************ Sermon on Galatians 1:3-4 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 9, 2018
"Christ Rescues Us"
I The Need for Freedom
A The theme of Galatians is freedom: freedom from sin, freedom from judgment, freedom from hell, freedom from spiritual bondage. Galatians uses some form of the words "bondage" or "freedom" about twenty times in its six chapters. It is a book about the spiritual freedom that is ours in Christ.
The idea of freedom is a big thing to us Americans. Our constitution tells us we have the right to life, liberty (which is another word for freedom), and the pursuit of happiness. Our American culture prizes individual freedom.
B However, people are so confused as to what freedom means. For many in our culture, it means people are free to do whatever they want, to hear whatever they want, to think whatever they want, to be whatever they want. There are no absolutes and no moral restraints. There is no accountability, no responsibility, no judgment. People are free from authority and free from any outside morality.
The result of this view of freedom is easy to see all around us today: gay marriage, transgender bathrooms, legalized marijuana, fluid sexual identities (one morning you decide you are a woman and dress accordingly; the next morning you decide you are a man).
None of these people are free. To claim freedom is to deceive themselves. Instead, they are bound to sin, slaves to sin. Their freedom is to choose the sin that most appeals to them. They are not free from guilt. They are not free from judgment. They are not free from eternal punishment. It is all nothing but a lie. They are bound in the chains of transgression.
These people are doing the exact opposite of what Paul writes in Galatians 5:
(Gal 5:13) You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.Not free to sin; rather, free to love and serve. That's a totally different view of freedom.
C In Galatians, Paul identifies different kinds of bondage. Our text mentions bondage to the present evil age. Isn't that what we see around us today? People are slaves to whatever is current in popular culture. I turn on the TV. The liberals are slaves to the rubbish spouted by MSNBC or CNN. The conservatives are slaves to FOX and their point-of-view. I think to myself, "the plague on both their houses."
One of the reasons Paul wrote the book of Galatians is because of false teachers. These false teachers slipped inside the church and perverted the Gospel. They are wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They disguised themselves as angels of light. That's how Satan operates.
There sure are a lot of false teachers and teachings today: Islam, Hindu, Confucius, Buddhist, JW, Mormon, Scientology, Seventh Day Adventism, New Age ... But what Paul especially has in mind are the Judaizers. The Judaizers claimed to believe in Christ but they also believed that to be saved you needed to follow the Mosaic ceremonies, including the ceremony of circumcision, observance of the Sabbath, washing, and so on. Slaves to the works of the Law. That's what this was.
Jump forward fifteen centuries and you find a church, the Roman Catholic Church, that for about a thousand years enslaved people to works, to rituals, to ceremonies, to acts of the flesh in order to be saved. It is the same bondage as the Judaizers. And people are just as enslaved.
What a deadly teaching this is because it corrupts the purity of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Paul used to think salvation lay in the works of the Law. But he had no peace. And he cried out,
(Rom 7:24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?If you remember, Martin Luther had a similar experience. He tried to find peace and rest in the works of the Law. He did acts of penance. He fasted. He crawled up the steps of Rome. But nothing brought him peace.
Here is the bottom line: sinners are slaves to sin. They are slaves to their sinful nature. They are slaves to the works of the sinful nature. They are slaves to Satan and the present evil age. All of humanity, says the Bible, are enslaved by sin, enslaved by sin in the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan. They are children of the devil and there is no freedom. The freedoms they think they enjoy are only illusions on the way to the eternal bondage of hell. There is no freedom. Only bondage.
You are a sinner. I am a sinner. We are all bound by sin. It makes no difference what kind of life you live -- religious or irreligious, moral or immoral, good or bad, generous or stingy, thoughtful or impulsive, criminal or law-abiding, Democrat or Republican -- we all are sinners bound by sin and enslaved to sin.
II The Source of Freedom
A What is the answer to all this bondage? Where and how do we find freedom?
There are those who try to find freedom by doing what they want, where they want, when they want. A life with no restraints. The exact opposite of this are those who seek freedom by living a life of extreme self-denial.
Some believe freedom lies in self-reliance. Forget about other people. Start a commune somewhere in the mountains of Wyoming or Montana or in the deserts of California or Utah. This way no one can intrude on your life.
Some look for freedom in drugs and alcohol and their addictions make them more of a prisoner than before.
There are those in our country who believe freedom is found in the press, in the public media, in FaceBook and blogs and other means of mass communication. But the press is always a slave to its own ideology and freedom of the press means freedom to push that ideology. That's not freedom. It's another form of enslavement.
All the religions of the world claim to offer freedom. You can try any of them. They all offer some path to freedom from your problems, your worries, your trials, your fears, your guilt. They all lie. None of them offer freedom, true freedom.
B So where does freedom lie? Where is freedom to be found? Listen to the words of Jesus in John 8:
(Jn 8:31-32) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. (32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."The key to freedom is truth. The truth of the Gospel. The truth of the Word of God. That is the only thing that sets you free, because it alone frees you from the bondage of sin, and its guilt and judgment and death and eternal hell.
The message of Galatians is the message of freedom: real freedom, true freedom. Listen to how Paul puts it in Galatians 5: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Gal 5:1). Did you hear that? Freedom is found in Christ. Freedom is found only in Christ.
Freedom comes in Christ and in no other place. There is no freedom in legalism -- because nothing you do is ever good enough. There is no freedom in following the lusts and desires of the flesh. There is no freedom in the world's religions. Freedom is only in Christ. In Christ, and only in Christ, can you get freedom from sin and the consequences of sin.
When a person comes to Christ he or she comes to the Liberator. He is the One Who open the prison door. He is the One Who sets us free. He is the One Who frees us from the power of sin and guilt and death and hell and eternal punishment.
So what exactly did Christ do to give us freedom? Listen to our text for this Lord's Supper service: "[He] gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age" (Gal 1:4).
"[He] gave himself." Was His life taken from Him? Did He die the death of a martyr? Was His death accidental? No, none of this. "[He] gave himself." He gave Himself for our sins. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins. He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world by His one death on the cross.
And nothing adds to this work. Circumcision adds nothing. Rules and regulations add nothing. Ceremony adds nothing. Ritual adds nothing. Washing adds nothing. Your works of the law add nothing.
Christ gave Himself. He died for our sins. He paid the price of my sin and my guilt. He took on my shame. He made atonement for me a sinner.
C The result of this sacrifice? Rescue. The word "rescue" is the same word used elsewhere for the deliverance from Egypt. Rescue. Freedom. Liberty. Liberation. All because of Christ. And what a freedom it is. Freedom from sin. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from judgment. Freedom from eternal punishment. Freedom from the fires of hell.
(Gal 1:3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,This is how our Bible reading starts. On account of God's undeserved, unmerited, unearned grace, we are saved. Because we are saved, we have peace. Peace with God. A peace that passes all understanding. A peace that doesn't fear death or culture or Satan or the kingdoms of darkness. A peace that enjoys the freedom of the cross.
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