Hi, this is my dads sermon from Sunday.
This morning I’m going to start by asking us a few questions to get us thinking: 1-Why did God give His law? 2-Are you under Law, or under grace? 3-Is your family under Law, or under grace? The answers to those questions have huge ramifications in everybody’s life. Hopefully God will help us answer those questions as we study His Word today. Let’s pray In the first 14 verses of Galatians 3 Paul proved from Old Testament Scriptures that Abraham was made right with God by faith and not by obeying the law. And, Paul makes the point that every other human being is likewise saved only by faith in Jesus by not by trying their hardest to obey the Law. And now Paul anticipates the argument that these false teachers would make against this point. Here is how their argument would go: “It is obvious that when God gave the law to Moses, the method of salvation changed. A new way of salvation was established, that of obedience to the Law. Abraham lived before the law and was therefore saved by faith. But we have the Law, and so things have changed. And Paul answers this in vss. 15-22. His answer compares God’s promise (or the gospel) with God’s Law. Here are a few comparisons: the promise to Abraham depended entirely on God’s faithfulness, whereas the Law depended on man’s faithfulness. To Abraham, God said, “I will.” Through Moses He said, “Thou shalt.” The promise centers on God’s plan, God’s grace, God’s initiative, God’s sovereignty, God’s blessings. The law centers on man’s duty, man’s effort, man’s behavior, man’s obedience. The gospel is grounded in grace and brings a blessing. The law is grounded in works and brings a curse. Paul is going to argue that the Law did not replace faith in Jesus as a means of salvation. Here’s how he proves it: Notice vs. 15: “Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life.” Now pause for a minute and understand that Paul used an illustration from the Old Testament (Abraham) and now he is going to use an illustration that is not in the Old Testament, he is going to use something from everyday life. He says in vs. 15: “Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” Paul says “man’s agreements are binding”. And now Paul applies the illustration in vs. 17: “What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.” See if a man’s agreements cannot be set aside, how much less can God’s covenant that He makes with Himself be changed. In other words, the giving of the Law 400 years later did not change God’s covenant with Abraham; it bring in a new way of salvation. We, today, are right with God when we believe the good news about Jesus. So, back to the question. Paul says in vs. 19: “What then, was the purpose of the Law?” Now understand; the answer to this question is extremely important. If we get this wrong, we face God’s curse. An individual or a family or a church that gets the answer the answer to this question wrong comes under the curse and condemnation of the law. This is why the answer to this question is so important, as we do not want to be under a curse. What is the purpose of God’s law? Well here’s what the false teachers in Galatia taught (it’s the same thing that some churches teach today): the Law was given for you to obey so that you can be in relationship with God, so that you can be right with God. You must live up to the standard: you must keep the Sabbath, you must eat a vegetarian diet, and you must keep the feast days. But the problem is that this teaching puts people under the Law and brings the curse of God. Remember vs. 10. “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse.” See how important the answer to this question is? What is the purpose of God’s law? And now Paul is going to give us the correct answer. He is going to tell us that there are two purposes of God’s Law. Here they are real quick: #1 the purpose of the Law was to reveal our sin. And #2 the purpose of the Law was to reveal our Savior. Let’s look at these two things: #1: The Law was given to reveal our sin. Vs. 19 says, “the Law was added because of transgressions…” God’s Law given to reveal sin in us. The Law says “don’t’ do that” and when we do it we see that we are wrong. We’ve sinned, we’ve been disobedient. The Law reveals the sin that is in us. It brings out this sin in us. Here’s an illustration from everyday life of what the Law does: several years ago a big hotel was built in Galveston, Texas. They built it on stilts so it could sit right on the Gulf of Mexico. When the hotel was about to have its grand opening, the General Manager thought, What if people decide to fish out the hotel windows? So they placed signs in the hotel rooms, “No fishing out the hotel windows.” Naturally, many people ignored the signs and that created a problem. Lines got snarled. People in the dining room saw fish flapping against the picture windows. Know how they solved it? They took the signs down. No one checks into a hotel room thinking about fishing out of the windows. They wouldn’t even think of it until they read the sign that said don’t do this. The Law actually stirred up sin, it revealed the sin that was in them. Look with me at Romans chapter 7, and let’s see very clearly what the Law did. Paul is discussing the Law here, and he says in Romans 7:7-8: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.” And vs. 10 says, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” The Law reveals sin in us; it stirs up sin, and it brings death. So wherever you find a person, a family or a church that is under the law you find sin running rampant. The Law manifests our sin. 2.Here is the second purpose of the Law. Back to Galatians 3. The Law was given to reveal our Savior. We can see that in vs. 24: “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” The words “put in charge” are the Greek word “pedagogue” which means schoolmaster. In Paul’s day, a schoolmaster’s job was to take children by the hand and lead them to