Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“Teaching as Doctrines the Commandments of Men”
Bee keeping suit as a sin suit.
Religious People Focus on Little Things At the Expense of Big Things (vv. 1-5)
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
In Mark chapter 6 we see the feeding of the five thousand, and as the disciples are concluding the day they board a boat with 12 baskets of bread and fish. Chapter seven is the following afternoon, so it stands to reason that the disciples were eating the bread and fish from the day before. “But the objection raised is on ceremonial, not sanitary, grounds.”
There are Pharisees and scribes (religious leaders in the Jewish culture) who were gathering to observe Jesus and his disciples. This is the second time that these teachers of the law had come from Jerusalem to find fault with Jesus’ teaching.
They appear to be an investigating committee and when they investigated “they saw the little things. But they never saw the big things. They saw the violations of their hand washing codes. They did not see Jesus. They never took an open loo so that the true nature of the man and his teaching might come fairly before them.” They are so focused on pots and pans, and how you hold your hands when you wash them, and going through the prescribed motions, they overlook the Savior of the world.
“Not dirty hands” – that was not the point of the objection – but with hands unwashed, not ceremonially purified according to their ideas of necessity. It also says that some “some of his disciples” – Some of the disciples then, had gone through the process of being ceremonially cleaning their hands, and some had not.
Being unclean or impure causes a separation between God and His people and had resulted in the people having to leave the land – The traditions and teachings of the elders were trying to accomplish three things;
“It made the basic requirement that Israel be holy to the Lord something attainable for every Jew in everyday life. The Pharisees never thought that they were voiding the commands of God – only making them more applicable.”
“the tradition of the elders sought to forestall the dominant pagan culture from making inroads into Jewish life (see Lev. 20:1-7). It encouraged the devout to make conscious efforts to set themselves apart from the unwashed hordes destined for destruction. Actions, such as washing hands, were tangible positive gestures that displayed who God’s elect were.” These outward traditions were a way to show who was “in” and who was “out.”
“The tradition of the elders assumes that God created order and that human affairs prosper when things are divinely ordered – even when they seem only to be minor issues.” So for example when discussing hand washing, the elders specified “the quantity of water required, the position of the hands, and the type of vessel to be used.” And they even added what to say while you are washing your hands.
Does living one’s life according to the tradition of the elders keep you from being defiled?
No, because they become a substitute for faith. Superficial preoccupation with ceremonies had supplanted a deeper faith.
In John 17:14 we get the phrase that Christians are to be in the world, but are not to be of the world, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Being set apart, distinctly different from the world around us, is not the ultimate destination; it is beginning of a journey, a purpose. The John 17 passage goes on to say, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Religious People Replace the Truth With Tradition (vv. 6-13)
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, where even during his time, this same thing was occurring. The people’s worship was hollow, vain, worthless – they were going through the traditional motions, with no desire from their heart to draw near to God – because they were “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” These man made commandments became a substitute for genuine heartfelt, God honoring worship.
“Tradition was the ecclesiastical version of the law – the law as it came out of the hands of the great teachers. It was regarded as equally authoritative with the written law itself, and, by some, even more so. It was the very life and mission of the Pharisees to keep the traditional interpretations in full force.”
The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.” – the traditions of the elders have become more important than the Word of God itself.
So Jesus came to heal people, cast out demons, and to teach – and this is a bondage that Jesus was intent on freeing people from. The religious leaders covered the law with these traditions, so that the original Word of God was lost, but it also shovels unnecessary weight of rules and traditions that suffocated the spirit of the people.
“They had covered up the Word of God with their oral teaching. Jesus here shows that they care more for the oral teaching of the scribes and elders than for the written law of God.” They are not adding to the Word of God, they have substituted their own traditions in its’ place.
When we “teach[ing] as doctrine[s] the commandments of men” – there is no need for faith, and there is no need for heart. Your actions are not rooted in a love for God, only in wanting to appear and be in your own effort “good.” I am not a sinner, I am a godly person – see what I do!
