Why Promise is Better than Performance. And Why Moses Doesn't Trump Abraham.

Galatians: The Long Arm of the Law

So why do we have the Old Testament law anyway? Was it given just to make us feel ashamed and unlovable? And how do you reconcile it with the promises God made to Abraham, to his descendants and to Moses? In this passage, Paul explains that the purpose of the law is to convict us of our sin and our need to cling to God's promises - and exhorts us to live lives increasingly characterized by freedom rather than placing ourselves back in bondage to legalism.

Todd WagnerJun 10, 2007Galatians 3:15-29; Galatians 1:1-14; Genesis 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Galatians 3:15; Galatians 3:24-29; Galatians 3:15-17; Galatians 3:18-20; James 1:22-25; Galatians 3:19-20; Galatians 3:21-24

If you haven't been here, we've been making our way through a little book that on its surface may not seem really appealing to you. If I told you, "We're going to study Galatians," those of us who have come to understand that everything in God's letter to us is applicable to our hearts would go, "That's awesome, that's great," but there are other folks who go, "I can't imagine anything more irrelevant to my life than to read a postcard of a letter to some folks who lived 2,000 years ago in Turkey."

We have found that there is so much in this little letter that was written to these folks that God has preserved that he wants us to have as a source of encouragement to us. I encourage you, if you've not been tracking with us for a long time, to go and get last week's message, because we really wrapped up the major heart of that book and caught you up with the first several chapters and introduced the third chapter.

We're talking about the long arm of the law and how people always want to burden you with doing instead of having the freedom of knowing what God has done for you. We wrapped that up last week. Now we're in a little section of Scripture in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 15 through the end of the chapter, that we're going to just read through together, and then I want to come back and unpack it.

You can complicate any little message of Scripture as much as you want or you can just be encouraged and blessed by it by grabbing the major truths that are there. As I thought about how we've been working pretty hard to get all the juice we can out of this great that is called Galatians and I looked at where we were this morning, I purposed to say we just need to get the big rocks and the big idea this morning and really be comforted.

You could spend weeks on this passage, but I want to just give you the big ideas today and walk you through it. Let's just read it first. "Brothers, folks I love," he says, "as I talked to you about our father Abraham and how he was the agent through which God initiated a relationship of grace, I told you about all of the great things that came to him, and you are challenging me that if we really love God we're going to do something Moses talked about."

What he said in verses 1-14 was, "Abraham came before Moses, and what Moses brought did not supersede or cancel out what God said to Abraham," but there were people who came and said, "You have to do a lot of things for God to love you." What Paul is trying to convince folks of is "From the very beginning of God's relationship with man, it has always been about receiving what God has done for you and not about performing so God would love you." That's really what this whole book is about.

There are people who are trying to claw their way back in who are suggesting religiosity or religion is the way to appease God. Now there is a right response to God and his provision of grace toward you, but that is extremely different than trying to get God to have a response of love to you by your doing good enough long enough. We used the phrase there is a huge difference between performance-based acceptance and acceptance-based performance.

One of the things I want to make sure you get out of today is we don't make promises to God; we believe God's promises to us. We believe God is good. Among all the world religious systems, there is one that doesn't believe it's up to man to earn God's favor, and it is the one that is in this love letter called the Book where God reveals who he is and tells his story. What he says in the story is God is so good you could never make him be impressed with who you are.

Now watch this. "Brethren, [when we're talking about promises, I'm going to start by speaking] in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's [will, or a man's] covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it." What I'm telling you is when God made a promise to Abraham, even though later he talks about who he is through Moses, it did not change his promise.

"Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, 'And to [his] seeds,' as referring to many, but rather to one, 'And to your seed,' that is, Christ." This is pretty interesting. Paul, in relationship with God, as God is using Paul to explain who he is to other people, goes through and specifically says, "This is what God meant when he said to Abraham, 'Through your seed.'"

In Greek and Hebrew, like in English, seed is one of those words that can be singular or plural depending on the context. If I said, "Bring your seed over here," it might be a single seed or it might be a whole sack of seed. It depends on the conversation and the context and what you have that determines that. Paul is saying when he said seed he wasn't talking about seeds. He was talking about through a singular seed God was going to bring the fulfillment of the promise, and through this singular seed all of the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Let me show you a very important passage in all of Scripture. It is called the protoevangelion by folks who make up hard names that are irrelevant to us. It comes in Genesis 3:15. This is what it says. It's talking about what has happened as a result of us, God's family, leaving God and saying, "You don't know what you're talking about. We could run the neighborhood better if we were king, so to heck with your definition of paradise. We'll define our own." There was a deceiver that told us, "He is not a loving Father. He is not good, so go away from him."

