Liberated from Legalism pt 17 [8-22-21]




How many of you have done one of those genetic testing programs? Two of the most popular ones are 23&Me and AncestryDNA. They're not an exact science, but what is, really? You do discover some interesting things about your heritage and background. Sometimes people find relatives they knew nothing about. I read about one woman who learned that the woman she thought was her older sister was her mother and the woman she thought was her mother was her grandmother. Sad but true. Weird things families do.


Most people, in most cases, find the discovery fun, informative, and an overall positive experience. Actually, more and more cold criminal cases have been solved through these expanding databases. And the more we learn from this technology, the more appreciation we have for the diversity of our human being-ness. It all reflects the glory of the sovereignty of God.


As I've shared before, I neither like nor agree with the distinctions we

make between the races. I don't talk about it that way. That phrasing will only come up when I'm directly quoting someone. We are one race…the human race…with different cultures and ethnicities. And we are finding out some amazing things about our diversity. Most people in the United States are "mixed-race" {see my previous comment}. For example, the average African American genome is nearly 25% European. 10% of the African American population in the U.S. is more than half European in ancestry. Some of us carry Neanderthal DNA, and some of us don't. Of those who do, I have a higher than average percentage. What a thing to be above average in, right? Finally, look for the blue-eyed people near you. Every blue-eyed person in the world today can trace their ancestry back to a single European who lived about 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea region. Amazing.


People have always wanted and/or needed to know their ethnic/cultural identity. Our focus today is on Galatians 3:26-29. Here are those verses:

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.


These verses tell us all we need to know about our identity. They speak of our identity in the three most important places:

  • Our Relation to God.

  • Our Relation to Humanity.

  • Our Relation to History.


Verse 26 speaks to our personal identity relationally to God:

"For in Christ Jesus you are all {children} of God."

If you know Jesus Christ, then you know who you are, because you know to whom you belong. A Christian is a child of God. Back in verse 7 Paul said every believer is a child of Abraham. Now he moves to the logical conclusion that every believer is a son or daughter of the One, True, and Holy God. That's who we are. I love how the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it:

"Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the

number, and have a right to all the privileges of the {children} of God."

It's important for us to remember to whom we belong.


Here's the proper perspective, shared by John Mason:

Jesus said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

What he didn't say was, "Seek first your ethnicity, ancestry, heritage, melanin count or sexual preferences, then the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Every attempt to prioritize what is earthly will fail.


Let's look at verses 23-26:

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons {and daughters} of God, through faith.

How do children think? In childish ways. That's why it's important for adults to look after them. But children should eventually outgrow their need for a guardian. That's exactly the point Paul makes about us spiritually. Once Christ came, and once we were in Christ, we should put aside our childish ways. As Paul has already said, only a fool would still think they needed the law to be saved. Through Christ, we are all children

of God.


Here's what that means for our relationship with God:

  • Matthew 6:9 says, "Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.'" We can call on our Heavenly Father. That relationship is the source of our true identity.

  • Matthew 6:32 says, "For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." Our Heavenly Father knows exactly who we are and what we need.

  • And finally, from 1 John 3:1, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." God loves His children with tender affection. That's going to deeply impact how we think about the world we live in.


So Paul says to the Galatians - and therefore he says to us - we better wise

up and understand our relationship with God, based on our position in Christ, transcends any earthly understanding or definition of what it means to be human.


I love how former NFL player Marcellus Wiley expresses it:

AMERICA IS NOT DIVIDED BY RACE, COLOR, GENDER, OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

AMERICA IS DIVIDED INTO WISE PEOPLE AND FOOLS.

AND FOOLS DIVIDE THEMSELVES BY RACE, COLOR, GENDER, OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION.


"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you," Paul said. The only identity that matters is our position in Christ.


Beginning with verse 28, the next thing Paul says is that our identity in Christ drives our relationships with others:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In other words, the only distinction…the only definition…the only category

that matters is who we are in Christ. "For God so loved the word that He sent His only Son." That is what drives our relationships and how we think about others.


