Faithlife Sermons

(237) Galatians 08_A New Identity

Notes & Transcripts

Called to Freedom

Galatians VIII: A New Identity

Galatians 2:20-21

April 7, 2013


SCRIPTURE READING: Galatians 2:20-21 (Erin Kaplan)


We have been out of Galatians for a month and a half, so we need to catch up. Paul has SUMMARIZED the entire message of Galatians three times in TWO VERSES:

Galatians 2:15-16 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

There are THREE KEY IDEAS that require explanation:

1. Justification

Justification is this big massive idea with three key concepts tucked away in it:

1. We, who are guilty before God, separated by sin, have been declared “NOT GUILTY.”

2. God puts his RIGHTEOUSNESS in us.

3. God ACCEPTS us into his family.

These LEGAL, MORAL, RELATIONAL aspects are all key and none should overpower the others.

Imagine you are a world famous “DOG-WHISPERER,” and one of your kids brings home this snarling, filthy, starving stray dog. The dog catcher is in tow because he is ready to take it away.

* Out of love, you legally adopt it, pay the fines, bring it into your family, feed it, clean it, and train it.

That gives some of the big picture of what justification is all about. The dog has DONE NOTHING to earn it; its behavior has not merited your compassion.

2. Observing the Law

It simply means doing what the LAW SAYS to do. This means the rules that no longer apply, like circumcision and eating kosher, but it also means the rules that still apply.

These are GOD’S RULES that he expects us to obey. He is our KING, and we are OBLIGATED to obey him. What’s more, obedience brings JOY.

* But doing these ARE NOT what makes us ACCEPTABLE to God.

Like the Paul and Peter, who GREW UP in “CHURCH,” we understand that these are not the things that save us.

* That DOG could never EARN its PLACE in the family, but your hope would be that it would be live up to its place.

3. Faith in Christ

Saving faith in not agreeing to doctrine, but RELYING on, DEPENDING on, TRUSTING in GOD. It is moving your SOURCE of POWER and ASSURANCE from yourself to God and everything he can do.

* It’s like trying to start your car with a DEAD 9V BATTERY, but you unplug it from that and plug in a brand new Die Hard.

The reason faith is so central is not because you MUSTER up all of this WILL POWER or MENTAL POWER and pump enough juice into your LITTLE BATTERY.

* God doesn’t say, “Wow Josh, has SO MUCH FAITH I can accept him,” it’s “Finally he gets that it ISN’T ABOUT him!”

So the point is that we are FORGIVEN, ACCEPTED into God’s family, and MADE into MORAL people not because we are good, but because God is.

* All that is required is that we TRUST in GOD’S ABILITY to do these things for us.


That catches up to today’s section:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is one of the STRANGE THEMES that Paul talks about a lot – dying and living with Christ. It seems weird but is actually a POWERFUL PICTURE what the Gospel means.

Last week and the week before I talked about how Jesus came to defeat the TYRANTS of SIN and DEATH. The problem is that they are not yet FULLY DEFEATED.

* Chances are very good that we all will have to die (unless Jesus comes back first) before we see DEATH’S final defeat.

Likewise, we still STRUGGLE with SIN even as we long to be free from sin’s slavery.

Q But how does Jesus’ DEATH free me from the TYRANT of SIN now?


When we place our faith in Jesus and in his grace to save us, something very POWERFUL HAPPENS – it is as if we are both METAPHORICALLY and METAPHYSICALLY CRUCIFIED with Christ.

* It is as if WE were up on the CROSS with Jesus; we are no mere spectators, we are PARTICIPANTS – what he did he did for us.

We have truly died with him, that means that the person that we were is gone, and with him or her, the ENTIRE WEIGHT of their DEBT they owned is canceled.

* If a PRISONER DIES, they do not hold the corpse for the remainder of the term.

As Paul will say later, dying means that we are no longer SUBJECT to the LAW and its claims and that we are no longer subject to, under the DOMINION of DESTRUCTIVE SIN.

* FREEDOM from SIN and the LAW are the two GREAT THEMES of Galatians.


