Living Free • Message 6 • God’s Promise
Joshua J. Masters
July 21, 2019
“No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said.” Psalm 89:34 (NLT)
- The PROMISE of God…
- REMOVES our sin.
(Galatians 3:13-14. C/R: Psalm 103:12; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24)
- RELIES on God, not man.
(Galatians 3:15–17, 20. C/R: Genesis 15:12, 17–18; Psalm 89:34; Ephesians 2:8–9; Hebrews 6:13-15)
- RESULTS in grace.
(Galatians 3:18. C/R: John 1:16–17, 3:16–17; Romans 3:23–24; Titus 2:11)
- The LAW of Moses…
- REVEALS our sin.
(Galatians 3:19. C/R: Romans 3:19–20, 7:7–8)
- RELIES on man, not God.
(Galatians 3:18, 21. C/R: Exodus 20:1–18; Romans 8:3; James 2:10)
- RESULTS in condemnation.
(Galatians 3:22-23. C/R: Deuteronomy 27:26; Romans 4:15, 6:23, 11:32)
Message Description: God’s promise of salvation through faith is irrevocable. The law can only make us aware of our need for that salvation.
Living Free • Message 6 • God’s Promise
Joshua J. Masters
July 21, 2019
There is power in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Do you have that power living inside you?
Do you have that freedom?
That’s what we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks.
And this morning, we’re continuing our series on the Book of Galatians called, “Living Free.”
We’ll be starting in the middle of Chapter 3, so go ahead and turn or swipe to that passage in your Bible.
If you’re using the Bible we have available here at Brookwood, we’re on page 939.
Last week, Paul started presenting a series of arguments for being made right with God through faith rather than works…
And just as we said last week, Paul’s arguments are unfolding like a courtroom drama.
He’s presenting witnesses, making accusations, asking rhetorical questions, and presenting evidence to prove his case.
So if you missed the beginning of the trial, I encourage you to listen or watch last week’s message through the Brookwood App or our website.
But since you can’t do that right now, let me summarize:
Put simply, Paul’s making a case for the gospel—a case that God’s grace (and faith in Christ) is all that’s required for salvation.
He’s working against the arguments of the Judaizers, who say salvation also requires following the law and becoming Jewish.
Last week we looked at Paul’s first two arguments:
-The evidence of the believer’s experience
-The evidence of Scripture.
Today we’ll look at the next two arguments Paul makes:
-The evidence of God’s Promise and
-The evidence AGAINST the Law of Moses.
If you take out your outlines, you’ll notice a pattern. There are 3 fill-ins about God’s Promise, and there are 3 parallel fill-ins about the Law of Moses.
And we’ll see how they compare, point-for-point.
Last week we stopped at verse 15, but to properly compare Paul’s two arguments today, we need to back up a couple verses.
Let’s review verses 13-14 from last week:
But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:13-14 (NLT)
Does anyone remember our final fill-in from last week?
“True belief in Christ… REMOVES the curse.”
God made a promise to Abraham, and by that promise, we also receive salvation through faith.
We’ll delve into that promise in a few minutes, but when the curse is removed, so is our sin, our failures, and our imperfections.
…Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)
That word, “cancelled” in this verse means:
to erase, wipe out, destroy, to obliterate.
Every sin you’ve ever committed or will ever commit was forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—completely forgiven by being completely erased through faith in Him.
So in removing the curse
(as we talked about last week),
A. The PROMISE of God…
1. REMOVES our sin.
Psalm 103:12 tells us:
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)
It’s no longer connected to us.
There is no record of it.
--Does your life reflect that truth?
--Do you remember the weight you carried before you were saved?
--Are you carrying a burden of sin right now?
Some of you have never surrendered to a life with Christ, and you’ve been living with that burden.
But I’m also talking to those of us who say we’re followers of Christ, but continue to carry shame and guilt as if it’s something noble—as if it’s some sort of penance to help purify us.
But shame and guilt can never purify you.
It only shackles you.
