Slide 10] It starts and ends with the cross of Christ. That cross, offensive to all who have been previously introduced, does not just reach into our minds and change the way we behave, talk, or think. It reaches into our very souls. Into the core of our being. And it changes our very natures. Because of this. Because all other faiths make much of men and the one true faith makes much of the power of Christ’s cross – to a follower of the way – we live to be transformed b the cross. It becomes our mission. Our purpose. Our heartbeat. It is all that matters.
II.) The cross of Christ changes our natures not just our actions, so live to be transformed by the cross. (14b-18)
a. [Slide 11] 14b – through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world
i. The cross becomes a gateway. A vehicle by which we are radically transformed into something else entirely.
ii. The first step in that process is the deadening of the world to us and us to the world. But what does that mean?
1. The world and all it has becomes – so – empty.
a. The world system is what is being described here.
b. Obviously on earth, in this temporary life, there are things of beauty and pleasure that are good by God’s standard.
c. But the corrupted system of this world. Its culture, values, standards, expectations, goals, passions, dreams, hopes, morality and methods are all empty. They are worthless. They are bankrupt.
d. It cannot provide anything to us, because it is dead and it leads to death.
2. I have become an alien and an enemy to the world.
a. Through the cross, I have become everything the world hates.
b. I have become despised. I am odd, backward and dangerous. My viewpoints, my morality, my standards, my dreams, my goals, my culture, my values my hopes and my methods are foolishness to the world. And they will dismiss me until they no longer can – at which point they will kill me. Just like they did Jesus.
c. I represent everything they hate. Because I died on that cross.
d. The cross communicates 3 things to men for which they hate it.
i. They are spiritually bankrupt rebels to God.
ii. Their rebellion brings them under the wrath of God.
iii. They are helpless to this fate, and no human effort can assuage His righteous fury
e. To me the cross brings life through my death… to them it only brings death.
3. If you are a Christian… these two things should be true of you too. You should hate the world and it should hate you back. Not because you are a jerk, but because you are in Christ. The cross of Christ is foolishness to the Gentile and a stumbling block to the Jew – to be hated by the world all you need to do is believe the truth. And if you aren’t hated by the world – do you have the truth? A question that is worth asking yourself.
b. [Slide 12] 15 – For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision
i. Why is the world dead to him and him to the world – because performance is meaningless
ii. circumcision = law uncircumcision =lawless
iii. Simple adherence to some list of rules amounts to nothing – and it has always amounted to nothing.
iv. But through the cross of Christ, the world’s system, based on outward performance and human effort , based on the strength of your arm and the might of your heart “you can do everything you put your mind to” – all that comes crashing down at the foot of the cross where we see it to be a LIE!
v. Our minds can only displease God. And no matter what we put them to we will always be filthy.
vi. Through the cross we finally realize this truth.
vii. And because of this… the only thing that matters. The only thing that makes any difference is this…
c. but a new creation.
i. We are made new! Praise the Lord we are made new.
ii. From the inside out we are transformed.
iii. Not in human effort because that is not possible, but by the power of the cross of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God we are changed forever to be like Him. Both positionally and practically.
iv. This means that simple ascent to a set of truths with no life change and a continuance in sin amounts to nothing – and it has always amounted to nothing.
v. We have been predestined for good works and they will happen in us because we are a new creature.
vi. This then is the purpose of the Christian life. This is the goal. This is the mission. This is the pursuit. To be new. To be transformed.
d. [Slide 13] 16 - And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them
i. Peace with God and the withholding of God’s wrath against our depravity is absolutely contingent on living this truth.
ii. Namely that we are a new creation.
iii. Salvation is not a decision to accept something as a fact. It is not a prayer made in the heat of conviction. It is not set of words spoken or creeds believed. Nor is it a list of rules kept or a lifestyle lived.
iv. Salvation is an ongoing work that God begins, that God sustains, and that God will one day complete in you, to turn you from slave to sin to slave to Him. To change you from depraved and broken to holy and made new.
v. The fact of the matter is that if you are not a new creature – obeying Him out of dependence on His strength to do so – if you are not being made into the image of His Son, then you have no hope or guarantee of peace with God or mercy for your capital crimes against Him.
vi. In short then, Paul is saying that in the cross you are freed from the world and freed to be a new, law abiding, creature of God. And if that is true, then you are at peace with God and will obtain mercy when they complete their walk.
e. and upon the Israel of God
i. This is quite a difficult phrase and depending on how you translate it, boxes you into 1 of 2 eschatological camps. The word for and here in the text can mean either “and” or “that is”. So with “and” he is wishing peace and mercy upon those who have been made into new creatures and, as a separate entity, upon those who are the Israel of God or Jewish Christians. With “that is” he would be saying that he wishes peace and mercy on those who have been made new creatures, which are the Israel of God. Meaning they are the same thing.
