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How To Stunt Your Spiritual Growth

Galatians - Freedom!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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3 Ways to Stunt Your Spiritual Growth

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Do you know what sabotage is?

1. Fear Man

It means to deliberately destroy or damage something for a political or military advantage.
In a wartime sabotage can be an effective weapon.
One country may have agents or spies behind enemy lines that cause sabotage.
They can destroy a supply chain.
Slow down communication.
Interrupt communication.
Expose or create a weakness in a nation’s infrastructure.
For example, on July 30, 1916, a major explosion rocked Black Tom Island in the New York Harbor.
The explosion was equivalent to an earthquake of 5.5 on the richter scale.
The blasts were felt and heard as far away as in Philadelphia.
The Statue of Liberty took over $100,000 worth of damage.
Black Tom Island was a munitions depot near the New York Harbor.
The US supplied ammunition and powder to England during World War I.
And it was destroyed.
There was confusion.
People wondered what caused the explosion.
It took years to put together, but in the end Germany sabotaged the depot.
2 German spies set off the explosions in an effort to sabotage the British supply line which started all the way in the United States.
Paul is writing to the Galatians because something has happened.
They’ve been sabotaged.
He’s wondering, what is going on here.
In chapter 3 of Galatians, Paul will begin by saying, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”
Or who has sabotaged you?
They have been sabotaged.
Their growth has become stunted.
Paul isn’t questioning whether or not they are believers.
He knows they are Christians.
he will say that they began by the Spirit.
In he says that the Holy Spirit has been sent into them.
We know that the Holy Spirit is a seal, a permanent guarantee of the inheritance that we have in Christ.
So it’s not as if they have “lost their salvation.”
But something has happened?
Their growth is stunted.
I remember when I was a kid, the last thing I’d want is for my growth to be stunted.
My mom would say if you drink coffee, you’ll stunt your growth.
That’s the last thing I ever wanted.
The Galatians have had their growth stunted.
And what is the cause?
A group called the Judiazers.
They were an influential group of Jewish Christians, that called for new converts to obey the Jewish law.
They promoted legalism
These people, these Judaizers, had sabotaged the church.
Peter was up in Antioch.
Peter was the apostle to the Jews.
Peter was the one that God gave the vision to, that food was no longer unclean.
Eat what you wanted.
When Peter was with Gentiles, he lived out his freedom that God gave him.
He’d eat what he wanted.
He be with the church, no matter who they were.
It was a glorious time.
Then when the Judaizers, when the Judaizers would show up, he’d shrink back.
He acted hypocritically.
One moment he’s a friend of the Gentiles.
The next, he’s offended by them.
Others followed him, doing the same thing.
This is what the Galatians had fallen into.
They were sabotaging their faith.
I’m sure that each of you want to grow.
That’s why you are here.
You love God.
You want to obey God.
You want pursue Him more.
And yet there are common things that we do, that sabotage that growth.
We become our own worst enemy.
By looking at , we are going to see 3 ways to sabotage your spiritual growth.
Let’s read now.

The first way to sabotage your spiritual growth is to Fear Man.

