Become As I Am!, Part 5
Become as I Am!
Text: Galatians 4:12-20
I. The Galatians’ previous attitude toward Paul signified their acceptance of Christ and the gospel. vv. 12b-14
II. The Galatians’ present attitude toward Paul signified their possible rejection of Christ and the gospel. vv. 15-16
III. The Judaizer’s attitude toward the Galatians signified their zeal to be praised and honored. v. 17
A. The Judaizers’ Misdirected Zeal, v. 17a
B. The Judaizers’ Dishonorable Motives, v. 17b
1. legalism brings division to a church.
2. legalism feeds the self-serving, self-exalting desires of our flesh.
Legalism naturally exalts self. The gospel naturally exalts Christ.
"This stratagem is frequently resorted to by all the ministers of satan. By producing in the people a dislike of their pastor, they hope afterwards to draw them to themselves; and, having disposed of the rival, to obtain quiet possession. A careful and judicious examination of their conduct will discover that in this way they always begin" (Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 21, p. 131).
"The idea of salvation by the merit of our own works is exceedingly insinuating. It matters not how often it is refuted, it asserts itself again and again; and when it gains the least foothold it soon makes great advances. Hence Paul, who was determined to show it no quarter, opposed everything which bore its likeness. He was determined not to permit the thin end of the wedge to be introduced into the church, for well he knew that willing hands would soon be driving it home hence when Peter sided with the Judaizing party, and seemed to favor those who demanded that the Gentiles should be circumcised, our brave apostle withstood him to the face. He fought always for salvation by grace through faith, and contended strenuously against all thought of righteousness by obedience to the precepts of the ceremonial or the moral law. No one could be more explicit than he upon the doctrine that we are not justified or saved by works in any degree, but solely by the grace of God. His trumpet gave forth no uncertain sound, but gave forth the clear note," (Spurgeon, “Salvation by Works, A Criminal Doctrine”).
3. legalism separates sinners from Christ.
"It is the intense selfishness of this doctrine which condemns it as an evil thing. It naturally exalts self. If a man conceives that he will be saved by his own works he thinks himself somewhat, and glories in the dignity of human nature: when he has been attentive to religious exercises he rubs his hands and feels that he deserves well of his Maker; he goes home to repeat his prayers, and ere he falls asleep he wonders how he can have grown to be so good and so much superior to those around him. When he walks abroad he feels as if he dwelt apart in native excellence, a person much distinguished from “the vulgar herd,” a being whom to know is to admire.
All the while he considers himself to be very humble, and is often amazed at his own condescension. What is this but a most hateful spirit? God, who sees the heart, loathes it. He will accept the humble and the contrite, but he puts far from him those who glory in themselves. Indeed, my brethren, what have we to glory in? Is not every boast a lie? What is this self-hood but a peacock feather, fit only for the cap of a fool? May God deliver us from exalting self; and yet we cannot be delivered from so doing if we hold in any degree the doctrine of salvation by our own good works" (“Salvation by Works, a Criminal Doctrine”).
© John Fonville
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