This is my sermon on Galatians 5:1-6. This message was delivered on May 6, 2012 at Hillcrest Baptist Church. This is a verse by verse exposition which deals with the the object of one’s faith, and we must ultimately make a choice of where to place our faith. You will find the text of the sermon, the audio, and a downloadable study outline. Please note that the sermon text is NOT a full transcript. Typically, as I preach, I add to what is in my notes. So, for the full sermon, please listen to the audio version.
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Earlier in this letter, Paul had compared the law with a guardian (schoolmaster) and a bondwoman. Now he compares it with a yoke of slavery.
Peter used a similar illustration in Acts 15:10, at the Jerusalem council.
A yoke, of course, is an apparatus used to control a domesticated animal.
The Jews obviously considered this yoke of the law to be a good thing, but Paul argued that to use it as a means of salvation was not only futile, it was a trap which did nothing but enslave one in a hopeless situation.
Rather than embrace hopeless slavery, Paul argues that we should “stand fast” in our liberty which came from Christ.
Christ has set us free, and we should embrace that freedom!
Paul’s real argument here is not against circumcision itself, but against ritual acts as a means of justification or salvation.
He obviously was not opposed to circumcision.
What he wanted them to understand, was that any act of the law, without faith, is meaningless.
Christ rewards faithful obedience, not faithless acts.
As Paul continues this thought, it becomes apparent that we have a choice to make.
We can choose to place our faith in our own actions and abilities, or we can choose to place our faith in Jesus Christ.
You cannot place faith in both, you can only serve one master!
If you choose the law, Christ is not your master, the law is.
If you place your faith in the law, then it is the law that you are indebted to.
We should be indebted to Christ, since He paid the price for our salvation. We should be totally sold out to Christ since He paid such a high price for us.
Instead of being sold out to Christ, many people still choose to be indebted to the law.
By choosing to return to the law instead of embracing the gracious freedom of Christ, you alienate yourself form Him.
That, in and of itself, is an act of disobedience, and therefore a sin.
In essence, in one’s attempt to be obedient, it is possible to lose you grip on faith and and therefore enter into sin, even though you are doing all of the “right” things.
That, in turn, estranges you (alienates, separates) you from Christ.
Christ would not be operating in such a person’s life. Therefore, that person could not be the recipient of His gracious blessings.
The attempt to justify oneself (trusting the law) is futile. Trying do do so will only serve to remove you from God’s grace.
Notice that is does NOT say that you will lose your salvation. Grace encompasses more than salvation, and in this case it refers to the positive working of God in a believer’s life.
The thing to remember is that you cannot make yourself righteous, only Christ can do that.
It doesn’t work to try to cleanse yourself, unless you let Christ do it, you can have no part with Him.
When Christ cleanses us, we receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our seal and our promise of salvation.
Through Him, we have a hope (promise) of righteousness, which is because of faith, not works.
Because of such a sure hope, we can eagerly await the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation.
Because salvation is “in” Christ, our ritual acts of the law are inconsequential.
We are justified by faith and faith alone, and that is a work of Christ that is born out of His great love for us.