About sarhodes

I serve as the Pastor at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio. I am married to Meagan and we have been married since 2003. We have two children, Mercedes Grace and Abigail Elizabeth. Mercedes was born on September 1, 2011 and Abigail was born on December 4, 2013. I graduated in 2000 from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio (just northwest of Dayton). I graduated with a BA in pastoral studies from Cedarville University in 2006 and the an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. I enjoy movies, especially action moves like Braveheart, the Patriot and Gladiator. I especially enjoy historical movies. I also enjoy documentaries. I enjoy reading: I love historical books, especially Revolutionary War biographies. I enjoy reading theological books as well. I enjoy spending time with Meagan, Mercedes and Abigail. I also enjoy fishing and watching football.

Final Warnings (Galatians 6:11-18)

Final Warnings (Galatians 6:11-18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 19, 2019

We will be turning to Galatians 6:11-18 in a few minutes. Please turn their in your Bibles, tablets or smart phones.

Let me show this video as we begin.

Free to serve video:


We are wrapping up Galatians today and as we do so we will see the summary of Paul’s themes. Galatians is about Jesus. Galatians is about how we are saved by Jesus and Jesus alone. We are saved by faith in Jesus.

Today, my theme is: Paul’s final warnings

Application: boast in Jesus

Let’s read: Gal. 6:11-18:

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

  1. Submit to Christ, boast in Him (verses 11-16).
    1. As we look at verses 11-16 that is theme that we see. We must surrender to Christ and we must only boast in Him. Only boast in Jesus.
    2. First, we see Paul’s signature in verse 11. This is Paul’s John Hancock
    3. The New American Commentary shares: It was a common convention of Hellenistic letter writing that a secretary or amanuensis would prepare the main body of the letter while the sender would append his signature and perhaps a few closing words of benediction as a way of attesting the contents of the letter and assuring the reader of his full endorsement. We follow much the same practice today when an attorney or legal secretary draws up an official document that requires the signature of a client for validation.[1]
    4. We gather from other comments in Paul’s letters that it was customary for him to dictate his letters orally to an amanuensis and then add a personal postscript and signature in his own hand at the end of the epistle (cf. 1 Cor 16:21; 2 Cor 10:1; 2 Thess 3:17; Col 4:18). Thus most commentators believe that 6:11 is the place in Galatians where Paul took the stylus from the hand of his secretary and finished off the letter in his own handwriting using, for some reason, unusually large letters to which he drew attention in this verse.153,[2]
    5. I imagine Paul dictating this letter, maybe over several sessions and then giving his signature right here.
    6. This is VERY important.
    7. We know that people would write in someone else’s name. We also know there was pseudepigrapha literature in that day and age (see 2 Thess 3:18 for an example).
    8. We see false motives in verses 12-13, the legalizers boasts in circumcision.
      1. It seems that verse 12 shows people are being persecuted for the Gospel. It seems that the Jewish people are persecuting Christians for the message of grace.
      2. The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary shares: The metaphor here is grotesque: Paul has been assailing those who live “by the flesh,” by merely human, mortal power, ignoring God; physical circumcision was commonly said to be “in the flesh” (so also KJV, NASB, NRSV here). Here Paul speaks of these culture-bound missionaries as if they want to take the Galatians’ foreskins back to their senders. See comment on 4:29 and 5:11.[3]
  1. We come to verses 14-16 and we see the theme only Jesus (verses 14-16), boast in Jesus.
  2. In verse 14 we see that Paul will only boast in Jesus. He will only boast in the cross. Paul had made similar statements in 1 Cor. 1:26-31 and 2:2.
    1. What matters is that you are a new creation (verse 15). Paul wrote about this in 2 Cor. 5:17. We are made new in Christ.
    2. John Winthrop wrote: O Lord, crucifie the world unto me, that though I cannot avoyd to live among the baites and snares of it, yet it may be so truely dead unto me and I unto it.[4]
  • Verse 16 is a blessing.
  1. Those who walk as new creation will have
    1. Peace: isn’t this nice? How nice it is to have peace? Remember the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23. What is it like to have peace? We have peace in Christ because we are not trying to earn our salvation.
    2. Mercy: we receive mercy in Christ because we do not experience the wrath of God.
  2. Also, the Israel of God.
    1. This is likely Jewish believers though he could be referring to the Gentile Christians.
    2. Some would say he is talking about all believers, but it seems as though he is referring to Jewish Christians.
  3. Final warning and benediction (verses 17-18)
    1. This seems to be a solemn warning.
    2. Paul talked about his scars. 2 Cor. 4:10 and 11:23 are examples of his beatings.
    3. I like what MacArthur points out: slaves were branded, military were branded, he is saying he is branded for Jesus. He is saying not to question him.
    4. Then verse 18 is a wonderful close.
    5. Paul affirms them in a loving benediction. He calls them “brothers,” or “brothers and sisters.”
    6. Paul extends grace.
  • Applications:
    1. We must be bold following Jesus even if it means persecution (verse 12).
    2. We cannot compromise the faith in order to avoid persecution (verse 12).
    3. We must only boast in Jesus and the cross (verse 14).
    4. We must be crucified to the world in living for Jesus (verse 14).
    5. We must understand what matters is that we are new in Christ (verse 15).
    6. We must be loving to people as Paul was in his final verse (verse 18).


