Every time something bad comes out of our mouth or life,
it is because we are giving in to a “non-god,” to an idol.
Martin Lloyd Jones preached 66 sermons on 1 John,
and his final sermon was on the last verse
which he said summed up the whole book.
What is that verse?
Tim Keller says this sermon turned a light on for him,
and Keller turned a light on for me,
so that finally, in seeing the sin beneath the sin,
I could be set free from the idols that were enslaving me.
This summer we have been looking at Jesus
and His Gospel in the Old Testament.
Last week we saw how idolatry
motivated Sarah to make the wrong choice
in bringing her servant Hagar to Abraham’s bed.
Sarah and Abraham’s choice continues to bring pain,
suffering, and wars to our world.
Our idols are not our friends, they only seem to be at first.
But if we instead, identify our idol,
the sin beneath the sin,
and choose instead to trust God,
and do it His way, we will, indeed, be set free!
Did Jesus take the two on the road to Emmaus back to this story of
Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar to help them grasp the gospel?
I don’t know, but Paul takes us back there,
using it as an allegory for the gospel.
In studying it again
I saw how the gospel can free us both from legalism and idolatry.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Think about your last time of sinning and identify the sin beneath the sin. Share only if you like — but it is good to identify this in your mind so that you can be set free.
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
God wants to be our comfort, our control, our security, our approval — but if we do not trust Him, we run to other things, even good things like food or money or friends — but when we turn them into gods (for they are really non-gods) they cut us to pieces. Watch this video and see how women identified their idols. (The Korean woman is my daughter Annie — I laugh when she calls me “Dee” but she did it for the video.)
3. Comments on the above?
Galatians 4:8 -Galatians 5:1
Since idols cannot be removed but only replaced, prepare your heart with this:
4. Read Galatians 4:8-11
Legalists had come to the new believers and told them that they were saved by faith in Christ but they also needed to observe certain laws. Personally, I think I am set free from the legalism that Paul describes here, but I do know the default mode of my heart is to revert to works righteousness, thinking God will love me more if I do everything right. I must speak to my soul and remind her (souls are feminine in Scripture) that my sin is paid in full, He loves me as He loves Jesus, and my motivation to do right should be out of gratefulness rather than trying to earn His love.
A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8?
B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?”
C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9?
D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you?
E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?
The Allegory — an allegory is when a story is told to illustrate a specific truth
Paul takes this historical story of Sarai and Hagar, and makes an allegory. It has an application both to legalism and to idolatry — for in fact, legalism is a form of idolatry. We are trusting in obeying the law instead of what Christ did at the cross. This is a challenging passage, but go slowly and you’ll discover power.
5. Read Galatians 4:21-31
A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why? And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?
B. Which children are slaves and which children are free?
C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story?
D. Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1 in verse 27. He is saying that the barren, poor and marginalized can be more fruitful than the fertile, rich, and popular. We may not have the resources of some of the people we are prone to envy, but there is a promise here we must embrace.
1) What is the promise?
2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?
3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?
E. Those born of the flesh will persecute those born of the promise. How do you see this in the story of Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael?
F. How have you been mocked for holding on to the truth of the gospel? How can you speak to your soul?
I found the following on the internet from Benny Phillips, a pastor of Redeemer church in Nona Lake, Florida. I thought he had excellent applications. Please read and comment:
Pastor Phillips writes:
We need to hold onto the freedom of the gospel. Legalism robs us of the promise of God. It’s choosing to go back and live as a slave. It will kill you.
There are four side-affects of legalism:
- Ignorance of the gospel of grace. You and I are no longer bound by a system that condemns us. We are free in the Son of God.
- Man-pleasing fear. When we are bound by others’ opinions of us, it can affect how we communicate the gospel. We don’t want to offend others, so we alter the message. Paul says you can live and eat with those you’re trying to witness to, but don’t change the gospel.
- Hypocrisy. Don’t live with your identity wrapped up in external things. Legalism puts us into that trap because it makes us responsible to perform to merit righteousness, to obey God. Legalism is bondage.
- Loss of joy. In verse 30 it says “Get rid of the slave woman and her son.” Literally, it says to “cast out,” to repent from a self-focused way of relating to God and allow the power of the Spirit to fall upon you. Recognize that we are free.
6. Do any of the above help you to apply this passage? If so, how?
Keller’s sermon on this is excellent, but it is 2.50. I hope you’ll listen.
9. Comments on the above?
10. What is your take-a-way for the week?