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Identity in Christ

Galatians - Freedom!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What it means to be in Christ among men and in front of God

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Please open your Bibles to .

Read Galatians 3:28-29.

Some pretty significant movements have been spinning around our culture the last 10 years.

All of them making a
About 8 years ago, there was the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
It was a protest against the wealthy.
It claimed that 1% of the population controlled a majority of the money, while 99% of the population suffered.
It became popular to say that wealth should be redistributed.
The wealthy should give back of what they have, or have it taken from them and have it given to the 99%.
Then about 6 years ago, in 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement arose.
It began as a protest of police and legal systems that are felt to be structurally opposed to people of color.
Then last year, in 2018, the Times Up or #MeToo movement developed.
This is a movement calling for gender equality and pay, especially among those in Hollywood.
The question for us in the church, is how do we respond to these things.
And believe me there is pressure upon the church to become involved in these movements.
Some have gone so far as to say that the Gospel is not just what Jesus has done and the forgiveness of sins, but that the Gospel includes the redistribution of wealth, the rise of social justice, and the end to gender as we know it.
Today’s text has been used to strong arm Christians into saying that the Gospel is these things.
That if you are in Christ, you must:
Become involved in economics.
Acknowledge your part in systematic racism.
And remove all roles upon people based on gender.
It would appear that we are confused what it means to be in Christ, and what our purpose is in being a Christian.
What does it mean to be in Christ, and how does that relate to our relationships with others?
What does it mean to be in Christ, and how are you to view these different movements?
This is what we are going to talk about.

First we will address your New Identity in Front of People.

