Abounding Grace (Vol 33) – Are you relying on the Law or on Grace?
Sunday English Service – 14 FEB 21
Let’s go to the word of God. As you know, we’ve been dealing with a series on grace and we titled the series as Abounding Grace. Now, from today, I want to continue in another direction within the same teaching, but I want to talk about living our Christian life with grace as the basis. You see all our personal problems and practical problems of life, living this life Christian life in this world has to do with what we believe it arises from our theology, what we believe. So practical problems arise from theological problems and theological problems are also very practical because theology affects our practical life, the way we live. So when your theology is work’s theology, for example, when your life is based on the teaching, that it is your work that qualifies you before God, that’s work’s theology. What is work’s theology? Work’s theology is where you trust in someone else or something else other than Jesus or in addition to Jesus, to qualify you before God, to help you to stand as righteous before God, to justify you.
So for your justification, you’re relying on something else other than Jesus, or in addition to Jesus, maybe it is your performance. It maybe it is your good works. Maybe it so many things that you have, and when you rely on anything else other than Jesus, or when you rely on anything in addition to Jesus, that becomes a work’s theology because you’re not relying totally on Jesus. And when your life is lived out on the basis of a work’s theology, then you’re going to have a lot of problems. You going to have condemnation set in, you’re going to feel bad about yourself. Not very happy about yourself, therefore you’re not happy about others. You become very critical. You become very judgmental. All these problems arise. You’re not able to love people. You’re not able to forgive people. You are not able to walk in love, all these problems of practical Christian living arises from this work’s theology, because you rely on your works and you know that you have not qualified according to your own theology, that you are not qualified, that you are not perfect, therefore you condemn yourself and that gives rise to all these problems.
But if your life is based on grace theology, for example. What is grace theology? Grace theology is where you rely only on Jesus and his redemptive work to save you, to justify you and to help you live this Christian life. You rely only on Jesus, nothing else, and what he has done. So when your Christian life is based on a grace theology, then you become confident, you become happy, you become satisfied, you feel accepted, you feel fulfilled, and therefore there is no need to condemn others. There’s no need to be judgmental about others. Therefore, it becomes a whole lot easier to love people and to accept people and to walk in love and so on. So this is basically about how grace helps us to reign in this life. Paul says in Romans chapter 5, where he says, He also says right there, that the gift of righteousness that we have received and the fullness of God’s grace, that we have received causes us to reign in this life.
So grace, as a foundational theology of our life, or foundational teaching of our life, undergirding our life will lead us to victory and success in life. So if theology is wrong, then the whole life goes wrong. Right belief is what theology is all about. When I say theology, I’m talking about belief. What do you believe? Right belief is what theology is all about. Only if you believe right then you can live right. All our actions are guided and governed by our belief or our theology. When I say belief remember theology. After the new birth, after we are born again, we come into Christ. If we want our life to the right, one of the things that we need to do is we need to make sure that our belief system is the right belief system that we believe in the right things. So important. Defeat in Christian life can be turned into triumphant and joy and happiness and victory by right kind of believing.
So the power of abounding grace can be only experienced through the right kind of believing. So our teaching for the next several weeks is going to be from Paul’s epistles to the Galatians. He writes to the Galician churches where he corrects the church, which has been influenced by work’s theology. He has started grace theology, but someone is coming in and infiltrating the church with the work’s theology is correcting the situation and through the correction he brings in, in his writing, we can learn a lot about what right belief is all about and what grace theology is all about? How our life must be undergirded by grace theology. So let me read to you, Galatians chapter 3, verses 1 to 10, you foolish Galatians who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I’d like to learn just one thing from you. Did you receive the spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish after beginning with the spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing? If it really was for nothing, does God give you his spirit and work miracles among you because you observed the law? Or because you believe what you heard?
Consider Abraham. He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Understand then that those who believe are children of Abraham. The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham. All nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith, all who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law. Paul is writing like this because he’s dealing with a huge theological problem. Meaning huge problem that has come as the result of what they believe. There are practical problems that are arising among the people of those churches and the origin is that their belief is wrong. They have latched on to some wrong beliefs. Someone has infiltrated the church and brought in some wrong teaching, work’s philosophy or work’s theology. And so now people are trying to live on the basis of that, and that’s causing a lot of problem. It’s a huge problem and Paul is trying to deal with that.
