Sermon – May 20, 2018
Today we finish our study through the book of Galatians. As Paul wraps up his letter, we see a review of the most basic points that Paul makes to the Galatians. The gospel is the center of our lives before God, it alone has the power to justify us through the proclamation and our personal belief in Jesus’ work on the cross. The wonderful news of Galatians is that this is all you need: trust that Christ has taken the penalty for your sin and provided you with his righteousness, that you might live in freedom before God!
1. Don’t pretend to be lovely in God’s eyes
The first problem Paul accuses the Agitators of is trying to think that their good works might make them appealing and lovely to God. No amount of dressing ourselves up, of changing our appearance, can cover up the most basic facts of our sin. God can smell us a mile away, and the stench of our sin makes us unable to stand before him. Therefore, Paul refuses to boast in anything of himself, but rather boasts in that which is outside of him. Not what he has done, but what Christ has done on the cross. We are favored by God, not because we have something that God desires in us, but because by faith we can be found in his Beloved Son.
2. Don’t pretend to be lovely in the world’s eyes
After we have been changed by God, we must not change the gospel to appeal to the world, that we who believe might seem better to the world. The Agitators did just this, changing the gospel to keep the law and circumcision for the Gentiles that they might not be persecuted by the Jews. But Paul knows better; if the flesh cannot save, there is no reason to change the gospel to appeal to the flesh! Rather, Paul knows that the world is crucified to him and he to the world; both think the other foolish, unwise, and treat their ways with disdain. So should we! Resist the temptation to change the gospel to appeal to the world, trust that God will act among his elect to make them a new creation in Christ!
Walk by these rules: trust in the sacrifice of Christ and not your own flesh to justify you, and you will receive peace and mercy. Mercy from God, that he might not punish you for your sins, but having placed them on Christ, would forgive you and make you a new creation in Jesus. Peace, in that the world no longer has any power to rob you of joy or contentment.