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Training with the Guardian June 19, 2016

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Galatians 3:23-4:7

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 19, 2016


Focus:  God grants salvation to us free of cost.

Function:  That the hearers serve their neighbors.

Structure:  This is the historical meaning of the text…these are the meanings for us now.


Training with the Guardian


Today, today we continue our sermon from last week as we continue reading through Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia.  As a quick refresher, the gist of the context of this letter is that the Apostle Peter has betrayed the gospel of Jesus Christ and is misleading the Gentiles back into the old covenant, rather than the new covenant.

He was teaching them that they had to earn their salvation.  They had to be circumcised in order to be saved.  In order to be part of the kingdom of God.  Paul comes along and rebukes Peter, in public, for this tragedy.  For this awful abuse of the gospel.  The gospel is the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and raised again.  It is the good news that your sins are forgiven freely in the blood of Christ and that in His resurrection, you too will be raised from the dead unto life everlasting.

This is THE good news.  There’s nothing better.  This is it.  You are saved, not by works, but by faith alone in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Now I can’t preach on this text today and not point out one of the most glaring errors in American Christianity today.  How we proof-text Galatians 3:28.  This is, by the way, what Galatians 3:28 means.  It’s the freeness of the gospel to all people.  That no matter who you are, or what you’ve done, salvation is yours in the Lamb of God.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

But if you just put your ear to the ground, you’ll hear this verse out of context and misapplied all the time.  Christians use it to support their practice of ordaining women to be pastors, they use it to support their belief of gender equality and gender neutrality, which also means they use it to say that all forms of sexual attraction are pleasing in the sight of God.  This verse has nothing to do with those things.  Clearly, there are still males and females in this church.  It’s about being saved.  It’s about the fact that Christ didn’t just die for men, but for all.  He didn’t just shed His blood on the cross for Jews, but for all.  He didn’t just rise again for masters, but for all.  That’s the good news of the gospel, and that’s what verse 28 is about.

Anyway, I told you that today we would follow up by talking about the law.  What was it?  What purpose did it serve?  And if the gospel saves us, what purpose does the law have now?  What role does it play in your life?  Should you even care?

And Paul gives us a good way to look at it.  He uses the analogy of the guardian.  And in a way, we can already understand this, because this is the same place where we get our terminology, if you think of a legal guardian for a child.

But the guardian in Paul’s context was a hired man.  If you were a family that was well-off, and dad was working a little more than he should, it was common to hire someone you could trust who would help raise your child.  And this isn’t just spoon-feeding a toddler.  We’re talking about someone who’s going to teach right from wrong to a child, but also train them up in their father’s business so that when the appropriate time comes, they are a ready heir to continue the family business.

And the time is set by the father, he sets the date or the age at which the child is old enough to take over, to inherit, to run the family business.  And when this time comes, the guardian is no longer the guardian, they’ve fulfilled their job, their purpose in that relationship.

And Paul connects this for us.  That the law is our guardian.  That as we grow in the faith, as we were waiting for the faith to fully come, the law was our guardian, it raised us.  It taught us right from wrong, how to live a God-pleasing life, how to act justly before our neighbor, how to care for the widows and the orphans, how to act in all of our different relationships.  All these things and more.

Until the time set by the Father.  And that time was the cross.  That time was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came into this world and took our sins upon Himself.  The good news is fulfilled, the gospel is complete.

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.


See what happens when we put stuff in context!  These are powerful verses.  You are saved.  You are no longer under the guardian of the law.  In your baptism, you are baptized into Christ.  You are declared a son of God.  A daughter of God.  You are made an heir of the kingdom.  The Father’s business, His creation, it’s yours in Christ.  Imagine the Garden of Eden.  Perfection, without sin, pain, or death.  A beautiful creation, filled with amazing plants, wonderful creatures.  And you’re there, tending the garden.  The Father’s business is now yours.