Isn't this what all humans go through at some point? They start to challenge the guidance of a mother and a father and question their goodness about what time they should come in, about what they shouldn't do with their flesh, about what they shouldn't put in their body, about how they shouldn't spend their time and bring about discipline. So we go, "You know what? I'm not sure the authority I have over me is good. I think I will install myself as king and do what I believe is right."

It's called teenager. It's called puberty. It's frankly called man and woman. It happens a lot sooner than teenager and lasts a lot longer than teenager, but sometimes their strength is such that that's when they first get to express it in a way that we have to deal with it. In effect, that's what man did. They said, "I don't really believe you're good."

They believed the lie that God isn't good. They believed the lie that he didn't have our best interests in mind. They believed the lie that not doing what he said wasn't that big a deal, and there was consequence to the man, to the woman, to the relationship between the man and the woman, and there was also a consequence to the one who deceived them. Genesis 3:15 talks about the consequence specifically to the Serpent, or to the one who embodied evil.

"And I will put enmity [hatred] between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." In other words, "You're going to strike the seed of the woman, and she will walk with a limp, but it won't be fatal. What's going to be fatal is what that seed does to you when he crushes you and terminates you." This promise of God was fulfilled in a singular male. Notice what it says right there: he.

There was one way back in Genesis who was promised who would come who would ultimately step on the head of evil and crush it, and it's Jesus. It is the same singular seed that God tells Abraham in Genesis 12 he will bless the world through. What Paul is doing in Galatians, chapter 3, is he's explaining this. What it's saying is there is a singular male who will come from the woman who will be the means through which evil is defeated and the world is blessed. Paul is telling you his name is Jesus.

Verse 17: "What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise." What he's saying here is 430 years after God last promised Abraham's descendant Isaac and then Jacob… He repeated the promise to Daddy Abraham, to son Isaac, and then to son Jacob many times.

The last time he promised it was in Genesis 46, and if you go forward from that time until the time Jacob went down to Egypt and then Moses led the people out of Egypt, it was 430 years. He's going to say, "Four hundred thirty years later, after God promised Abraham he would bless his people, here comes another comment by God, and that comment doesn't nullify the promise." I tried to think of the best way to say this, and I came up with two different extremes.

One is if I told my kids, "I promise we are going to Disneyland" and a little bit later I go, "You know what? Until you guys learn to love each other, I'm not taking you guys to Disneyland. I'm not going to take warring factions to The Happiest Place on Earth, because they'll have to change their logo. 'The Happiest Place on Earth—except where this family moves from line to line,' is what they will call it."

The promise is still there, but I'm saying, "I'm not going to fulfill it until you do these things." Or I might say to my kids (here's the other extreme), "Hey, we'll go get ice cream today. It's a promise." Then a little bit later I come back and say, "We're not getting ice cream until you clean your room." You go, "Wait a minute. Did you just put a condition on an unconditional promise?" God did lay out some conditions a little bit later, but it did not nullify the promise.

What you're going to find out is there was a reason for those conditions, and the seed is the one who fulfilled the condition. So if you are related to the seed or if what the seed did is imputed to you, transferred to you, credited to your account, then you'll get to go get the ice cream, but really the seed did the work to get it done.

Think of it this way. I say, "Hey, we'll go get ice cream a little bit later today," and then I say, "We're not getting ice cream until that room is clean," and there is a loving brother who shows up and goes, "I love you guys. You're a bunch of idiots. All you'll do is make a bigger mess out of your room." He goes in and cleans the room while you're outside making a mess of the backyard.

I come up and go, "Hey, the room is clean." The loving brother says, "I did it. All you said, Dad, is the room had to be clean, and if the room is clean… Yeah, they didn't do it, but you said the room had to be clean, so let's go get some ice cream." And the father says, "That was the deal. The condition has been met."

So they come back up and say, "Hey, our brother's effort and work we want attributed to us. It was our room that was messy. He cleaned our room, so now our room is clean." A gift of grace is given to them, they receive it, and they get to go and get the benefit of cleaning the room. The promise was still there. Or the father himself cleaned the room to show the kids how much he loves them. He still had to have happen what he said would happen, but he still fulfilled the promise he said he would fulfill.