In your outlines today, I’ve left a couple blanks.
And your first fill in the blank is People.
We will first look at your new identity in front of people.
As I’ve already told you, this is a very dangerous text.
It’s been used to say some pretty crazy things.
Some have said that this text means that:
Culture is irrelevant.
There are no more classes among people.
Meaning we should get rid of the rich and the poor.
And there are no more genders.
We need to stop calling people male and female.
Any time we look at a text that can be divisive and dangerous, we must remember the context of the passage itself.
We don’t get to rip out of the Bible and pretend it’s the only verse ever written.
We must remember who this is written to and what it is about.
Galatians is a letter written to the church in Galatia, that has been bewitched, oppressed and mislead by a group called the Judaizers.
These Judaizers have been saying that if Gentiles want to enter into Christianity, they must reject Gentile pasts, and become Jewish.
They’ve been told:
They must obey the Law.
They must do works.
And only then will they be able to enter into heaven.
In about 450 bc, a piece of work was developed within Judaism called the Mishnah.
It was additional Jewish writings, not included in Scripture, but very helpful in their religion.
It contained extra rules and laws.
Within the Mishnah was a series of blessings, or prayers that men would pray.
3 of the blessings were:
Shelo Asani goy.
Shelo Asani ived
Shelo Asani isha
They mean:
Blessed are you for not making me a Gentile.
Blessed are you for not making me a slave.
Blessed are you for not making me a woman.
These were 3 prayers and blessings men would pray every single day.
That’s interesting because those are the 3 categories that we find in verse 28.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female ...”
It’s safe to say that the Judaizers were bringing the Mishnah and it’s extrabiblical requirements upon the Galatians.
Even expecting them to pray:
Shelo Asani goy.
Shelo Asani ived.
Shelo Asani isha.
Thank you for not making me a Gentile, slave or woman.
They were teaching the Galatians that the true blessings were not for Gentiles, slaves or women.
Paul is writing to the Galatians to free them from this extra and outright sinful burden.
But when this text is ripped out of context, forgetting who it’s written to, then all sorts of terrible ideas develop.
Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek ...”
Sadly, within the United States, especially among missions, we’ve handled this wrong.
We’ve gone to other nations, and we’ve said, “Be like us.”, become American.
We’ve expected people to adopt:
Our political structure.
Our clothing styles.
Our taste in music.
And even how we do church.
Many times when Americans send missionaries across the world, American Christians have this idea that we will show you how to do church, and the way to do church is to follow American culture.
Becoming a Christian doesn’t eliminate the color of our skin, our national pasts, or our culture.
In fact Paul acknowledges this back in . He said:
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.”
He said
“To those outside the law I became as one outside the law … that I might win those outside the law.”
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.”
Remember, Paul is the one writing , where he says there is neither Jew nor Greek, and he’s the one who wrote .
This man acknowledged that there are different cultures and ethnic groups.
If he were saying there really isn’t any different groups of people, then he’d be contradicting himself.
He went on to say why he would live like a Jew or a Gentile, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel ...”
We can acknowledge culture, even race, and use it as a jumping off point to share the Gospel, to win some.
For example, last year a team of us went to the Czech Republic.
Obviously, they are a different country.
And when we went there, obviously we are Americans
We can’t hide that.
We like our air conditioners and ice in our drinks.
That identified us as Americans by the way.
And they are fascinated with Americans.
We didn’t ignore this difference.
Instead, we played on it.
For one week we were as American as we could be … so that we could capture their attention and share the Gospel.
We dressed up as cowboys, baseball players, surfers, eggs and bacon, all in an effort to acknowledge where we are different, then be able to talk about Christ.
We never told them to become American, but we did tell them to turn to Christ.
, Paul continues, “there is neither slave nor free ...”
This has been twisted to mean that with Christianity:
We need to get rid of the rich, and get rid of the poor and embrace communism or at the least socialism.
Some have said that the employer/employee relationship is outright evil.
And that even classes are evil.
Middle class
Lower class and the poor.
Again, that is not what Paul is saying.
In , Paul gives instructions to slaves and masters.
He says, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,”
And he warned masters to be careful of how they treat their slaves, because both the master and the slave have a Master in heaven who will judge.
If the affects of Christianity were to bring an end to employer/employee relationship, wouldn’t Paul have said that, rather than giving instructions of how it is to function?
Jesus acknowledged the presence of classes as well, and didn’t imply that with His resurrection they were going away.
In , Jesus said, “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
Nowhere is there a call to get rid of the rich.
Though there are dangers of wealth.
Paul said the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
And James warned against showing preference to rich people.
But they never said get rid of rich people.
The last thing Paul mentions in is sex and gender, “there is no male and female ...”
This has probably been the most abused part of this text.
It has been used to say that there is no difference in the roles of men and women.
Therefore, women can be pastors, elders and governing leaders in the church.
And probably even worse, it’s been used to say that any concept of gender has been thrown out the window.
It has been used to affirm homosexuality, and neuter the church of any distinction among her members.
