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Threats To Christian Freedom: Legalistic Teachers, Part 9

Threats To Christian Freedom: Legalism

Part 9

 

Text: Galatians 5:2-12

 

Introduction/Review:

 

I. Paul warns against the destructive consequences of Legalistic doctrine         (vv. 2-6).

 

Lesson:

 

II. Paul exposes the depraved disposition of legalistic teachers (vv. 7-12).

 

A. Hinder obedience, v. 7

 

“You cannot truly live a holy life (i.e., a life lived in conformity to God’s law-J.F.) unless you are totally assured of your justification and reconciliation with God, totally apart from the works of the law. This is the only way you can truly obey the law! This is totally contrary, of course, to the way the world understands good works. Everyone outside the gospel of grace thinks that good works earn you God’s forgiveness. However, the gospel does not conform to worldly wisdom. The gospel says that when you are firmly assured of God’s love for you, you will respond by living a holy life. If you do not understand God’s love for you, you will fall into a sinful life (Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp. 29-30).

 

Reflection:

 

How do I obey?

 

“The law cannot do any more in sanctification than it did in justification" (John Murray, Principles of Conduct).

 

“[You] have to be assured of the privileges and blessings you have through your new state in Christ. Only this will encourage and empower you to love your neighbor as yourself…If you really want to love your neighbor, you have to live by the gospel. Believe that these commands are the will of your heavenly Father, who has recreated you in His own image, in righteousness and true holiness. Believe that they are the mind of Christ, who lives in you, and in whom you live. Believe that God [the Father] and Christ are kind, tenderhearted, longsuffering, and full of goodness to men—whether they are good or bad, friends or enemies. Believe that Christ came into the world, not to destroy but to save. Believe that the injuries done to you by others cannot harm you. Believe that you do not seek any good for yourself by injuring others, because all your happiness and satisfaction come from Christ. Believe that all things, even if your enemies intend them to hurt you, work for your good through Christ. If you believe these things by faith, you will be empowered and equipped to love and do good to your neighbor.” Do you want to have a pure love towards your brothers in Christ? Do you want to live with them in all humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness and love? Then believe that you are inseparably joined with them through Christ. Believe that there is ‘one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all through all and in all’ (Ephesians 4:4-6)” (Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 187).

 

"Our mission is worked out by giving all people the repeated opportunity to HEAR (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 10:13-17; Gal. 3:2), BELIEVE (1 Cor. 15:1; Jn. 3:16; 20:31; Gal. 1:9, 12), ENJOY (Ps. 16:11; Rom. 11:33-36), and PROCLAIM (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:15) the Gospel of Christ." Paramount Church

 

[What you need is to be told all over again about who God is and what He has done to save you, and about the new world that awaits you because of His faithfulness to unfaithful sailors. This alone will fill your sails so that you can get safely back to the harbor when the gales blow hard.

Our whole life as Christians is a process of sailing confidently into the open seas, dying down in exhaustion, and having our sails filled again with God’s precious promises. We are never at any moment simply under full sail or dead in the water, but move back and forth throughout the Christian life. This is the movement that we find in Romans 6-8, from the triumphant indicative (Rom. 6:1-11), to the moral imperatives (Rom. 6:12-14), back to the indicatives (6:15-7:6), to the exhausting struggle with sin (7:7-24), back again to the triumphant indicative, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25) and the future hope awaiting us for which even now we have the Spirit as a down payment (8:1-39) (Michael Horton, God of Promise, p. 194).

 

© John Fonville

Permissions: Permission is happily granted to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not revise the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on Paramount’s website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by John Fonville.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Fonville.

 

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