Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
[Note: the following transcript has not yet be finally proofed and therefore may contain some errors. 6-22-2022]
Well, as we’ve worked through this letter. It certainly has not lacked sobriety. Paul’s expressions of astonishment, bewilderment, disappointment, and even judgment are strong and sprinkled throughout this whole letter. And what amazes me once again is the providence of Almighty God landing us on this particular passage at this particular junction at the life in the life of our church at this day and time. Having just disciplined someone, again, about to meet with a disciplined person this week and having sadly released some folks from the membership last week who spiritual lives have not exactly been encouraging these things. We fall upon these heavy words of Paul here, but their Holy Spirit words, their Holy Spirit breathed, the Holy Spirit preserved, Holy Spirit timed none of what I just expressed was planned or orchestrated, arranged by me or any of the elders. Not at all. God and God alone orders our steps. And that can be a very frightening thing to consider, but can also be very comforting matter to consider. There have been. A number of times where the passages. We meet in Galatians as a church have if paralleled something rather significant going on in the church. And as much as that’s been a measure of encouragement to my own soul in many ways, it’s also a bit frightening as I look ahead in this letter.
If you recall, when we covered chapter two, verse four on the subject of two brothers. We encountered that passage just two days. After. A very shocking and grievous disciplinary case that was already six months ago And that individual is no closer to looking like a true brother than he was the day we removed him from our presence. In fact, he’s only gotten worse. We had a member who is under discipline. Enter into eternity late last year Our days, not any different than Paul’s day was. People still come to Christ professing faith in him. And people still fall away from Christ. Either by their life or their tongue or both.
Now I’m going to very briefly deal with verses two and three here in the text, but I want to concentrate the bulk of our time today on these most somber words found in verse four. In fact, outside of the Book of Hebrews may be a couple of spots, but I doubt you’ll find words more somber than these right here. Paul says: “Severed from Christ.” “Fallen from grace.” These are Biblical terms and realities. These are grave reality, grave realities that we ourselves have tasted and seen in this church. Grave realities that we see in the Scriptures.
But let’s briefly look here at verses two and. Three. Look, Paul says, I, I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. Look. Paul says, listen, behold. Pay attention to what I’m about to say. I Paul. Paul draws attention to himself. Here is as if to remind his brother and I am an apostle. And as such I carry authority when I speak. And in case you’ve missed it up to this point, this is what I have to say. If you go forward to accept circumcision, Christ will be of no. Advantage to you. This is a solemn warning. Yes. It’s emboldened in verse four, but it really starts right here verses two through four. Paul makes this sudden dramatic shift from the wonderful declaration of freedom. We have had an experience in Jesus Christ in verse one to this very. Serious warning of losing that freedom in verses two through four. And not just the freedom, but Christ himself. And this is not an empty threat. You’re going to see that shortly. But if Paul hasn’t made this clear already in verses two and three, he returns to addressing the subject of circumcision head on. Now, and simply says, if you gentile believers go by way of the knife, then Christ will be of. No advantage to you. They had already fallen into the the the observation of Jewish days back there in chapter four, verse ten, Paul is essentially saying, doing this. You go forward with this. You will effectively be suggesting Christ atoning death and resurrection is not enough. It’s not sufficient to make you complete before Almighty God. And so Paul says. Here essentially it’s Christ plus nothing. Or you will miss out. On Christ all together. You will essentially deny Christ as your only means of justification, that is, of being made right before a holy God and having your sins forgiven in Jesus Christ. See, one can only be related to God by His life, giving death on that cross. And nothing more. No law, no identity marks. No work of your hands. You cannot have it both ways. It’s Christ and His merit alone or it’s nothing he says there at the end of chapter two, if righteous ness were through the law then Christ died for no purpose. Going forward into circumcision. Is basically to say Christ died for no purpose. That’s nothing against the act of circumcision. But if that’s your trust to get better with God, it certainly is. Verse three. Here He is. Verse is basically just a reiteration of what he clearly affirms back in chapter three verses ten and through 14. We looked at that. If you’re going to accept circumcision, or any other part of the law, you are bound by fulfilling the requirements of the whole which by its very nature excludes faith. Yes. As I’ve stated. Paul’s emphasis throughout this letter is it’s Christ or Torah one or the other can’t be both pursuing Torah is a pathway that leads to separation from Christ Verse four You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by law. You have fallen from grace.