Again, if Paul were actually saying that the idea of men and women and their unique roles no longer exist, then he is contradicting himself, and the Spirit of God who inspired him to write those words, because:
Paul said, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
Then in Paul gives instructions for Elders, and specifically says they are to be husbands of one wife, men.
There are roles within the marriage relationship. In Paul said,
Husbands are commanded to love and lead like Christ.
Wives are commanded to submit like the church.
These are specific roles.
Within the church and our relationships; it’s older women who are given the main task of shepherding younger women.
There are differences among us within the church, and Galatians 3:28 is not getting rid of that.
In fact there needs to be differences.
Think of the gifts.
In Paul stresses this need.
“If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
There is diversity within the church.
Hear me clearly, different does not mean better.
The Jewish prayer was:
Thank you for not making me a Gentile.
Thank you for not making me a slave.
Thank you for not making me a woman.
That prayer implies that someone is better than another.
Paul is talking about value.
A Jew is not better than a Greek.
A slave is not better than a free man.
A man is not better than a woman.
We are different, but our value is the same.
Suppose you are in my kitchen and I show you a rolling pin and a measuring cup.
We know that they are different, and one isn’t better than the other.
They are two tools that are different function and better at different tasks.
You can’t measure a cup of flour with a rolling pin.
And you’ll have a hard time rolling out pie crust with a measuring cup.
They have different roles within your kitchen.
And within the church, we are different, and we have different roles within the church.
Our differences do not negate the work of Christ in our life.
He saves regardless of race, class or gender.
Paul is slamming the door shut on the Judaizer teaching that says you must become a jewish, free, man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
says, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”
Christ is saving people regardless race or culture.
, Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Christ is saving people regardless of sex.
The only qualifier is that Christ is Lord and that He has died for you.
The Gospel destroys all pride.
You don’t get to say, “Obviously Jesus would save me because I am a man.”
When you look at verse 28, you fit somewhere in there.
You’re either a Jew or a Gentile.
You’re either a slave or free.
And contrary to popular opinion, you are either a male or a female.
But those are not what bring you into the kingdom of God.
And they are not how you are to identify in the kingdom of God.
Your identity is Christ.
Let me say that again because it’s important, your identity is Christ.
How was Christ treated?
He was hated.
Listen to Peter’s words in , in fact turn there with me.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Our identity is in Christ and we are to suffer as He suffered.
If we are insulted for his name … we are blessed.
If we suffer as a Christian … we are to glorify God.
Our identity is in Christ, and we should expect the world to treat us as it did Him.
I read of a couple who adopted two boys, Addis and Rager.
They are African and Ethiopian.
Their skin color does not match their parents skin color.
When they were adopted, their skin color and nationality became subordinate to their new relationship with their parents.
The adoption didn’t change the color of their skin.
They are still dark skinned.
But the color of their skin is not the main thing.
The main thing is they are in a new family.
And the new family is their identity.
When you are in Christ, you have a new family.
Identifying with Christ is more important than cultural and societal differences.
Heres a test, if you are more outraged because you don’t think you are being treated the way you think you should be … you are not identifying with Christ.
says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus suffered for nothing that he had done.
He suffered for our sins.
And when we are cruelly treated, and it’s not fair, use that as an opportunity to identify with Christ.
Remembering that He died because of your cruelty and disobedience to God.
This extends beyond racism, sexism or classism.
This is in our interpersonal relationships.
Maybe your husband doesn’t recognize all the work you do.
If you think I’m talking crazy
Maybe you’re tired of being skipped over in a promotion.
Whatever the situation is … it’s not fair.
We identify with Christ.
What He went through was not fair.
If you think I’m talking crazy and you need some inspiration of people who identified with Christ, read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and read of men and women who learned to have their human rights violated and rejoiced in Christ.
In France in 1685, King Louis XIV, made radical laws calling for people to convert to Catholicism
People would lose their jobs, property and even their money.
They’d be pressured and eventually taken by the government if they didn’t convert.
Certainly, not fair.
Occupy Wall Street would have something to say about what King Louis XIV was doing.
But the Protestants, identifying with Christ first, said, they “were ready to sacrifice their lives and estates to the king, but their consciences being God’s they could not so dispose of.”
So take whatever they had.
But they wouldn’t abandon Christ.
Foxe goes on to record that the soldiers were enraged and said, “Die or die Catholics!”
They hanged men and women by their hair and their feet, and tortured them with every conceivable method until they died.
They didn’t rise up in protest, they identified in Christ.
When we are seeking the Kingdom of Heaven first, when our allegiance to Christ comes before our earthly allegiances and identities, then we have a proper method of how to live in Christ.
Much of our problems and frustrations with others are because we think we are not treated how our nationalistic, or earthly identity calls for.
This anger and resentment is the product of not living in Christ.
By the way, this extends beyond political arguments as well.
It goes to our relationships with each and family.
People will disappoint us.
And when we are hurt and disappointed, we need to find comfort in the Cross.
We can identify with Jesus in these moments.

