Series: Towards the Full Corporate Stature
Sunday am 30 August 2009 – Kobus Swart
Matt. 11:27-30; Gal. 2:16-21; Gal. 3:1-3, 13-14; Gal. 4:17;
Gal. 5:1-5, 13-26; Gal. 6:1 [All Scriptures are from the Message Bible]
Read the introduction to Galatians in the Message Bible
There is a cry in the heart of the Father to see the whole purpose of redemption – in fact, His original intention for man – come to full fruition.
We are like clay pots. This treasure (new divine nature – 2 Pet 1:4) is in an earthen vessel. Every “clay pot” looks different, but inside is a treasure. Like a plant, this divine nature needs a specific environment or climate to grow freely. Religiosity contaminates any environment. Creative Christianity – an environment which is conducive to spiritual growth – is what is needed, not religious Christianity.
The apostle Paul was not a religious man. He was objective and often confronted even the ascension apostles when they became religious and hypocritical (See Gal 2:11-14). Through Jesus, Paul learned that God was not an impersonal force to be used to make people behave in certain prescribed ways, but a personal Saviour who will set us free to live a free life. Those of us who have the Christ life on the inside are supposed to “infect” the world with that Christ life, without going through religious rituals to communicate that.
Religion has laid down rules and regulations that choke the life in most Christians. Even in the first New Testament Church, religious leaders of the old school came into the churches and re-introduced the old religious ways, “herding all those freedom-loving Christians back into the corral of religious rules and regulations. Paul was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong arm religious tactics and intimidating those Christians into giving up their free life in Jesus. He was also furious with the Christians for caving in to that intimidation. His letter to the Galatian churches helps them and us to recover the original freedom. It also gives direction in the nature of God’s gift of freedom.”(Peterson)
No human being can please God by self-improvement. It’s not by keeping rules but by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Religion wants you to try to be good, especially to look good.
What a deliverance when this hits you: you don’t have to impress God or people! “It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that” (Gal. 2:19-21). This must be our attitude! It does not matter what people say as long as the Christ-life is maturing, and it will only mature and grow in an environment that is religion-free. The moment you begin to introduce rules and regulations you oppress the growth of that new nature.
“Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily”(Gal. 2:21). Take it personally, he is talking to us: “You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough” (Gal. 3:1). We are hungry to see the full stature, to see the corporate Christ mature, and it will only happen in a religion free environment. We are no longer only talking about being saved; we are talking about moving on to the purpose of being saved and growing into the full stature.
“Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse” (Gal. 3:13). The sun shut down for 3 hours; there was an earthquake. It was too much for creation to see the Son of God become a curse. But at the same time He dissolved and broke the curse. Let’s bring people into this curse-free life!
You don’t need the approval of your religious friends. They “… go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important”(Gal. 4:17). Whose approval do you need? I want God’s approval; “Well done, good and faithful servant!” This message threatens religious structures and systems.
A greater creative freedom is needed in our worship. How many of you really connect with the Holy Spirit in worship, or are you going through religious motions? Transformation comes to the worshipping soul. Connect freely.
Here are two keys from the book of Galatians to help us into this free life in Christ:
- You must be in a right relationship with God or this freedom will derail you. (Gal 3:21,22)
- We must have a satisfying relationship with the Holy Spirit. Cultivate that! Talk to Him, He is with you and in you. (Gal 5:6). Religion brought distance between God and man: (Gen. 4:26). We can talk to Him, we can listen to Him; we can fellowship in Him.
How do I test if my freedom is the correct freedom and not selfisness?
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows ….. My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness …..Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?” (Gal. 5:13-18).
What fruit does my freedom produce? “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard-things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity ….. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.Each of us is an original“ (Gal. 5:19-23).
“Live creatively, friends!” (Gal. 6:1).
Can I infect you with this desire? Live creatively, throw off that religious garbage. The world is waiting for this demonstration, they are sick of the religious, it never worked and it never will. The religious spirit is a perverse spirit, it looks genuine but it stinks. Let’s bear this fruit, the fruit of real, true, creative Christian freedom.