THE BEST DEFENSE IS...
1. You’ve heard the saying somewhere: “The best defense is a good offense.”
2. The letter to the churches of Galatia teaches us that, where our spiritual well-being is concerned, the best defense is a good grasp of, and a deep appreciation for, the scheme of redemption.
1. The best defense is...needed.
a. Galatians 5:4...One threat is the temptation to go back to the security of former religious practices that are completely physical and outward and self-centered, thus falling from the grace of God.
i. In their case, this meant trying to “complete their righteousness” by something other than Christ: the requirement of circumcision (5:2).
ii. “But,” this letter insists, “if righteousness could come through any such practice, Christ died for nothing” (2:21).
b. Galatians 4:9,10...Another attack is pressure to submit to something more than the gospel of Christ, thus becoming enslaved.
i. The Christians of Galatia were submitting to observances of days and months and seasons and years of a system which has already found its meaning and fulfillment in Christ.
ii. The New Testament forbids us from submitting to the religious observance of Sabbaths and new moons and feast days for exactly that reason: they make to little of Christ (Col. 2:16,17).
c. Galatians 1:6...The third, and most basic, onslaught against the faith is changing the gospel which has been revealed through the apostles, and which we have received, thus distorting it into something else and remaining accursed.
i. Any “gospel” different from the gospel which they made known is a gospel contrary to it.
ii. No person or angel has the right to rise up in opposition to the Lord in such an arrogant way.
2. The best defense is...available.
a. This is the heart of the letter to the Galatians and the point that is developed in chapter 3.
i. Paul says that when the gospel was preached to them, Christ was publicly set forth as crucified (v. 1).
ii. That means the Bible is not about the regulations and requirements of the law, but about the grand scheme of redemption God has brought into reality by a promise fulfilled through the sacrificial work of Christ.
b. We have received the benefits of that redeeming act, not by works of the law, but by hearing with faith (v.2-5). Since the blessing we are after is by promise, the hearing of faith is the only way it can be accepted.
c. This is in keeping with the way God dealt with Abraham, the prototypical “man of faith” (v.6-9).
i. He preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham in the form of a promise of a blessing which, at that moment, Abraham could do nothing about.
ii. He could only hear with faith–and that’s what he did–he “believed God!”
d. God always taught that the blessing of the gospel would come upon those who would hear with that same kind of faith, not by works of the law (v.10-14).
i. The demands of law are such that anyone who does not abide in all that it requires comes under its curse, its penalty (v.10; Js. 2:10).
ii. But God has consistently declared that “the righteous will live by faith” (v.11; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:38).
iii. So, as the law required, the curse has been satisfied–Christ became a curse for us by hanging on a tree (v.13; Deut.21:23).
iv. Through the hearing of faith, the promised blessing becomes ours in him.
e. This system of a promise and the hearing of faith was in place before the law was given (v.15-18).
i. The giving of the law, therefore, did not change or annul the promise, and neither could it have meant that the inheritance would come by works of the law instead of by the hearing of faith.
ii. The promise was an inheritance that always had only one fulfillment–Christ.
f. The law was added to facilitate the receiving of the promised blessing by the hearing of faith (v.19-22).
i. The requirements of the law shined the light on the reality of sin in the lives of those for whom the promise was intended until the one who fulfilled it came.
ii. At that point, understanding something of their need, willing hearts would be open to the promise and they could accept it by the hearing of faith.
g. Now those who do accept that promise through the same kind of faith Abraham had are children of God and heirs according to promise (v.23-29).
i. The grand scheme by which God has sought to redeem a family for himself is accomplished in Christ.
ii. The law, which was a guardian to bring man to the goal of the hearing of faith, no longer has that role because its purpose has been served.
3. The best defense is...useable.
a. We are to use that scheme of redemption by being completely identified with the promise in Christ, not by being imperfectly conformed to the demands of the law.
i. Galatians 3:27-28
ii. Galatians 2:20 (19b-20 in the ESV)
b. We must use the defense of redemption through promise by conducting ourselves like children would toward their father, not like slaves would toward a hard master.
i. Galatians 5:1
ii. Galatians 4:5-6
c. We always use the defense of the gospel when count faith that works through love as the fulfillment of the law in the lives of spiritual people.
i. Galatians 5:6
ii. Galatians 5:13-15
1. Our defense is that God has taken the offense!
2. Not only is there not a better one, there is not another one.