It’s a lie from the enemy to distract you from a healing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus didn’t die to share in your sin—He died to remove it completely.
And when we learn to live in that truth instead of the lies of our enemy, that’s when we’ll find the freedom and the strength to really partner with Christ in the work of His Kingdom.
Faith is all that’s required to be made right with God.
That’s the promise of God’s grace… and He revealed that promise through His covenant with Abraham.
Now, Paul’s argument from last week proved, beyond any doubt, that Abraham was made right with God through faith… not by any action he took, and not by any law he followed.
Abraham was given the full righteousness of God through his faith alone.
But the Judiazers, who believed Gentiles could only be saved by becoming Jewish and following the law, would likely have said, “Well, that’s fine… You’ve made your point, Paul, but once Moses gave the law, that all changed.”
So Paul anticipates that question and continues.
Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case.
Galatians 3:15 (NLT)
The word “agreement” used in this verse usually referred to someone’s final will and testament, which was unchangeable.
In other words, Paul is saying we don’t even amend or change our own legal agreements once they’ve been ratified or sealed.
So if WE don’t change our most important agreements, why would we think God, who is perfect in His integrity, would change His?
Continuing in verse 16:
God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking His promise.
Galatians 3:16–17 (NLT)
First, Paul points out that when God promised, ‘All the nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed,’ the word seed (or child) is singular.
So although Abraham was promised as many descendants as there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5), the PROMISE of salvation through faith is tied to a single descendant… Jesus Christ.
Make sure you get this:
The promise of God is not an obscure philosophy.
--The promise of God is Jesus Christ.
--Christ has been God’s promise of restoration through faith since the very beginning!
--Jesus Christ was God’s promise to Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:15).
--He was God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
--He was God’s promise to Israel through Moses (Numbers 21:6-9).
--He was God’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7:16).
--He was God’s Promise to Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5).
--And Jesus Christ is God’s promise of restoration to you! (John 3:16).
God’s promise is eternal.
So Paul is saying that the law given 430 years after God’s promise can’t change or alter the promise, because God’s word is unchanging.
God is not a man, so He does not lie.
He is not human, so He does not change His mind.
Has He ever spoken and failed to act?
Has He ever promised and not carried it through?
Numbers 23:19 (NLT)
Our God is a God who delights in keeping His promises.
Look what God said about His promise to David (It’s at the top of your outline):
No, I will not break My covenant; I will not take back a single word I said.
I have sworn an oath to David, and in My holiness I cannot lie.
Psalm 89:34–35 (NLT)
In His holiness, God cannot lie.
God is faithful.
But here’s the problem:
I think there are many of us here who believe in the promises of God, but have a hard time believing those promises are for us.
Do we believe in changed lives? Yes.
Do we believe in healing? Yes.
Do we believe in miracles? Yes.
Do we believe God will do them in our own lives?
If we’re honest, for many people in this room, the answer is no.
Not because we doubt God’s ability, but because we doubt we deserve that kind of grace.
We still think He’s keeping a tally of the sin Jesus paid for.
But the promises of God are not dependent on your integrity, they are only dependent on His.
Let me show you something.
Skip down to verse 20 in our text for a moment…
Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when He gave His promise to Abraham.
Galatians 3:20 (NLT)
What does that mean?
When God made this promise to Abraham, Abraham believed and received righteousness through faith.
But what is this thing about a mediator?
When Abraham received God’s promise,
IN his faith (not in a snarky or salty way), Abraham asked,
“Oh Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure” of this promise? (Genesis 15:8)
And when He heard Abraham’s question, God entered into a blood covenant with Abraham.
Now, blood covenants were common in Abraham’s day… but honestly, it’s going to seem kind of gross to us.
So for those who have their kids in here today because of One Camp… I’m sorry.
This is how it worked:
When an agreement was met in Abraham’s day, the two parties would cut several animals in half and then separate the two halves of the livestock.
>Half the cow goes over here,
and half the cow goes on this side.
>Half the goat over here, and the other half over here.
They’d make a path between the slaughtered animals so the parties in the agreement could walk between them together.