Now the problem can be stated theologically and practically. We can stated it in a doctrinal way, as well as in a practical way. First, let me state it in the doctrinal way. I can say it like this. There’re two kinds of righteousness that the Bible talks about. One is the imputed righteousness, other is the imparted righteousness. Imputed means that’s God has declared you as righteous, imputed does not mean that you become all perfect and all Holy, Holy. No imputed means that you’ve been declared as righteous. Righteous has been credited ascribed, attributed, assigned, charged to your account. You don’t really become righteous in your deeds, but you have been ascribed, you have been assigned, you’ve been declared, you’ve been credited with the righteousness so that when God sees you, now He doesn’t see you as a sinner, He sees you as righteous. That is called imputed righteousness.
Now, when you put your faith in Jesus, that’s the righteousness you receive. Imputed righteousness is where God on the basis of the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, now declares you as righteous and you accept it. God sees you as righteous. To God’s eyes, you are looking beautiful and wonderful. Now, how do you go from this to imparted righteousness. imparted righteousness is where righteousness is now becoming now your lifestyle, where you live a righteous life, where righteousness is your lifestyle now. You can see practical righteousness in day-to-day life. When do you move from this to that? So you start with imputed righteousness. You first receive Jesus, and you were declared as righteous where God sees you as beautiful and wonderful, but you even when you look at yourself, you know that you’re not so perfect, so holy, but you remind yourself, no, God has done something for me, He has accepted me as righteous. So I must see myself as that. Only when I see myself as the righteous, then I begin to behave accordingly.
So when do you move from imputed righteousness to imparted righteousness? That’s the theological way of putting it? How do you move from this kind of righteousness to that kind of righteousness? How does this thing where God has declared you righteous become very practical, where you live as a righteous person? Let me put it in a very practical way. Practical way is very simple. When you became a Christian, what happened? You’re forgiven, you’re pardoned and God loves you. And you know that God loves you. But you look at yourself and you say, yeah, I’m forgiven, I’m pardoned, God loves me. But look, I’m not so good. I still hold grudges. I’m still not able to forgive. I still have trouble with self-control. I’m not very humble. I’m not very honest. I’m not very strong in the Lord. So when do I move from just saying, God loves me, God has accepted me, God has forgiven me to living and walking in such a way where I am more humble, more honest, stronger, where I have better self-control, where I have more love and joy and so on. When do I go from this to that? That’s the problem.
Now this is going to answer a lot of questions that we have about spiritual life, because a lot of Christians have these questions, all has to do with the doctrine of grace. If we can understand grace and if we can make sure that we stand on the grace of God as our foundation, it’s going to really help us to not only understand, but to live and walk victoriously and successfully. So to this great question about imputed versus imparted righteousness, and this question about when do I go from this to that one? I know that God loves me. God has forgiven me, but I’m not very perfect. I needed a lot of help. I needed a lot of things to change in me. I’m still a very imperfect person. How do I go from God calling me righteous, to me living a righteous life? And Paul has a very radical answer. And the answer is found in verses 2 and 3 of this passage that I just read to you in Galatians chapter 3.
What he’s basically saying is this. He says, the way you enter into Christian life as salvation is the way you advance in the Christian faith. How do you enter into Christian faith? How do you become a Christian? How do you become a believer? How do you become a child of God? By putting your faith in Jesus, by believing in what he has done on the cross of Calvary, he’s an adaptive work. That’s how you entered in to the Christian faith, to the Christian life, you became a Christian. You became a Christian believer, a child of God. Paul is saying, that’s exactly the same way you advance in the Christian faith. That’s exactly the same way that you move forward, that you progress, that you grow and really live a righteous life. The way you enter in is the way you advance. That’s what he’s trying to say. He is saying there is not one way to enter and another way to progress in Christian life, to grow in Christian life. There is only one way, the way of grace. You enter in by grace and you progress and grow by grace.
So let’s try to understand what Paul is saying here. That’s the basic statement on what Paul is saying, but let’s try to understand. First of all, let me show you how we enter into the Christian faith, because the way you entered in, if you understand that, then you’ll understand the way you should advance and move forward. So how do we enter in? Verse 1 and 2 is telling the Galatians how they entered in. He says, Paul says, “You foolish Galatians.” He is reprimanding them because now, they’re going on the wrong track. He taught grace to them, now they’re trying to base their lives on works. So he says, “Oh, you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Who has cast a spell on you, who has deceived you and brought this wrong doctrine to you, so that you are under the spell of that doctrine? You’re dizzy with that doctrine, you believe that nonsense.” He says. The work’s theology. “Who has bewitched you.” He says.
