Faithlife Sermons

More than Being Good (final)

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I - I LOVED the first day of school - Turning over a new leaf

In middle and in high school I was not a very good student, for lots of complicated reasons. Looking back I think it had a lot to do with anxiety.
But I always LOVED the first week of school for a bunch of reasons.
No Homework
New Locker
Seeing my friends again
No Homework
School supplies
I liked the change of it.
But most of all
But most of all, its a fresh start.
Everyone begins the year with an A, and in my case it didn't always stay that way.
But I would start the year FULL of optimism. Ready to turn over a new leaf.
Remembering the stress, and the failures of the previous year, but ready with a plan to do it better this year. To really try hard in all my classes. To keep track of my homework and do it. To listen in class and study for tests!
Ready and optimistic about a new beginning.
Ready and optimistic about a new beginning.
And for that first glorious week of school and perhaps even the next few. I would stay on top of things. My efforts would pay off. I would even get ahead in my classes.
But before long. After a week or two or three one thing would start to slip.
I would zone out in math class one day and get behind.
My best intentions and my extra effort had warn off and I was ready for the next year and the next “new leaf” to turn over.

Y - Am I good Enough - Turning that Leaf

It seems like no matter how hard we try to be better. How hard we try to turn over that new leaf in life it doesn’t seem to last.
My faith was a lot like that too growing up. Massive spurts of effort, thwarted by the long haul.
We hear a really inspirational talk, get challenged by a passage of scripture, start a new year, or read a really good book. And we go for it.
The bold among us tell a few people or even put it up on facebook.
From now on I am going to, quit smoking, eat better, excercise every day, get enough sleep at night
or Be kinder to people, put my phone away when I am home with the kids, own up to my mistakes
or read scripture every day, pray before i go to bed, go to church more often
And we get up all this energy, create a plan, and start grinding it out.
Checking off the list until we miss a day, things get busy, something big and distracting happens in our lives and, yup, here we are same place as before.
It can get so discouraging, it can make us feel SO guilty too. So much so that year after year of this perhaps we give up on this kind of stuff completely. We say, “I guess I’m just not a healthy or kind or spiritual kind of person,” some of us keep trying, and keep beating ourselves up when we fall short, and still others find another way to move forward.
We so desperately want to find a way to BE BETTER, to be Good enough. We want something that we can actually live up to to be BETTER, to be GOOD. B/c i dont konw about you but ive never met anyone who doesnt want to be “good” on some level.
On one side we double down on effort, or we give up entirely.
We are a slave to a system of behavior OR a slave to our own passions urges, and sinful desires.
(we eat a salad for every meal OR a plate of cookies) there is no inbetween!

G -

Transition: I think this deep anxiety about being good enough or just desire to be a good person gets mixed up quite a bit in how we think about God and our faith.
And many people and many many religious people of all kinds have a way of looking at the world that falls into a paradigm like this.
I think this
Be Good, Live Well, Do the Right thing, behave, follow the rules, whatever.
God, or the universe, or whoever will reward you. With, blessings on earth, blessings in heaven, Love, acceptance. whatever.
Many people, possibly even most people think about christian faith like this.
Jesus + Live Better/Be Good + Believe the right thing about x = God’s love/acceptance, being ok, go to heaven whatever.
Go to church, pray, be a good person, believe the right things, Believe in Jesus, follow the rules, read the bible behave ect. (each group has a slightly different idea on what this looks like. Baptism, predestination, drinking, eating, movies, VOTING, race, gender, marriage, ect.)
Go to heaven when you die, get blessing for self and family now.
Galatians did this
From what we can tell reading Galatians they had adopted a very simialr paradigm after some very conservative Jewish christians spent some time with them.
They were wrestling with this question, What does it mean to belong to God? And some of them were starting to adopt that paradigm.
Theirs looked like this.
Believe in Jesus + Be Jewish in practice (And Be circumcised (guys), Eat Kosher, Keep Sabbath, follow Torah) = God’s love acceptance as his child.
Paul says STOP -
Galatians is Paul saying NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO to that. More emphatically then he says just about anything else in all of the NT. (In 1 Corinthians son’s are sleeping with their step parents and Paul waits 5 chapter to talk about it.)
No real greeting, not encouragement, no massaging egos, just straight to the point.
1:6 gives a little peek at how serious he his.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

(His blinking RED CHECK engine light) - THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG> STOP THE CAR.)
This is importnant.
An emergency letter
1:6 - listen to the tone of Paul’s letter.
Paul is worried
This letter reads like the blinking red check engine light. (stop immediately pull over, ENGINE DAMAGE)
When something bad is happening far away and you dont know what to do… So you write a quick email, make a quick call.
this reads like “DONT TOUCH THAT LIVE WIRE”
but when you read the rest of galatians it can be kind of confusing what the big deal is and why it really matters, what is Paul so worried about?
So what is Paul so worked up about?
The Debate of Galatians - Who belongs in God’s family.
Jews are giving the gentiles an easier way- doing something
Paul says - Everyone who know CHrist.
Rather than letting god change all of them - they change their bodies (this lie is always like this) - gIVE GOD THIS INSTEAD - But it cant justify us, becaues righteousness comes form God, no matter how hard we try, or not.
Judiazers say - Everyone who knows Christ and you cant really know christ unless you belong to the Jewish people (circumcision, diet, sabbath, and torah)
So what if a few gentiles get circumcised? Whats the big deal?
righteousness comes by faith As does transformation.
THe problem of a Jesus + Gospel. The problem of a Checklist Gospel.
A Checklist gospel undermines the grace of Jesus.
But yes bearin fruit of acitons
All of Galatians is about this ONE point, and Paul throws everything he has against it. Its worth reading...
Is Jesus grace sufficient or not.
Even the most expansive checklist cant cover everyhting. Its the difference between meeting an expectation
God doesnt want us to Behave, he wants us to Be New(be his)
Sort of like the difference between an owner, and an employee
We do a lot of things in an attempt to avoid transformation. We justify, we hide, we do other things really well. That sinful part of us, that unyeliding part of us will do whatevet it can to hang on. To prevent us from giving up and letting God be the driving. Letting God transform us.