We can talk about what our identity with each other is, but bigger truth is what our new identity in Christ looks like before God.

That happens to be the next fill in the blank, New Identity in Front of God.
Verse 28 was showing us that when it comes to who is in Christ, He takes from everybody.
He isn’t saying first become:
A Jew
Then a freeman.
Then a male.
Those are ways that we compare to each other among each other.
But what about in front of God?
What are we like there?
Look at verse 29, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
God had made these great promises to Abraham back in 5.
God had promised to give Abraham’s offspring a land, a people, and that he would be a blessing.
All this time, we had been thinking that the offspring were a bunch of people, Israel.
But if you look back up in , we learn that it wasn’t Israel, but it was one person.
God was talking about singule offspring.
says, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.”
The offspring, the one who those promises were originally for was Jesus.
And then we see this humongous truth in verse 29, “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, ...”
Hold on a second.
Verse 16 we learned the promise was to Abraham’s offspring, who is Christ.
He isn’t saying first become:
A Jew
And now if you are Christ’s … you also are Abraham’s offspring?
Then a freeman.
This means that when God sees you … if you are in Christ, He sees Christ.
Why is this important?
Then a male.
Because you don’t want to stand in front of God on your own.
Those are ways that we compare to each other among each other.
On your own you are a sinner.
But what about in front of God?
says, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”
What are we like there?
God hates sinners.
On your own you have failed to live up to the glory of God.
says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
On your own you are condemned and have earned the consequences of your sins, Hell.
, “… the soul who sins shall die.”
You don’t want to stand in front of God.
And yet for many people, they have no fear of God, and they stand in front of God thinking they can survive.
What’s even stranger is that we see people who actually identify with their sin.
They allow the sin to define themselves.
It’s as if they want to stand in front of God and say this is what I am.
Sometimes its with outright sins that people live in.
Homosexuality is one.
Sometimes its with things that have more noble purposes.
Some recovery ministries and support groups do that.
People identify with their sin.
Celebrate Recovery and AA do this.
But in Christ we no longer to identify with our sin, it’s no longer meant to define us.
describes this process, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Did you catch that?
“such were some of you”
But in Christ, it’s not who you are.
That’s what you were.
You have a new identity.
says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
That part of you is dead.
It died on the cross.
You are now in Christ.
He is your identity.
If you have put on Christ, that means God doesn’t see you.
He sees Christ.
And He loves you with the same love He has for Christ.
If Christ is your identity:
It means that where you were a sinner, God sees Christ’s righteousness.
Where you were undeserving, Jesus is deserving.
This is your identity before God.
No longer will sin separate you from God.
No longer will you fear the judgment of God.
Because God sees Jesus instead of you.
Sometimes I meet with people who have gone through a rough stretch.
Could be marriage.
Could be conflict.
And out of confusion and desperation they finally say, “I need to love me again. I need to find myself.”
But you see that’s actually the last thing you need.
What you need is to be in Christ.
You need to identify with Him.
If there is marriage trouble, you don’t need to find you, you need to identify with Christ.
Husbands, you don’t need to find yourself.
You need to find Christ, and love like Him.
Wives, you don’t need to find yourself.
You need to turn to Christ, and submit like the church.
When you dwell on guilt and shame, you then think, “I can’t stand in front of God.”
In your weakness, when you identify with your sins, and allow them to cripple you, that’s faithlessness.
That’s faithlessness.
What you need is faith in Christ.
You need to remember that He died for you.
He suffered for you.
And live in that.
To be you before God and in life, is a terrifying thought.
The only comfort we really have is that we are in Christ.
People who go through these hard times need to be directed to Jesus, that’s the only relief they’ll have.
Paul said, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
The old life only brought death.
In Christ, and when we identify with Him.
Saying He lived for us.
He died for for us.
When we identify with Christ, we find a new life.
That’s when you can actually turn a new leaf over, knowing that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Identifying with Christ before God is not only good for now, but it is good for the future.
Because those promises of a land, a people and a blessing we will get to experience.
The day will come when Christ will make everything new.
And we will be there, and we will reign with Him.
God will make all things new, and the blessing that Adam was supposed to be on earth, we will have.
He was supposed to have dominion over the earth.
We will rule with Christ.
We will have dominion.
In the final chapter of the Bible, we have this promise,
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

We live in a confused culture.

People want to be who they want to be.
People think they can reinvent who they are.
And all the while, the answer is to stop all of that.
We have a new identity in front of people, and that is Christ Jesus.
We live for Him.
We live in Him.
We have a new identity in front of God, and that is Christ Jesus.
He is our hope, our faith, and our confidence for when we stand before God.
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