The word severed. Here is a word. It’s also translated, released or destroyed in other places. Romans 7:4 – A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. That is, she’s no longer bound to him. That tie is broken. She’s released. It’s severed first Corinthians. says the last. Enemy to be destroyed is death. That word destroy there is our word severed. In other words, through Christ, the Christian is released, separated from the power of death. That otherwise rules over them. Severed, severed means to to be released, to be separated from something or someone here in Galatians five. For that someone is Jesus. Christ couldn’t be a more serious claim again, I’m going. To point this back to chapter three verses one through five. These are professing Christians who have made their claim to Christ, professing faith in Him alone. This is how they started. They are those who would have said, as the Apostle Paul would have most certainly clearly taught them and faithfully taught them, preaching the gospel to them, I am justified before God and made guiltless and righteous in the presence of the Holy Judge of all the earth by the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Jesus paid it all, all to Him. I owe these brethren here in this letter would have said Amen to. That. Paul saw the reception of the Gospel and he witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit among them. And they simply, as they just simply believe the gospel message and I ask you, do you believe the gospel message? Do you really. So did they, apparently. But here they are on the brink of being severed from Christ, on the brink of falling away from grace you see, going from Christ to law. By doing so, they’re actually forsaking Christ in reality. Undoing their own justification and this stands true. For anyone who would seek to make anything their confidence in. Addition to Jesus. Forget law, Jesus plus anything. You lose him that’s right. You lose Christ. You regardless of what you say or think, you will stand on that day of judgment before a holy God alone by your lonesome without a savior without a covering for your sin and without hope. It. Doesn’t matter how well you started out, how well-intentioned you were, how nice you were to your neighbor. How faithful you were as a church member, or what kind of experience you had, even experiences of the Holy Spirit. We’ll see that the Scriptures. We’re going to look at. You lean on. Anything in. Addition to Jesus, you will know nothing but the just wrath of God for. Sinners. That’s what the Bible teaches. That’s what these sobering verses. Communicate to us. You think for a minute this letter is not relevant to you. You think that way? I think the devil has already started his work. Is he sins ever crouching at the door? We find that the beginning of the Bible, don’t we? It desire is for you. And if you play around and give place to it, justify it, excuse it, it’ll pounce on you like a lion on raw meat. And guess what? When that lions on the raw meat, that meat ain’t getting away. And you’re not getting away from. Sins claws once it has holding you I watch this. I watch this play itself out time and time again in this church. People making light of sin I listen to a few messages this last week on sermon audio addressing this verse. This one here. What other men said am amazed how folks immediately want to cover for Paul. And feel the need to explain. What Paul is not saying here in these verses. Rather than press the. Reality of what Paul is saying. And in doing so, they fail to emphasize what Paul is emphasizing to us here. Oh, brother, we need to let the Scriptures speak to us. Sadly, we tend to be far more concerned about protecting our our system of doctrine and our liberties in Christ than we are about embracing difficult truths. The Scriptures set. Before us. And let me just say at the outset, I firmly 100% absolutely believe in the perseverance. Of the Saints it’s biblical. I firmly believe in an eternal security. I firmly believe the Bible teaches such truth and that once a person has been given the gift of eternal life, guess what? It’s eternal. It’s not temporary. The Bible does not teach that a person can lose their salvation once they have truly been born again. However, Paul is not concerned about that one iota right here. In fact, Paul’s never concerned about defending that truth when addressing beliefs and behaviors that are contrary to the gospel. What we need to do is fateful Marines of the word is pay attention to what the Bible actually says. And there are two primary things. Two important. Things about this text I would draw to your attention the first is this Notice Paul’s wording very clearly in verse four. You. Are severed. You have fallen. That sounds like someone who was attached, right? It sounds like someone who was joined by