Hi, this is my Dad’s sermon,
Galatians 3. Today our passage shows us what it means to be a child of God. Vs. 26 says “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Christians are sons and daughters of the Living God, having been purchased out of the world by Jesus Christ, and adopted into the family by God the Father, we are now children of God. But what exactly does it mean to be children of God? What are the privileges, the benefits and the responsibilities?
This passage tells us that it means 3 things. Here they are: it means 1) that we are clothed with Christ–vs. 27. 2) that we are connected with each other—vs. 28. 3) that we are co-heirs of God’s promise—vs. 29. We’re going to talk about one of these things per week for 3 weeks. Let’s pray.
Now as a reminder, the Book of Galatians was written to people who had become Christians, and had escaped the penalty and condemnation of the Law, but now they were listening to some false teachers. These false teachers wanted to put them back under the Law. In essence these people said, “it’s fine to have faith in Jesus, but you must obey God’s law in order to be God’s children.” And in chapter 3 Paul has given the Galatians all these contrasts of Law and gospel; we saw 7 of them last time. He is writing to encourage them to turn away from trying to be God’s children by their own human effort at obeying the Law, and instead to remember that they came into the family by believing in Jesus Christ.
We left off in vss. 24-25 which tell us that the Law was a schoolmaster given temporarily until Jesus came. The schoolmaster was for minor children, whereas when we put our faith in Jesus we have come of age and reached maturity. And so Paul says in vs. 26 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Through faith in Jesus, they had become full-grown, mature, spiritual sons of God.
Now please note that Paul did not say “You are all sons of God, period.” No, it takes faith in Jesus to be God’s Son. Apart from faith in Jesus Christ, all human beings are “enemies of God” (Romans 5:10) and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), and “children of the devil” (John 8:44). You have to belong to the Son in order to belong to the Father. You have to put faith in Jesus Christ, in His death in your place, in order to be a child of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).
Through faith in Jesus we become children of God. John says it like this: “…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 And look over at Galatians 4 and verse 6: Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” See by believing in Jesus we get to call God Abba, Daddy, Pappa because the Holy Spirit brings us into this intimate relationship with our Father, to whom we can go at anytime. We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus. We’re in His family, we have a relationship with our Daddy. And Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
These Galatians had put faith in Jesus and had come of age. Paul is saying “You have come of age through believing the gospel, why go back to being a child again by turning to the Law?” The ancient Romans had a coming-of-age ceremony called toga virilis; it was somewhat like the Jewish bar mitzvah. The ceremony was held when a boy became a man (somewhere between 14-17) and he now became a full Roman citizen, with all its rights and responsibilities. He no longer had a paidagōgos, a school master, but was now a recognized adult. And Paul says to these Galatians, in essence, you have experienced a spiritual toga virilis, when you put your faith in Jesus you came of age. And in light of that amazing truth, why would you go back under the tutorship of the law?
But what exactly does it mean to be a child of God? There is a fair amount of misunderstanding about this in our world today: some people think that all people are children of God, which is true in creation. God is the Creator of all people. But it’s not true in salvation. Some churches teach that if we are sons and daughters of God we will be healthy and wealthy, because we’re children of the King. What does it really mean to be a child of God?
First, it means that we are clothed with Christ. Paul says in vs. 27 “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Paul is talking about this spiritual unity and identification with Jesus when we become immersed into the life of Christ. Water baptism is a picture of what He is talking about here. Look with me at the Book of Romans chapter 6. And we’ll see what it means to be clothed with Christ.
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. That’s what it means to be clothed with Christ. In some spiritually supernatural way the person who places his trust in Jesus Christ is crucified, buried, and resurrected with his Savior, baptized into Christ. “…he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). What this really means is that when the Father looks at the sinful believer He sees His sinless Son.
You’ll remember that when Adam and Eve sinned, they noticed they were naked so they tried, by their human effort, to clothe themselves with fig leaves. But God said that won’t work, and He put to death an animal in their place, and then clothed them with the skins of that animal. And just like Adam and Eve were clothed with that sacrifice, so believers are clothed with Jesus. We are identified with Him, we are one with Him. Just as that clothing is what made Adam and Eve acceptable to God, believers being clothed with Jesus makes us acceptable to God.
See what it means to be clothed in Christ is that we are not naked in sin. Unbelievers are without any covering, without any protection from God’s wrath; they are naked and exposed to punishment. But believers are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and therefore not exposed to God’s wrath and not susceptible to future punishment. According to Galatians 3, all believers get is the blessing of God because we are clothed with Christ.
