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Community Bible Chapel Podcast
7/28/19 Gospel of Grace – What Does Maturity Look Like? Gal. 4:1-31
I met someone this week who was a moralist.
-He thought he was in good shape because he lived a moral life.
-I was thinking about the tragedy of his Theology.
-First, it left him with a false sense of security.
-Secondly, his legalism gave him the appearance of spiritual maturity.
-He was able to say all the right things and his life looked like he had it all together, yet was fooling himself.
Today, we are going to continue our study of the book of Galatians.
-Paul has been defending the Gospel of Grace with the legalists in the church.
-And I’m excited because today we begin to turn with Paul to some deeper
application of the Gospel of grace that we have been solidifying.
I invite you to join me in Galatians 4. Page 824, youversion.
Paul has spoken to how he received the Gospel and that it was endorsed by the Apostles.
-The legalists countered that something more than just grace was needed to be saved – that the Law had to be followed in addition to grace.
-He opposed Peter, who jumped to fit in with the legalists by not eating with the Gentiles, and discredited the Gospel of grace.
Today, Paul begins to turn and address what Maturity looks like in our new life in Christ.
READ Gal. 4:1-7
Infancy – v. 1-3
-Paul begins talking about our infancy by using the culture of the day.
-A Roman family of wealth would have their children raised by a servant.
-The child would be a member of the family, but in practice, would have about the same amount of authority as the servant.
-Paul is using that to describe the spiritual condition of the Jew who was under the tutelage of the Law.
-The Law was put in charge to help them learn.
-What did they need to learn?
-The needed to learn the ABC’s of God’s spiritual economy.-The Law reveled God moral character, but they needed to learn they weren’t
-God and so couldn’t keep the Law.
-They needed to learn that God’s grace was needed to bring forgiveness of sin and salvation.-Learning that would have prepared them when God sent His Son to pay for their sin.
-Now, was maturity evaluated on how well they knew the ABC’s?
-No, the ABC’s were the starting point that would have to be built upon toward maturity.
-So, when the legalists tried to bring believers back into the tutelage of the Law, they were leading them back to school to learn the ABC’s all over again.
-That would look like maturity, but it was actually a regression of their faith, not the fulfillment of it.
Adoption v. 4-5
-We don’t know all that was involved in the “fullness of time”.
-It could have been that the known world was under Roman rule.
-It could have been that the culture and infostructure were all in place to carry the Gospel quickly.
-Or it could have been that the Law had done it’s work in the hearts and people were ready to move toward God’s grace.
-But whatever the reason for God’s timing, it was time for Him to enter into His creation to move the adoption process into high gear.
-Under the Law, we were as servants, having no authority or freedom.
-But in God’s redemption, we are adopted as children – set free with the full authority as children of the King.
Children of the King v. 6-7
-The Father sent his Son to die for us and the Son sent the Spirit to live in us.
-Because of God’s grace through faith be have become children of the King, and the legalists were leading people back to be servants through obedience.
-Some will say, PJ shouldn’t we obey the Law?
-Yes, we should, but let me say it this way.
-The servant obeys out of fear of the master.
-The child obeys out of love for their Father.
-So obedience isn’t the issue, it’s the motivation of the heart that changes in maturity.
-Choosing to live in fear of the master after having been adopted as a child would deny the adoption that has taken place.
-As children, our relationship with God changes.
-We now call Him Abba Father. – Daddy – intimate term.
-As a child of the King we are made heirs of the Kingdom.
-Heirs have a stake in the work of the Kingdom that a servant doesn’t have.
-We now get to do the same work the Father is doing because God included us in His family.
-On top of that, when we become God’s child, we receive the nature of the Father through His Spirit. II Peter 1:4
-Going back to live by the Law denies the very nature that we have been given by God’s grace.
-We could never attain God’s nature by trying to follow the Law in the flesh.
READ Gal. 4:8-20
Living in Immaturity v. 8-11
-Who says we have to grow up? The Bible.
-The question isn’t: Do we have to? But how do we?
-Paul’s point is that we don’t grow toward maturity as a child of the King by giving up all their advantages and go back to being servant.
-As we consider that the Law was a tutor, teaching us the ABC”s, it would be foolish to have the wealth of literature available to us and not read any of it because we decided that we should just stick with reciting the ABC’s
-My grand daughters are the age that they are learning the ABC’s.
-They walk around the house reciting them.
-My oldest grandson is reading because he has learned to put those ABC’s together in a usable way so he can read books.
-Paul is saying to the Galatians, you were reading real literature, why have you gone back to reciting the ABC’s?
-They have gone back to living by the Law – observing special days and religious holidays in their effort to earn their salvation rather than living for what those holidays pointed to – the grace of God.
Pleading for Maturity v. 12-20
-Paul turns to their history together.
-They had accepted his Gospel of grace and were demonstrating the fruit of the spirit – even to the extent of personal sacrifice for one another. (tearing out their eyes to give)
-But now, that kind of love and maturity was becoming lost in their efforts to live by the Law and separated them from Paul.
-As we have been speaking of for weeks, the Law will not get the job done.
-Our effort to live by the Law saps the joy of the Lord away from our lives.
-Not that there is anything inherently wrong with keeping the special days and ceremonies, but when they began to keep them to earn or keep their salvation, or to judge others who didn’t keep them, or keep them in the same way – they were falling to legalism.
-The worst part of it all was that they began to measure their spiritual maturity by the keeping of the external realities of the Law rather than growing in the internal motivations of living by faith.