The Comedian Louis CK has a routine in which he jokes about having the impulse to give up his first class airline seat to a soldier. Louis CK says,

[Service men and women] always fly coach. I’ve never seen a soldier in first class in my life … And every time that I see a soldier on a plane I always think, You know what? I should give him my seat. It would be the right thing to do, it would be easy to do, and it would mean a lot to him… I never have, let me make that clear. I’ve never done it once … And here’s the worst part: I was actually proud of myself for having thought of this. I am such a sweet man. That is so nice of me, to think of doing that and then totally never do it.

In June of 2014 Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams actually acted on that thought. Boarding a flight Friday from Detroit to Los Angeles where she was shooting a new movie, Adams noticed an American soldier being seated in coach. She decided to do something that she’s always just thought about doing. Jemele Hill, a reporter for ESPN and a fellow first class passenger, witnessed Adams quietly asking the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier, whom she didn’t know. Adams moved back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who didn’t know who his benefactor was, moved up to first class. Hill immediately got the word out on Twitter, and after their arrival in L.A. Adams told reporters, “I didn’t do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops.”[5]

That is how we should be. We must give up our seat to Jesus. We must give Him the spotlight.

When divers combed the wreckage of the Kursk (the destroyed Russian nuclear submarine on which 118 sailors perished), they found a letter written by Lt. Dmitri Kolesnikov. The handwritten note was addressed to his wife, Olga. It was penned after the explosion that sealed the sub’s doom on August 12, 2000, in the Barents Sea and confirmed speculation that all the crew had not died instantly.

A few hours after the submarine plunged to the bottom of the sea, Kolesnikov wrote, “All the crew from the sixth, seventh, and eighth compartments went over to the ninth. There are 23 people here. . . . None of us can get to the surface.”

The note included a deeply personal expression of affection to his beloved Olga, who admitted that her husband had a premonition of death when he bade her goodbye before sailing out to the Barents Sea. Eerily, the last lines of the letter indicated that death was closing in. The auxiliary power had failed. Kolesnikov wrote unevenly in the pitch darkness: “I am writing blind.”

What a terrible sense of approaching doom.

This sailor’s despair and foreboding isn’t all that different from what many people feel about this world.

The apostle Paul, blind and knowing that a martyr’s death was near, also wrote goodbye letters. His letters, though, were filled with hope in Christ.[6]

Let’s pray


[1] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 430.