That obviously seems strange to us. When I came to Brookwood 4 years ago and I agreed to the benefits package, I didn’t turn to Nina Mitchell and David Hardy and say, “Sounds good, let’s cut up some animals and go for a walk.” They might have retracted the job offer.
But you have to understand that animals were their most valuable possessions and by walking through that carnage together, they were essentially saying, “May I end up like one of these animals if I don’t keep up my end of the bargain.”
That’s pretty serious.
So God has Abraham gather a cow, a goat, a ram, and several types of birds.
Abraham slaughters them, cuts the larger animals in half, and arranges them for the ceremony.
But look what happens next in Genesis 15:
As the sun was going down, Abram [This is before God changed his name to Abraham] fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him… After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day…
Genesis 15:12, 17-18 (NLT)
What do you notice about that ceremony?
God didn’t let Abraham participate.
The PROMISE of God…
2. RELIES on God, not man.
If you struggle to live in the promises God has for your life, because you don’t think you can keep up your end of the bargain… you need to know that God has made a blood covenant with you too.
But He didn’t use the blood of a goat.
He used the blood of Jesus Christ.
We can have assurance in God’s promise because it relies on God’s honor, not ours.
The promise of God’s path for salvation depends only on His word and the blood of Christ.
Every promise given to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
…all the promises of God find their Yes in Him [Christ]. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)
Do you understand the significance of that?
Look at our next verse in Galatians.
Back to verse 18:
For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.
Galatians 3:18 (NLT)
By its very nature, an inheritance is something you receive and cannot earn.
The inheritance Paul is talking about is salvation through Christ.
You cannot earn it,
You cannot win it,
You cannot find it,
But for a revelation of the Spirit,
The grace of the Father,
And the sacrifice of Jesus.
This says the inheritance was “graciously given,” but that’s not how that phrase is usually translated in the New Testament.
Because that word’s real meaning is “Forgiven”
The PROMISE of God…
3. RESULTS in grace.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
Titus 2:11 (NIV)
Not because we deserve it, but because God’s love is greater than our sin.
Stop believing your failures are too big for God’s grace.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Romans 3:23–24 (NLT)
We are free from the penalty of sin.
The law has no grip on us,
and death has no claim on us.
But that raises an interesting question:
If the Law that was given to Moses had no effect on God’s promise to Abraham, and salvation has always been through faith alone, what’s the point of the law? Why did God even give the Law to Moses?
After last week’s message, several people actually asked me that.
And I guess Paul knew you would ask that too, because after he establishes the evidence of God’s unchanging promise, he transitions to his 4th argument, the evidence AGAINST the law.
And in that, he’ll explain why the law was given.
We continue in verse 19:
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised...
Galatians 3:19a (NLT)
The law was never designed to be fulfilled by man, but to highlight our INABILITY to fulfill it.
The promise of God removes our sin, but…
B. The LAW of Moses… (can only)
1. REVEALS our sin.
The purpose of the law is to help humanity see how far from God’s standard we’ve fallen.
To make us feel bad?
Yes. (You didn’t think that was the answer, did you?)
“But God is a God of Love.
God doesn’t want me to feel bad.”
If it means feeling such conviction over your sin that it moves you to seek Him… He absolutely does.
If it means not having to surrender you to eternal separation from Him… He absolutely wants the law to devastate you.
God’s not trying to protect your feelings,
He’s trying to protect your soul.
The truth is, we live in a culture of easy conversion. Just say a 1 minute prayer and you’re done.
But the Law of God should bring us to a place of such despair over our inability to reach Him, that we become desperate for God’s grace.
- B. Simpson described salvation and sanctification as requiring a spiritual crisis, in which the Holy Spirit reveals and convicts us of our sin.
We must be brought to a place of complete humility in the face of God’s holiness.
But we have turned God’s grace into an Instagram post when it should drive us to our knees.
During his own crisis moment, Simpson described how God made him aware of his absolute “nothingness,” when compared to God, and a mentor told Simpson:
“All you need in order to bring you into the blessing you are seeking, and to make your life a power for God, is to be annihilated.”