sever cut off Paul is not afraid to speak of one who professes faith in Jesus Christ, even one whom he has witnessed himself demonstrating faith in Christ. He’s not afraid to say your severed. You have fallen from grace. Paul is not afraid to talk that way. So we brethren should not be afraid to talk that way. But you see, we got ourselves so secured in our little worked out theology, so well aligned with the answers to apparent contradictions in Scripture that we just quickly kind of dismiss. These kind of statements. Explain them away, very sobering, frightening statements in Scripture like. This. The second thing I. Want you to notice is Paul feels no need whatsoever to qualify his statement here. Not in the least. What do I mean by that? I mean, after verse four, Paul feels no need to explain this jolting daunting statement he just made. He is states things matter of fact. He doesn’t feel the need to follow it up by buttressing up our our eternal security of the believer or some short summary. And Christians don’t lose their salvation or make some theological qualifying statement on apostasy. We just read it right past a season. The Bible although I would, I would add God healing, it was not the individual, it was the nation. You. Always. Says it. You run to the knife. Severed from Christ. Fallen from grace and brethren, far be it from us to put a. Bandaid on that statement. Scripture. Scripture does teach a past. It’s a real thing. Apostasy, and when someone abandons and renounces, walks away from the faith, that’s exactly what it is, that’s what apostasy is renouncing what, what? At one time someone held to be true if you’ve been a member in this church for any significant length of time, you’ve seen this very thing take place. Sadly, most of you probably remember about three years ago, I think it was when the Christian. The Christian relationship group guru Josh Harris. Renounced his profession of faith in Christ he was made famous by his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Sadly, he’s been made even more famous by kissing Christ Goodbye. Just like Judas did. And it rocked the mainstream professing Christian world. And why? Because they have no category for apostasy. That’s why they only know one saved always saved that’s the only vein they think in and the only vein they operate in. So when someone who is very much a part of them, which he was, departs from them, they’re suddenly left reeling trying to find answers. When the answers are very clearly given in Scripture, which we’re going to see in a moment. Josh Harris is. Only one, sadly, of the rapidly growing heroes of the secular world, denouncing their disgust and disbelief of Christianity. He’s now evolved into a message clarity coach which is quite ironic because the only thing clear about his life is he has no clarity about it anymore. It’s very, very sad. In Paul’s words, he’s been severed from Christ fallen from grace. Brethren, it happens and it’s as real as the nose on your face. Popular Hillsong writer Marty Simpson. Fell away right about the same time. Paul Maxwell, a former desiring God writer, announced last. Year he was not a Christian I watched his Instagram video announcing this where he was basically trying to convince himself in tears of how happy he was coming to such a conclusion. He says, What I really miss is connection with people. What I’ve discovered is that I’m ready to connect again. Apparently he wasn’t involved in his church or. And I’m kind of ready. Not to be angry anymore. Apparently, his Christian life was one of anger. He continues I think it’s important to say. That I’m just not a Christian anymore. Which is a interesting theological statement coming from a person who has a Ph.D. and has written articles for Desiring God. After making the statement, I’m just not a Christian anymore, he says. It feels really good. I’m really happy. Yet he looked nothing like it. In fact, he looked like he was having a hard time convincing. Himself of that. He says, I love you guys. Speaking to the viewing world, I guess. I’m in a really good spot. Probably the best spot of my life I’m so full of joy for the first time. That someone who’s never seen Jesus Christ. I love my life for the first time. Very. I love myself. For the first time. That’s deception. Yeah. You see, you can hold all the right doctrines. Mean solid as could be, and doctrine. Provide all the right theological. Explanations and be lost as ever. That man’s. Christianity was Jesus. Plus from the get go. It wasn’t Jesus only you notice all the words. That he used involved the words I, me, myself, and I. It’s a common theme same with Josh Harris, a love affair with self. And that’s the exact opposite message of Jesus. If anyone would come after me, Jesus says, Let Him what? I deny himself take up his cross daily and follow. Me. Forever