An Example of this Substitution (vv. 9-12)
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Jesus has called their teachings, “tradition of men,” “commandments of men,” and in verse 9, “your tradition” with the emphasis on your – thus disowning it himself. Jesus is completely rejecting their teachings because “it does not represent the will of God but can be used to legitimize the breaking of God’s command.”
(v. 11) Corban is the word for “a gift or offering to God.” Once the offering to God was given, it could not be taken back. “The single uttering of the word Corban “sacred gift” over a thing was supposed to set that thing apart from all ordinary uses and give it the character of a consecrated thing.” In the case of property a person could designate it as corban, and continue to use it with the intention of upon the person’s death it would then be used as an offering to God.
So instead of supporting his father and money, a son could say that the money was an offering to God, and then the Pharisees then forbid the son from using it to support his parents (it was a gift to God) and then allowed the son to use the money for himself.
It was a tricky way to keep from following the Word of God (taking care of one’s parents) and then using the money on yourself. Jesus is saying that such a vow is invalid, because it violates God’s command to honor parents.
But these traditions that find their way into the church often times tear churches apart. The author Swift describes in “Gulliver’s voyage to Lilliput, between the party which believed that an egg should be cracked at the big end and the party which believed that it should be cracked at the little end. So the big enders and the little enders fought to the death, to the complete ruin of their country.” Religious people can be incredibly cruel and heartless.
Religious People Think They Are Made Right With God By Outward Actions (vv. 14-23)
Things That Do Not Defile Us (vv.14-19)
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
Moses’ law teaches not to eat certain types of animals (crustaceans, pork, divided hoof animals, etc.) because by eating these things you break the law and thereby become ceremonially unclean. Jesus says, what makes us ceremonially clean or unclean has nothing to do with what we eat – so is Jesus disagreeing with the law?
Jesus’ teachings “not only takes issue with a major feature of traditional Jewish religious practice but also rescinds a major body of OT material dealing with such ritual laws.” Also, new gentile believers who would be reading Mark’s gospel would be asking, “so should I be following the OT ceremonial teachings?
Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The purpose of the law was to show mankind that no matter how hard they sought to keep God’s standard, they couldn’t and were in need of a Savior. The Pharisees and their traditions undercut that intention of the law. They taught you could please God by following their rules – Jesus says that’s impossible. “Jesus’ main point is that uncleaness is moral rather than ritual.”
Things That Do Defile Us (vv. 20-23)
20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(v. 18) “And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding?” – “They had been trained in Judaism, in which the distinction between clean and unclean is ingrained, and could not understand a statement abrogating this. They had noticed the Pharisees stumbling at the parable of Jesus (Matt. 15:12). They were stumbling themselves and did not know how to answer the Pharisees.” 
This way of thinking was so instilled into their thinking that it was very difficult for them to change their own way of thinking. Tradition has this effect upon us, we stop seeking the higher things, and are content to follow the lower things’ “it’s just how we do things.”
Jesus releases people from the anxiety of thinking they have to follow all these rules and traditions, and the idea that their defilement or uncleanliness comes from something they may touch or eat on the outside. But, He also makes them aware that they are themselves the sources of their own defilement and the law does not give them an escape. “The only defilement worth serious consideration is that caused by the evil which comes out of the heart.”
You can’t clean the heart with a fistful of water in cupped hands. If I am the source of my own defilement – and that uncleanliness causes me to be distanced from God, and I find no hope in the following the law or the traditions of the elders, how then am I made clean, how can I be brought close again to God? What must I do to be saved?
The law was given to help us realize that we have a corrupt and sinful nature, and are in need of a Savior. Jesus came to fulfill the law by being the Savior that mankind needs. Romans 7:6 “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 321.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 747.
 W. N. Clarke, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Judson Press, 1950) 97.
 Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 2002) 247.
 Arnold, 248.
 “Blessed is He who has sanctifies us with his commands and commanded us concerning the washing of hands” Arnold, 248.