Peter is with the Gentiles.
This is an amazing time.
Before this time, there was a wall between the Gentiles and the Jews.
They were completely separate.
The Gentiles were called dogs by the Jews.
But now with the Gospel, they are one.
Something that has never happened before.
The world dreams about this kind of peace.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream about this kind of peace.
No longer divided by racial lines.
And Peter is experiencing it.
describes it as a beautiful mystery, “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Peter is having fellowship with the Gentiles.
Loving the Gentiles.
Then the Judaizers walk in.
Understand that Peter knows these Gentiles are believers.
He’s had visions about it.
He’s heard their confession.
They have the Holy Spirit.
He’s even baptized them.
There is no reason to doubt what God has done in their lives.
he says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Peter knows the Gentiles are his brothers in Christ.
Part of the same royal nation.
Part of the priesthood of all believers.
But Peter has an inner conflict.
If he remains with the Gentiles, living in the work of the Gospel and acknowledging the great work God has done with them, then these Judaizers, verse 12 calls them the circumcision party, will be angry at him.
Peter’s face gets red with embarrassment.
So he slips off.
He hides himself.
Because he fears man.
He fears the Judaizers.
God is doing something wonderful in the church.
And Peter’s fear of man is sabotaging the church.
It’s easy to look to Peter and think of him as a huge jerk.
It’s racism.
It’s bigotry.
It’s mean.
And yet … it’s so much worse than those things.
Listen to this point, because it’s important and it’s telling.
I’m going to say one of those things, that you need to inscribe in the back of your brain.
We obey who we fear.
Let me repeat that, We obey who we fear.
In , Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
You know why it’s so important to fear God?
Because when we fear God … we obey God.
- “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Fearing God isn’t the same as a dog that has been beat, fears the man who’s beat him.
Fearing God is recognizing that He is God.
He sets the rules.
That’s why at the beginning of the 10 Commandments, God introduces Himself, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery ...”
“I’m God. I make the rules.”
And when you fear God, you obey Him.
Because you obey who you fear.
says, “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.”
When we fear man more than we fear God, who do we obey?
Because we obey who we fear.
Do you see why this becomes more than Peter being a jerk to the Gentiles?
Because this becomes idolatry.
When we fear man, we obey man.
When we fear man, we don’t obey God.
When we fear man we make man to be god.
What happens when we fear man?
We sabotage our growth.
We sabotage our obedience.
Just think of the handful of ways that the fear of man influences our spiritual life.
Why don’t you evangelize?
Probably because you fear man.
You worry what they will think about you.
Why don’t you do Gospel to the Valley?
Probably because you fear man.
What will people think when you knock on their door, that’s weird.
So many men struggle with spiritually leading their families.
Being the spiritual leader in their marriage.
Because they don’t want to seem chauvinist.
In almost every premarital counseling account I’ve ever had, you know who is opposed to the husband leading the wife?
It’s not the wife.
It’s the husband.
Because he’s afraid.
He is afraid of what people will think about him.
Why don’t parents discipline their kids?
Because they are afraid.
Afraid their kids won’t like them.
Afraid CPS will be called on them.
This fear isn’t just bad for life, but it says something about what we believe about God.
Because we obey who we fear.
Back in , Paul said, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Therefore, fearing man actually is saying that it’s not Christ who you serve and fear, but it’s man.
That’s living in idolatry.
That is sabotaging your faith.
Look at the result of Peter’s fear of man, he separated from the church.
He separated from those that Jesus died for.
He knew the Gentiles were Christians.
But his fear of man, caused him to put into practice a belief that Jesus hadn’t purchased the Gentiles.
His actions contradicted the work of God the Father in choosing the Gentiles.
His actions contradicted the work of Jesus in dying for the Gentiles.
His actions contradicted the God the Spirit who was in the Gentiles.
When we fear man more than God, our fellowship is affected.
Church attendance is affected.
Because when someone wants to do something on a Sunday, you don’t want to say no and disappoint them.
Maybe that someone is a child, a spouse, or a neighbor.
You fear their disapproval more than acknowledging Christ’s work through worship.
Giving is affected.
Because you don’t want to give away, what you could use to have fun with people.
We obey who we fear.
In , Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
So if you want to preserve what you have.
If you want to grow … we fear God.

The second way to sabotage your faith is Act Hypocritically.