153 See Longenecker, Galatians, lix–lxi; Fung, Galatians, 300–302; W. P. Doty, Letters in Primitive Christianity, 40–41. Despite the strong internal evidence for Paul’s use of an amanuensis, we should not imagine that these helpers were given such great freedom and leeway as actually to compose the materials found in the Pauline Epistles. It is much more likely that he dictated to a secretary word by word. His signature at the end was his “apostolic seal” verifying that the foregoing content was precisely what he had intended to convey to his readers. For two different assessments of this feature of Paul’s epistolary practice, see G. H. Bahr, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters,” JBL 87 (1968): 27–41, and R. N. Longenecker, “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles,” in New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 281–97.

[2] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 430.

KJV King James Version

NASB New American Standard Bible

NRSV New Revised Standard Version

[3] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ga 6:12–13.

[4] John Winthrop. “The American Puritans,” Christian History, no. 41.

[5] Adapted from Mark Tapson, “Amy Adams, Class Act,” Acculturated blog (6-30-14)

[6] Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; adapted from (Chicago suburban) Daily Herald (10-27-00)

Bear One Another’s Burden’s (Gal. 6:1-10)

Mother’s Day video from Ignite Media.  

Today is Mother’s Day and I wish to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

I want to continue in the sermon series on Galatians, but I believe you will see how this passage relates to mothers. The Bible relates to all of us in our context. Sometimes we try to divorce the Bible from our life, but that should not be. Today’s passage applies to the child and the parent, the employer and the employee. This passage is very applicable to mothers.

I want to encourage all of us to live in the present and be involved in ministry in the present. Serve in the present. I have been involved in a lot of ministry with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I have been through specialized training with that tragic illness and I have coordinated a few Alzheimer’s symposiums. During one particular symposium a chaplain from a retirement home was speaking and he talked about living in the moment. He said that very few of us live in the moment. People with Alzheimer’s live in the present. By way of application, do we live in the present? I cannot speak as a mom, but I speak as a parent, I speak knowing that we must live in the present. We will come back to that.