I think I said we’d focus on the law though today, and that stuff’s sweet gospel.  So, back to the law.  What is its role today?  Last week we said there are three types of Old Testament laws.  Do you remember them?  Ceremonial, civil, and moral.  The ceremonial laws were the laws regarding sacrifices, worship, cleanliness.  These things were clearly done away with in Christ.  We don’t sacrifice a bull on this altar every time we sin.  That’s why the cross hangs above the altar.  Christ is the final sacrifice.  Again, that’s more gospel.

The civil laws were in place to dictate how God’s people lived together as a nation.  At first as a theocracy, with God as their ruler, but even later under the kings.  These laws included the stoning laws, they included cities of refuge if you had accidently killed someone, laws regarding justice and repayment among neighbors, how to care for the least in your community, all these kinds of things.  You could certainly say these too came to an end in Christ upon the cross.  But I’m not so sure they didn’t end before that.  When God’s people abandoned Him and as a result were destroyed.  Their nations lay in ruins while they were exiled into foreign lands.  I think that’s the point where the civil law at least stopped functioning.

And then we have the moral law.  As we said last week, this is pretty much the Ten Commandments.  These are the laws God has placed on our heart to teach us what is good and what is evil.  To teach us how to love and care for others.  To show us how to fear and love the Lord our God before all things.

And these too, were our guardian.  In Christ, these too, have been fulfilled.  So, what do we do with them?  What do we do with all these old laws that Christ fulfilled for us?  A closer look at Paul’s guardian analogy should help us here.

The guardian taught the son, the heir, everything.  Right from wrong, how to be a citizen, how to run his father’s business.  Sure, when the child grows up and inherits the business, the guardian is no longer the guardian.  His job’s done.  But what should the young man do with everything he was taught?  Ignore the wisdom?  Call evil good and good evil?  Run his father’s business however he pleases?

Doing these things will undo him.  It will tear down not only him, but also his father’s business.  We have a great Old Testament example of exactly this.  King Solomon built up an empire.  And when he died he left it all to his son Rehoboam.  Within a couple of months, the empire had split, and Rehoboam had lost nearly 90% of it.

This is why Jesus summarized the law into those phrases: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.  These are good things.  These are things our guardian was trying to teach us.  We couldn’t do them perfectly, and we still can’t, but that doesn’t make them bad.

The law is God’s good and holy will for you as His people.  It’s not something that you have to do to achieve perfection.  It’s not something you have to do so you can slowly grow to be more and more like Christ every day.  It’s not something that you can do to earn your own salvation.  If you’re doing these things, you’re falling right back into Peter’s trap.  And Rome’s.  You’ve betrayed the gospel.

This is why Luther talks about the Ten Commandments the way he does.  They’re not just negatives, don’t do don’t do.  They’re also positives.  Here’s how you live this out.  Here’s what it looks like.

The First Commandment: You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment:  Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

The Fifth Commandment:  You shall not murder.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

The Sixth Commandment:  You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.

The Seventh Commandment:  You shall not steal.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

The Eighth Commandment:  You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.

The Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

The Close of the Commandments:

What does God say about all of these commandments? He says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).

What does this mean? God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.

The editors of the Small Catechism added one last bit on what the purpose of the law is today:

“What purposes does the Law then serve?”

First, the Law helps to control violent outbursts of sin and keeps order in the world (a curb).

Second, the Law accuses us and shows us our sin (a mirror).

Third, the Law teaches us Christians what we should and should not do to live a God-pleasing life (a guide).  The power to live according to the Law comes from the Gospel.”

This was our guardian.  These are good things and we should live by them.  Not because they save us.  They don’t, they can’t.  We should live by them because it is God’s will for our life.  They are good, and good for us.  They don’t save us.  Don’t do them like the Pharisees.  Do them out of love for your neighbor, that they too might hear the good news from you.  That’s what we call vocation, living out the life God has given you, loving and serving those around you.  That’s the role of the law today.  And there’s more to do there than you could manage in a lifetime.  And that’s okay, because Christ has done it for you.  You are forgiven.  And that’s the good news of the gospel.





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