And then look at these words, before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. And then he says, “I would like to learn one thing from you. Did you receive the spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard?” Remember the statement, before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. He says, “Did you receive the spirit by observing the law?” In other words, he says, go back and look at how you got saved. Did you get saved because you kept the 10 commandments, because you perfectly kept all the law or did you just get saved by simply putting your faith in Jesus. Think about that, and then you will understand. He says. It’s pretty simple what he’s saying is, look, I was originally preached Christ to you. Christ crucified is what I preached. And you believed it. You stopped relying on the law and you began to rest in Christ. You stopped trying to obey all the laws so that you can be qualified before God. You can try that for all eternity. You’ll never get there because no one, except Jesus has obeyed all the laws of God successfully.
In the first place, it was not given so that everybody can obey and come to God through that, it was given to prove that you cannot obey because there is sin in you, therefore you cannot obey, you need a savior. It was given to prove that. So he says, you’ve been trying to do it by the law, you tried really hard, but when I preach Christ to you, when I declared this Jesus was crucified. Who took your sin? Who died on your behalf? Who fulfill all the law for you? Who became your substitute? When I preached the gospel to you, you received him as your Lord and savior and you believed it. And that’s how you entered in. You stopped relying on the law, you switched, you stopped trying to fulfill all the law. You understood that you’re not going to make it that way. You’re going to make it only through this person. And you began to rest in Jesus. And then he gives the case study. Very interesting case study in verse 6, which is the perfect example of what it means to become a Christian.
Referring to Abraham. He says in verse 6, consider Abraham, he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Believable. He says, how did he come to a position where he was acceptable before God, where he qualified before God, where he was considered righteous before God, how did he come into that position? Not by keeping the law because the law was not even there when Abraham was there. Law came through Moses, more than 400 years after Abraham. So Abraham could not have come in through the law. The preachers that are coming and ruining these people, teaching work’s theology, preaching on the law, and Paul is saying, look, how was Abraham justified? How was Abraham considered righteous by God? He says, he believed God, and it was counted as righteousness, or it was credited to him as the righteousness.
Now, where does that come from? If you go back, verse 6 is a quote from Genesis chapter 15. In Genesis chapter 15, this is what we read, but Abraham said, “Oh sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless, and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus.” Remember after God told Abraham to leave his country and everyone there and come and go to the place where He would want them to go, Abraham left and came. God promised to multiply him, but he doesn’t even have a child and nothing is happening. And years are passing away. He is childless. And the man is worried. God has blessed him in so many ways. He’s made him wealthy and so on, but no child. So he’s terribly worried, and he says, I’m childless, the one who’s going to inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus, which is his servant. Then the word of the Lord came to him. This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. Abraham believed the Lord. And he credited it to him as righteousness. This is what Paul takes and quotes in Galatians 3:6.
Abraham believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteousness. So Paul teaching there about how they came to the Lord and how they entered into the Christian faith, he says, just like Abraham did. How did Abraham do? God gave him a promise. God gave him a promise that he will an heir, that he will have seed, and that God will multiply him and make him a great nation. But it has to begin with a child coming in the scene, so that generations can be started. And the promise was made and Abraham believed it, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now, listen to this. Let me read a little further, but Abraham said, “Oh, sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” How will I know that I’ll even get it? So the Lord said to him, bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon. Abraham bought all of these to him, cut them into an arranged the halves opposite each other. As the sun was setting, Abraham fell into a deep sleep and thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country, not their own. And they’ll be enslaved for many years, but I will punish the nation they serve. I will bring them out to the fourth generation. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
So this is the passage that Paul goes back to try to explain what it means to become a Christian. What is so special about this passage? In this passage, it says Abraham believed God. Notice it didn’t say that he believed in God. It says that he believed God. And that right there is an amazing truth that you need to understand in Christian life. What makes you a Christian? What makes you a Christian believer, a child of God today? What brings you salvation? What makes you enter into the Christian faith is not that you believe in God that there is a God and so on. No. Everybody believes there is a God. He who believe God, it doesn’t say he believed in God, he believed God. What does it mean? It means that he believed in the message that God was giving to him. Believing in God is different from believing God. He believed God means that a message was given to them. And what was the message? The message was very specific. And Galatians 3:8 has that message. It says, the scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announce the gospel in advance to Abraham.
Now, Paul is commenting on that passage, Genesis 15 passage. And he is saying, the scripture foresaw that God would justify Gentiles by faith and announce the gospel in advance to Abraham saying all nations will be blessed through you. So that’s the message. The message is this, very simply, let me put it in our words so you can understand it. What was the message that was given to Abraham? The gospel message. What is the gospel message? The gospel message was, I’m going to save the whole world through a descendant of yours. That’s the message. In other words, God is saying, I’ll give you a child. And through the child, a nation will come and through that nation, a savior will come. And that’s how I’m going to save. The promise of a child is not just a promise that Isaac will be born. It has to do. I don’t know if Abraham understood fully everything, but it has to do with a promise of a savior coming. Ultimately, it doesn’t stop with just the Isaac being born, it goes to the savior being born.