This is what's basically going on with the law. I'm going to show you why the law was introduced a little bit later, or, I should say, Paul explains it here. This is your Bible at work. Genesis 3, Genesis 12, and Genesis 15 tell you why the whole story is happening the way it is and how Jesus is the star of the story. So we celebrate him, respond to him, sing about him, have hope because of him, and identify ourselves with him. Look at what it says.

Verse 18: "For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted [inheritance, the promise of getting everything Abraham wanted] by means of a promise." Not by means of a condition. Here's Abraham. A little bit later here are all of his kids. He promised Abraham one day all of his kids would experience this.

A little bit later, God says to his kids, "You're not going to experience what I promised your father Abraham until you get this right, until you figure this out," but the promise wasn't based on this condition. The condition informed the people probably why the promise was necessary. Verse 19: "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions…""It was added because you guys are a bunch of banshees." First Timothy, chapter 1, verse 8:

"But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers…"

Please don't focus on homosexuals only. See yourself where you show up. We all show up in this list somewhere, especially when we don't understand the list as God defines it, which is to have enmity with our brother or hatred in our heart toward a brother makes us a murderer. To have lust in our heart toward another person, to covet, makes us an adulterer. To exaggerate, to not tell the whole truth, makes us a liar.

"…and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted." In other words, when you came in here this morning, we didn't have a lot of rules about cell phones. I didn't have a lot of rules about iPods. I didn't have rules about spit wads. I didn't have rules about Cokes and coffee.

If you go to elementary school, junior high, or high school, you have all of those things. Why? Because they're children and don't understand how those things get in the way of what we're here to get at school, which is a good thing. Those rules are there because we're out of control, but as we become adult, as we become mature, as we see the benefit of certain practices, we don't have to go through some long list.

In a sense, we have matured to a place where the law is not necessary here, but all of us still have places where the law is necessary, because we're still idiots and God is reminding us how we are to live and love with one another, but the law isn't bad. It's important to think of it this way. The law doesn't make us sinners; it proves that we are already sinners. The law is not bad. It's wonderful if it's used lawfully. It's not good if it's used for something other than it was meant to be used for. James 1:22-25:

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty…" In other words, doing this will give you freedom. "…and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

This law is good. There's nothing wrong with the law. The law didn't make you a bad person. The law showed you that you were a bad person. Think of it as a mirror, because this is what James is saying. A mirror doesn't make me ugly. A mirror just says, "Bro, you're ugly." Think of the wicked queen in "Snow White." She keeps getting mad at the mirror. She starts to throw things at the mirror. I'm going, "Babe, the problem ain't with the silverized glass. You're the problem. All that thing is there for is to show you you have to do some work over here."

That's why we wake up in the morning and look in that sucker and go, "Dude, I'm not street legal. I have to do some work here. Before I can go out there, there's something to deal with." Now, we've all seen people who wake up, look in the mirror, yawn, scratch themselves, and walk out, and we're like, "Didn't you just see what I'm looking at, and you forgot that?" That's crazy. The problem isn't with the mirror.

Can you imagine every morning getting up, looking at your mirror, firing your blow dryer at it, and going, "Done with you. Off to Home Depot to buy another one"? The law is not the problem. The law doesn't make us ugly; the law is just serving us to show us there's a problem. Now what's it going to do? It's going to show us "There's no way I can ever be this kind of person." Perfect. That's why you need the kind of God who makes a promise. See that?

Do you remember last week when we were together and I talked about the wedding illustration and the fact that if you show up at your wedding and act like the groom should love you because you're beautiful, how offensive that would be to the world that watches, even though it's just a finite man? Because we go, "Hey, you're up there going, 'Tada! You ought to give your life to me,' even though your beauty, which might be very present, is fading and deteriorating."

Well, how much more an infinitely perfect God, who never will deteriorate or fade but is glorious from eternity past or eternity forward, and you show up for a few moments because you've done the best you could to adorn yourself in white and spray on the perfume of good works and go, "Tada! Aren't you lucky to embrace me"? No. That would be offensive. That's why God is saying all this is there to show you that you can't be enough to get love by a perfect lover.

The law is not bad. It was added to show us something. "…having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made." Now verse 20 is going to explain that little thing about a mediator. "Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one."

All it's saying there is, "If two people who have an agreement can't get along and figure out how to apply that agreement, they need a mediator. The law had two mediators: angels who gave the law to Moses who gave it to you to show you why there's enmity between you and God and why you guys couldn't get along. The angels were telling you through the prophet Moses to encourage you. 'This is the problem. Look at who you are. How could a holy God have anything to do with you? He wants to bless you, but you're not blessable.'"