And that’s exactly what we need.
We want the blessings without the conviction.
We need to be aware of our sin… not casually aware, but in a terrifying way that strips us of our self-sufficiency.
The law is vital to understanding our fallen nature.
Because God’s offer of grace is meaningless to someone who doesn’t think they need it.
When he wrote to the Roman church, Paul gave an example from his own life:
… It was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! ...
Romans 7:7-8 (NLT)
The law is what makes us understand the holiness of God.
And you cannot come to know God’s holiness without realizing your own depravity.
We are incapable of reaching God.
No one can be made right with God through the law (Galatians 3:11)—but it can compel us, through the Holy Spirit, to seek His grace.
Now, once we begin growing in Christ, the law has a secondary purpose of helping us identify how to become more Christ-like, but in either case, it can only reveal our sin.
The question is what will you do when it’s revealed?
Because Sin can either compel us toward Christ or draw us deeper into its grasp.
We cannot do it on our own.
Which leads us to the second reason the law (and any type of works-mentality) is insufficient to bring salvation:
The promise of God, relies on God, not man. But…
The LAW of Moses…
2. RELIES on man, not God.
As MacArthur pointed out, and this is important:
In His promise to Abraham, God said “I will”
but in the Law of Moses God said, “Thou Shalt” and “You Must.”
Read the verses from Exodus 20 listed in your outline.
Every law requires our perfect obedience.
Living by the law is dependent solely on us and our abilities.
The problem is, we can’t do it.
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature…
Romans 8:3 (NLT)
If restoration with God relies on the actions of man… even one requirement that we’re responsible for, we are lost for eternity.
We continue in the middle of verse 19:
…God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when He gave His promise to Abraham.
Galatians 3:19b-20 (NLT)
Scripture is not fully clear what role the angels played in giving Moses the law, but it’s mentioned several places in the New Testament.
But this is what’s important here:
The law required a mediator between God and the people, both angels and Moses…
The law can only cause separation from God.
But God’s promise to Abraham was given personally and graciously as a friend (2 Chronicles 20; Isaiah 41).
Which life do you want?
You can have intimacy with God.
or you can have separation from God.
But what you can’t be… is a casual acquaintance of God.
The law must compel us into the arms of God, or we will remain under its curse.
Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin…
Galatians 3:21-22a (NLT)
The promise of God results in grace, but…
The LAW of Moses…
3. RESULTS in condemnation.
It results in shackles and shame,
beaten down by our past mistakes.
It results in imprisonment.
It results in failure and separation from God.
It results in death.
I will be honest, I really struggled with second half of this message because the further you dig into the law, the more bleak our position becomes.
This whole section on the law feels discouraging and dark.
But I think it’s supposed to feel that way.
Because there is no hope in the law.
But there is hope in Jesus Christ!
A few minutes ago, we started reading Romans 8:3.
Let’s read the whole thing:
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
Romans 8:3 (NLT)
This passage, this book, this series isn’t about theology…
It’s about life!
It’s about being set free!
We are being called to God for a greater purpose, and a greater freedom than we have ever known.
And when we’ve experienced true freedom in Christ,
When we experience God’s grace,
Our souls should worship and cry out in song:
“Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more!
My shame was a ransom He faithfully bore…
Free, free, forever I’m free!”
-North Point Worship
Is that what your soul sings?
Is that victory your life song?
Let’s take a few minutes to celebrate His grace together!
Make this song your prayer.
“Come join the song of all the redeemed.”
Our passage today ends with these words…
…we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
Galatians 3:22b-23 (NLT)
The way of faith has been revealed.
Jesus Christ is our hope and He is our restoration.
And if the Holy Spirit is moving you to lay down the burden of the law (whatever that looks like in your life),
If you sense that crisis moment in your spirit—not out of emotion, but from a true conviction of God’s holiness and our need for His grace,
The law is a fatal disease, and the cure is Jesus Christ.
God is faithful and His promise is true.