Galatians : True Heirs

Galatians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Believers are granted redemption and are adopted into God’s family.

Text: Galatians 3:19-4:7
Theme: Believers are granted redemption and are adopted into God’s family.
Date: 07/12/2020 File Name: Galatians_04.wpd ID Number:
This morning’s message comes in two parts. This was one of those weeks where the text just seemed to grow the more I chewed it. Every serious attempt to shorten this morning’s sermon just made it longer. I kept asking myself, is there anything I’m saying in this message that I really don’t need to say? And the answer came back, “No. Everything in here needs to be heard!” So this morning is simply part one of the message True Heirs.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome said, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, ... .” (Romans 8:17, NIV84). But here’s the issue ... you’ve got to be a child of God to be an heir of God. We are not the children of God by nature of our birth into this world. In fact, the bible tells us that we are by nature, children of wrath, and under condemnation. But we become the children of God when the Father lavishes (the word Paul uses in Ephesians) His grace, His love, His mercy on us through the new birth that was provided by Christ’s atoning work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. At the moment of conversion we become the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, and we’re written into the will, so-to-speak. And the good news? You can never, ever be written out of the will!
Here in our text, the Apostle is reminding the Galatians that before they were adopted into God’s family they were under the care of another guardian, and that guardian was the Law. The Law was given in great detail to the Jewish people, but Paul tells us in Romans that even though the Gentiles did not have the Law, they did by nature things required by the Law—in particular the Moral Law.
In Christ we are under grace and not under law (Romans 6:15). But does that mean we have no obligation to submit to God’s will as written in his Word? Let’s be honest ... under the New Covenant it’s not only our behavior that is scrutinized by the Scriptures, but our thoughts and attitudes as well. We cannot, we must not never, ever rely on the Law to make us righteous before God, but the moral law remains useful in showing us God’s moral stands. The Law still serves a purpose which is what this passage is all about.


“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” (Galatians 3:23–25, NIV84)
1. the Apostle Paul has consistently reminded the Galatian congregations that they are saved by grace through faith
a. then why-oh-why would they want to switch allegiance to a faith/works gospel that puts them under bondage to a law that even the most pious Jew couldn't keep?
2. in the middle of that argument the Apostle steps on the clutch and abruptly changes gears
a. he stops the flow of his argument of justification y grace through faith, and asks the question, “Why then the Law?”
b. if salvation and blessing have always come by believing what God says—“Abram believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—then why did God give the Law?
1) God gave the Law to probe the soul for sin
2) God gave the Law to prepare the soul for salvation
3. as non-Jews it’s a little hard to follow the Apostle’s reasoning, but let me tell you as simply as I can what Paul is saying
a. only belief in God’s promise saves
“For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” (Galatians 3:18, NIV84)
1) the promise God made to Abram was given directly to the Patriarch and made without condition—Abram only had to accept it by faith to become Abraham
2) throughout the centuries, anyone and everyone—Jew or Gentile—who has believed God, as Abram believed God, has been made right with God and become an heir to His promises
b. the Law itself does not save ... never has; never will
1) the Law was given to Moses, and came through the mediation of angels (vs. 19) and it came with conditions ... i.e. if Israel does, this, this and this, God will do that, that, and that
2) the law imposes a curse on everyone who does not obey it perfectly, which is to say, everyone
4. Paul is telling the Galatians, “Don’t think for a minute that the law, which was given centuries after Abraham, can alter God’s original promise to Abraham. No, you have to make a choice. It is either law or promise, works or faith, grace or merit”
a. this leads to the question, Then why the Law?
1) IF the Law did not give eternal life, then why did God give the Law to Israel?
2) God’s command to Israel is “Be ye holy because I am holy” and then He gave Israel the Law as a way of saying, “This is what holiness looks like”
b. so why do we need to think about the use of the Law in the Christian life?