So what he is declaring there when Abraham said, how would I know that I will actually possess it? He tells him to bring some sacrificial animals and birds and so on, cut them in two halves and lay them. And then God passes in between them. What does this all signify? It means that salvation is not going to happen by what Abraham does. Abraham was just sitting there and watching. It is not going to be attained by what Abraham does or what anybody else does. It is going to be attained by what God does. God is saying, I will do it. I have declared it. I have promised it. I’m going to do it. If I didn’t do it, I’ll be just as dead as these animals are. I will do it. God promises to him. So there is the promise, not only that he will have a son, but he’ll have a savior and God is going to save the whole world. Not through attainment, but through atonement. Not through attainment, but through divine intervention. God is going to intervene. God is going to do something. God is going to bring about one person and he’s going to do the job. That is what is going to happen. That’s the gospel message. God promises that in that passage in chapter 15 of Genesis so much is loaded there.
God is saying, look, you’re lamenting about how you don’t have a son, I’m going to give you a son. Not just because you need a son, because I want to bring about a savior through you. So a son will come, but it’ll not end there to become a nation, and in the course of time, a savior will be born as the son of Abraham, he’ll be born. As the seed of Abraham, he will be born and he will bring salvation. It’s going to be all of my work, my promise, my work, my power, I will do it, God says. Salvation for the whole world is going to come through what I’m going to do. That is what God is declaring there. And Abraham believed it. And it was credited to him as righteousness. The word credited is very important. The Old King James Bible uses the word reckoned, even the word reckoned, as well as the word credited a more and more than work. They’re both are accounting words. You heard about reckoners, in accounting field.
And you’ve heard about crediting in banking transactions and so on. It means to count or count as. Suppose you worked like crazy and you earn a crore, one crore rupees, and then it is transferred to someone else’s account. After all that you’ve done and after all that you’ve earned when the whole amount is transferred to someone else, then it becomes that person’s, he has the value of it. It becomes his, he didn’t work, he didn’t do a thing, but it’s still his because it has been credited, it has been transferred. It’s in his account, it’s in his name. The value goes to him. He gets the benefit of it. And that’s what it means exactly when it says it was credited to him as righteousness.
In other words, God considered him righteous, declared him righteous, declared him qualified, declared him acceptable, declared him beautiful. So we have to understand here that Abraham didn’t become righteous here. The minute he believed the gospel message, he didn’t become righteous, he was counted as righteous. He didn’t work for it. It was transferred to his account, and now it’s in his name. He has the value of it, he has the benefits that it’ll bring, that means God now treats him as righteous. This is what it means to be a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian, that we who are sinners, we believe God. What do we believe? We believe this message. We believe the gospel. We believe that God’s son, that God sent his own son. It starts with Abraham’s son, but God sent his own son ultimately. And he died on the cross. Just like those sacrifices was laid there before Abraham and God passed through it. God’s son was made a sacrifice. It is because of what God has done by sending his son and making him a sacrifice on the cross of Calvary for our sins.
It is because of that salvation is now available for us. We believed the exact same message that Abraham believed, except we have it more clearly now because we live in new Testament times, we have the details of it. He believed it. And by believing it, righteous is credited to us. Doesn’t mean that we become all Holy, Holy and perfect. It means that God has accepted us. God credits in our account His righteousness and says you have my righteousness therefore you’re acceptable. Your righteousness is now my righteousness. I have given you my righteousness, that qualifies you to come before me, to be my child. That’s what happens when you become a Christian. If you put verse 6 to 8 of Galatians 3, with verse 1 to 2 of Galatians 3, you have the complete picture. What happens when you become a Christian? Paul says, you became a Christian when you start relying on the law and you begin to say, it’s Jesus Christ and him crucified.
When you believe in Christ as your savior, you get a new status. That’s what happened. You believed, and your status was changed. You believe the gospel just like Abraham and you get imputed righteousness, not imparted, imputed righteousness. Righteousness is credited ascribed, designed. You don’t become good, you don’t become all loving and you don’t become all a hundred percent perfect or anything like that. Still there’s a lot of issues. Still there’s a lot that needs to change. In many ways, you’re still the same person, but you are counted as good and fine and unselfish and loving and perfect in the sight of God. You’re counted as perfect. You become a beauty to God. Just think about that. That’s what salvation is all about. Now, how does that happen? Now, listen to this. Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified, he says. Before your very eyes, Jesus was clearly portrayed as crucified. What does it mean? He’s talking about preaching. When he says before your very eyes, he was clearly portrayed, he’s not talking about drawing something picture or something like that and then seeing it.