would save his life. We’ll lose it. And these men have but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it or find it. All these folks who are rapidly. Denouncing their Christianity, who. At one time find themselves to be Christians who have left the Christian faith for self-discovery. They never actually stepped one foot in the door. They never once entered the path. That leads to life. Because the doorway to Jesus, you know what it reads over? It denies self. That’s at. The entrance that’s why some some of you here are still outside of Christ, still looking from the outside in. You’re not done with self. People who come. To Christ. For the purpose of self-discovery, self fulfillment, are people who will lose out on life, spiritual life, because they fail at this very fundamental point of what it means to be a Christian death to self that’s daily and a following of Jesus Christ. That’s forever Jesus whole ministry. It was about death producing life and life producing death. It was never about self-fulfillment. John Piper’s son, Abraham. He’s no secret to reform folks. Sadly. At one time, a professing Christian, also a contributor to Desiring God. Don’t think you’re getting to heaven on your parent’s coattails. And don’t believe in the gospel because your parents do believe it. Because it’s true. That. Now this young man, old man is he’s older or younger than me. Yes. I refer to him like Jeff does to me. Now. He’s a flaming God hater, spewing all kinds of deceived rhetoric and his Instagram posts. People do fall away from Christ. People are. Severed from him. People do fall from grace. This is not new. And you know what Paul Maxwell saying. I’m just not a Christian anymore. Is actually a biblical statement. It lines up perfectly with what Paul says here and how scripture expresses itself in other places. He indeed has fallen away from grace I want you to just listen here. I got it. I got a number of scriptures I want to run through in the New Testament. I mean, this even is declared in the old. But you can write you can. Jot these down, you can look at them later. Trying to turn to him is going to be too much. Luke 813. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root, they believe for a while. And in a time of testing fall away look good for the moment. A. Test comes fall away. John 15 verse two Every branch. In me. Jesus says every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away verse six If anyone does not abide in me, he’s thrown away like a branch and withers and the branches are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned first Corinthians 927. But I discipline my body and keep it under control as after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified Paul recognizes the danger of apostasy even in himself the first Timothy 41. Now the spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Do you think demons have anything to do with statements like. I’m in a really good spot. Probably the best spot in my life I love myself for the first time. I think demons have anything to do with that. Truth is, you’ve always loved yourself, just like the rich young ruler that’s why you don’t come. That’s why you don’t. That’s why you don’t believe the second Timothy. Three Verse I’m sorry, second Timothy four verse three for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but have itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves. Teachers to suit their own passions. You think a quest for self discovery fits that description? A lot of itching ears out there. Second Timothy for ten for Demas. Oh, Paul’s partner in the gospel for Demas. In love with this present world has deserted me Second Peter. Wow, these are sobering words. Second Peter Chapter two verses 19 through 22. Speaking of false teachers. They promised them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption for whatever overcomes a person to that he is enslaved for after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome. The last state has become worse for them. Then the. First. Foray had been better for them, never to have known the way of righteousness. Then, after knowing it, to turn back from the Holy Commandment delivered to them what the true proverb. Says has happened to them. The dog returns to his own vomit. The South after washing herself, returns to wallow. In the mire and that’s what happens to Christian dissenters that’s not a good spot. That’s not freedom, that’s bondage. That’s the yoke of slavery. Hebrews. Oh, my Hebrews. You talk about heavy words. Hebrews Chapter three verses . Take care brothers. He’s addressing Christians here Christian here this. Take care. Brothers. Let’s there being any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God but exhort one another every day. That’s the importance of gathering God’s people every day. As long