They were supposed to look at the law and go, "Well, who would ever want to marry me?" Exactly. Nobody except some infinitely, insanely gracious lover. That's who: the lover who made the promise that he was going to love you. "Well, what kind of lover does that? Especially when he sees who I am?" A perfect lover. Don't we love stories about beautiful women who love beasts? Do you know why you love that? Because it resonates deeply in your soul. "I'm a beast, and is there somebody beautiful who could love me?"

You don't just mean, "Is there a chance…?" I have to get out of the 80s. I always go to "…that Elle Macpherson could love me?" I realize that half my audience goes, "Elle who?" You were born too late, my friends. That's who. The point is we all wonder if not just some finite beauty could love us, but is there an eternal lover? Is there somebody who could really love me who knows me in the deep dark recesses of my heart?

"God, O God, who knows all things, knows words before they're on my tongue, knows what's behind them, what's before me. He has a deep penetrating gaze that goes down in my deepest, darkest thoughts that I wouldn't tell anyone. Could he ever love me?" Yes. Yes, he could. That's what Paul is saying here. God, when he made a promise, didn't need a mediator, because there wasn't anybody he made an agreement with. It was just what he said. The promise is better than the law. The law is mediated. This doesn't need a mediator; this is just the promise of a perfect God.

Verse 21: "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be!" The law is not contradictory to anything. "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." If the law was a means through which men could attain righteousness, then, yes, it would be contradictory to what God said is the only way you can be righteous, which is through the gift, but that's not the purpose of the law. The law is not to make you righteous; the law is to show you you aren't righteous. Got it?

So this is what it says: "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." The Scripture, the law, was given to show you that all of us are ugly. None of us are holy. None of us deserve to be loved. Well, that's good news. That's why the law is an instrument of death. The promise is an instrument of hope. That's why Paul said, "Why would you want to go back to the law? Jesus has come to set you free from the law. Don't go back to death and hopelessness. Live in the promise."

Verse 23: "But before faith came, we were kept in custody…" Now he's going to go back and explain why the law is good. "…we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed." What he's saying is we were protected by the law God gave. When we were just children, we were protected from the foolishness of all of the world belief systems that were out there. God has given you a measure of protection.

He's going to go on to say this specifically in the next verse. "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." It's a transliteration there: a pedagogue, a strict, formal, dull, stodgy, unimaginative teacher. Ped (foot or ground), agogue (leader), a down-there, muddy, inane, unattractive leader. "This is just what you do, and this is the way it is." The law was there to restrain us while we were idiots.

Now in this society that this letter was written to, what would happen is about 0 to 5 there was Starting Blocks. You hung out with mama. From 6 to 13 there was a pedagogue, a tutor, a slave master over you, somebody who worked for the family (therefore, employee or slave) who was assigned to you to make sure you don't burn down the village and kill yourself those seven or eight years.

I just made a short list. Having six kids and having been one for 44 years now, I know what children are like. They're selfish. They're demanding. They're shortsighted. They're ignorant. They are helpless to change their environment. They're impulsive. They are naïve and gullible. They are fearless. They'll walk right into the teeth of danger to get a ball or anything else. They are destructive. They'll just break things for no apparent reason. "That is a remote! It is life to me! What do you mean you're dissecting it?" No, I'm kidding.

They are fickle. They are indiscriminate. Kids will put anything in their mouth. Tootsie Rolls look just like… Forget it. The point is they're dangerous, so God gives adults to them that they might be in protective custody. That's why the law is there right now: so you might know this isn't how you live while you're a child. This is what it says: the law was a tutor. He isn't really creative. His whole job is to get the switch out, and he is going to be bigger than you.

Very few 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, and 12-year-olds can take anybody else out. Your mind is developing. Your body is developing. You're still a child, so there is a master over you while you are a child to learn who you are: a danger to yourself and the world. That's why Jesus said, "When the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a ditch." So you need a slave master over you who's going to be dull and unimaginative to say, "This is right. This is wrong."

One of the things a good teacher will do is say, "In a minute you're going to be big enough to fight back, and you're going to be given a toga." In Roman society, where Galatians was written, when you became a citizen of the state… In the Jewish law, bar mitzvah. Bar (son) mitzvah (the law). That's what that means. You then are no longer a vessel of your slave master; you are now a citizen of the state. It's called 18 in America, 13 or 14 in Roman and Jewish society, when you are now a son of the law, which is, you're free.

