Sermon – February 4, 2018
Galatians 3:22-23 – Enslavement (mp3)
We have, for several weeks now, considered the depravity of man in Sunday School. We at Crossway believe that mankind is enslaved in sin, what has historically been called “total depravity.” The “total” here means “thorough” not “complete.” We are not as bad as we could be, but we are sinful through and through. The biblical image of this varies; sometimes it is spoken of as death, but often as slavery. Today, we look at this metaphor as Paul presents it Galatians.
1. Our slavery to sin is a forced state
We did not sign up for this slavery; but God himself put us in this state. We, in our rebellion from God in Adam, sought to rend ourselves from God’s grasp. He, as he so often does, gave us what we pleaded for. We now find ourselves in our powerless position.
2. Our slavery to sin is a forgetful state
The law is pictured here as a guard in the prison of sin. Guards typically perform several functions, and many could be gathered from this picture. However, one of its chief functions seems to be to remind us of our sin. The continual sacrifices, the depiction of what is good and bad, demonstrate to us that we are always forgetful of our sin; and, what worse, forgetful of our entrapment to it.
3. Our slavery to sin is a foul state
Slavery is, of course, something that no one wants to find themselves in. This is why Paul paints our sin this way – to show that being under sin is undesirable. Certainly, the Galatians know this as well as we do. Yet, men still cherish their sin, do not abhor it as they should, and mock those who seek holiness and righteousness. Paul will have none of it. Slavery to sin is not to be welcomed, but overcome in Jesus Christ.
4. Our slavery to sin is a futile state
What is more, our slavery to sin, our imprisonment, means that we cannot escape it. It is not a slavery which is imposed from without, but from within. It controls our very wants and desires. In such a state, what can we do? How do we control what our hearts want, when we are not in control of our hearts?
5. Our slavery to sin need not be a forever state
So, why did God allow this? And what are we to do? We cannot control our impulse for sin, and cannot remove ourselves from it. God has done this so that he may have the glory and the honor – to show that he and he alone is the savior of his people, and to show his great power over sin.
God has given us this great salvation that we might know his power and his glory. It is a gift, and not of ourselves, that God might be praised and that our mouths might be shut up in humility. Let us, then, thank God with clean hearts, praise him with pure hearts, and serve him with willing hands.