as it’s called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. That’s how it happens right there. The deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. It just gets more and more frightening. Hebrews six versus four through 84. It is. Impossible. That’s the word choice of the Hebrew writer. For it is impossible. In the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm, holding Him up to contempt for the land that is drunk, the rain that often falls on it and produces a crop useful to those for who seek it was cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles. It is worthless and near to being cursed and its end is to be burned Hebrews ten Hebrews has very, very strong words in Hebrew, Hebrews ten, 26 and 29 through 29 four. If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and as profane the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified. And as outraged the spirit of grace? How about those. Words. Was sanctified again. The Hebrew writer feels no need to explain or qualify that statement lastly, first John, chapter two verse. , you’re quite familiar with this passage. They went out from. Us because they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they are. Not of us I can think of a set of passages more sobering than the ones I just read. Do and there are more you see, these statements in Scripture are intended for you and I to self-reflect. Not for us to look out and identify the Demas’ and Josh Harris’ of the world. But what about me? I’ve had to ask myself grappling with this text. What about you, Craig? Where am I at? Is my all on the altar? Does Christ have my whole heart am I truly trusting him and him alone? Or am I presuming upon God. Because of the past? Because this blessing in that blessing. Because the experiences of the past, because I know truth do I have sins that I excuse and justify in my walking with the Lord do verses like this properly heighten the fear of God. In me? They ought to? Or am I just. Unfazed by such words and warnings let me tell you, we just remove someone from this assembly who is unfazed scary stuff. This is scary stuff. If you claim. Christ. And can sit here under the Word of God, unfazed, unresponsive, dull, of hearing, unchallenged, unmoved, unrepentant, I would fear. If I were you. Because that’s where. Apostasy begins. It doesn’t happen overnight. What does the Hebrew writer say? Heartened by the deceitfulness of. Sin that’s what leads to falling away from Christ. You don’t want to push away this reality saying, Well, Christians don’t, Pastor sighs. I believe once saved, I always say I do too. But that’s your response to this message. You’re missing its main point. If you’re a Christian. The prospect of. Apostasy ought to put a proper fear of God in you. Because these folks I just mentioned who left the faith. Who has been severed from Christ? At one point in their life, they would have never dreamed such a thing could be said of them. We need to live with the danger of apostasy ever before us. Paul, did he did. You think Paul believed in eternal security? You better believe he did. But he also lived not. Taking his fate for granted. He lived strongly aware of the danger of apostasy. That’s exactly what’s behind those words. He wrote to the Corinthians and saying, I discipline my body and keep it under control. This after preaching to others, I myself be disqualified. What are you saying? I myself proved to be an apostate. The Apostle saying that. I obey. I’m getting a little. Ahead of myself here, which is getting. Harder not to. Do in the series. But you. See, this whole. Reality really underscores what the Christian life requires. It requires the Christian to walk. By faith, by walking, by the spirit and the Spirit’s power not self. Not self ability, not self-trust. Never. That’s the road to certain failure. But notice in this collation context, Paul, Paul’s not making this pronouncement due to some openly immoral activity or attitude or expression. This is not being directed towards those who are guilty of sexual immorality or drunkenness or some kind of idolatry or device of attitude, of anger and unforgiveness or bitterness. Those sins that he lists, they’re in versus 19 through 20. He’s not really addressing that Paul’s lovely in these words that those who are seeking to perfect. Themselves. Improve their Christian standing with their religious. Doing. Being made more holy by performing holy rites in the midst of the church. Yes to these professing Christians, that temptation was unique and specific. To grabbing. A knife and cutting away some flesh in effort to enhance their. Christianity. But but you see, we are. All in this room tempted with a knife, as it were, of self-made perfecting. A knife that would seek to supplement the work and person of Jesus. Christ. This is not unique to first