Paul's Epistle To The Galatians

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We need, from time to time, to just read scripture and let it stand on its own. You don't need the commentary from the preacher or something and when I plan on doing the seed need is just for the sake of some things, introduce the letter to you and then we will read the letter together. But if you remember in your Bibles, going back to acts chapter 13 and 14 Paul and Barnabas would go through Asia minor then travel into the area of Galatia and he would visit cities such as Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, and at the end of acts chapter 14 what you see is you see Barnabas and Paul returning to those cities to encourage them to strengthen them and to appoint elders in every church.

After that visit. Somewhere along the way, some difficulties arose. They started suffering, they were following after what Paul will describe in chapter one is a different gospel. We know that many believing Jews who had obeyed the gospel were trying to force circumcision upon Gentiles. In the churches of Galatia are primarily Gentile churches. This letter if you put yourself, and that's what I'm going to try to ask you to do this evening if that's possible, to place yourself in one of these cities, among brethren, and pay attention to this letter as it's being read. This letter has been described by some as a gospel of grace, or a gospel of Liberty. And the idea set forth in the last part, there, gospel of Liberty, is the fact that they had been set free from the curse of the law and the apostle Paul will spend some time in his letter discussing those things.

So once again, just for our sake, you open your Bibles if you want to follow along that way... Or if you just want to be like they did there in the first time they've heard this -- pretend like this is the first time you've ever heard this letter read -- and see how it affects you. I want you to pay attention to how personal this letter is to Paul as he's writing it because he's writing to people that he has a relationship with and cares for deeply.  So let's read this letter together. And just so that you'll know, I'm using a giant print Bible this evening because Paul wrote with such large letters.

Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the father who raised him from the dead. And all the brethren who are with me to the churches of Galatia, grace to you and peace from God, the father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you, then that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Or do I now persuade men or God or do I seek to please men for if I still pleased men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ for you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through his grace, to reveal his son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles.

I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and remained with him 15 days, but I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. Now concerning the things which I write to you indeed before God, I do not lie. Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia and I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they were hearing only, he who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy and they glorified God in me. Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and also took Titus with me.

And while I went up by revelation and communicated to them that gospel, which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who are reputation less by any means, I might run or had run in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me being a Greek was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because the false brethren secretly brought in who came in by stealth to spy out our Liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you, but from those who seem to be something, whether they were, whether they were, it makes no difference to me. God shows personal favoritism to no man. For those who seem to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me as the gospel of the circumcised was to Peter, for he who worked effectively in Peter, for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles.

And when James, Cephus, and John, who seemed to be pillars perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face because he was to be blamed. For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles, but when they came he withdrew and separated himself fearing those who are the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straight forward about the truth of the gospel. I said to Peter before them all, if you being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

We who are Jews by nature and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. For the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not. For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor for I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Oh, foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth; before whose eyes Jesus was clearly portrayed among you as crucified. This only I want to learn from you. Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish having begun in the spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain if indeed it was in vain? Therefore, he who supplies the spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are a faith are sons of Abraham and the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand saying, in you all the nations shall be blessed.

So then, those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are under the works of the law are under the curse. For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident. For the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith, but the man who does them shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Having become a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak in the manner of men, though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say and to seeds as of many, but as of one and to your seed who is Christ. And this I say that the law which was 430 years later cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ that it should make the promise of no effect. Where if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer a promise: But God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. And it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not.

For if there had been a law given which would have given life. Truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. That we might be justified by faith, but after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither slave nor free. There is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

Now I say to you. Now, I say that the heir as long as he is a child does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all that is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba father." Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son. And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ, but then indeed when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I'm afraid for you lest I have labored for you in vain.

Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity, I preached the gospel to you at first. And my trial, which was in my flesh, you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good. Yes, they want to exclude you that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I labor and birth again, until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I have doubts about you.

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons. The one by a bond woman, the other by free woman: But he who was of the bond woman was born according to the flesh and he of the free woman through promise. Which things are symbolic, for these are the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai, which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to Jerusalem, which is now, and is in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all! For it is written, "Rejoice, Oh barren; You who do not bear, break forth and shout, you who are not in labor: for the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband. Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise, but as he who was born according to the flesh, then persecuted him who was born according to the spirit, even so it is now.

Nevertheless, what does the scripture say? Cast out the bond woman and her son for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free. Stand fast, therefore in the Liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Indeed, I Paul say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You who have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace! For we, through the spirit, eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything. But faith working through love.

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind. But he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off, For you, brethren, have been called to Liberty. Only, do not use Liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another. I say, then walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such, there is no law. And those who are Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not become conceited provoking one another, envying one another, rather than if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work and then we will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit, will of the spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand. As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh. These would compel you to be circumcised only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised, keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy, be upon them and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one trouble me. For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren -- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

One of the things that the apostle Paul has said in this epistle that stands out to me at the end of reading this, is how we should be walking even today. The reason I think the apostle Paul said to those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires is that he did that very thing himself. Go back to Galatians chapter two and you hear the apostle Paul saying, it's no longer I have crucified. Crucify his own flesh. That it was no longer he that lives, but Christ that lived in him. And that was the encouragement that he was giving to the children, what he called his little children, in the cities of Galatia where the churches were that he and Barnabas had helped establish. His concern for them is the same concern that we should have for the world today: That we should crucify our flesh, our passions, our desires, and that we live in the spirit and walk in that spirit. Faithfully remembering who died for us, Jesus Christ. You see, there is liberty in Christ and there is grace that we receive because of Christ.

If you have failed in any way in your life this evening or in the past, and you need to reconcile your life to God, then do what Paul is saying right here: Crucify the flesh and its passions. Live faithfully with God the remainder of your days. We're going to do this periodically throughout the year, but always remember who you are and whose you are because I believe that's what Paul was telling the church of the Galatians. They were Christ's. If you're not Christ's, you can be. If you do not belong to Christ, you can come to him this evening if that's your desire. We stand ready to assist you. If you've strayed from Christ like the churches of Galatia did at any time, point in time in your life and you need to reconcile it again, it's still time. There's still time for you to crucify the desires of the flesh this evening. The invitation is yours. The opportunity that you can avail yourself of at this time, is that we can assist you in your soul salvation and if you have a need that we can meet in that, we stand ready to assist you. Why don't you come this together? We stand and as we sing.