What you do now will not be between you and your pedagogue; it will be between you and the state. What happened in Roman society was you got out of your child's clothes and were given a toga, which says, "I am now an adult. I am now able to interact with other, and there is no distinction between me and you as a citizen with rights in this country." Paul is saying, "You have been clothed, toga-ed, in Christ. You have grown up to understand that he is the fulfillment of the promise."

Here's what he says: "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." The law showed us we need a gift. We need something to come and deliver us from our own inability to be who God wants us to be. That's what the purpose of the law was.

Then here comes Jesus. "I've come to fulfill the law. The law is not bad. The law is good. You're the one who's bad, but I'll fulfill the law, and I'll, therefore, give you what those who fulfill the law get, which is all the blessings God said would come to the people, which is the promise, when they fulfill the law."

We can't fulfill the law. What are we going to do? Well, guess what. The one who made the promise will fulfill the promise so you can receive what those who fulfill the promise get. You kind of go, "What kind of God is this?" The kind of God you sing about, the kind of God you respond to in every way that you can, the kind of God you'll never, ever get over.

"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into [identified with] Christ have ** [been toga-ed] **with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise."

You have been given in the seed what he said he would give the seed, and you are in him, toga-ed in him, clothed in him; therefore, you receive the promise the seed was promised. Do you get that? "Why me?" Paul is saying, "Exactly. Not only why you, but why would you want to get out of this seed and go back to the law? The law was never to give you life. The law was to show you you don't deserve life. So quit clawing your way back to religion. Respond in love."

Here's the deal. My kids, as they get a little bit older, are already moving where law doesn't work, because they have freedom. They are outside of my ever-penetrating gaze. My daughter this last week, as a 14-year-old, went and lived for a week in Waco on Baylor University's campus with a cell phone, with discretionary cash, and I slept well. There was no me to check in with. There was no rule of fear over her.

I just trusted her, because there was something else that ruled my daughter that made me feel like it was a safe place to put her. There was a law of love between her and me. She had been built into for these 14 years, and I trusted that she would make good decisions and, if she had difficulty making decisions that were outside her scope of ability, she would call me and we'd talk about it.

It was such a blessing to watch love rule her and not, "What time do I have to go to bed, Dad? How many times do I have to eat? What kind of food do I need to eat? How do I interact with boys who are down there?" We've talked about that stuff. She was free to enjoy life not in law but in the wisdom of her father that had been imparted to her that I, by the way, got from my father, and it set her free.

When you're 18, that really happens, and you're free to either experience the joy of making good decisions or suffer the consequences of your stupidity as you toga yourself not in Christ but in your flesh. Couldn't we take some turns standing up in this room today and talking about the pain we've caused ourselves and our society by toga-ing ourselves in the ways of the world? In fact, a toga party is all about us saying, "We know better than to be clothed in Christ." Do we? How's that working out for folks? Not so good. Why would you want to go back to that?

Here's what I want to do. I want to sing to this great God, and I want you to be reminded that he made a promise to you in Jesus Christ that he would never let you go, that he would love you and care for you. That's why you look and go, "Dad, what do we do? Because I love you I don't have to do it to be loved, but, Dad, what's best for me? You died for me so I could get the promise." Any God who would do that, when he asks me something else I have a hunch he has my best interests in mind, because clearly he's not in this for him.

"So, Lord, how do I handle my flesh? How do I handle this strong urge? How do I handle my money? How do I handle my days? How do I handle my life? What do I do to find meaning? What do I do to find purpose? How do I honor other people? How do I find real joy? Not my way…you, because you're loving and good. So I'm not going to lean on what I think. I'm going to say, no matter how old I get, I'm a child, I'm an infant in my understanding. So I won't consult me; I'll worship you."

That's what this faith is all about. Paul is saying, "Quit trying to please God. You can't please God." That's the purpose of the law: to show you you needed a God of promise. When you meet that God of promise, it changes everything. His Spirit rules your life, the Spirit of love and grace and goodness. Let's stand and sing to that God.

Father, I thank you for my friends, as we tear our way through this little section of Scripture and we have fun now declaring that you are a God who will never let us go. You have sought us in our rebellion and our stupidity. As we look in the mirror of the law and we see we're ugly, you go, "That's exactly what the mirror is supposed to show you, but guess what. We can do a makeover, and I can make you glorious in my sight as you clothe yourself in the perfect provision of my Son."