century. Christians. This is a real temptation that every Christian faces. Am I complete in Christ or not? Or am I looking to affirm. My standing by my doing Luther said this well, it’s not my people sins I worry about, but their good works oh, what a sneaky, subtle thing that can be see, we enter into saving union with Christ by faith. Through our by grace through faith. And we continue in that union with Christ by faith in absolute reliance and dependance upon that very same grace that came to us when believing upon Christ that’s supplied to us by God and God alone all the way. To the end. God doesn’t help us start us up. And then it’s all on you, Christian. Our Christianity never relies upon us, but always relies upon the God who rescued us. That’s precisely where Paul’s taking us. In fact, it’s the very next verse through Faith four, through the Spirit by faith. Four through the spirit by faith. That’s the Christian life. We’ll get to that next yet. We must take. Heed lest we fall. See what must we take heed to self-reliance. Self-dependance, unbelief. Self-trust, self-interest, self-deception, do religion. Yes. The true Christian can can truly rest and find freedom in Jesus Christ. That Christ is granted them because of the words Jesus spoke there in John Chapter ten. My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish. And no man can plot them out of my father’s hand. You talk about scary words. I don’t know any more secure words. And those. Right there. They’re wonderful. What a wonderful. Promise that is. Nothing more freeing than. Knowing that I am in my father’s hand. But you see, if that freedom and security. Does not provoke a wholly sold out commitment to Jesus Christ and an abandonment of self demonstrated in a life of utter dependance upon God and persevering repentance, then you too will fall among the ranks of those who. Apostasies. You, too. Will be severed from Christ. You’ll fall from grace but there is a reason Scripture says to us, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling why what are the next words you for? It’s God who works in you. You see, true Christianity is what God does. It’s not what you do. It’s never what you do. It’s what God does inside someone. And giving them a new heart, a new life, giving them His Spirit. It’s something completely out of your hands. Yes. And when God does it, it has an ever lasting effect. He produces faith which produces gratitude, which produces dependance upon him and produces fear, a fear that produces a careful, very careful, a carefulness in how we walk and a concern about how we walk before a holy God, not to gain favor before Him, not to earn some kind of salvation, preserving merit, but to walk before God. As is pleasing to him. To please our master as a grateful servant. That’s what Grace produces. You see, this is where this thing really breaks down. People who. Fall away into apostasy are those who never understand God’s grace because they never been made partakers of that grace. They never really understand justification. Because they’ve never really been justified and consequently they play around with sin become nonchalant with it, they’re strangers to the grace of God. Some of you listening to me right now are not saved. Because. Despite everything you’ve heard and everything you know and everything you’ve learned, you still think you’ve got some contribution to make to this thing. And you might think and say, Oh, it’s all God. % God, you’re talk like that. But reality deep down within you really believe this? % God. And there’s that .00 0.1% of you you’ve got to do something. There’s something there that you got to contribute to it. You’re still hung up with saying, you know, I’m trying to repent. Have I repented enough? Do I believe enough? Do I? I did pretty good this week. So am I saved oh, this week. This was a good week. So I must be saved. Right? What is that? So putting your confidence in Christ you’re failing to truly trust Jesus Christ. The day that you’re done with you is the day you’ll know salvation we. We read it there, Joel read it, and Josiah there. We will say. No. More our God to the work of our. Hands. All the work of our hands. We make a God in ways we don’t know I had a saying. All I have is Christ for a reason. It’s a wonderful song. It’s easy to sing, but is it true for you? Do you have. Christ and is Christ all you have. If God comes and takes. Your father or your mother, or your spouse or your children. Or your friend or your job. Or whatever, is near and dear to you in this life, God comes and takes it away. Do you still have Christ and is Christ all you have? Is it still stand true?
Father, we pray or I just cry out to You Have mercy on us. Or would you have mercy on Travis? Or allow these words to be used by your spirit for eternal good. The glory of Jesus Christ in then.