Thursday, August 25, 2011

Galatians Chapter 5; Sermon 6

Galatians 5:1-15 “From slavery to freedom every day”
Last week CWC had a guest speaker: James Dobson!, so I took a week off from the Galatians commentary. On the previous post, my “negative” comments about one aspect of the sermon were not directed towards Dave Ward, but at Protestantism in general. Paul uses some harsh language in Galatians and it is easy to get caught up in the emotion. The saying that comes to my mind is “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” There is no need to throw the Torah out with Paul’s admonition to the Gentile believers to not get circumcised. It is after all, the Word of God. 
One thing that I wanted to cover before I get into the sermon is the parable of Hagar and Sarah. (From Holy Epistle to the Galatians by Thomas Lancaster; pages 227-228:) The passage contrasts two types of proselytes: the legal proselyte and the spiritual proselyte. The one becomes part of Abraham’s family by conventional conversion, the other through faith in Messiah, the promised seed of Abraham, in whom all nations find blessing. The passage does not contrast the Old Testament against the New Testament or the Old Covenant against the New Covenant. It does not equate Judaism and Torah with slavery, nor does it pit Christians against Jews. It means that if you are a Jewish believer [in Yeshua], you should be proud of being Jewish because you are a child of Abraham, legally, physically, and spiritually. It means that if you are a Gentile believer, you, too, are part of the people, a spiritual son of Abraham, and that is remarkable - miraculous even. You are a child of the promise that God made to Abraham so long ago.”
Sermon 6 was given by Kevin Harvey, who is one of the pastors at Central. The theme is that Christians are called to freedom. If we live by the Spirit, we will not satisfy the sins of the flesh. Paul encourages the reader to “Stand Firm and Fight!,” for there is a battle going on. 
Kevin mentioned that there were two extremes going on in Galatia:
Legalism --------------------------------- Libertarianism
There are rules and laws on one side and an “I can do anything I want" attitude on the other side. Satan doesn’t care which extreme we take; he just wants to destroy us. In the book of Joshua, God tells Israel to take the promised land. “But there are other people living here!”, the Israelites said. Joshua records the reply: 
"No man shall [be able to] stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, [so] I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
From this Kevin deduced that, “God sets us free to fight!”
Joshua 1:6-8  "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the [Torah] which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. "This Book of the [Torah] shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
To illustrate his point, Kevin had another pastor come up on stage to participate in several one-on-one matches, such as having both face each other and slapping each other’s hands (you can check this out on the video: ) until one of them lost their balance. 
Freedom is God’s desire and gift for us. The Judaizers were saying that the Gentile believers had to become Jews before they could become good Christians. Legalism involves all of those “rules and regulations” (in the law). Paul says that the only thing that counts is faith expressed in love. 
Kevin then referred to several cultural things that might need some explanation. Holland was settled by a lot of Dutch Reformed folks who brought their Dutch Reformed Christian faith with them. Even Central Wesleyan has a lot of members who grew up in that denomination. One of the rules was that you could not mow your lawn on Sunday. Some even discouraged going to the beach on Sunday (Lake Michigan and its gorgeous beaches is nearby). And if you did, you sure couldn’t dip your foot into the water! This is legalism pure and simple. Salvation is not of works. 
Kevin related that once he preached in a church that was “attached to its furniture.” It had a big wooden pulpit up front and a big communion table nearby. These were expected to stay there and the preacher was expected to use them. There is no freedom when we make our church furniture an idol.
God has given us freedom to serve one another.
At this point, Kevin’s wife, Sherry, came on the stage and spoke. She related a story about how she and Kevin resolved to not let the sun go down on their anger. One night in bed she became angry (with Kevin) and moved to the living room couch. After several hours of waiting (Kevin had since gone to sleep), she asked God to help her get back to the bed, for she couldn’t do it. Then, she said, she could hear an evil laugh and ran back to the bed! Kevin is not the enemy; Satan is. That’s the battle we face. 
Satan wants to mess up our lives. Live by the Spirit. This passage of Galatians has a list of things that Paul reminds them are sin:
Galatians 5:18 “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The interesting thing is that all of these “works of the flesh” are covered in the commandments. Paul could just as well have quoted from numerous passages in Numbers or Deuteronomy, but he went to the heart of the matter and paraphrased each one down to its essence. He then summed all of those up into one thought: Galatians 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Not to get too confusing here, but these positive commandments are covered in the Torah as well. His double negative (Against such there is no law.) essentially says that.
In conclusion in the sermon, We will all fight the battle until we die. To have victory over sin:
1. Name the sin
2. Confess the sin
3. Fight against the sin.
To see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives:
1. Pray for it
2. Watch others who are exhibiting the fruit in their lives
3. Celebrate it.

1 comment:

  1. That was enjoyable to read, thanks for posting it.

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