school. So Paul is saying the purpose of the Law is to take us by the hand and lead us to Jesus. The Law reveals our Savior. How does it do that? Like this: when we sin the Law condemns us. The Law tells us we’re guilty. And we wonder, is there any way to be rid of guilt? Is there any way to be free from condemnation? And then we hear about Jesus. We read that He was made sin for us, that He was condemned in our place, that according to vs. 13 He took the curse of the Law for us when He was hung on a tree. And we run as fast as we can to Him. And when we come to Jesus we have escaped our condemnation, and been set free. So this is the value of the Law. It was given to reveal our sin and to reveal our Savior. It shows us the problem and the solution. So let’s summarize this part of Galatians: Paul says Abraham was declared righteous when He believed God’s promise about God’s Son. And so are we. The Law, given 400 years later, did not do away with the gospel promise, it didn’t change the way we are saved today. Instead, the Law was given to reveal our sin and to reveal our Savior. So now let’s apply all of this to our lives. Are we under the Law or under grace? How do we know? Turn to Matthew chapter 18. I want to look at a few passages with us this morning that show what it is like to be under law. And let’s ask God to reveal that to us. Now in Matthew 18 Peter has asked Jesus how many times do we forgive people who sin against us. Peter says, “clear up to 7?” And Jesus says “70X7” (unlimited). And then He tells a parable. Notice vs. 23: “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions of dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. So far, this is just business as usual. If we don’t pay our debts the court will take our assets. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. Now this is not business as usual. This is not law, but grace. The king had compassion, so he forgave his debt, cancelled it. “You owe me nothing.” What grace. And now we see the value of the cross. For all who beg for mercy God shows us the cross where Jesus completely cancelled our debt of sin. An unpayable debt was cancelled. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a few dollars). He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ (same words the first servant had used)”But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. No grace here, only law. So others tell the king and he calls that servant back in, and says in vs. 32: ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” People under law demand others to pay up and to measure up, even though they, themselves cannot. A person under Law requires others to live perfectly, and if they don’t there is punishment for them. And so a husband under the Law sets a certain standard that his wife and his kids cannot meet and if they transgress they are punished for it. A wife that is under the Law requires her husband to shape up and measure up, while she herself cannot do so, and if he fails she punishes him in any number of ways. And a family living like this experiences a curse. A church that is under the Law has the pastor telling the people to shape up and do this and don’t do that and live right, even though he, himself is not able to do so. What Matthew 18 teaches us is to view our sins against God as much worse than anyone else’s sins against us. We owed an unpayable debt to God; by comparison, others owe us a few bucks. And since we’ve been forgiven a huge amount, we should forgive others sins against us. And what Satan does is turn this around, and makes other’s sins out to be much worse than our own. It sounds like this: “well she doesn’t respect me” and “well he doesn’t love me”… “I’ll obey and respect my parents when they are respectable…” These people have it wrong. Somehow they think other’s sins against them are millions of dollars whereas they just owe a couple bucks. Let’s close by looking at Matthew chapter 7. This is another passage that shows what it is like to live under the Law. Vs. 1: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” So here’s the picture: a man, woman or child has a plank, a telephone pole in their eye, but rather than deal with their own sins (the plank) they go to others and start inspecting them—they’re looking for errors, mistakes, anything wrong. And when they find something—and they will—they think they need to correct it. Remove that speck of sawdust. But they aren’t effective because they have a big plank that everybody sees in their life. The one under law always inspects others and finds things wrong with them. This passage teaches us to view our sins as planks, and others sins as specks. But Satan reverses it and tells us that other people’s sins are huge planks compared to “my little speck.” My wife went to a church when she was young that preached law, and required all people to measure up and meet the standards. In fact, the young men were required to submit to “hair measuring” and the girls to “skirt measuring” and if you didn’t meet the standard you were sent home. Of course, it wasn’t until later that they discovered that the pastor was involved with sexual immorality. See, where there are planks in our eyes, there is a whole lot of inspecting of others’ lives, because we want to show that they don’t measure up either. This is nothing but law and it brings a curse. Question: are you under the law or under God’s grace? Is your family under Law or under God’s grace? See under God’s grace we have been forgiven and helped by God so we want to forgive and help other people. If we discover that we are under law, what needs to happen is for us to plead with God for mercy, and accept and believe that God forgave our huge debt, and then begin to forgive others smaller debts. When Jesus died on the cross, He cancelled our debt of sin that we could not pay, and now we are to cancel others sins. Jesus taught us to pray. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”