Sermon – April 8, 2018
Our Persuasion in Christ – Galatians 5:7-12 (mp3)
The Galatians had been duped. Almost led astray by a false doctrine, they had listened to others they had no right to listen to. Sheep with pointy teeth are always a dead giveaway. Yet, we struggle to see them for who they are, and can be led astray by their false doctrines and the itching of our ears. How are we to protect ourselves? What kind of things ought we be persuaded by?
1. Don’t be persuaded by the world (vv. 7-9)
In the end, the Galatians were hindered from running in the gospel by persuasions that were not from God. These were the doctrines of men, meant to inflate the ego of those who preached it and neglect the call of believers to hold fast to the cross of Christ. Paul warns the Galatians: even a little bit of false teaching can infect an entire church; how much more danger are we in when the false teaching is running rampant!
2. Be persuaded by the Lord (v. 10a)
But, as the Galatians were persuaded wrongly, Paul is persuaded as well; only his persuasion comes from the Lord. The Galatians have worried Paul considerably, but Paul here shows great optimism in their case. Why? He is persuaded “in the Lord” that they will come to the right decision. We, too, must be so persuaded. We must always seek to be persuaded “in the Lord” in all of our decisions. Whether by the good council of godly people, the wisdom embodied in the church, or (most importantly!) through our study of God’s word, let it be the Lord who guides and directs our understanding, and persuades us to live lives pleasing to him.
3. For, the result of worldly persuasion is God’s judgment (v. 10b)
Those who persuade people away from the cross of Christ, even if they have misguided yet good intentions, come under the judgment of God. Let us be clear: leading anyone away from faith in Christ is worse than murder, and as such, comes with the most devastating of penalties. That is why Christ himself warns that, if one were to do so, it would be better to die first (Matt 18:5-6). Let us take these warnings seriously, and seek to persuade both believers and unbelievers alike to hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
4. But, the result of God’s persuasion is the world’s judgment (v. 11)
Don’t think, however, that life is all rosy for those who use God’s wisdom. If they hated Christ, if they hated Paul, they will hate you. But we cannot seek to avoid persecution, in whatever forms it may take, if that means removing the offense of the cross. If we offend, let us offend with the cross.
Paul demonstrates a righteous anger over those who have troubled his children in Galatia. Even in his anger, though, Paul would have them see the emptiness of their way. That is our desire for you this morning: see the emptiness of man’s thinking and hold fast to the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!