My theme today is: Bear One Another’s Burdens 

Let’s read Gal. 6:1-10:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

  1. In verses 1-5 Paul talks about caring for one another.
    1. We all must admit that it is usually the mother who is the most caring, agreed? God has created women with the ability to be the most caring. Like a mother the church is called to care for one another. Like a good mother, the church is called to bear one another’s burdens. Let’s read the verse:
    2. Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
    3. The Moody Bible commentary: This section gives more guidance as to what walking by the Spirit looks like. There is movement back and forth between responsibility for oneself (e.g., vv. 1b, 3, 7-8) and responsibility for others (vv. 1a, 2, 6).[1]
    4. The ESV Study Bible: Paul illustrates what he means by the life of love in the Spirit, which he described in more general terms in the previous section.
    5. Paul addresses them as brethren. Then Paul says, “even if.” The “even if” seems odd if we really think of this as a separate chapter; however, chapters were not in the original text. This follows 5: Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
    6. So, then it seems that 6:1 jumps off of that, “even if…”
    7. This is the second part, or appendix of the letter of Galatians dealing with Christian living, Christian ethics.
    8. “even if” anyone is caught in any trespass… so if there is a trespass, then you “who are spiritual” restore…
    9. The NET Bible notes: Who are spiritual refers to people who are controlled and directed by God’s Spirit.[2]
    10. This likely could also be sarcasm from the Apostle Paul. He could be saying, “You say that you are spiritual, so restore them.”
    11. The passage does not say how they are to restore them. But the rest of the new Testament explains this. Matthew 18:15-17 instructs is with this: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
    12. Verse 2: Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
    13. This shows that bearing one another’s burdens is very important, Paul says that this fulfills the law of Christ.
    14. Paul says, “the law of Christ.” This is as opposed to the law of Moses. Paul had been saying that they are free and remember Gal. 5:14: For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    15. We are to love one another. This is important.
    16. Once again, we can all learn from mothers in this way. Mothers are generally the most caring. They are the ones in the trenches caring for their children.
    17. Look at the next few verses:
    18. Verses 3-4: For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
    19. We are also encouraged to examine ourselves.
    20. Verse 5 shows that we are also responsible to carry our own load.
    21. Look at verse 5: For each one will bear his own load.
    22. This is straightforward with Christian living. We must bear our own load in our work. We must boast about our own work. The New American Commentary: On first blush it seems that Paul had flatly contradicted himself within the space of three short verses. In 6:2 he instructed the Galatians to “carry each other’s burdens.” Now in 6:5 he said that each one “should carry his own load.” This apparent discrepancy is easily resolved when we realize that Paul was using two different words to refer to two disparate situations. The word translated “burdens” in v. 2 (barē) refers, as we have seen, to a heavy load, an oppressive weight, which one is expected to carry for a long distance. But the word for “load” in v. 5 is phortion, which is used elsewhere to refer to a ship’s cargo (cf. Acts 27:10), a soldier’s knapsack, or a pilgrim’s backpack. Stott correctly delineates the difference between the two “loads” in Gal 6: “So we are to bear one another’s ‘burdens’ which are too heavy for a man to bear alone, but there is one burden which we cannot share—indeed do not need to because it is a pack light enough for every man to carry himself—and that is our responsibility to God on the day of judgment. On that day you cannot carry my pack and I cannot carry yours.130,[3] Here in v. 5 Paul placed the verb in the future tense (bastasei) to indicate that he was thinking not merely of an individual’s carrying his own weight or bearing his own responsibility here in this life but more particularly the future reckoning that every Christian must make before the judgment seat of Christ.[4]
    23. So, certainly, there are times we must bear each other’s burdens when one is facing a heavy load, or a spiritual weight which we must help them turn to Christ. But this does not negate that for smaller needs we must carry our own load.
  2. In verse 6 Paul gives instructions regarding teachers.
    1. Look at verse 6: The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
    2. This has to do with providing for, and supporting, teachers.
    3. Paul had taught in other places including 1 Cor. 9:13-18 about taking care of our leaders.
    4. This, by the way, can indirectly apply to taking care of our mothers. If Paul reminds them to take care of teachers, we certainly must take care of our mothers.
  • In verses 7-10 we see the principle of sowing and reaping.
    1. Verses 7-8: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
    2. Paul begins with a warning that they are not deceived.
    3. This is especially applicable because they had been deceived. The Galatians were deceived by the Judaizers trying to make them keep the whole law.
    4. Paul says that God is not mocked! Wow! This is a warning.
    5. Moody Bible Commentary:
    6. Sowing to one’s own flesh includes such things as attempting salvation by works (3:2a) including circumcision (5:2), the evil deeds of the flesh (5:19-21), envy (5:26), and conceit (6:3) to name a Sowing to the Spirit includes such things as faith (3:2b), standing in freedom (5:1), the fruit of Spirit (5:22-23), bearing burdens (6:2), and providing economic support for those who teach the word in the church (6:6). If believers sow to the flesh, they will, in this life, reap the kind of moral decay Paul described, though their eternal destiny will remain intact.[5]
    7. à How often do we mock God in our thinking or actions?
    8. à How often do we mock God thinking we can get away with certain things?
    9. à How often do we mock God blaming Him for our predicament when it is the result of our own choices?
    10. à We blame God for not providing for us when we waste our money on lavish vacations, cigarettes, or many other things…
    11. à we blame God for not taking care of our health when we have eaten poorly and lacked exercise.
    12. à We blame God for our children not following Him when we did not raise them to follow Him. Or, we were hypocritical in the way we raised them. We only raised them to follow Him on Sundays. We did not pray in the home, we did not do family devotions, we did not study the Word in the home, and we lived for money.
    13. à We blame God for our marital issues when we refused marital counseling and married unequally yoked.
    14. à We blame God when our children are harsh with us when we were overly harsh with them.
    15. à We blame God for our children’s attitude and sarcasm when that is what they observed in us.
    16. à We blame God for our children yelling when that is what they observed.
    17. à We blame God.
    18. We reap what we sow.
    19. This is a true principle.
    20. This also applies to generosity: 2 Corinthians 9:6: My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.[6]
    21. Verse 9-10: Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
    22. Paul is telling them not to be discouraged.
    23. We may think, “no good deed goes unpunished, but don’t lose heart.
    24. In due time we will reap…
    25. “if” we do not grow weary. This means we must keep going and persevere.

