Threats To Christian Freedom, Part 6
Threats To Christian Freedom: Legalism
Text: Galatians 5:2-12
“Why does the devil, in all generations, oppose himself so much to the gospel, and to the doctrine of grace, and raise up all the calumnies in the world against it? Even because it is the doctrine of grace that destroys his kingdom; for the devil knows, that while men are under the law, they are under his power, and under the power of sin; therefore he hath no ill-will at legal doctrine: but if one preach up grace, and nothing but free grace, then he will raise a hue [outcry-J.F.] after him, as an enemy to the law and holiness. Why, what ails the devil at the soul? Even because nothing spoils his market among souls so much, as the gospel, when it comes with power; for, it is the gospel, and not the law, that is the immediate instrument of conversion, Gal. 3:2 and of true holiness, Titus 2:11-12. And what is it that makes the gospel the power of God to salvation, and the powerful instrument of converting sinners to God? Even because therein is revealed the righteousness of God, from faith to faith, Rom. 1:15-17 and therein the righteousness of God, without the law, is manifested, Rom. 3:21.” (Ralph Erskine, “The Strength of Sin and how the LAW is the Strength thereof, opened and unfolded,” 1 Cor. 15:6, pp. 116-117).
A. Christ will be of no benefit in the final judgment. v. 2
B. Become a debtor to God’s Law. v. 3
C. severed from Christ, v. 4
1. The visible (professing) church is comprised of both believers and unbelievers.
2. Paul's warning must be understood in a covenantal context.
“Apostasy in Galatians constitutes reliance on one’s own works, while those who persevere realize afresh every day that they are naked, miserable, and weak, and therefore they must rely on Christ and His righteousness alone for life” (Tom Schreiner, Galatians, p. 319).
3. Warning passages are the means God uses to preserve the faith of believers.
“Whatever in Scripture…causes the believer to fear God’s wrath should be accepted as God’s perpetual verdict on the salvific efficacy of the believer’s decisions, habits and works. But then the believer must turn to the gospel for the solution to this anxiety and not to a greater resolve at satisfying God’s commands…” (Michael Horton quoted in Matthew Pinson, ed. Four Views on Eternal Security, p. 42).
“No longer slaves but sons, believers never have to fear condemnation, not because they have decided to follow Jesus but because Jesus has decided to follow them, keep them, and lead them safely to the land He has prepared for them. Not one of His sheep will be lost—simply because of that eternal covenant that God swore to Himself, in the intra-Trinitarian fellowship” (Michael Horton quoted in Matthew Pinson, Four Views on Eternal Security, p. 42).
“God will see to it that the believer, who is always in this life simultaneously justified and sinful, will persevere, enduring the struggle with sin and suffering, until he or she beholds the Lamb who was slain sitting upon His throne” (Michael Horton quoted in Matthew Pinson, ed., Four Views on Eternal Security, p. 42).
© John Fonville
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