-The Law can be deceiving and Paul pleads for them to return to live by grace through faith.
READ Gal. 4:21-31
Free Children or Slave Children
-Someone once said of children:
“When they are little, they step on your toes, but when they are older, they step on your heart.”
-That is Paul’s experience.
-He longed for them to come to Christ and celebrated God’s grace in it, but now, they are like the seed that fell among path – being eaten up by this group of legalists.
-And it’s breaking Paul’s heart.
-Paul uses the account of Ishmael and Isaac as an allegory to help us understand.What happened? V. 19-23
-You know the story.
-Abraham received the promise that he would have a son.
-His wife was barren, so she offered her servant to Abraham to have the child by.
-But that was not God’s promise to him.
-That child was born in the normal way, but the child that came later to Sarah, was born according to the promise.
-Their relationships have much to teach us.
Spiritual Realities v. 24-28
-There is a physical birth and the spiritual birth.
-The physical birth represents the Law and our natural state of bondage in it. DEATH
-The spiritual birth represents the promise and our supernatural state of freedom. LIFE
-The spiritual birth represents the faith of Abraham and the grace given to Sarah.
-Salvation comes by grace through faith.
-As it says: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Conclusion v. 29-31
-Paul draws this to a close by comparing the child of the flesh and the child of the Spirit.
-And that is the reality of our lives in Christ.
-The flesh is always battling against the spirit.
-The Law was never able to fully re-strain the flesh.
-And when the flesh wins out – we struggle.
-Divisions in relationships
-Life dominating sins
-Selfish rather than loving.
-The Legalists insisted that the Law made us more spiritual and better Christians.
-But Paul states that is false.
-For the believer, the Law works in opposition to the Spirit.
-It does not make us mature or better Christians in our effort to keep it.
-And he concluded with advice for us.
-Get rid of the Law and your old sinful nature and cling to the grace of God and the freedom we have in Christ.Romans 13:14 “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh”
-Our attempts to keep the Law leave us barren and empty.
-Living in the grace of God through faith in Jesus is a life lived in the joy of the Lord.
-It is a life that Paul will go on to describe as the Fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5.
-It’s a life of freedom to live as God intended – loving others through His love for us.
Living in The Gospel of Grace
Growing Toward Maturity in Christ
-I grew up going to church and every Palm Sunday I received a palm branch that I would bring home and hang over the little picture of Jesus that was in my bedroom.
-As I got a bit older, and moved out of the house, I didn’t know what to do with the picture of Jesus or the palm branch?
-My struggle was in my thinking – the palm branch somehow helped me earn some blessing from God in my life.
-That false reality made it difficult to not move it to my new home.
-I didn’t know it at the time, but that palm branch had become an idol in my life.
-Now, there is great significance in Palm Sunday and the recognition of Jesus entering into Jerusalem.
-But hanging the palm branch in my room doesn’t necessarily recognize that as I am hoping that nothing bad happens to me if I don’t hang it right.
-Hanging the palm branch all by itself did nothing to help me live more like Jesus. . . that wasn’t even on the radar screen.
-On top of that, I would hang out in my friends rooms and I thought I was a better Christian because I had a palm branch and they didn’t.
-Now, you can imagine the many ways that we who are “spiritual” use all kinds of things in the place of the palm branch.
-I don’t drink, I go to church, I give money, I read the Bible.
-All external evaluators that can lead to a false sense of maturity.
-That kind of thinking is legalistic in a similar way that Paul is addressing.
-And the church is full of such observances.
-Is it wrong for Christians to celebrate the birth of our Lord or His resurrection?
-Of course not, but if we observe them hoping that we will earn some spiritual merit because we observe it, or that we will be left out of God’s love if we don’t, then we are beginning to shade toward legalism.
-Observing those days doesn’t bring maturity if we evaluate our maturity based on keeping them or not.
-And we can also consider Bible reading, going to church, and giving to this same discussion.
The KEY to our maturity.
-Our spiritual maturity is not measured by how much we read the Bible or go to church, but how much doing those things changes how we live in this broken world.
-True maturity is measured by how our observance of those days actually changes how we love God and other people.
-And outward observance is a cheap substitute for the reality of true inward growth that those observances point us to.
Maturity Seeks Growth In Others
-Paul is concerned for the Spiritual growth of the Galatians.
-His life was spent coming alongside people and helping them to grow in Christ.
-He shared the Gospel with them and he shared his life with them.
-His goal was for believers to grow from the ABC’s to full maturity in Christ.
-But maturity is never intended to end with the individual, it always moves to seek the same for others.
-I have been amazed by the missionaries and folks going off to Bible school from our little church.
-People who desire to invest in the lives of other people and the gospel with them and share their lives with them.
-The question for each of us as we grow toward maturity is: Is there someone who I am discipling?
-The Body was never put together for one person to do it or even a few.
-God intends for us all to be involved in that process.
-The Body is designed to function in the context of relationships where each of us is actively discipling someone toward maturity and at the same time, we are being discipled by someone else.
-If you are not in those kind of relationships, you should be seeking out someone who is more mature than you and just spend time with them.
-When I was young, I was a pest to Pastor Steve, but I would just hang out with him for lunch or whenever I could.
-Life groups are a great place to do that. – You are invited.
-That is how we grow toward maturity together as the Body of Christ.
-And our maturity is not measured by the Law, but in how the Law has changed us into the moral character of God.
-God has given us his grace so that it might overflow from us to those around us.
-Living by grace seeks to give to others by pointing them to the grace of God.