Do we live in the present? I am a hyper-planner. I like to plan. I like to have goals and I like to know what to expect tomorrow. However, one particular moment I faced some conviction. It hit me and it hurt a little. Something, or someone, maybe the Holy Spirit told me: “What are you rushing through life for? Some day you will miss these years with your young children. Some day you will miss these years. You look forward to a day when the pressures aren’t so great, but you will miss these years.” That thought was convictional to me. That thought encouraged me to live in the present. Serve one another in the present. Serve one another today, don’t wait for tomorrow. How much do we miss today by looking to tomorrow? How much have I missed today because I was looking for tomorrow? I cannot answer that.

A number of years ago I came home at about 10:45 pm. I was involved in ministry at the University of Mount Union. I came home from an exciting evening with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After their gatherings I was always wound up and could not sleep. This night I walked in the back door and I was standing in the kitchen probably looking for a snack. Mercedes came out of her room, she was probably only 4 years old at the time. She looked at me and I looked at her and she said something like, “Is it time to get up?” For one split second I had a flash forward. I thought about a day when she will be, maybe 20 years old, and we are standing in the kitchen eating a late night snack talking about things. It was a flash forward as opposed to a flash back. Well, a lot of time has passed and a lot of parenting has passed since then. I must remind myself to live in the present. I hope to have great conversations with my daughters when they are in the future, but for now I must live in the conversations today. God has placed me here to be a servant today. Through living each day, I will get to the future.

The Christian life is a life of bearing one another’s burdens and mothers show that so well. We must honor our mothers; we must care for our children. We must all do our part, living in the present, serving where God has placed us. Don’t be so focused on tomorrow that you miss the service opportunities which God has given you today.



[1] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 76077-76078). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ga 6:1.

130 Stott, Only One Way, 159–60. Cole has suggested that Paul may be here taking one final glance toward the Judaizers, reminding them that they should be less concerned with “counting scalps” than with their own standing before God on the coming day of judgment (Galatians, 175).

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 418.

[4] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 418.

[5] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 76097-76102). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), 2 Co 9:6.

Walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26)

Walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, May 5, 2019 

Moving backwards video clip

The Bible teaches that the ways of the world are different than God’s ways (Romans 12:1-2; James 4:4). We are called to be counter-cultural, but how do we do it? We need to walk by the Spirit. In this short New Testament letter of Galatians Paul has repeatedly emphasized that we are free in Christ. We are free to serve Christ. So, now what do we do? As we will see in today’s passage, they are NOT free to sin. They are free to walk by the Spirit.

In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him:

“My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it …. Liberty is your birthright.”

But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. “Let the world see that you merit [your freedom],” Lincoln said, “Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.”

That is very much like the message Jesus gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection. Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis for learning and obeying God’s laws.[1]

My theme today is Walk by the Spirit.

Let’s turn to Galatians 5:16-26 and read it.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

