YOU FOOLISH AMERICANS
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1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothingif it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Pauls First Question: Who has bewitched you?
- Has someone put the evil eye on them? Meaing: Are you under the influence?
- Its a rhetorical question. It represents his surprise ...
- Christ crucified was not only preached to them, it was displayed through Pauls actions and behavior and their own.
- Christ was at work among them
- That should have been enough but its like they are under a spell and obeying the spellcaster
- But as had happened before ... (2:4) some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you
- Paul is concerned about their spiritual growth. They are adopting the ritual system of rules and laws that he himself once practiced. His concern is that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. (5:2)
Pauls Second Question: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
- This question gets to the crux of the matter
- Does spiritually involve observation and practice of rules and laws or is it ultimately something much deeper?
- Human effort or change of heart?
- Paul follows up by asking them about the source of real spiritual power: His Spirit or their own ability to follow the rules.
O You Foolish Americans!
- The Spirit
- One of the first words that children learn is Dont - Dont touch that, dont stick that up your nose, dont scream while I am driving, dont spit your gum out, dont grab the dog by the ears ...
- They get a little older and learn Do and Did Did you brush your teeth? Do that. Did you do your homework? Did you eat your vegetables? Do that. Did you put gas in the car? Go do that. Did you set your alarm? Do this.
- Parents wait for the day when suddenly there is no dont or do. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, there is one day a new creature beautiful he or she seems to know what is right and does it and avoids doing wrong. Not because of rules, but because of want to.
- This day hardly ever comes what tends to happen, especially in our culture (O You Foolish Americans) is that we just get more sophisticated about the system of do and dont
- Example: Texting and driving. Is it illegal? Even if it isnt, its not a good idea. One who chooses to be a safe driver understands this.
- Now Oprah says dont do it and that ought to be enough.
- But we have to make a law so that people wont. The threat of a fine may help some people put down the distraction, but they havent internalized it so when the next distracting device comes along that isnt illegal they hop on it.
- You Foolish Americans? Who put a spell on us? There is an intoxicating attraction to signing off on laws and rules that we can control and that we only have to apply externally
- Its easy to look at others and realize how they have only externalized good behavior: government is an obvious target. But what do we expect? They are all about legislation. We pick on the Pharisees and point out how the Old Covenant created their system but we never realize that it is possible to be New Covenant Pharisees. You Foolish Christians!
- Who has bewitched us so that we assume that more rules and following procedures will make us all get along?
- Who put the evil eye on us so that we assume that God is more concerned with minor details of practice rather than the heart and mind?
- Who has hypnotized us into thinking that unwritten creeds are better than written creeds and if we all accept certain conditions then unity will spring up automatically?
- Who hexed us so that we read the Bible like a constitution or law code?
- What magic spell induced us to think that we could reduce life with God and salvation down to a few quick easy steps and then be done with it Salvation is not lather, rinse, repeat.
- Maybe we cannot name the magic or the power but we can say that it's not the Holy Spirit Gods spirit doesnt work like that
- The Spirit Again
- It changes us within. It changes our desires. It rearranges our priorities. It matures us. It may not happen all at once, but it has to begin and it begins within and works out ...
- The spirit is In You. Countless scriptures testify to this. This isnt spiritual possession or speaking in tongues, it is Gods nature at work with us body, mind, heart, soul
- We believe that God can reach into our bodies and heal do we believe that he can work on our inner person? Do we pray for the changing of minds and hearts also?
Final Question: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
- Did you even know that you could receive the spirit?
- We are so concerned about getting saved that we have no idea what we are being saved for.
- Who bewitched us into thinking that Gods power has run out? Who cast the spell that made miracles cease? We did.
- Lets be honest, we think it would be easier to have two or three or twenty simple rules that we should never break than to be caught up in the spirit of God
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 August 2010
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