Paul points out the hypocrisy of Peter.
He feared the Judaizers.
He left the Gentiles.
He betrayed what he believed.
And others were affected.
It says other Jews acted this way, even Barnabas.
Peter and the church were sabotaged by Peter’s hypocritical behavior.
What is hypocrisy?
You know it when you see it.
It makes you angry.
It’s when someone says they are one thing, but they act another way.
In classical Greek the word for hypocrite was similar to the word for actor.
And what is an actor?
It’s someone who makes a profession out of pretending to be something he’s not.
A hypocrite is playing a role.
Now when we think about Christians being hypocrites it gets us angry.
We usually say something like this, “That person claims to be a Christian, but he’s really a hypocrite.”
And the assumption we make when we call a Christian a hypocrite is that he’s not really a Christian.
The part he is playing is a Christian, but the real him is a pagan.
He’s a nonChristian pretending to be a Christian.
In regards to the person who claims to be a Christian but really isn’t, Jesus said that one day he will go to that person and declare, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
But that’s not what Peter is doing here.
Peter isn’t a pagan acting like a Christian.
He has an opposite problem.
And so do the Galatians.
He’s a Christian, playing the part of a nonChristian.
He’s a Christian, and the act, his role in being a hypocrite is that he is living like someone who is not a Christian.
When a Christian acts like a hypocrite … that means he is living like an enemy of God.
This sabotages your faith.
There are certain kinds of actors that are called method actors.
They become their role while playing it.
They aren’t their
And they continue their role even when the camera is turned off.
Some of them want to be called the name of their character, even when they aren’t being filmed.
They become their role.
If they have an accent in a movie, they will begin using that accent even off screen, to become better acquainted with it, so it becomes more natural to them.
Sometimes these method actors even change their physical appearance for that role.
When Tom Hanks was in Castaway, he lost 55 pounds to play a man stranded on a deserted island.
Christian Bale lost 65 pounds for one role.
Then he gained 110 pounds from that weight to become Batman.
Then there was Heath Ledger who played Joker in one of those Batman movies.
Apparently, when Health Ledger played Joker, that role ate its way into soul.
Never quite recovering from it, he committed suicide, overdosing on drugs.
Playing a part can affect you.
You do something wrong enough, and eventually it takes hold of you.
You play the hypocrite long enough.
You pretend to be a non Christian long enough, it’s going to affect you.
You’re going to pick up some bad habits.
That’s why the call is never for us to act like the world.
It’s always to pursue Christ more.
Have you noticed how much of the Christian life is described as a journey of some sort.
We are moving from one direction to another.
You are either moving toward Christ, or away from Christ.
The Christian life is described as a walk.
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise ...”
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit ...”
In addition to hypocrisy hurting your own soul, it affects others around you.
You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. - .
Remember, an actor is pretending to be something they are not.
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
We watch movies and sometimes we forget that they aren’t real.
We see the stunts and we forget that they are all staged.
There are cables to keep them dying when they fall.
There are stuntmen who know how to roll.
But the magic of the silver screen is we forget all that and we get drawn into it.
There was a period of time my dad was a K-9 officer.
He had this old German Shepherd, his name was Dido.
Did was old.
When he retired he was 13.
Did was our family dog.
He was a boring old dog.
Wouldn’t play fetch.
Just laid around all day.
We’d climb on him, try to play with him.
Most of the time he was just a sleeping lump in the living room.
At least by day he was the family dog.
Because at night, he was a killer.
When my dad got home in the mornings we’d ask about the night before.
We were enthralled to hear of what our family dog did.
Well you know how in movies people jump from rooftop to rooftop.
The cops chase them, and the bad guy runs and jumps.
He hits the edge of the nearby building, pulls himself up, and runs away.
My dad was in La Habra, and apparently some bad guy had watched too many of these movies.
He somehow got on top of a roof and was running away.
He tried to jump to the roof of a nearby building.
He jumped.
He made it … kind of.
He hit the ledge of the nearby building.
But the ledge had no lip.
So he slip down the side of the building, to a crash on the ground.
I’m sure that hurt.
Then he started running.
That’s when my dad sent Dido after the bad guy.
It didn’t turn out well for the bad guy.
He had already fallen from the roof of a building, only to be greeted by a German Shepherd named Dido with a strong bite.
He’d seen that stunt done too many times in movies and thought he could do it.
Those actors had affected him.
Back to Galatians, Peter’s hypocrisy, his role in playing a nonChristian, affected others.
In verse 13 it says, “And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”
So not only was Peter’s faith sabotaged, but now there are other Jews who are sabotaging their faith as well.
Peter does it, so I guess I can do it.
They compromised.
But it’s not just the Peters that are being watched.
Yes, leaders need to be above reproach.
Yes, teachers are judged more strictly than others.
You are being watched.
People look to you and judge Christianity based off of how you live.
And some say, “Well that’s why I could never be a leader or a teacher.”
There is no free pass here.
It’s not just leaders who are watched and told to live above reproach.
One of the most convicting verses in the Bible regarding hypocritical behavior comes from , “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
The 3rd of the 10 commandments is not to use the Lord’s name in vain.
To use the Lord’s name in vain is called blasphemy.
Typically, we think of that command only having to do with our vocabulary, what we say.
But if you are a Christian, you bear His name.
If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit in you.
If you are a Christian, He has sealed you, marking you as His own.
And if you live counter to all of that … you blaspheme God with your very life.
And others who are watching you are influenced.
In the 80’s when I was a kid, I’d watch Saturday morning cartoons.
In between commercial breaks there’d be these antidrug campaigns.
Remember the frying pan one.
A guy would take an egg.
He’d say, “This is your brain.”
He’d crack it, and put it into the hot pan.
Then he’d say, “This is your brain on drugs.”
Then it’d sizzle and fry.
What would he say at the end, “Any questions.”
Another commercial, was a dad busting into his kid’s room, with a box of drugs.
He grilled his kid on where he learned how to do drugs.
Then the son says, “You alright! I learned it by watching you.”
Then there is a voice over, “Parents who use drugs. Have children who use drugs.”
The world around us knows that people are watching.
Peter’s hypocrisy affected others.
Your hypocrisy affects others.
You can take your kids to church once a week, once a month, whatever it is.
But if they don’t see it at home, it’s lost.
Your hypocrisy affects others.
Don’t be surprised if your lack of obedience produces children who are not enthusiastic about Christ.

