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Stop Rebuilding What the Gospel Tore Down

Galatians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Galatians 2:15–21 (ESV)
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Opening Prayer

Self-righteousness is a Delusion

Works for the purpose of self-righteousness are anti-gospel.
They are ways used by mankind to find hope and justification in ourself.
Our fallen nature is bent on suppressing the truth of God...
Which includes:
Our fallen condition.
Our lack of righteousness.
Our willful sinning against God.
Our certain and justified condemnation before God.
We live life doing our best to:
Ignore these truths...
Forget these truths...
Suppress these truths...
And seek a righteousness of our own, nonetheless.
But, the gospel teaches us that any mission to obtain self-righteousness before God...
Is a delusional mission that is destined for failure.
And, this kind of mission is the every day life of the world.
And, even those inside the church.
The false teachers in Galatia were saying that the way to be presentable to God is...
Yes, Jesus, but also the Ceremonial Laws.
The important thing is not so much what they were adding, but that they were adding.
The important thing is the fundamental truth of the gospel:
Is Jesus Christ’s work and love enough to cleanse and beautify you all by itself?
Paul’s answer is “Yes.”
For these false teachers the answer was “No.”
The False Teachers are saying...
Faith + Works = Justification
Paul is saying...
Faith = Justification + Works
The difference between these two statements is not insignificant.
It’s not the difference between denominations.
They are two different religions.
So, I want us to begin this morning by looking at the prevalent and tragic reality of so many “religious” people who consider themselves to be Christian...

The Misapplication of the Gospel

Galatians 2:17–18 (ESV)
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
We notice that Paul is speaking of the pursuit of being justified in Christ...
But it going wrong…off path.
How can that be?
What does Paul mean here?
How can someone pursue to be justified in Christ and be found a sinner?
I thought Christ removed all our sins.
I thought Christ gave us His righteousness.
How can someone pursue to be justified in Christ and still be found a sinner?
Let’s read it again...
Galatians 2:17–18 (ESV)
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, [this is important because your endeavor is defining this, not the biblical doctrine of justification] we too were found to be sinners, [the biblical doctrine of justification does not leave someone to be found a sinner, quite the opposite][But this type of endeavor allows for it. So, again it is the endeavor that defines this cause and effect][And, if that happens…] is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, [the rebuilding of what was tore down is the endeavor here]I prove myself to be a transgressor.
So, here’s the thing...
Paul is telling us that there is more than one way to pursue justification from Christ.
He’s not saying there is more than one right way or biblical way.
He’s saying that people twist the doctrine of justification...
And use Jesus in ways that will not justify them.
Because remember the context of what Paul is telling us...
Galatians 2:16 (ESV)
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Let’s look at an example that Jesus gave us of how people misapply the doctrine of justification...
Which is also a misuse of Jesus.
Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
This is a daunting passage…And it should be.
It should cause every person, including Christians to sit up straight in their seat and take note.
What’s the issue here?
Why are these people being rejected by Christ?
They call Him “Lord.”
So, they claim Him.
They claim that they’ve done all sorts of ministry in His name.
What is the issue here?
The issue is their faith is not in Christ...
Their faith is in their works.
His name, Jesus…as Lord…is just a logo that gets slapped on their hope in their own works...
Their hope in a self-righteousness.
Their faith is not really in Him…not truly in Him.
If it were, their answers would have been...
Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy [trust] in your name, and cast out demons in [trust] your name, and do many mighty works [trust] in your name?
But, that wasn’t what they said...
And Jesus wasn’t who they were truly trusting in.
The reality was that they were trusting in their works.
And our works produce lawlessness.
Our works are tainted with sin.
This is what is going on here in Galatia.
If you’re trusting in your works at all...
You’re not fully trusting in Christ.
John Bunyan once said, “The best prayer I ever prayed had enough sin to damn the world.
Listen God the Father did not provide His Son in order for us to feel better about our works.
He provided His Son in order for us to fully understand our works...
Abandon all hope in our works...
Know that our works are corrupt and bring condemnation...
And place all our hope in the work of Christ.
And, so, as I stated last week...
The gospel demands that you must come to the end of yourself...
And the end of your hope in self.
So, here’s what Paul is telling us here.
This is what he’s teaching the Galatians...
And, hence God is teaching us.
Here it is...

Our Battle is to Stop Rebuilding What the Gospel Tore Down

Galatians 2:18 (ESV)
18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
Let me put this a different way.
If you rebuild what the gospel tore down...
If you confess what the gospel demands you confess...
And, then walk away from the gospel and the Savior of the gospel...
You will be found to be a transgressor/sinner/under condemnation.
This does not mean one can lose their salvation...
It is merely proof that they were never saved.
If you can lose your salvation then it would be a works based salvation...
Because it would be up to you to keep.
Galatians 2:16 tells us...
by works of the law no one will be justified.
Someone may say, but what about all the commands to stop doing this...
And to start doing that?
Colossians 3:5 (ESV)
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
If we obey these commands, doesn’t that build up what the gospel tore down?
Don’t commands and seeking to keep them rebuild a hope in self?
No. Absolutely not...
Not if you’re trusting in Christ for justification...
And pursuing obedience out of gratitude instead of earning.
Those are commands to keep tearing down what is in you that opposes the gospel...
And building anew with gospel truth.
Building your life & hope in Jesus…instead of SELF.
God doesn’t give us commands for us to hope in SELF.
He gives us commands to hope in HIM.
Obedience for the Christian is faith.
Faith in God.
Believing that what God says to do is the best for you...
No matter what your fallen senses may be tempting you to believe.
The gospel says believe God. Trust God for your life, your needs.
Trust God that He has your best interest in mind.
Don’t rebuild your hope in self.
Build your hope in God.
Herein lies the battle...

To Stop Rebuilding Takes Dying to Self, Daily

Rebuilding is a sneaky thing.
It takes humility.
You can shout from the rooftops that you’re a wretch...
And all the while you’re shouting it in the hopes that the act of shouting this confession causes you to no longer be a wretch.
It truly takes a humble heart.
A heart of humility.
And humility is elusive...
Because the moment you think you have it...
You lost it.
For me and you to stop rebuilding what the gospel tore down...
Takes a constant preaching the gospel to one self.
It takes a constant reminding oneself of where their value actually comes from...
Who actually gives them value.
It takes a constant viewing yourself through the lens of deserved condemnation...
And gracious redemption.

Next Week

I want us to look at some specific areas that we rebuild what the gospel tore down.
And, the natural implication is that those areas that we are tempted to rebuild...
Are, also, stumbling blocks that keep people from coming to Christ.
We need to become students of our heart.
We need to be sensitive to the gleanings of our heart.
What are we prizing and treasuring in the context of what we’re going through currently?
That will give us insight into what we are treasuring.
That will give us insight into whether we are leaning/depending on Christ...
Finding our hope in Christ...
Or whether we’re hoping in something else...
And, rebuilding what the gospel tore down.

Closing Prayer

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