G5 Day 2

G5 Day 2

Read Galatians 5:1-4   “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:1–4)

Freedom in Christ 

Last week we talked about freedom in Christ and what that means to our lives. What is the freedom that Christ has given us? 

So what does this freedom look like? Are we free to break the law? 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

All things are lawful for me was a slogan the Corinthians had used to justify their immoral behavior, and sometimes we do the same thing. But Paul is telling us that our freedom from the Old Testament law isn’t freedom to be selfish. This would only make them slaves to sin again and enemies of love. Selfishness, doing things because we love to do them, even if they make another stumble, is sinful and unloving.  We all have freedom but we must beware of our freedom causing anyone around us to stumble:

  • Romans 14:21-22, “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.  The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:13, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”
  • Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:2-4

OK, so this week we are looking at the following verses, Galatians 5:2-4. The topic is circumcision and the law. 

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:1–4)

If you accept circumcision 

Why were the gentiles in Galatia accepting circumcision? 

Let’s look at Romans 2:25: “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.”  

What do you think this means?  

So why does accepting circumcision mean that you have to obey the whole law?  

Take a look at James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”

With this is mind it can be easy to see why there is no one righteous, not even one, as it says in Romans 3:10. If we fail at even one thing, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. This sense of failure seems to be written into our DNA. Each of us knows the depth of our failure to be perfect, and out of that comes either a passion to pursue perfection harder or to punish ourselves for not being good enough. The bad guilt we talked about last week is the perfect example of our inborn sense of justice that gives rise to our need to work harder, to punish ourselves or at the very least not to accept God’s forgiveness. 

And this same inborn sense of justice, of right vs wrong, gives rise to our feeling compelled to add to our salvation by doing things that prove our worthiness. For a lot of us that means a urgent need to know all the things to do, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it,”we say. When we spend our lives making sure that we’ve done everything right, we are often consumed with a need for perfection, while being ever aware that we have not yet achieved it. This keeps us running like a hamster on a wheel, always moving, but never really getting anywhere. 

Sometimes our need for perfection is so all encompassing that instead of attempting to keep all of God’s laws, we concentrate all our efforts on keeping our own laws. We think that we don’t have the education to understand all that God wants, but we are pretty sure he wants order, tidiness, excellence and the like and so we create our own unwritten laws that help us to feel like those are the things we are achieving. If we keep these laws then we consider ourselves good enough. When asked why we think we are going to heaven when we die, we can confidently say, “Because I’m a good person.”  

In what way does this idea of being a good person reflect Paul’s words on circumcision?

Christ will be of no advantage to you

Paul goes on to say that Christ will be of no advantage to those who accept circumcision. What do you think this means?  

Take a look at Romans 9:15-16: “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” 

And John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” 

God doesn’t choose us based on how hard we worked or how good we are. Not one hard working thing in the world can gain you access to Him. He draws you to Himself. 

So what advantage is Christ to us? 

Who gives us Christ? See John 15:16 

Obligated to keep the whole law 

Galatians 5 goes on to say that if we are keeping just one law in order to be saved, we are obligated to keep the whole law.  Last week we talked about the law a bit. What was the purpose of the law? Do you remember?

1. To guard us until Christ came 

2. So we could know what sin was

3. To increase sin and to reveal to us God’s grace

According to Romans 4:15, what does the law bring in relationship to our God? “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” 

Severed from Christ 

If we are determined to follow the law in order to be saved, we are under wrath. He goes on in Galatians 5:4 to say that we are “severed from Christ” if we are trying to be justified by the law. How does this severe us from Christ? 

What do you think it means to be severed from Christ? 

Let’s take a look at John 15:1-14. 

According to John 15:4 how do we keep from being severed? 

What does it mean to abide?  

You have Fallen away from grace

In that same sentence he goes on to say, “You have fallen away from grace.” What do you make of that? 

What is grace? God’s kindness to us in not punishing us the way our sins deserve. 

Have you ever felt like God couldn’t forgive you or love you? What did you do in order to fix that dilemma? 

We can easily feel like there is something we need to do to pay back God for the amazing gift of His Son. We understand fairness and justice and innately sense a need to repay such a great gift, but there is nothing we could do to pay it back. In fact, paying someone for a gift you received makes it no longer a gift. Accepting the gift without feeling a need to repay it, that is freedom and that is true acceptance. 

Grace can be a hard concept to freely accept for others, but sometimes giving it to ourselves is as easy as falling out of bed but more dangerous. Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains it this way, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 

In what ways does preaching forgiveness without repentance cheapen grace?

 In Romans 2:4 it says,“do you presume on the riches of his kindness (grace) and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness (grace) is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

The cheap grace we give ourselves doesn’t lead to repentance like God’s costly grace does. When we recognize the cost of our sinful choices, Christ’s death on the cross, we so desperately hate our sin that repentance is our strongest desire.

Do you have any sin in your life that you have no desire to repent from? Why? 

 If we preach to ourselves or another that we can be forgiven without seeking repentance, turning away from our sin, we are practicing cheap grace. In 1 John 1:9 we learn that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. When we confess it is because we have agreed with God that what we did was wrong and have decided that we want to do what is right, repent. If we won’t repent, but only believe we are forgiven we give ourselves over to cheap grace. 

Grace is truly amazing. It is a gift from God bought with the precious blood of Christ. We receive it when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and it is ours, but we must not cheapen it by pretending that it is permission to be comfortable with our own sin. Instead we should learn to hate our sin and want nothing more than to walk away from it. 

God’s grace is available to all who will give up trying to justify themselves. It is given to those who agree with God, confess their sin and repent. It was costly to Him but not to us. Today remember the cost and thank Him for His amazing grace.