Find the audio for my sermon underneath the video of Greg’s sermon (his is great!)
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. 5Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
6 Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, 7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ 9For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.’ 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’12But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, ‘Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.’ 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’— 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The Promise to Abraham
15 Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, ‘And to offsprings’, as of many; but it says, ‘And to your offspring’, that is, to one person, who is Christ. 17My point is this: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.
The Purpose of the Law
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. 20Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
What is your favorite article of clothing? Why is it your favorite?
Perhaps it was a gift, perhaps it is something comfortable that you would prefer to wear most of the time, maybe it is a fancy piece that you get to wear only on special occasions.
My favorite outfit to wear is jeans, a tee shirt, a Columbia lightweight fishing shirt and sandals.
I like to wear these clothes because they are very comfortable, I can move around easily in them. The collar is open and doesn’t make me sweat like this one does. I feel most like myself in these clothes.
But I do not get to wear these clothes all of the time. Sometime I need to wear my clergy uniform. Sometimes I need to wear a suit and tie. Sometimes I need to wear a swimsuit. The articles of clothing we choose to wear are usually appropriate for the setting and activity we are to engage in.
Today we hear from Paul letter to the Galatians,“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
You see Christ is the clothing we should intentionally put on ourselves each and every day. No matter the activity or setting we plan to find ourselves in, putting on Christ ensures that we are reflecting our true selves.
Today we are engaging our 4thweek of our sermon series, “Freedom, a journey through the book of Galatians.”
In Galatians, we are encountering Paul here at his most angry. He has defended his authority as an apostle and is continuing to instruct the Galatians about the Christian faith.
You can hear in his voice the frustration, “you foolish Galatians.” (can you imagine receive a letter from your pastor that included those words?!?!!!)
Paul is upset because the Galatians have succumbed to a teaching about the Gospel that is based in following the law of Moses rather than upon the grace of God through Christ.
Paul says to them, if you had kept your eyes on the cross of Christ, you never would have fallen for this nonsense! Remember when the Gospel was first proclaimed to you?
Initially the people in Galatia were moved by good preaching to begin a new life of faith in Jesus. – this new life was one defined by a deep and abiding sense of freedom, peace and joy… did any of that have to do with following the law of Moses? Paul asks.
What made you a Christian is God’s grace.
What changed your life is the power of God’s Spirit.
Why now are you listening to voices telling you to follow material things?
For Paul, Abraham’s significance as ancestor of faith has nothing to do with circumcision nor with the law of Moses (remember Abraham lived centuries before Moses) but rather, God’s calling and blessing of Abraham had everything to do with Abraham’s faith.
The real sons and daughters of Abraham then are those who share his faith, in the one true and living God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul quotes the book of Genesis, “all nations shall find blessing through Abraham.” Paul understands that this blessing comes through shared faith, which is now wide open to the Gentiles (Galatians) without any prerequisite of converting to Judaism first.
Not only does scripture show that the true children of Abraham become such by faith.
Obeying the law can never bring a person into right relationship with God. One can only enter proper relationship with God through faith, through preserving through all manner of difficulties and trusting in and reliance upon God.
Right relationship with God is lived out in personal acts of allegiance to God and not merely a matter of following the demands of the law. The intention is different. It is not that following the law itself is bad, but the understanding that following the law; doing all the right things, and not doing any of the wrong things, can somehow put one in correct relationship with God that is the issue. Paul’s point is that unless one is able to observe the law in every details in all circumstance for one’s entire life (an impossible task), then we can only escape our fate of separation from God through what Christ has done for us.
So then through Christ, the promise to Abraham has come true. All nations should find their blessing through the father of faith in the one true God. This blessing had been limited to the Jews, God’s chosen nation, but now, as Paul is writing, is open to all. As the Galatians accepted this truth, the power of the spirit came upon them.
If faith is all that matters, what then was the point of the law?
The law was given for a time – it played a role as guardian up until the time when Christ came.
The law was a temporary measure for a particular purpose. It was meant to make us aware of our shortcomings by setting up the standards by which God required of God’s people.
Through Christ our relationship to God is now one of love rather than of obligation.
Remember that humankind is made in the image of God. We carry the very intention, creativity, and love of the divine within us. Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians, and to us today, is to put on the garment of Christ. So that inside and out, we are identified with Christ. We are a new creation, in our baptism we become one with Christ, he is us, and we in him.
Those who have been baptized are to put Christ on, just as actors in a play perform the character of others, we are perform Christ to the world. You are Christ’s hands and feet in the word today. Your actions show to others the truth of the Gospel, and the love of God.
What does a follower of Jesus look like? You don’t necessarily know them by their clothing, their jewelry, or the stickers on their car, but you know them by their love.
We are to put on Christ, like a garment, each and every day, so that through our love we can witness to the world the transforming power of God’s grace, made known to us in Christ Jesus. Amen.