Liberated from Legalism pt 26 [11-14-21]




November 14, 2021

"Liberated from Legalism"

Galatians 6:6-10


Galatians 6:6-10 contains a specific point and a general point.


The specific point is that those who teach God's Word responsibly and correctly, for the building up of the Body of Christ, are to be reasonably compensated for what they do. It would feel a bit self-serving to make that point the focus of today's message. So, I simply mention it in passing. The people of Covenant Church are generous in their giving, which supports what I hope is the proper teaching of the Bible.


On to the general point.


My wife and I love to plant. Especially perennials. Mainly things that produce some sort of flower. We make sure we have early, middle, and end of season bloomers. After a long winter, my memory fades as to exactly what's where and how they'll bloom and the order in which they'll

bloom. So it's a special kind of joy to watch the seasonal unfurling.


One spring, when the soil had sufficiently warmed, I scattered wildflower seeds in a tilled section of our yard. Had no idea if it was going to work. By about June things started popping up. Come July, a variety of flowers and blooms were brightening up that section of our yard. For two months, colorful stuff was growing in secret. And then the payoff. It was a beautiful thing.


Here's our general point:

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

This principle was laid out in Genesis 8:22:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

That's the template for the principle. God decreed that reaping would follow sowing. That's the rhythm. You reap what you sow. What is true of the created order is also true spiritually. Job 4:8 says, "As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same." In other words, actions have consequences. We bear responsibility for our own behavior.

Let's put some flesh to that.


Paul clearly has false teachers in mind when he writes these verses. Remember, they were leading people to think they were saved through their own works. That was not good teaching. It was leading them away from saved by grace alone…through faith alone…in Christ alone, leading them to trust in their works alone. Which would lead to eternal punishment. Giving in to the passion of the flesh would lead to eternal death. You reap what you sow. Paul is talking about their salvation. You reap what you sow.


Make no mistake. We all want to end well, right? Perhaps you remember this teaching from Jesus in Matthew 25:23:

His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."

When our lives are over, we want to hear those words. As Paul has developed it through chapter 5, since the fruit of the Spirit is an outward expression of our inward disposition, we want to continue in our progress

in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We never want to fall into the trap of

somehow thinking we play a part in our salvation. That will always lead us away from Jesus, which is never a good thing.


I love how graphically Paul puts it in verse 8:

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.

The word used for "corruption" suggests a gradual decay, like the decomposition of a corpse. If you think your works contribute to your salvation, you are already a rotting corpse. Instead of thinking that, we want our lives to consistently reflect complete trust in Jesus' death and resurrection. That is the only way we are saved.


Here's a point we don't want to misunderstand. When we produce fruit of the Spirit, we are sowing good seed. We're not doing this to earn God's favor. The good things we do are simply evidence of God's favor resting with us. We are saved by His grace and mercy. However, when we sow seed of the flesh, we run the risk of reaping a world of hurt and pain. Sowing bad seed gives evidence that we are moving away from God's grace and mercy. Who wants that?

I love how theologian John Stott put it:

Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, or wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk which strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh. Some Christians sow to the flesh every day and wonder why they do not reap holiness. Holiness is a harvest; whether we reap it or not depends almost entirely on what and where we sow.


How is your commitment to the gospel oriented? Do you get up in the morning ready to live out of the fruit of the Spirit? Do you have safeguards against falling into the trap of sowing bad seed? Do you make a conscious effort to sow good seed, because you know that is God's will for your spiritual life? Do those mindsets comprise your purpose for the day?


Or…or, do you get up on Monday, and we know for many people {and orange cats} Mondays can be absolutely loathsome, and so you put off doing godly things until you're in a better frame of mind? Don't expect better things from me on Monday. But come Tuesday, it'll be better. If not Tuesday, by hump day you'll be a fruit of the Spirit producing spitfire.


Which one of those is living by the flesh? Whose instructions are you obeying for holy living? While none of this means we in any way, shape, or form are teaching salvation by works, what we do mean is that as your life bears fruit of the Spirit, it means your faith, and therefore your salvation, are really and truly from God. To paraphrase what Paul says in Romans 8:14, "All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."


As we close, here's an example of how Biblical truth intersects in a consistent manner throughout the Bible. Pastor Steve Bezner writes:

"Sometimes I joke what I'd do if I had one day left to live. Eat junk, go crazy, etc. Today it hit me: Jesus knew. And he washed feet."

Jesus did not grow weary in doing good.


Which leads us to our last thought. It's something worth remembering:

We must continue to do good, not because we are struggling to earn our salvation…which is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone…but because we are grateful for the salvation we have in Christ.


If today were the last day of your life on earth, what kind of good would you want to be doing?












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