He is talking about him, portraying Christ before them, Christ crucified before them, by the preaching that he did, they didn’t see anything physical. They didn’t see a picture or some kind of a thing that is framed and made and so on. No. Before your very eyes, Jesus was portrayed as crucified means simply that when he preached Christ and Christ crucified to them, they began to see the gospel in a way that they’ve never seen before. The Bible uses sensory language whenever we move from intellectual knowledge to a heart belief. Here, we’re talking about heart belief and so the Bible sometimes puts it in sensory terms, which is, sensory means seeing, hearing, touching those terms. So he says before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. Doesn’t mean that with these eyes, we saw something. No. It means something else. These just using sensory language to explain a spiritual truth, it means that they began to understand something, they began to see in their mind’s eye, in their heart, something that they’ve never seen before.
Let me give you a couple of examples. Job. You remember Job in Job chapter 42 towards the end of the book of Job, the Bible says, consider the end of job. That’s a very important chapter. The last chapter, 42:5 there Job says, after God gets through talking to him and he realizes that he’s been terribly wrong. He has uttered words that are nonsense and the spoke of things that are not right, not knowing things, he has uttered certain things. He says, I’ll shut my mouth now, here I won’t speak, he says. Why? He says, “I heard you with my ears, but now I see you with my eyes.” What a statement. Now what do you think about that statement? I heard you with my ears, but now I see you with my eyes. Did something happen there physically that before Job only had heard about God, but now he’s physically seen him. No, absolutely not. He didn’t see him with his eyes. There was nothing to see. He’d gotten up here before him, God was speaking to him from a whirlwind, there was a voice coming. That’s all.
So what is he talking about when he’s says, I heard you with mine ears before, but now I see you with my eyes. He says, only now I really understand you God and I see now. Yeah, I heard before, but I didn’t know. I heard before, but I never got the point before. I heard this and that about you, but I never saw the truth through that. But now I see what I have not seen ever before. We use that expression very often. When somebody tries to explain to us, we say, for example, I’m trying to explain this to you today, and you’re sitting there and saying, yeah, I see that pastor. I see that. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. What did you see? Did you see Christ [inaudible 00:37:29] No. You begin to understand something that you never understood before. That’s what it’s talking about.
Another example, Romans chapter 7 verse 7 and 10. You read something like this. Paul says, “I always knew that command to though shall not covet.” Of course, he knew he was brought up as a Jewish child. He memorized the old Testament, basically at least the first five books of the Bible and that’s where the 10 commandments are given. Jewish person will say, I don’t know the 10 commandments. He knew the commandments. He says, “I always knew the commandment thou shalt not covet.” But one day the commandment came, sin revived and I died. What does he mean? In verse 10 he says, this commandment came, sin revived and I died. What is the meaning? Commandment came means it came to my mind, the truth came to my mind. The meaning came to my mind. The true meaning came to my mind. Sin revived means what? What does it mean? It means that I realized that I was a sinner and I understood this commandment thou shall not covet. I understood that I’m a sinner. Before I thought I have not done it actually. I have not done it by way of action. I thought only by committing adultery, you can be sinning, only by murdering you can be sinning. But now when I understood the commandment, thou shalt not covet, I understand it’s not just by action you sin, you sin in your heart when you hate your brother, you sin in your heart when you lust after a woman, you sin in your heart, sin is of the heart.
So when the commandment came. Commandment came means? When I understood the commandments of God through this 10th commandment, thou shall not covet, sin revived that means that I realized that I was a sinner and I died. What does he mean? He didn’t die. He didn’t fall down and die. By saying I died, he means, I realized that I was a spiritually dead person. What he’s saying is I understood the commandment like never before. And as a result, I realized that I was a sinner. The fact that I was a sinner came up, revived, showed up, I understood it. And then what happened? I had realized that I was dead spiritually.
One more example, in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 18, Paul prays for the Christians that the eyes of their hearts might be enlightened so that they might know the hope and the power and the riches of their inheritance. I ask you today, didn’t they know the hope and the power and the riches of their inheritance? Don’t they know what the riches of their inheritance? Of course, they know, they’re Christians. Then what is he praying for? He’s praying that they may not just hear, but see it. A lot of things, you and I, we’ve heard a lot of preaching, we’ve heard a lot of truth and so on. Lots of things we’ve heard it, but we have not seen it. Isn’t that the truth? I think so for myself. I’ve heard a lot of that, I’ve heard a lot of preaching, I read a lot and hear a lot and so on. And then one fine day I find out, my God, I’ve read it, I’ve heard it, I knew this all the time, but only now I see it. Isn’t that right? That is exactly what Paul means when he says, “Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”
In other words, when he preached the gospel to them, it was graphically portrayed before them. The word portrayed really means to graphically paint a picture by words. So what he’s saying is you had some facts about the gospel that Jesus Christ died on the cross. They may have known about it, but they began to believe it from the heart. They began to taste it. They began to see it. They got a sense of it. It became real to them. It was no longer just a concept. It hit them in the heart. That’s how they became Christians. So we’ve got imputed righteousness.