1. the law was added because of transgressions until ... (vs. 19)
a. the Apostle expands on this idea in his Epistle to the Romans
“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,” (Romans 5:20, NIV84)
2. the Jewish Law has both a preventive and provocative aspect to it
a. it is preventive in that the Law was given to hold in check evil behavior ... to keep a bad situation from getting worse
1) when everyone does as they see fit, the result is anarchy
ILLUS. Every so many decades the “Utopian Dream” re-asserts itself within American culture. The term was first coined in Sir Thomas More’s 1516 book Utopia, the story of an imaginary island where a homogeneous society lives in perfect equality economically, socially, and politically. There is no need for law because your neighbor’s good is the ultimate law. The short-lived “autonomous zone” in Seattle was essentially an attempt at the Utopian ideal ... that a disparate group of people can all live together in fraternity and equality; no personal property; everyone sharing equally, no one in charge. Well, if you watched the news you saw utopia devolve into dystopia very quickly. It always does.
2) since the Garden of Eden, mankind has loved the idea of no-rule which always means self-rule
a) we imagine that the throwing off of all restraints equals real freedom, and that, if left alone, we and our neighbors could peacefully coexist without enforcement of laws and standards
b) the human heart, however, which is incurably wicked and self-centered will eventually seek it’s neighbor’s ill instead of their neighbor’s good
ILLUS. In his commentary on this passage Martin Luther said, “Just as a rope or chain prevents a vicious dog from attacking an innocent bystander, so too the law with its “thou shalt nots” and penal code prevents sinful humanity from going on a rampage and completely destroying itself.”
c) the utopian dream has never proved true
3) utopian dreamers always forget about one thing ... sin and human depravity
a) without law and consequences of breaking laws society breaks down very quickly
4) the Jewish Law—and all legal systems—are preventive and are meant to hold in check evil behavior
b. the Law is also provocative in that it incites the very behavior it prohibits
“But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” (Romans 7:8–11, NIV84)
1) the law actually makes a person a more determined wrong-doer than he ever was before
ILLUS. In his epic work The Confessions the 4th -century theologian Augustine tells the story of stealing pears from his neighbor. When he was a teenager, he and some friends set out to steal pears from a farmer’s orchid. In the dark of night they crept into the orchid and picked several baskets-full of ripe pears. Augustine recounts that each of them ate a pear or two and then threw the rest to a heard of swine. As an adult, recounting the story Augustine talks about what he experienced on the inside while stealing the fruit. He writes in The Confessions, that “our real pleasure consisted in doing something that was forbidden.” He ends the story of the stolen pears saying, “The evil in me was foul, but I loved it.”
2) the Law reveals to human beings their sin, blindness, misery, wickedness, ignorance, hate and contempt of God, death, hell, judgment, and the well-deserved wrath of God
3. and if any dare to think that they might possibly live up to the letter of the Law, Jesus quickly puts that thought to rest when he speaks of the spirit of the Law in his “But I say unto you ... “ statements in his Sermon on the Mount
4. and it’s not merely the Jews who are in this predicament
“But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, ... .” (Galatians 3:22, NIV84)
a. Paul fleshes that out in Romans when he says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
1) Jew? Gentile? it doesn’t matter all have sinned ... all are sinners


1. the word until in vs. 19 is the most important word in the verse
“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. ... .” (Galatians 3:19, NIV84)
2. the Law, which both Jew and Judaizer put so much emphasis on is, in actuality, temporary
a. it had its origin on Mt. Sinai, but it has its termination on Mt. Calvary
b. the Seed (rightly capitalized in the NIV) is used as a reference to Christ
3. Paul says bluntly in vs. 24 that the Law was the Jewish nation’s guardian until Christ
a. the word literally means child-tender and in some translations is rendered schoolmaster or tutor
ILLUS. Paul uses an illustration common in Roman culture of the day. In a family of means, a trusted slave of long tenure and proven character was put in charge of a child’s moral training. From the age of six until sixteen, the child was in the slave’s care. The slave was to instill character traits in the child and keep the child from temptations and danger. One of the slave’s primary duties was to accompany the child to and from school every day. This child-tender was to be strict, demanding obedience from their charge and often administering discipline with the rod upon the child’s back. Eventually, the day arrived when the child reached his age of ascension into adult society, and became a full-fledged son of his father with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereof.
4. Paul writes that the Law, in effect, had served as such a guardian until the coming of God’s Anointed One; Messiah
a. the Law leads men to Christ by creating within them a strong desire for freedom from its yoke
b. the Law was—or should have been—a constant reminder to Israel that no Jew could ever hope to obey all the Law
1) this was one of Jesus’ chief complaints against the Jewish religious leaders
“Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46, NIV84)
2) they could never be right with God through the Law ... which daily reminded them how unholy and how far away from God they really were
c. Paul tells the Galatians that the Law has served its purpose, and now that the one to whom the Law pointed is here that we might be justified by faith (vs. 24)
5. Christ’s atoning death and victorious resurrection now provide the way of grace to a relationship with God
a. it comes the same way that Abraham received it ... by believing


1. so then ... Why the Law?
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:16–18, NIV84)