1. If we translate it “which are” it puts us into a camp called -Replacement theology – which says that God saw the failure of Israel to do all that God asked of them as a failure of the covenant promises that were made to them. Therefore God has replaced the promises that were made to Abraham and all his seed with Christ and the church.
a. As far as evidence goes Galatians is full of texts that seem to indicate that this is abundantly true, like all of chapter 3.
b. What are the problems believing this?
i. The New Testament in various places seems to make a distinction between Israel and the church. In all these places, a replacement theologian would say that church is meant by the word Israel.
ii. There are passages of the New Testament that seem to indicate that God is not done with Israel – like Romans 11:1-12 where it seems that Paul is admitting that Israel has taken a back seat to the Gentiles, but Israel is still part of God’s plan. That one day the Gentiles being saved will make the Jewish elect jealous so they come back to God.
iii. A major problem believing this way is this. A vast amount of Old Testament Scriptures describe, in great detail, the fulfillment of the land promise to Israel, the coming earthly kingdom of the messiah and the coming judgment upon all the nations. And a vast amount of the book of Revelation reveals a literal 1000 year earthly reign of Christ and 144,000 Jewish elect being anointed to be witnesses on earth. In short, a major problem with this view is that you have to change the way you interpret these passages of scripture to mean something spiritually fulfilled in the church, and that makes the way you interpret scripture inconsistent
2. If we translate it “and” it puts us into a camp called – dispensational theology – Which says that while God does not change, he does choose to reveal His unchanging self and His unchanging plan in various different ways throughout the ages.
a. That the church is a great expansion of the promises to Israel and that they have been given an extra measure of grace to be included in the elect of God.
b. They are two distinct entities that do overlap but God has promises to each group that are fulfilled independently as well as promises to both that are fulfilled collectively.
c. What are the problems believing this way?
i. The New Testament does seem to draw a line between Israel and the church but it is not a very clear line. For instance – Israel is promised the land of Canaan and the church is promised the whole world.
ii. The biggest problem with this view is this – Jewish people are genetically almost extinct. The bloodlines are so muddled that to find a pure blooded Jew is impossible. Not only that, but the people who claim to be Jewish, adopt the name Jew, Practice Orthodox Judaism and live in the Jewish land are in fact, genetically 100% pure Gentile. And to be even more shocking this morning, may I suggest to you that Genetically speaking, the Muslim Palestinians actually have more Jewish blood coursing through their veins today than those who claim to be Jews. So without going into how we respond to the nation of Israel today as Christians and what all that means – strictly eschatologically speaking that means that to keep these two groups distinct, would mean that God would have to perform some kind of Genetic miracle to bring back the Jewish bloodlines or reestablish the tribes through new bloodlines.
3. So what do I think?
a. It doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of it all, it doesn’t matter.
b. Then why did we spend so much time talking about it?
i. In truth I wanted to talk about this way back in Galatians 3 but we didn’t have time for it then either.
ii. It is my responsibility as your primary teacher to present to you the full counsel of God and to inform you on various viewpoints of theology.
iii. Eschatology is a highly combative topic that no one can really be all that sure about. Therefore when we speak of it – there are a lot of opinions and each should be taken with grace.
ii. With regard to Galatians then, what we can know for sure is that Paul wishes upon All who believe and are true children of God, peace and mercy
f. [Slide 14] 17 – From now on let no one cause trouble for me
i. The trouble Paul is referring to here most certainly means the continued argument of the relationship between the law and grace.
ii. Paul seems to conclude that he has proven with definity, that we are free from the law and free to grace.
g. for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus
i. If you remember, Paul was stoned in Lystra and dragged out of the city because he was thought to have been dead. Miraculously he got up and went back into the city and left with Barnabas the next day.
ii. The marks he bears is probably referring back to the practice of a slave in Hebrew culture – where they would nail their ear to the door posts of their masters to signify that they were a slave by choice.
iii. Paul is saying that his deformities and ailments that he suffered for Christ are brands identifying him as Christ’s slave.
iv. So he is saying, stop questioning my authority and whether or not I gave you the truth. My scars are evidence that what I speak is truth.
h. [Slide 15] 18 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit brethren, Amen.
i. We as believers need continued grace from our Lord.
ii. This favor from God is not offered only at salvation but continually to those who follow Christ.
iii. There is a possibility that Paul is saying the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with your spirit.
1. You see there is no verb in this sentence. Literally it would be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with your spirit brethren. Amen.
2. Most translators put it as a wish to the Galatians because that conforms to the standard valediction or close of a letter.
3. However, theologically and contextually, for him to say that the grace of Christ IS with their spirit - and then call them brothers – makes a lot of sense too. Thus what you have here is not a wish but a promise.
iv. Grace is necessary because to be a new creature we will need God’s favor because it is not us producing that new creation it is the cross of Christ and the indwelling Spirit of God.
v. Therefore we see with finality and clarity that the purpose and mission, the aim and goal of the Christian life is to be transformed by the cross of Christ.
So what does that mean for us today? How specifically does that apply to us?
[Slide 16] Well when you combine the fact that all other paths to God give men glory with the concept that the cross of Christ alone changes our natures, it really leaves us with no other options but to live to be transformed by the cross of Christ.
Well stashed away in this application are 2 separate concepts.
First let me tackle the phrase, by the cross of Christ. I feel it is important for us to start with this one. It will help us apply the first part if we understand the last part.
