This is the sermon for Sunday morning, June 29th, 2008.
COVENANT LESSONS PART 4b
Credited to our account
Genesis 15:1-6; Galatians 3:1-14.
We are continuing in our Sunday morning series entitled, “Covenant Lessons.” We are looking into the life and Abraham and the life and writings of Paul and applying some truths that we discover.
Last week we dealt with the life of Abraham and saw that righteousness was credited to his account by God. This week we are going to look into the teachings of Paul found in Galatians.
This morning we are going to see that Justification and righteousness comes to believers apart from the Law. We are going to also see that if any believer tries to be justified before God through the works of the law, they have fallen from Grace.
There was a time in my life when the law (in the form of a policeman) was gracious too me. I didn’t get what I deserved. I was 17 years old, and a friend and I went to Hobbes New Mexico to party. We were outside a bar with a bunch of others, and I was very drunk. I had a bottle of vodka in my back pocket that I just finished off, plus I was drinking some Michalob. I was taking the empty bottles and throwing them at cars that were passing buy. One of the cars that passed by was a cop car. Well, I hit it with one of the bottles. He came to a screeching halt, and whipped around with his lights on. Everyone scattered and took off running, everyone except me and my friend. We just set on the hood of my car, just waiting for him. He came over and asked who threw the bottle, and I told him I did it. He asked me why? I don’t remember what I said. He was going to take me in, but then decided not too. He told me, “Son, I’m in a good mood, so I’m going to cut you some slack and escort you out of town, if you come back, I will arrest you.” Well, we didn’t come back.
You see, I didn’t deserve the policeman’s grace, but he gave it too me out of his own choice. Actually, the law said for him to arrest me, but he didn’t do it. By all intents and purposes, I broke the law, was discovered by the police to be a law-breaker, but he let me go as if I were a free man.
I hope that this little episode that I told revealing some ugliness in my past opens your eyes to the reality of all our condition. We all stand as law-breakers before a just God. The fine for breaking God’s law must be paid, the amount was death and shed blood. Jesus came and shed His blood and died in our place, essentially paying our fine. Why did Jesus do this: (1) because of his unconditional love for us; (2) because of the freedom of His own choice and will.
You see, not only did Christ choose us before the foundation of the world, but He also chose to come and be our substitution on the cross before the foundation of the world as well.
And because of His choice and His calling of us, we stand before God justified, righteous (or right standing with God).
Here is what H.A. Ironside had to say concerning this:
“When God forgives through the risen, glorified Jesus, He not only
forgives, but He justifies. It is impossible for an earthly judge to
both forgive and to justify a man. If a man is justified, he does not
need to be forgiven. Imagine a man charged with a crime going into
court, and, after the evidence is all in, he is pronounced not guilty,
and the judge sets him free. Someone says, as he leaves the building,
“I want to congratulate you. It was very kind of the judge to forgive
you.” “Forgive? He did not forgive me; I was justified. There is
nothing to forgive. You cannot justify a man if he does a wicked
thing, but you can forgive. God not only forgives but He justifies the
ungodly, because He links the believer with Christ, and we are made
“accepted in the Beloved.”
Notice the phrase that Ironside uses, “God links the believer with Christ.” What a wonderful truth for you and I to learn and get a hold of.
Let’s look into our text this morning. And as we do, just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths found in the text.
1. Paul’s understanding of Justification and righteousness.
Galatians 3:1-14 NET – 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! 3:2 The 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? 3:3 Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? 3:4 Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing. 3:5 Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard? 3:6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, 3:7 so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 3:9 So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer. 3:10 For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law.” 3:11 Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith. 3:12 But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them. 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) 3:14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.
A. First off, the Galatian believers came to Christ by faith, but now were being taught that they must be obedient to the Law to continue to be justified before God.
Galatians 3:1-5 NET – You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! (2) The 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? (3) Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? (4) Have you suffered so many things for nothing? — if indeed it was for nothing. (5) Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?
If you study Galatians, you will see that one of the main issues was circumcision. Teachers were coming into the church telling them that they must be circumcised in order to be accepted before God. They were teaching human effort in place of grace.
B. Is there still a need for the Law? Yes!
The Law exposes to the sinner the true condition of their heart so that the Gospel might be preached to them.
Romans 7:7 ESV – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
For the believer, the Law is fulfilled by God’s love for us and our love for Him and others.
Romans 13:9-10 ESV – 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
C. Our justification and righteousness does not come from the Law, but through faith.
Galatians 3:6-9 NET – Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, (7) so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. (8) And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” (9) So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer.
Just like Abraham had righteousness credited to his account, both Jew and Gentiles who are justified by faith in Christ Jesus have righteousness credited to their account as well.
D. If you try to stand justified before God by the Law, you are under a curse.
Galatians 3:10 NET – For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law.”
Why are those who rely on doing the works of the Law under a curse? Because no one can keep the law perfectly. According to the Believer’s Bible commentary, “It is not enough to just keep the ten commandments, but all 600 laws in the five books of Moses must be obeyed and obeyed perfectly!” Can’t you see how this would put us in hopeless slavery, trying to keep something that is impossible to do.
E. Justification is not by the Law, but by faith.
Galatians 3:11-12 NET – Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith. (12) But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them.
We cannot be justified by the Law if we cannot keep it perfectly. The Law was not based on faith, but works. So anyone who tries to be justified by the Law must work and live by them, thereby wind up in bondage.
F. The curse of the Law that we deserve as law-breakers, Christ suffered on the cross.
Galatians 3:13 NET – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).
To try to be justified by the Law is to put the curse back on us that Christ redeemed us from. It is to fall from grace.
Galatians 5:1-4 ESV – 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
G. What do we receive when Righteousness is credited to our account? The Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:14 NET – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.
Paul calls The Holy Spirit in another passage the Spirit of adoption.
Romans 8:15 ESV – For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Holy Spirit resides in us, changing us daily (sanctification).
Righteousness has been credited to the believer’s account. Instead of earning God’s favor, it has been given to us through Jesus Christ. Allow His Spirit to help you in this walk. He can help us to live out this righteousness that we can’t ourselves.