1. last Sunday, the essential theme of the message was the danger of legalism—the temptation to believe that your good behavior wins you a place in heaven
a. the question put to the Galatians by Paul is, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?”
b. the Apostle’s point: if the gospel I preached to you was true—and it is—why, oh why, would you want to switch allegiance to a faith/works gospel that puts you under bondage to a law that even the most pious Jew couldn’t keep?
c. attempting to win God’s approval through our moral performance and obedience to religious rules and rites becomes a crushing burden
ILLUS. How do I know when I’ve been “good enough”? ... How do I know when I’ve been “moral enough”? Consider: In America today, the median number of sexual partners for men between that ages of 25 and 44 is six. Does the seventh makes you immoral?
d. Paul’s answer is that obedience to the Law does not make a sinner right before God ... faith in God’s grace does
2. however ... and this is a big “however” ... does that mean the Law has no place in the believer’s life?
a. does grace mean we can do whatever we want and be forgiven?
b. Paul had to deal with that view in the Book of Romans
1) Paul’s theological opponents said that the Doctrine of Grace Alone actually encourages sin
2) Paul responded with ... “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1–2, NIV84)
c. the reverse problem of legalism is what we call antinomianism
1) it’s a word that means against law and is the belief that any kind of law—moral, religious, or social—infringe on human freedom and must be done away with
2) it’s the spirit we see at work among various groups across our nation right now
3) within Christianity it’s the view that Christians are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality
ILLUS. Earlier this week, a pastor friend sent me a Facebook posting from a “woke” Christian. Her first name is Joe (Luehmann), and I won’t give you her last name. Here is what she posted:
• I am a Christian and I don’t go to church.
• I am a Christian and I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God.
• I am a Christian and I embrace sex-positivity, which includes but isn’t limited to sex outside of marriage.
• I am a Christian and I believe everyone has access to God.
• I am a Christian and I do as I please.
a) if you’re wondering, this is the spirit of antinomianism
b) antinomianism is a view that the church must as vigorously oppose as we do legalism ... neither are good for our spiritual life nor the life of the church
3. Jesus Christ freed us from the burdensome commands of the Old Testament Law; we are under the covenant of grace, but that is not a license to sin
a. does being under grace means we are free to ignore the commands of God?
b. the Bible repeatedly called Christians to obedience to the commands of God
“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” (Romans 1:5, NIV84)
“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (2 Corinthians 9:13, NIV84)
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14, NIV84)


1. how are Christians to relate to the Law—particularly God’s Moral Law as given in the 10 Commandments?
a. for the believer the Law has three purposes
2. Its First Function Is to Be a Mirror Reflecting to Us Both the Perfect Righteousness of God and Our Own Sinfulness and Shortcomings
ILLUS. Augustine wrote, “the law bids us, as we try to fulfill its requirements, and become wearied in our weakness under it, to know how to ask the help of grace.”
a. the law is meant to give knowledge of sin
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:20, NIV84)
ILLUS. No one blames the mirror when you're ugly. A mirror exists simply to reflect the true nature of the person looking into it.
1) the Law confronts us, shows us our sin, exposes our faults, and removes any doubt that we are under the curse of the law
2) it tells us we need Jesus to bear our sins
b. by showing us our need of forgiveness, and the danger of damnation the Law was meant to lead us in repentance and faith to Christ
“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:23–24, NIV84)
3. It’s Second Function, Is to Restrain Evil
a. this is the “civil use” of the Law
b. though the law cannot change the heart, it can—to some extent—inhibit lawlessness by its threats of judgement, especially when backed by a civil code that administers punishment for proven offenses
ILLUS. Many of the basic and essential laws in Western culture flow right out of the decalogue. Christianized societies looked at God’s word and said, “Ya know, murder, and thieving, and extortion and adultery just ain’t good for society at large,” and so religious commandments became civil statutes.
c. God’s laws secured civil order, and served to protect the righteous from the unjust
4. Its Third Function Is to Guide the Regenerate into the Good Works That God Has Planned for Them
a. the law tells God’s children what will please their heavenly Father
ILLUS. When I was growing up, I knew what my father expected of me in my behavior. There were times, of course, when I did not live up to his expectations and I disappointed him. But I am forever thankful that my dad was the kind of father that, even when I disobeyed him and disappointed him I never, doubted his love for me.
1) what pleases the Father? ... in a word Holiness
2) and it is through the Law that we understand what holiness is
b. this is where we need to be careful in our preaching of the third use of the Law
1) obedience to the commands of God will never make the Christian any more holy to God then He sees you in Christ
a) this is the wonderful good news of the Gospel
c. our obedience to the commands of God flow out of a heart of love and appreciation for what the Father has done for us through His Son
d. Christ was speaking of this third use of the law when He said that those who become His disciples must be taught to do all that He had commanded, and that obedience to His commands will prove the reality of one’s love for Him
““If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15, NIV84)
The Christian is free from the law as a system of salvation. “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4, NIV84). Yet, at the same time, we are slaves of righteousness and under the law of Christ as our rule of life. What is the law of Christ? It is a New Testament phrase referring to the two most important commandments mentioned by Jesus: "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
Let me put all this in a short, concise statement: Obeying God comes after grace; Grace never comes by obeying. You really, really, really are saved be grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. You’re not saved by how well you live the Christian life. But if you’re not getting sanctified, if you’re not maturing in the faith, then you probably don’t have saving faith. If you’re like the young lady from Facebook that I quoted earlier who says ...
• I am a Christian and I don’t go to church.
• I am a Christian and I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God.
• I am a Christian and I embrace sexual expression any way you want.
• I am a Christian and I do as I please.
Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if those things are true in your life.
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