The designer of the cross is God the Father, the executor (or the person who puts something into affect) of the cross is Christ, and the applicator of the cross if the Holy Spirit.
You will notice that nowhere in this description do we come into play. We have been attempting to drill this into our heads for a while and I think it is so difficult to do because of the “me-centric” society that we have.
Humanism has infested our doctrine of the gospel and we make salvation about us, for us, and dependant on us. Of course the problem with this is that according to scripture, it is simply untrue.
Salvation was not about us. True God’s creation fell. And true God loyally chose to show grace to us and offer mercy to save us from His own wrath. But He did not enact that salvation plan because we were dear to Him. He did not redeem us because we were worth redeeming. God would have been Just to destroy us. He would have been Just to throw every one of us into hell and to be quite honest – and pay close attention to what I am saying here so you don’t misunderstand and accuse me of heresy – IF God would suddenly decide to not honor his arrangement with us and cast us into hell even if we believed on Christ - WHO HERE WOULD HAVE A CASE AGAINST HIM? Now obviously that would mean God was a liar. And that would have some huge theological problems – but my point is this – salvation has so very little to do with us and so much to do with God. It isn’t about us and it really isn’t even for us.
It is for His name’s sake. It is for His glory. He won’t allow His name to be profaned the accuser stands in heaven and mocks God for losing His creation. He won’t allow it. So for His own glory and His own name’s sake – He will spare some from His wrath. So He will be glorified as a merciful God and a Just God at the same time! Because friend how can you be just and merciful at the same time? You can’t! To be just is to execute the letter of the law to the fullest extent and to be merciful is to spare what has been earned. They are contradictory but God accomplishes both with the cross.
And finally salvation is not dependant on us. How could it be? Where we struggle with this is not in our salvation from hell but in our salvation to holiness. It cannot be dependent on us because we are dead. Dead people can’t do much. The only reason we have life – spiritual life – is because we have been raised with Christ and rewarded with sanctification which in the end produces eternal spiritual life.
In other words your conversion, your growth in Christ, your maturity as a believer, and your eventual glorification has nothing to do with you, except you were there. You have as much claim to your salvation as you, a person who have never been to Chicago, and has never watched a baseball game, have to the cubs winning the World Series this year. How many of you wish to claim that you made that happen?
So it is that to be a successful Christ follower to the end and to walk into the gates of heaven means that God has had His way with you. If I can reverently say this – you were caught in a Godnado. He picked you up shook you around and when He is done with you he will cast you aside. The only difference is that those who are caught up – wouldn’t have it any other way. They disappear into Him and understand that this is the only way it can be. And it is only because of His grace and for His glory that when He casts you aside, it is gently into His Kingdom.
By the cross of Christ is the simple understanding that the performance of the individual is irrelevant because it is already woefully unacceptable. But the performance of Christ – is perfect. Wondrously adequate to satisfy our Holy God’s requirement. And in the cross – we trade places and the unacceptable becomes adequate and the adequate becomes unacceptable and bears the wrath of God while we bear the brand-marks of Christ.
But what about the first phrase? Live to be transformed.
Since outward performance does not matter – both in the circumcision being legalism and in the uncircumcision being lawless – the only thing that does matter is being a new creature.
The reason we wake up in the morning, the reason we live, eat, breathe, is to be made new. To be transformed into a living sacrifice. To be made into a proper image bearer of God. To be like Christ. On our mantles it shouldn’t read “eat pray love” it should simply say Be Made New.
This is the purpose of our faith. This is the point of Christianity. This is the goal of salvation. To bring glory to God by changing the very nature of fallen humanity. It becomes the heartbeat of every genuine believer to allow God to systematically kill off everything that is NOT like Christ so what IS like Christ can take its place.
The passion of the Christian is not to go to heaven, to be forgiven, to share the gospel, to go to church, to live in peace or any other petty purpose. The Christian’s passion is to be like Christ. Whatever the cost.
Salvation is a gift from God to us in that we do not earn it. But make no mistake, to accept this gift will demand everything from you. Why? Because God won’t let you be something He doesn’t want you to be if you are His.
Live to be transformed by the cross of Christ. Zealously pursue to be changed by God’s work through the cross. That is the message of Galatians, and really, that is the message of the bible.
It is a message that man is completely unable to boast in and will always be unpopular.
“Faith that destroys the capacity of man to boast will always be in the minority because man wants to control his salvation.” - James R. White
No wonder it is good news that no one wants.
But perhaps you do? Perhaps today will be the day that you accept that free gift knowing that it will demand everything from you. Will you turn from your wickedness? Will you depend only on the cross of Christ? Will you surrender to His will which is to change you into His image so you bring glory to God?
I’d love to talk to you about it if you do.
Claimed Christian – Ask yourself… is the only thing that matters to you being like Christ? Or are you happy to just accept the free gift of love from God and walk away unchanged. Heed Paul’s words, for you will find that as you walk away, the free gift will slip from your fingers.
[Slide 17 (blank) (end)] Pray
USB drives will be available by next week if you need the entire Galatians Series.
General Outlines from Several Sources available.