 Isaiah 29:13
 Clarke, 98.
 Max Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 117.
 Robertson, 322.
 Exodus 20:12; 21:16
 The religious leaders were backing their teachings on Numbers 30:1-10, where it speaks of keeping a vow made to God. Jesus is rejecting the idea of using one biblical text to negate another biblical text.
 Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishing, 2001) 110.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 117.
 Clarke, 100.
 Robertson, 323.
 Buttrick, 750.
 Mark 7:16 “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear,” “Verse 16 does not appear in NIV, (or ESV) because, though it is present in the majority of the MSS, it does not occur in the important Alexandrian witnesses. It appears to be a scribal gloss.” 680. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 680.
 Brooks, 119.
 Robertson, 324.
 Alexander Balmain Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Grand Rapids Book Manufacturers, 1967) 389.
Seeking Wisdom in Difficult Days
A Study of James
Mathias Rust had clocked up only 50 hours of flying time before commencing his journey that took in the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Iceland, Bergen and Helsinki before flying to Moscow.
Rust’s flight was risky. Just five years earlier a South Korean commercial plane had been shot down after it strayed into Soviet airspace. Rust himself was tracked by three separate surface-to-air missile units and a total of four fighter planes were sent to monitor him, but none of them were given permission to attack.
Rust approached Moscow in the early evening, and after passing the “Ring of Steel” anti-aircraft defenses continued towards the city center. Abandoning his idea of landing in the Kremlin, he instead touched down on a bridge next to St Basil’s Cathedral and taxied into Red Square. Within two hours he had been arrested. He was sentenced to four years in a labor camp for violating international flight rules and illegally entering the Soviet Union, but was released after serving 14 months in jail.
In a 2007 interview, Rust claimed that he hoped his flight would build an ‘imaginary bridge’ between east and west. What it actually did was massively damage the reputation of the Soviet military for failing to stop him. This in turn led to the largest dismissal of Soviet military personnel since Stalin’s purges, and allowed Gorbachev to push ahead with his reforms.
In more recent news there was a Facebook encouraging people to raid area 51 in Nevada. Over a million people responded saying that they were joining the effort – “they can’t stop all of us.”
In the first part of James chapter 4 he is writing to show where fighting and quarreling comes from in the church; it is our own worldy passions and desires that blind us to the consequences of our hurtful actions that we cause in our own efforts to have what we want (power, prestige, position).
Then James gives 10 commands that we are to do in order to get right with the Lord again (humble ourselves, resist the devil, etc.) which leads to God lifting us up and placing us where He wants us to be, not where our sinful hearts wants to be. In other words, we were wanting to place ourselves in positions, but we should allow God to be the one that exalts us.
James then goes on to discuss two other places we should not place ourselves 1) in place of judgment over other people, and 2) that of providence of our lives.
Placing Yourself As the Judge of Others (vv. 11-12)
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers” – (lit. to speak down on) “means to talk against a person in his absence; it indicates speaking about the individual in a malicious way in order to influence the opinion of others against him.” Whether its true or not is not the point – it is the unspoken person’s intent to be malicious.
The law was clear that, as a follower of God, one was not supposed to speak evil against anyone, especially “brothers” in the faith. Leviticus 19:16-18 “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” So when someone “speaks against a fellow-believer, therefore, he is in fact not only setting himself up as a judge of his brother, but also of the law.”
The laws job is to show whether or not a person is in right standing with God (or not), therefore when a person does it, instead of letting the Word of God do it – then you are placing yourself over the Word of God, the law, and by putting yourself over the Word of God, you are saying that it is not adequate to do its job, so I am going to help it out.
This was the same trap set by Satan for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The trap is to get man to think he is in a better position to determine what is right and wrong for his life (or his brother’s life) – instead of his Creator; Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Invictus BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
If you are a Christian, you are not the master of your fate, God is. If you are a person of faith, then you are not the captain of your soul, Christ is. If you are the captain, then you are in grave danger. Who is the captain of your soul?