Now, how do we go from imputed righteousness, to imparted righteousness? That’s the second part. We’ve got imputed righteousness. We are loved by God. We have been forgiven. We have been accepted. God calls us righteous. That’s wonderful. I know I am like Christ in God’s eyes, but how do I become Christ like? That’s the thing. How was the righteousness imparted? How do I really become righteous in my life? Here’s what almost everyone does if they don’t understand the truth. We know that we are justified by faith. That much, maybe we have understood, not our qualifications, not our performance, not our good works, it is what Jesus has done. We have done that. We believed in what Jesus has done. We’ve entered in to this faith, but somehow, we begin to believe that we are sanctified by really trying very hard that after. We believe that we get imputed righteousness by not doing anything, but by just believing.
So we just look at Jesus. We see the beauty and the wonder of all that he has done on the cross of Calvary and it hits us very hard, but enlightened, our eyes of understanding is open and we rest on that, and it brings us into the kingdom of God. But when it comes to advancing the kingdom, when it comes to moving forward in Christian life, we always have the trouble. We somehow seem to slip back into the old mode where we want to now try our performance and our goodness and our works and see if we can do it on our own. That is exactly what Paul is saying here. When he says, I would like to learn one thing from you, he says, did you receive the spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish, he says, after beginning with the spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
What a question he asked them. He says, you became a Christian when he stopped relying on the works of righteousness in your life, you stopped relying on the law. You relied on Jesus Christ. You stop believing that lie, that fallacy that you used to believe that God will accept you because of what you do. And you began to trust in what Jesus has done. In fact, you looked at it, it was graphically portrayed to your heart, that’s how you began. Paul says, are so foolish after beginning with the spirit, now you’re trying to attain your goal of becoming Christ like by human effort. Is that how you’re going to become Holy? Is that how you going to become Christ like? Verse 5 here looks very much like verse 2, doesn’t it? But verse 5 is in the present tense. Look at what he says here in verse 5. He says, does God give you his spirit and work miracles among you because you observed the law or because you believe what you heard? What a question.
In other words, he says, God gives you His spirit and works miracles among you. He is telling the believers, who’ve believed in Jesus and are experiencing amazing miracles in their lives, because they have the spirit of God. He doesn’t say, God gave you his spirit. He says, God gives you His spirit. Note that first, it’s in present tense. It’s not the God gave you. God gives you his spirit and works miracles among you. That means at present, God has given you His spirit, not talking about something that happened in the past, the salvation experience. It is talking about what is happening now in our Christian life. He says, “God gives you His spirit and works miracles among you.” Why? Not because you observe the law, but because you believe not because you believed it, but because you believe. All right. Note that, not because you believe, but because you believe in other words, yeah, you believed it and you got saved. That’s one thing, that’s something that happened in the past.
Verse 5 is talking about something that’s happening in the present, where God has given you His spirit, working miracles among you. Not because you observe the law, but because you believe. It’s not happening in your life, the spirit of God is not coming and helping you and miracles are not happening because you are now observing the law. It is because you believe. He says, you don’t get into faith by not relying on your good words and by relying on Jesus Christ and then move forward in that Christian life by really trying hard, by really depending upon your good works. He says, the only reason the spirit of God is working in your life and doing miracles in your life is because to the degree you continue to believe, and you continue to have the work of Jesus Christ graphically portrayed to you. That means after you became a Christian to the degree, that you continue to believe what you believe about Jesus Christ, when he was graphically portrayed.
To the degree that you continue to believe that message that you heard and the time of your salvation. To the degree that you continue to meditate and understand and drill on the work of Jesus Christ, as it was portrayed graphically before you. To that degree, you’ll continue to see the spirit of God work in you and perform miracles through you, amazing things happening in your life. The rest of the book of Galatians is about that and we’re going to get into that in detail, so I don’t want to get ahead right now. So let’s go on right now to complete this. Why would Paul be even talking about this to Christians? Why would he say, for example, in verse 10, all who rely on observing the law are under a curse. Why would he say that? All who rely on observing the law. Notice that. All who rely. I’m reading from a NIV, even ESV has rely. Many of the translations have rely. If you go to the King James version, it’ll say all who are off the works of the law. That’s where the confusion comes. And the confusion is clarified by these translations. All who are off the works of the law really means all who rely on the works of the law.