I want to show you some pictures defining what I believe is beautiful about God's creation and how He made us:

  • Show Pictures…


In Christ we are new creations. And as new creations we see the beauty and grace in what God has made…in the people Jesus died for. Here's something to remember:

We are all created in the image and likeness of God and thus have dignity, value, and worth. This means that no matter ones ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, or political positions, as Christ followers we treat everyone with respect and dignity.

Perhaps that can be challenging at times, but the gospel compels us.


When I was a kid - Jr. High School age - "Mod Squad" was at the height of

its popularity. There wa a family on our street whose father was a virulent racist. It was so foreign to me, because of the kind of family I was raised in. Anyway, he wouldn't let his two high school age daughters watch "Mod Squad" because one of the main characters was black…Linc Hayes. I loved that show. The two neighbors snuck over to our house to watch "Mod Squad."


When I got older, I realized that somebody needed Jesus. What a horrible father he was. At least none of his children grew up like him.


As Christian author Samuel Sey observes:

Racial reconciliation cannot be accomplished by protestors, politicians, or pastors.

Racial reconciliation can only be accomplished by the perfect Son of God: Jesus Christ.

And praise God, He's already accomplished it - not in Washington, but in Jerusalem.

Let's live like it.

Think about all these trends we've seen in our culture over the past several years. They're all part of the secular social justice religion that's attempting to bring the reconciliation that can only come through Jesus Christ. That's exactly the point Paul is making in Galatians 3. Gender politics and Critical Race Theory and the whole alphabet movement are dividing people up into categories in ways that are, at best, childish, and at worst, destructive. We don't need that kind of social analysis or engineering. We have the gospel.


Make no mistake. When we come to Christ, we do not cease to be Asians or Africans or Hispanics or Europeans or bosses or employees or men or women. We continue to be what we have always been, only now we are in Christ. That is our primary identity. Paul calls us to embrace each other under those terms. We are all one in Christ.


So far, we've seen how Paul points us to who we are in relation to God, in relation to each other, and finally, who we are in relation to history. As he concludes in verse 29, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise."


That is the expansive view.


When we look back to Abraham, what do we see? As heirs according to the

promise, which direction are we looking to? Right. To the future. The promise is always moving forward. It is always about what God, in His sovereignty, has prepared for us. But here's the beauty of it all. The past holds the key to our future. As preacher and teacher Steven Lawson says, "God is always previous. Long before {people} sinned, He had already prepared the way of salvation." Looking back to the promise assures us of our present and future.


So, where are we at today? As we hold tight to the reality of Galatians 3:28, how do we think about the current cultural situation we find ourselves in?


Two thoughts come to mind. Both articulated better than I ever could, from two people with distinctly different backgrounds. Which, in light of Galatians 3, is a good thing, as we are brothers and sisters in Christ, first and foremost.

The first is from Lennox Kalifungwa {love the name}:

Truth transcends ethnicity, culture and nationality. I have more in common

with Biblically minded Christians around the world than I do my own kin.


The second is from Abigail Dodds, author, wife, and mother to five kids. She writes:

We are in grave danger if we set out to solve the problem of injustice in this world, believing the solution to be in front of us. It isn't. Turn back! It's Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Sent by God, crushed for our sake, and raised by His hand forever. No other way.


Here's the gospel. We can only find healing and move forward in our relationships by looking back to the cross. That is the promise of Galatians.


We reject false teachers. We reject the worldview of the grievance peddlers and historical revisionists. We reject the worldview of racists and hate-mongers. We refuse to be shackled by guilt or fear or victimhood. All of us…we are not our ancestors. We are, each one of us, unique people created in the image of God. Whether we like it or not, right or wrong, the

world of the past is never coming back. We are now well into the 21st

century. We will be best served looking ahead to the future. We'll be

happier for the rest of our days if we make that choice.


Here's one last thing you might want to write down:

THE ONLY WAY TO FIND OURSELVES IS TO COME TO GOD IN CHRIST.

Those who are in Christ know exactly who they are. We know who our Father is, for we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We know who our siblings are, for we are brothers and sisters of all God's children. If you are a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, that is who you are, and who you will be, forever.


SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone!




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