And the third way in this text to sabotage your faith is to Live A Lie

Paul sees Peter’s action.
And he confronts him.
He goes to Peter.
Verse 11 says he says he went and spoke to Peter to his face.
This becomes a quick lesson in conflict resolution.
Paul didn’t send a text message to Mark and say, “Can you believe what Peter is doing?”
He didn’t talk around Peter.
He went to Peter.
He spoke to Peter.
He says that Peter wasn’t living in step with the truth of the Gospel.
The Christian life is a life of progress.
Last summer we went to the Czech Republic, and it was a long trip there.
I think it took something like 40 hours to get there.
And a ton of hours to get home.
After a long trip, we just wanted to get home.
Forward progress that’s all we wanted.
We looked forward to sleeping in our own bed.
And any delay … hurt.
The Christian life is one of progress.
Just like that Czech Trip, we wanted to be moving.
In the Christian life, we need to be moving.
Have you noticed how much of the Christian life is described as a journey of some sort.
We are moving from one direction to another.
You are either moving toward Christ, or away from Christ.
The Christian life is described as a walk.
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise ...”
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit ...”
Moving closer to Christ.
Becoming more holy.
Becoming more Christlike.
And anything that stops that forward progress … is sabotaging our walk.
Paul said that Peter was not walking with the truth of the Gospel ...
That means throughout our life, we become more and more Christlike.
So what are we to do, we are conduct ourselves in a way that lives in the truth of the Gospel, and moves us closer to Christ.
How do we do that?
First, the Gospel must be in our hearts.
The Gospel must be present within your life or all of this in vain.
This isn’t some your best life now, kind of a thing.
I’m not trying to give you advice on how to have a vain and happy life.
If you don’t have the Gospel, it doesn’t matter how much your kids like you, how much money you make, or how many people come to your funeral when you die.
Without the Gospel, none of this matters.
You need a Savior.
You need a Sovereign Savior.
You have sinned.
And you need someone to die for you.
I read a quote from AW Pink a couple weeks ago that said, “God doesn’t forgive sin … He forgives sinners.”
We are sinners who need forgiven.
Without that, none of this matters.
Next we need to live in the reality of the Gospel.
That is done by remembering why Jesus died, which was for your sins.
Repenting of those sins.
Turning from them.
Stopping them.
Living in obedience to God.
And then strategically, walking in the truth of the Gospel.
Strategically, planning to move forward in your sanctification.
Being pained if you stop.
says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
With fear and trembling making strides.
We don’t want to sabotage our faith.
We don’t waste our time by stalling.
says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Our time on earth is short.
The time available to us is even shorter.
Let’s be completely practical here, where do you want to grow the most?
If you are taking notes, write it down.
Write that one area down.
If you only had 6 months to live, what would you do to grow in that area.
says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
I bet if you had 6 months to live you would be careful with your time.
I bet you would use your time wisely.
Budget your time.
Use it well.
Never be satisfied if you aren’t moving forward.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

We aren’t growing, and we quickly blame others.
We like to think that someone else is sabotaging us.
I started with the story about sabotage on Black Tom Island.
We want to think it’s someone else who’s ruining things for us.
In reality we are our own worsrt enemy.
We fear man.
We act hypocritically.
We live a lie.
The theme of Galatians is freedom.
You fear men?
In , Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Who is there to fear but God?
You don’t have to fear man.
Fear God.
You act hypocritically?
Stop pretending to be something you’re not.
Take off the old self.
He’s not you anymore.
Christ has given you a new life, and you are clothed in Him.
You live a lie?
Make progress in your sanctification.
Develop a plan.
Use the time that you have to God’s glory.
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