So when Paul says, all who rely on the works of the law are cursed, he’s not saying that Christians should not observe the law or Christians don’t observe the law. He’s not saying, look, you’re a Christian, now you’ve been set free. You can do anything you want. You can cheat, you can steal, you can do all kinds of things. And doesn’t matter, you’re under grace. Praise God, go ahead and do it. That’s not what he is teaching, and that’s not what we are teaching also. No sensible Christian will ever teach that. Please get them, because some people are talking like that. That people who teach grace teach like this. Paul is not teaching that, no sensible Christian would ever teach that. Of course, Christians observe the law, are you hearing me? Of course, Christians observe the law, but they don’t rely on observing the law to qualify them before God. That’s the big difference my friend.
They observe the law, but they don’t rely on observing the law, to qualify them before God, to be considered righteous before God, to receive God’s favor, to receive God’s blessing. They observe the law, but they don’t rely on the law. That is a big world of difference between observing the law and relying on the law. Observing the law is good and necessary, but relying on the law is not good and should not be done in our Christian walk. The key here is not law keeping or law breaking. It’s not whether you’ve kept the law or broken the law. The key here, the most important thing here is law relying. It’s not about whether you have broken the law or whether you’ve fulfilled the law, kept the law. It’s about, are you relying on the law? Let me ask you the question. Are you relying on the law? I’m not talking about whether you kept the law or whether you broken the law. That’s another subject. You must keep the law. But the thing is, we are talking about relying on the law. It’s one thing to say, I’m living a good life and that you should live a good life also. But it’s another thing to rely on that, to make that your hope, to make that thing that enables you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, I’m fine. I’m good.
If you go to that direction, you’ll feel condemned, you’ll feel unhappy, and then you’d put it on others and life will become miserable my friend. You should not make that. The thing that makes you able to stand before God. You should not make your performance the thing that makes you stand for God. Your perfection, the thing that makes you stand before God, that didn’t make you unhappy, condemned and you’ll put it on others. Your performance, your good works, your goodness should not make you able to see the whole world around you and say, look at me, I’m okay. That’s where all the unhappiness comes. If you go into the direction, certainly you’ll condemned. The question is not whether you’re breaking the law, or keeping the law, you should keep the law. That’s not the issue here. All those who rely on the law are under a curse. Why is he saying that to the Christians? Why is he even mentioning that here? Because it is true that Christians can go back and still in our day, they can go back to some degree into the law and rely on the law. That is why he is saying all those that rely on the law and under a curse. It’s a warning to Christians saying, don’t do that. If you go back and rely on the law, you’re finished my friend. “You’re under a curse.” He says.
How do you know whether you’re relying on the law or not? Let me give you a quick test. Do you feel condemned? Do you feel anxious? Do you feel terrible when somebody criticizes you and you go to pieces, and you fall apart because somebody condemns you? You believe it. And you say, yeah, I’m no good, rotten. See what’s going on there? You’re relying on the law. That is the curse? Why does he say there’s a curse on all those that rely on the law? That’s the curse. Condemnation is the curse. Your unhappiness is the curse. You being unsuccessful, you being a failure because of this feeling that is coming to you now, pulling you down, dragging you to the ground. You become a dormant where everybody walks on you, that’s the curse my friend. You are not on the top, you are at the bottom now. Paul says, “The way the spirit works in your life is like this.” We just read verse 5. How God gives the spirit and works miracles in your life.
Paul says, “The way of the spirit of God works in your life is you go back again and again, and you see the work of Christ on your behalf again.” By the help of the spirit of God, you go back and set Christ as clearly portrayed as crucified before your eyes. The reason you have the problem that you have is because something besides Jesus Christ is operating functionally as your savior. Jesus is not your savior. You have allowed other things to be your savior, your performance, your rudeness, your righteousness, your perfection, all of these things to some degree. And all the misery comes from that. And all the sins also comes from that. And all the growth in grace, growth in Christian life comes from not trying harder, but it comes from going back and believing what you believed. What did you believe clearly portrayed Christ crucified?
The gospel that clearly portrays Christ as being crucified. What is there in Christ being crucified? There he took my sin, there all my sin was laid upon him. It was all taken away from me. He became the lamb that took away my sins. He became that escape goat that took it far away to the point of no return. It can never come back to me. I must have it clearly portrayed before me all the time again and again. I got to go back by the spirit of God see Christ clearly portrayed as crucified. That’s the whole point of what Paul is saying in verse 2 and verse 3. You started that way, that’s how you got saved. And are you going to try a different way now that you’re saved, you want to try a different way to go forward in Christian life. Don’t put something else in the place of Jesus and him crucified as your way of salvation. It is in him, not my performance, not my goodness, that how I perfect I am, not according to whether I’m qualified, don’t be counting your merits and demerits.
