Close But No Cigar
Paul first visited Galatia during his second missionary journey. He established churches there that were primarily gentile in makeup. To his great disappointment, Judaizers came behind him and began to try and convince the Galatians that it was necessary for all new believers to follow all the requirements of the Law. The Book of Galatians is Paul’s effort to thwart the efforts of the Judaizers.
The apostle begins chapter five with a summary of chapter four. The Judaizers insisted that gentile believers had to follow Jewish custom and be circumcised. Paul warned that doing this represented a slippery slope for if one ever begins subjecting oneself to the requirements of the Law then one becomes responsible for keeping the whole thing. The Jews were never able to do it and the Galatians would fail as well. Paul wondered why they would encumber themselves with an impossible task when God did not require it.
Many people have trouble with verse four, mistakenly thinking that Paul is saying a saved person can fall from grace. What he is saying is that anyone attempting to earn salvation by way of the Law will never be successful. Salvation comes by faith through grace and not through any other means!
Paul recognized that many people hearing of Christ and then coming under conviction were in danger of coming only part way. He warns the lost not to settle for proximity to Christ for one can be close without achieving the objective. With that in mind, it is my desire this morning to pose the question of verse seven. First of those that are lost and secondly to those that have been saved.
I. Sinners Are Hindered In Finding Christ
A. By the offerings of the world
1. Hedonism – satisfying the needs of the body
2. Excuses and delays – career, family, false perceptions
B. By their ungodly natures
1. Self righteousness and self reliance
2. Wicked companions serve to hinder
3. Christianity appears dull when viewed through sin blinded eyes
C. The very worst tragedy awaits the lost
1. Opportunities forsaken become accusers
2. Stopping short is the same as never starting
II. Lately, Christians Appear to Be Hindered
A. The signs are obvious
1. Not so loving or zealous as before
2. So many are forsaking faithfulness to Christ and His Church
B. Who or what is hindering the saints?
1. Was it the pastor? Pray for and forgive him
2. Was it the membership? You should be stronger than that
3. Was it not your relationships outside the Church? You cannot fellowship with a fallen world and with Christ simultaneously. You are on different roads, moving in different directions
C. What can resolve this impasse?
1. Remain in or restore your relationship with Christ
2. Go back to the place in time where fellowship was severed
Don’t be misled by the Devil’s lies. He would encourage you to remain where you are. It is not necessary for you to be actively involved in ministry to have fellowship with Christ – or is it?