Maybe this illustration will help. Jacob was a smooth man and Esau was a hairy man. So when their father was about to die, while Esau was out hunting Jacob put on the furry skins of a lamb and went to his father to get the blessing in Esau’s place. And when Jacob’s father touched him, thinking he was Esau he blessed him. Jacob got the blessing of the firstborn because he came to his father as if he were his elder brother. And we say, “wait a minute, Jacob was being deceptive. We can’t lie to God and get the blessing.” No, but it does illustrate that we get God’s blessing when we come to Him clothed in Jesus, our elder brother.
If we are clothed in Christ, then whatever the Lord Jesus has becomes the believer’s. Because Jesus has full access to the Father, so do believers. Because Jesus has the love of the Father, so do believers. And because Jesus has the full resources of the Father, so do believers.
One time Pastor Begg was in Scotland and he saw in a pasture a weird looking sheep. It looked like it had an extra skin over its face, and it was dragging 4 limp legs behind its good legs. Pastor Begg asked his host, “what is wrong with that sheep?” And his host said, “oh that’s a common practice when a mother sheep dies after giving birth. The new baby lamb would also die unless they can get it to another mother to be nursed. But no mother will accept a baby lamb that is not her own. So the farmer takes the skin of some other baby lamb that has died, and covers the baby lamb with it. Now when the baby lamb comes to the new mother it smells like her child, it feels like her child, and she accepts it and nurses it as one of her own. See believers are clothed in the Lamb Who died. This is what it means in Eph. 1:6 “we are accepted in the beloved.”–KJV
The simplest definition of a Christian is a person who is clothed with Christ. Followers of Confucius, Buddha, or Mohammed are never said to be clothed with those men whose teachings they follow. But all Christians are clothed with Christ. Following Christ’s teachings is important, but that does not save us or keep us saved. It is only being clothed with Christ that provides and preserves salvation. That truth, that we are clothed with Christ, is the heart of Christianity and is what it means to be a child of God.
Now let’s apply this truth to ourselves. And I have just 3 points of application:
First, are you clothed with Christ? That is, have you put your faith in Jesus, been baptized into Jesus and are therefore clothed with Jesus? Or are you trying your hardest to keep the law and measure up in hopes that somehow God will accept you apart from being clothed in Christ?
Look with me if you would at Matthew chapter 22. I want us to see the importance of being clothed with Christ. This is how important it is to be wearing Jesus: “1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. He is speaking here about the Jewish nation. His servants were the prophets who were sent to His people to invite them to come. But they refused to believe in Jesus. 4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. And here is the sadness of misplaced priorities. The King and His Son are throwing a banquet, and they were more interested in their businesses. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. Here is the martyring of all the prophets of God. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. And of course this happened in A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed the city and the Temple and millions of Jews died. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ Now what you find on street corners are prostitutes and drug addicts and the homeless and the outcasts and dregs of society. See the religious people (the Jews) had other interests, so He said “go to the Gentiles”. 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV)
See the one requirement was not that they had to have the proper character; no, they had to have proper clothing. Back then, the wedding clothes were provided to each person as they came in, given as a gift, and they were worn so as to show that the person wearing them had authority to be at the wedding banquet.
And here Jesus is teaching that we must receive His gift of salvation by grace, and be clothed with Christ. He is our wedding clothing. And only those people who are clothed with Christ have authority to enjoy heaven’s wedding feast. So are you clothed with Christ?
The second point is this: are you thankful for your clothes? Do we understand that there was this great exchange that took place: where Jesus took off all of His royal robes and removed His glory, and was stripped of all His clothes, and became naked in our sin when He died on the cross, that He might give us His robe of righteousness, as a gift. “He was made sin that we might be the righteousness of God in Him.” Think of it: Almighty God left heaven and the worship He deserves in order to suffer shame, be rejected by men, die a criminal’s death, bear the guilt of all our sins, be utterly rejected by the Father and suffer the hell we so richly deserved.
And just like when He was at the cross He gave His robe to those who crucified Him, even so today He gives His robe of righteousness to us who are so undeserving. He became naked in our sin that we might be clothed with Him. Are you thankful for your clothing?
And the final point is this: do we look like we are clothed with Jesus?
Because believers are God’s children and are clothed with Christ, they should bring honor to His name by the way they live. Being clothed with Christ they should look like Christ and live like Christ, “blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,… as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). As Paul had already said; “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), and if this is true then it ought to look like it.
Husbands ought to be loving their wives with all their hearts. Wives ought to be respecting and submitting to their husbands as unto the Lord. Otherwise we look naked in sin. In other words, we all ought to be patient and kind with one another. We should not envy or boast or ever ever ever be rude. Or self-seeking, or easily angered. A Christian should never keep of record of wrongs. Why? Because on the cross God obliterated our our record of wrongs. If He doesn’t keep a record, neither should we. Do we look like we’re wearing Jesus?
The first point of what it means to be a child of God is to be clothed with Christ. Let’s close by reading a few verses from Romans 13:
11 The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Rom. 13:11-14