You’re finished if you do that, you will not be happy, you’ll be unhappy, you will make others unhappy. Misery starts right there because you’re taking your eyes off of Jesus Christ and what happened on the cross of Calvary, which was clearly portrayed in the gospel. We preach the gospel to you, keep that before your eyes, may the spirit of God help you to see your sins there, to see your sins as gone and taken and removed as far as East is from the West and dropped into the bottomless ocean to see your sin as judged, condemned, and finished with Jesus Christ, never to be brought up again, see it and keep seeing it every day, all the time. Let me just give you one example of how this really worked in a person’s life. Let’s go to the example of Stephen, where we see this worked out really in a person’s life. How this person sees Christ portrayed as crucified clearly before him, and therefore is able to even forgive his worst enemies.
Stephen, as you know shouldn’t have been executed, that was completely unjust. It was a terrible court that did a terrible judgment on him. They were about to execute them and it was a terrible miscarriage of justice. They rejected him. They were saying that he was heretic and that it was horrible, which is far from truth. And right at that time, he looked to heaven and said, I see heaven opened, and I see Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. Notice the word standing at the right hand of God in Acts chapter 7, most places in the Bible Jesus is sitting after he ascended to heaven. He’s sitting, because sitting always means authority, sitting at the right hand of God. For Jesus was standing means, that he’s standing in the court. It is like a court scene standing before the bar of justice, standing before the heavenly court, before God as the judge, he’s standing, he is standing there as Stephen’s high priest.
And Steven says, “I see the son of man standing on the right hand of God.” And as he said that they were stoning him, he was stoned and being killed. And right at the time with a loud voice, he lifted up his voice and said, father, “Forgive them, don’t hold this to their account.” He says, “Father receive my spirit, don’t hold this to that account.” Why was he able to do that? He didn’t stand there and say, I am a Christian, I have to be able to forgive them, I hate these people, but I have to be forgiving. I am a Christian, I would be strong, somehow forget, what to do and grind his teeth. No, that’s not what he did. What happened? He had Jesus Christ portrayed graphically to him. When he looked at the heaven, he saw Christ. And when he saw Christ, he realized that even though these people down here were condemning him and stoning him, killing him, they’ve cast a judgment upon him as a heretic and sinner before God, even though they have condemned him in only court that really mattered. The court of heaven. The judge who’s God. He was beautiful. That’s what he saw.
When he saw Christ standing at the right hand of God, he was able to see that even though these people down here, condemned him, rejected him and would not believe in him and considered him a criminal before God, the court of heaven, the God the judge of all considered him beautiful. In God’s eyes, he was acquitted, pardoned. And he was righteous with the righteousness of Jesus. What they do to us in this world, how others treat us in this world become very insignificant in the light of what we see, when we see Christ portrayed as crucified, him loving us, him taking all our sin upon himself, him dying for us, him taking our place and being our substitute so that they can be free. The sight of that makes what we go through here as nothing, evil that we experienced in this world, there’s nothing we’re able to forgive these people because of what we see up there, because of what we see there represents. What we see there tells us that they’re totally accepted, absolutely favored and loved by God, that we are considered righteous, thousand people may cry, fall and thousand people may say that he’s a sinner, but God says you’re righteous, and that’s the only thing that matters.
One important thing in closing I want to say is that in verse 55, it says, that before he looked up to the heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God, it says, Stephen full of the Holy spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He was full of the Holy spirit. Paul was saying that God gives us His spirit and works miracles in us, not because we have perfectly obeyed the law, but we have heard and believed. Not because of our perfect obedience to the law, but because of grace and faith. That is how the spirit of God comes and works in us in our daily life. And I tell you here in Stephen’s life, he’s experiencing, that in a moment of crisis, God gives him the spirit. He is full of the spirit under the inspiration of the Holy spirit. He begins to see Jesus as his intercessor, as his advocate, standing in the presence of God, declaring that he is righteous, and therefore he is able to freely forgive. How will they be able to forgive? How will we be Christ-like in our conduct also. It is in the same way, it is when we see really, when we really begin to see that our mind’s eye, with our heart, with the revelation, what Jesus has done for us, what Jesus is for us today, what Jesus has done and what he’s doing at the right hand of the father today. If we can see that, this will not be a problem, this will become a reality.
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