Among religious people there is the constant temptation to place oneself above another person. Luke 18:9-14 “He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
“In the pursuit of goodness beware lest you assume the role of the self-righteous judge.”
Besides sinning by judging others, you are actually hurting yourself by putting yourself in a place you should not be. Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Your life will be better, your relationships will be better, when you let God be God, and you focus on being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.
The dogmatic, intolerant, and bigot all say they are standing for some higher good, but the truth is that they see themselves as being better and therefore judge of another person, or group of persons.
James says by doing this you are saying you are better or higher than God’s law because you are acting as their judge – but there is only one judge of all of humanity and you are not that person. “The cruelty of the self-righteous is most terrible because it is dressed in the garb of doing good.” 
Romans 14:10-11 “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” There is a place where judgement will take place, the “judgement seat of God” but you and I will not be sitting in that seat, we will be bowing before the throne thinking about our lives.
There is a difference between judging a brother and discerning their behavior as being unbiblical or undesirable for you and your family. Ex. Boy picking up your daughter for a date. Then the young man says, Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Planning Your Life Without the Lord (vv. 13-17)
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
In verse 13 James is saying, that there are business owners who are laying out their business plan, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” We get the word emporium from this type of business plan.
“There is no harm in planning to make money, or in traveling for that purpose. The harm lies in the complete ignoring of God in all their plans.” You are making plans for tomorrow, but you don’t know anything about tomorrow.
Not only are we limited in our knowledge of the future, our very being is temporal and finite “you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” God on the other hand is omnipotent and eternal. He knows everything, and He has always existed.
James has already told us that “if we draw near to God, then He will draw near to us.” And if we “humble yourselves before Him, then he will exalt you.” James’ command is that in all of our life’s plans (personal or business) we should be guided by God who knows everything and is eternal in His nature – our abilities are limited by our fragility, lack of knowledge, and the time we are on this planet. Our plans “offer only false hope and false confidence.”
By saying, ““If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” we are acknowledging that we are submitting the Lord’s will first, and His will for our lives. It does not mean that we should repeat this phrase every time we discuss planning and the future, but instead seek our the Lord’s will and see if it matches what we desire to do.
The phrase “If the Lord wills” was a play on the pagan Hellenistic phrase, “if the gods will” – It is where James is playing with a very common worldly phrase to make the point that even the world believe that their gods influence their actions and decisions – don’t you think that we who believe in the one true God, should believe that as well and shouldn’t that belief influence our business and life planning?
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” “Here sin is defined negatively. Not only is it sinful to do and say things that are wrong (sins of commission), but it is equally sinful to refuse to do what is right.” It is when we do not do that which has been commanded (sin of omission).
This also refers to the refusal to relate faith to all of life. There should be no separation between sacred and secular in the life of the Christian. Our seeking after and following Christ is vital in every factor and every decision of our lives. If we don’t do this it is a sin for us.
Matthew 4:1-4 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The farmer plants the crop, gathers the grain, mills the grain, adds oil and leaven, makes the bread, and eats the bread – then the next day plants the crop, gathers the grain, mills the grain, adds oil and leaven, makes the bread, and eats the bread, etc. To live this way is to survive – this “go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”
Then doing this again and again with no direction from the Lord, having no purpose but to trade and make a profit is pointless. Jesus says that man must have bread, but it is “every word that comes from the mouth of God” that gives the work of making bread purpose and meaning. So it is not just a sin against God to leave Him out of the direction of our lives, it is a sin against ourselves because this way of living destroys us.