Jews are giving the gentiles an easier way- doing something - trying to be GOOD,
Rather than letting god change Their hearts - they change their bodies (this lie is always like this) - gIVE GOD THIS INSTEAD - But it cant justify us, becaues righteousness comes form God, no matter how hard we try, or not.
Our Text 5:1-6 Makes it clear why this Paradigm is such a problem. And what it should be replaced with
righteousness comes by faith As does transformation.
But yes bearin fruit of acitons
1-4 - Dont do it
God doesnt want us to Behave, he wants us to Be New(be his)
We do a lot of things in an attempt to avoid transformatoin. We justify, we hide, we do other things really well. That sinful part of us, that unyeliding part of us will do whatevet it can to hang on. To prevent us from giving up and letting God be the driving. Letting God transform us.
5-6 - Here is Why
break down slowly
. Being good and following the rules is what slaves/empolyees do. Sons act differently
Paul presents a different Paradigm
Where the galatians (and we if we are honest sometimes) think
IF we Believe in Jesus, Follow Torah, or Be Good, Live Better, and whatever else we tend to ad
IF we belive in Jesus and ARE RIGHTEOUS
God will make us his people.
Paul says
Through the spirit we wait for (by faith) Righteousness.
IF we accept Jesus’ sacrifice + his holy spirit (WE ARE ACCEPTED BY GOD)
THEN - Through the spirit
God will make us Righteous.
IF we accept GOD’s LOVE (displayed in Jesus’ death for us and the gift of the Spirit)
THEN - Through the spirit.
God will make us NEW
Paul reiterates this in a different way in 6:15

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

So according to paul IF you are trying to achieve God’s Love, acceptance, heaven or as PAUL says righteousness. BY being good you REJECT CHRIST.
Accepting Christ + The spirit means you are already accepted by God and “being good” or righteousness will come by the spirit.
Let me rephrase that in a way that's easier to remember.
The message of Galatians is...

God doesn't want you to Be Good, he wants you to Be NEW

Where the Galaitians the circumcision group. AND sadly so often the church is focused on BEING GOOD in order to BE GOD’s
the gospel is focused on the fact taht because of the CROSS.
YOU ARE GOD’s and goodness flows out of that.
God doesnt want you to be Good, he wants you to be HIS.

Y -

Trans: There is something so attractice about good rules. About earning our way, about meeting the expectatoins on our own, or just trying a whole lot harder. There is something so attractive about that old paradigm.
That if can just do enough, and try hard enough, i can be good enough, I dont have to worry. Something attractive enough that we impose it on ourselves nad others.


the gospel offers New creation instead of better rules. But a transformed whole life.
I dont know where this hits you today.
Maybe you have been beat down by that Be Good paradigm. People have criticized you for what you do, eat, or how you dress. You have been made to feel guilty over things have happened in your life and even mistakes you have made. Perhaps you wonder if you really are accepted because you haven't lived up to some standard you thought was important.
If thats you, perhaps the spirit is leading you to...
Surrender in that battle. To give up that set of rules, and to REST. To RELY on the sacrifice of Jesus, listen to the spirit, and await in faith the HOPE of Rigtheousness.
Maybe you have believed in Jesus and in his sacrifice for a long time but never really understood what it meant. Maybe you have never really allowed God’s HOly spirit to work in your life. Perhaps you tried a little harder on some things, but you never really listened to that voice and allowed God to work in all aspects of your life. Perhaps you just kept on living according to whatever craving or desire popped into your head. Perhaps you never really have let God’s holy spirit work in your life.
If thats you, perhaps the spirit is leading you to...
Let him in, ask God to make you new and put to death with Christ your old self marked by those destructive desires of the flesh (mentioned in 5:13-25). Draw near to some other believers and together you can listen for the HS and be transformed.
Wherever you are...
Lay down again that insideous desire to force yourself or others to be a certain way in order to recieve grace from God.
Remember that God’s love comes FIRST and FREE through christ. And open yourselves up to his spirt. Be new, and allow God’s glory to shine out everywhere you God. ALlow his love to be worked out in the places you go.

W -

Trans: There is a reason this is probably the first of Paul’s letters we have.
There is a reason it survived and was passed on for 2000 years.
We are so susceptible to this kind of false gosple!
(So much so that most non-christians, and many christians belive the “being good gospel” is the gospel.)
It salves our anxiety. It keeps us from stepping our of line.
It gives us something to do SHORT of letting God have all of us.
But it is a fake, its a scam. Because it rejects the GIFT of Jesus that sits at the core of the TRUE gospel.
God is offering us the chance to be new, he offered his son on the cross to make it possible, and his holy spirit to help us live now.
He wants to save us, to make us new, so we can fulfil our purpose, to shine his glory, his light, his love in a dark world.
May we not REJECT it for rules to follow, propositions to belive, and candidates to vot for. Lets not throw it away for the chance to live on our own strenght.
Instead may we be a community relying on CHRIST in step with the spirit, and shining God’s GLORY where we live our lives.
Let us pray.
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