The title of this series is “CALLED to FREEDOM.” I am using this as the theme verse:

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

The Galatians had been slaves to SIN and IDOLATRY, now they were in risk of becoming slaves to LEGALISM. Both are slavery.

The main PICTURE I want to put in your head throughout this series is this NARROW PATH of FREEDOM running along between these TWO CLIFFS.

* On this path is PEACE and GRACE, fullness of life, safe from SIN’S MISERY on one side and LEGALISM’S MISERY on the other.


Q HOW can we stay on this NARROW PATH?

We can’t, we are NOT EQUAL to the task. It is TOO EASY to fall off. Our only hope is to cling to GOD’S GRACE. But because of God’s grace we walk CONFIDENT and SECURE.

* Throughout Galatians, Paul goes BACK and FORTH between warning us again these two cliffs.

Think back to the different COMPONENTS of JUSTIFICATION:

On one hand, justification means being DECLARED NOT GUILTY – we don’t need to DO ANYTHING to be accepted into God’s family; it means be freed from SLAVERY to the LAW.

On the other, justification also means “RIGHTEOUS-IFICATION,” being made moral right and freed from slavery to sin.

* BEING CRUCIFIED with Christ means that we have been SET FREE of BOTH CLIFFS.


Returning to the analogy of the DEAD PRISONER: the problem is that the prisoner is NOT AROUND to enjoy that FREEDOM. So the next part is just as important:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We are raised to new life in Jesus, we have a new identity. We used to be sinners, condemned, hopeless, but that is no longer us. We have been given a new lease on life through Christ.

* We have a NEW IDENTITY – we are no long the sinners we were, we are now what Jesus is.

See again the TWO THEMES – freedom from our guilt under the law and the power of sin. We have both died to all of those things and through Christ we now live in new life.


Okay, that sounds really cool, but what does it mean FOR ME?

It means that you are NOT that PERSON you used to be. You are not the FAILURE, the SINNER, the BROKEN, WORTHLESS person you think you are. That person died, it is a corpse.

* When you were crucified, there was a SIGN ABOVE your head, just like Jesus: Sinner, bitter, selfish, proud, rebel...

Colossians 2:13b-14 He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

That person is dead, that SIGN was BURIED with the corpse. We have a new identity, a much better one: Christ living in me.

But you are also not that SUCCESSFUL, AMBITIOUS, got your act together person. That person is also dead.

* You can take as much PRIDE in that a ROTTING CARCASS.

You actually haven’t LOST ANYTHING, you’re best was NEVER nearly AS GOOD as you thought it was. You were SELF-DECEIVED.


Accepting our new identity can be a BITTER PILL to swallow, whether or not we liked our old one. It was familiar, it was WHAT WE KNEW.

If your old identity, the SIGN above your head, was “VICTIM of my PAST,” a new identity of “VICTOR” is scary.

If your old identity was “SUCCESSFUL in business,” you may not know who you will be WITHOUT that.

* Class CLOWN.

* SMART person.

* Really HELPFUL and nice.

The list goes on.


But to accept it is to walk INTO JOY:

* I was a FAILURE, but that person is DEAD; I now carry Christ’s GREATNESS!

* I was a SINNER, but now I carry Christ’s RIGHTEOUSNESS!

There is great joy in both EXPERIENCING FORGIVENESS and also seeing how God works REDEMPTIVELY to others through your past.

* I thought I was AWESOME, but now I know I am just a “JAR of CLAY” carrying his greatness.

There is joy in now being a “CO-OPERATIVE” of Jesus, being his agent working in this world. Of not having to have YOUR ACT TOGETHER.

* This is more joyful than these things being your identity, because you will never be good enough.

* Please text Sunday School Teachers ; service is almost over


The problem is that we keep trying to DIG UP the CORPSES.

* Story of DIGGING for RUSTY the horse.

To DENY this one way or the other (I am STILL WORTHLESS or I am STILL GREAT) is to say that Christ’s death was USELESS.

Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!


If you are a Christian, this is who you are, a new person, the old crucified in Christ. In our time of WORSHIP, RESPOND in GRATITUDE to that reality.

* Ask the Holy SPIRIT to help you BE all this, to be who you really are.


Related Media
Related Sermons