How do we face the future/life when the outcome is uncertain? James tells us to trust God, and not our humans plans. Jesus uses the building of a house as plans for the future. Matthew 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like aa wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like aa foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
God must be in charge of the planning, His glory in our lives is the ultimate of these plans, not our glory, power, or prestige. And ultimately there are three ways of facing the future:
1) recognize that life is fleeting so seize the most while you can; carpe diem, “gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” “let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Get the most while you can because this all there is. (Hedonism)
2) recognizing that life is fleeting, avoidance of all that would potentially bring us pain, life is what brings us pain so avoid relationships, love, meaningful relationships, causes, and don’t give yourself to something that is meaningless and ultimately painful. Wall yourself up with brinks, so that no one gets in. (The Stoic)
3) recognizing that life is fleeting, “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” There is a God, and we are linked to the eternal. If we live this life, all the relationships with those around us have value, and significance. (The Christian)
 This is in the present durative indicating that some of them had been doing precisely this thing (Robertson, 156).
 “The New Testament Greek word katalaleo is translated “back-biter,” and it means one who speaks against another.” (Strauss, 169).
 Clifton J. Allen, Gen. Ed., The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 12 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1972) 129.
 Herbert F. Stevenson, James Speaks For Today (Westwood, New Jersey; Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966) 81.
 Buttrick, 59.
 A. T. Robertson, Studies in the Epistle of James (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1959) 160.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Gen. Ed., The Interpreter’s Bible Study, Volume 12 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1957) 60.
 Lehman Strauss, James Your Brother (Neptune, New Jersey; Loizeaux Brothers, 1980) 181.
 Buttrick, 60.
Paul explains in Galatians 4 that an heir is no different than a slave while he lives under a guardian. But one day the Father determines his son to be ready to no longer live like a slave takes action to allow his son to live as an heir (no longer restricted by guardianship.)
Galatians 4:1-7 â€œI mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,1 though he is the owner of everything, 2Â but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3Â In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles2 of the world. 4Â But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5Â to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6Â And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, â€œAbba! Father!â€ 7Â So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.â€
Paul says that this removing of a guardian and giving rights as a child takes place â€œin the fullness of time.â€ But what does this mean? Just as when a boy reaches a specified aged (for the Jews in was 13 with bar mitzvah and 18 years of age for the Romans with a ceremony called toga virilis, is given certain responsibilities (i.e. freedom).Â The apostle is explaining how the law acted as a guardian over Godâ€™s people to show them how to live. The lawâ€™s intention was to show them their need for a Savior and how to gain true freedom.Â The law was to teach them of their slavery.
In order for people to obtain this freedom from the law the Father sent his Son, who was born of a woman, born under the law in order to redeem them so that they may be adopted as sons and the Spirit of the Son allows them to call God â€œAbba!, Father!â€
The Fatherâ€™s purpose in sending His Son was for the Son to be fully man (while being fully God), to live under the law (and yet keep it in every way), so that he could buy back mankind (redeem), and adopt them as sons who then see Him as daddy.
Â Genesis 1-3
We inherit freedom as adopted children. Paulâ€™s argument against the Galatians is that slavery goes against what God has been trying to teach His people through the law, and the culmination of sending His Son. Â Freedom is actually how God has intended for us to live since the time of creation. Â Mankind was originally created and designed to live in a free environment.
God gives freedom (He actually created it) and Satanâ€™s lie is that we can be happy by putting shackles back on our hands and digging up â€œthe old usâ€ (see Romans 6) and playing with death. Consider Genesis chapters 1-3. In these chapters we see that Adam and Eve have the freedom to choose God or reject a relationship with Him. In sin we have no choice, we are condemned and eternally separated from Him. We also see the freedom to choose His ways over what we think is right and best. But even in sinless perfection mankind chooses foolishly, so what hope do we have in a fallen world with a completely corrupted spirit. We also see the freedom to be in Godâ€™s presence (Gen. 3:8). God would come â€œin the cool of the dayâ€ and talk with Adam and Eve.
So why would God send His Son in order to give us freedom again? He desired to restore a relationship with us. John 3:16 says, â€œfor God so loved the world . . .â€ God wants us to call Him â€œDaddy! Father!â€; he desires to adopt us as Hid children. He used the law to show our corrupted hearts how we can not keep or follow completely what is required to have a relationship with Him (which is sinless perfection). So Christ came being fully human, kept the full law (not the human add on parts), and died as a substitute for mankind on a Roman cross.