So, Father, we come to you this morning and we sing. We sing about how good you are. We're people of hope, not perfect. We even still cause dysfunction, but your grace is sufficient for that. I pray as we sing right now that you would preach to the hearts of people in this room who still think you're a God who's trying to rip them off and they would hear in our words of confidence and declaration of song that nope, you're a God who's trying to set us free. Father, we sing. We preach. Give them ears to hear.


This is so great. Genesis 15 is the passage where God unpacks the promise we're talking about in Galatians. I'm just going to show you the first couple of verses in this chapter. In chapter 14 of Genesis, Abraham just went to war with a bunch of people who lived in the land God had promised he would give to him. He knew, "These eastern kings, when they get defeated, come back stronger and angrier than ever."

So in chapter 15, after doing what God had told him to do, which was to go in to these kings who were operating in ways that were an offense to God and bring judgment on them in his presence, he said, "They're going to come back at me, God. I'm just a little guy. I've just been traveling 500 miles to get here, and they're going to open up all kinds of trouble on me." Genesis 15 then starts like this: "After these things the word of the Lord came…"

Abraham was worried. He goes, "I'm not sure I can sustain. I'm not sure I can keep it up. I'm not sure I can be this man who defends myself against all of the attacks that come against my flesh." But look at what happened. "The word of the Lord came." That's the first time in the Bible. A hundred more times in the Old Testament alone that shows up. The word of the Lord came to Abraham and said, "Don't be afraid." That shows up some 60 more times in your Bible. It's the most often spoken words of Christ.

"Hey, are you concerned that in your flesh you're not going to be able to endure? Guess what. Don't worry. The Word of the Lord came. His name is Jesus. Don't be afraid. Your flesh is going to fail. You can't sustain yourself against the kings and the ways of this world. So don't ask what you can do; meet the I Am. I am your shield," he says. "Don't worry about what you have to do. Receive my promise. I am your reward. I will."

"What do I do?"

"No. I do. I am. I am the way, the truth, and the life, not your flesh."

"What am I going to get, Father? I'm not sure what I'm going to get."

"No, you're not going to get anything. You're going to receive what I will give: your reward."

Then God puts Abraham to sleep and institutes a promise, a covenant that is irrevocable from the irrevocable, indescribable one. Do you see it? That's your Bible. That's your story. That's the promise. What do you do when you meet a God like that? You do what Abraham did. You become his friend and go, "I'm serving you, man. I'm serving you because you're good. You're good." You call that God indescribable, and you tell everybody you can, "This is my God. You ought to know him." Let's do that. Let's sing to this indescribable and awesome God.


That's your God. There he is. He's indescribable. He makes a promise. He tells you what kinds of people really receive a promise just to show you you're not those kinds of people so he can be that God to offer you what you're looking for. Will you love him? Will you serve him? Will you follow him with all of your heart? Will you say, "You're my Dad. I can't wait to tell others about you, and I want to do what you want me to do, because your ways are good"? That's the gospel. Why would you leave it?

If we can help you understand that gospel in a personable, intimate way, then we want to do that right here. We want to do that if you just check a box on your Watermark News. We want to do that as we share life with you. If you know that gospel, will everything you do this week, to the best of your ability, knowing that his sufficiency is even going to be there for your weakness…? Will you do everything you can to worship him with me this week? Will you admonish me, encourage me, and help me so I can respond more fully to that?

Will you involve yourself in a community that will admonish, encourage, and help you be that kind of responder? And then we worship him in doing all of that, extending grace to each other, celebrating the Gracious One, loving him with every fabric of our being, spurring each other on to love and good deeds, and waiting for the day when it'll take no more spurring but just enjoying him face-to-face. That's your God. Know him. Serve him. Worship him. Have a great week doing that. God bless you.

About 'Galatians: The Long Arm of the Law'

What makes the Christian faith like no other? Its bold claim that we are accepted by God - not because we "follow the rules" - but only because of Christ's sacrifice. Yet how many of us, if we're honest with ourselves, are still trying to earn God's love!Having previously established the church in Galatia, Paul continues to boldly proclaim Christ and maintain that the law's sole purpose was to make us aware of our great need for God's grace. He warns against striving to merit God's acceptance by following strict religious practices. Doing so is an exercise in futility and a rejection of Christ's sacrifice.The message for believers today is clear: Relying on performance to earn God's love sets us up for bondage to legalism, pride and hardness of heart. Join Todd Wagner on this walk through the book of Galatians where you'll discover the danger of performance-based acceptance and learn to walk in the freedom offered through a relationship with Christ.