In Christâ€™s death mankind can taste true freedom once more.
In freedom we can do whatever we want, but what do we do with this freedom?
Romans 6:1-4 â€œWhat shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Â By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Â Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Â We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.â€
The walk and relationship with God was intended by God to be a newness of life, not a continuation or a return to behavior and actions that enslave us. The Galatians were seeking to follow the law and it brought them comfort even when they knew that it leads to slavery and death.
Why do we find comfort in slavery? Consider the story of Godâ€™s people in the book of Exodus. In Ex. 5:6-21 we see they donâ€™t want freedom because it requires harder work. In Ex. 14:11 they are before the Red Sea and want to return to slavery because they feel in danger. In Ex. 16:3 and 17:3 they want to return to slavery because they are thirsty and hungry. In Ex. 32:1 they make golden calves as idols because they wanted to be in control. Slavery is what we have known for most of our lives, and even when we have freedom in Christ we have a constant struggle to return to death and slavery. In some sick and twisted (fallen) way we would rather live in a horrific world of slavery because we would rather have what we know rather than what we have never experienced. We would rather hold on to the worthless plastic kidâ€™s play necklace in our hands instead of trusting God to give us the priceless diamond one in His hands.Â He even lays the necklace upon our necks but we look down and choose the plastic one. Why do we do that?
Paul mentions â€œelementary principles of the world.â€ These are things like greed, lust, gossip, lying, violence, etc. and all these things bring us momentary pleasure, but at the same time they enslave us and cause us and others harm. The new walk of life should be one of bringing glory to God with our lives. Our lives are to be one of giving, love, truth, encouragement, peace, etc. We can only do these things in a way that pleases God through Christ and the freedom that He gives.
Freedom Can Be Dangerous
Americans have a great freedom that many have fought and died to protect. But what do we do with this freedom? We live in a day of reality tv, fast food, vulgar heros, a sense a entitlement, materialism, American idols, and a host of other trash in our society. But we also live in a day of unprecedented technological and medical advances. There are many unnamed heroes who faithfully serve their communities and nation. In the home of the brave there is freedom to do good to others and serve mankind, bring glory to God, or allow that freedom to lead to oneâ€™s demise.
My children are old enough now that they can be left at home for short periods of time. They finally are old enough to have the freedom of not having mom and dad around. But what do they choose to do with this freedom? They could clean their room, help in some way around the house, or they can sit on the couch and watch tv until mom and dad get back home (Matt. 25:14ff). Itâ€™s easy for Christians to sit on the proverbial couch of life. We can waste the freedom that we have been given, we can return to slavery of what we know, even though it brings death. Or we can use our freedom in Christ to do something to impact mankind and give God glory with our lives. Which will it be for you? Get up.
So how do we move and live in this limitless freedom?
Use the following outline to walk through the decision or action you are trying to make. Remember that you have been freed to do something beautiful and wonderful with your your life, donâ€™t waste it on foolishness.
â€œGodâ€™s Guidelines for Godly Livingâ€
(How to navigate the â€œgray areasâ€ of life)
Paulâ€™s Corinthian Principles
(1 Corinthians 6:12 â€“ 11:1)
I.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action edify self?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 6:12
Will it build me up?
Will it profit me?
Will it help me personally?
II.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action enslave my soul?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 6:12
Â Can it bring me into emotional/psychologicalÂ (even chemical) bondage?
III.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action exalt the Savior?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 6:13; 10:31
Can I glorify my Lord in this activity?
IV.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action encourage other saints?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 8:13
Is this a potential stumbling block to someone else?
V.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action evangelize sinners?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 10:32-33
Will this help or harm my witness for Christ?
VI.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Will this action emulate my Savior?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 11:1
Is this something I could see Jesus doing?
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Keep in mind 4 foundational principles:
*Â Â Â wisdomÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â *Â Â integrity
*Â Â Â witnessÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â *Â Â Â maturity