  1. Walk by the Spirit (verses 16- 24)
    1. I believe the theme of this whole passage is that we are free to walk by the Spirit. We see the phrase “walk by the Spirit” in verse 16 and 25.
    2. In verses 19-21 Paul lists 15 nouns to describe the worldly way. Paul calls it the “deeds of the flesh.” By “flesh” Paul means the sin nature.
    3. In Verse 17, we see the flesh and the Spirit are at war. So, we must walk by the Spirit. Some think that all we need to do is retreat like a hermit, but that is not entirely the answer.
      1. So long as we remain in this present life, we never outgrow or transcend the spiritual conflict Paul was describing in this passage. There is no spiritual technique or second blessing that can propel the believer onto a higher plane of Christian living where this battle must no longer be fought. In the early church Jerome, that hardy and stern disciplinarian, removed himself far from the lurid temptations of the city only to find that he had not escaped them at all. As he confessed:
      2. O how often I imagined that I was in the midst of the pleasures of Rome when I was stationed in the desert, in that solitary wasteland which is so burned up by the heat of the sun that it provides a dreadful habitation for the monks! I, who because of the fear of hell had condemned myself to such a hell and who had nothing but scorpions and wild animals for company, often thought that I was dancing in a chorus with girls. My face was pale from fasting, but my mind burned with passionate desires within my freezing body; and the fires of sex seethed, even though the flesh had already died in me as a man.76
    4. Verse 18: If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law.
    5. Verses 19-21: Deeds of the flesh are evident
    6. If I were to group these, I see several, actually 9, that are almost synonymous having to do with human relation: Disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, outbursts of anger (I think of rage), jealousy, strife, enmities. Those are 9 nouns in the Greek
    7. Then we have 2 dealing with spiritualism: sorcery and idolatry
    8. we have 4 dealing with impure nature, mostly sexual: immorality, sensuality, impurity, carousing
    9. we have 1 dealing with excess: drunkenness
    10. People have grouped these differently, that is simply what I came up with. For example: Lightfoot, divided these sinful acts into four classes: (1) sensual passions, (2) unlawful dealings in things spiritual, (3) violations of brotherly love, (4) intemperate excesses.82,[2]
      1. I do not want to talk about each one of these sins because I do not think each sin is the point. The point is that we need to walk by the Spirit. In fact, it seems clear that this is not an exhaustive list. In verse 21, Paul concludes this list by writing, “and things like these…” which seems to show that he casually listed a catalog of sins. But notice:
      2. In verse 19: Paul begins the list with the what the NASB translates as “immorality.” This is literally “sexual immorality.” It is the Greek word Porneia. About that term one source shares: The word porneia originally meant “prostitution” (cf. the Greek pornē, “prostitute,” from the verb pernēmi, “to sell slaves,” since prostitutes were frequently bought and sold on the slave market), although by the time of Paul it had gained the more general meaning of sexual immorality or irregularity. Porneia is invariably translated “fornication” in the KJV although it denotes any unlawful sexual intercourse, including adultery and incest (cf. 1 Cor 5:1). Acts of sexual immorality, although often done in the name of love, are really the antithesis of love, which is the foremost fruit of the Spirit.[3]
  • Another in Paul’s list is translated in the NASB as “sorcery.” One source shares the following about that word:
  1. Witchcraft (pharmakeia). At the root of this word is pharmakon, literally “drug,” from which we derive our English word “pharmacy.” In classical Greek pharmakeia referred to the use of drugs whether for medicinal or more sinister purposes, e.g., poisoning. In the New Testament, however, it is invariably associated with the occult, both here in Galatians and in Revelation, where it occurs twice (Rev 9:21; 18:23). English translations usually render pharmakeia as “witchcraft” (KJV, NIV) or “sorcery” (RSV, NEB). These words correctly convey the idea of black magic and demonic control, but they miss the more basic meaning of drug use. In New Testament times pharmakeia in fact denoted the use of drugs with occult properties for a variety of purposes including, especially, abortion. As J. T. Noonan has written, “Paul’s usage here cannot be restricted to abortion, but the term he chose is comprehensive enough to include the use of abortifacient drugs.”86 In the early church both infanticide, often effected through the exposure of newborn babies to the harsh elements, and abortion, commonly brought about by the use of drugs, were regarded as murderous acts. Both are flagrant violations of Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
  1. Most of the sins in this list describe gross excess. But we are supposed to walk by the Spirit.
  2. Verses 22-23: the fruit of the Spirit.
  3. I have preached on the fruit of the Spirit before, so I am not going to walk through each part. I do want to say a few things.
    1. First, notice that it is one fruit with many modifiers. It is “fruit” singular. This is the fruit that we expect a Christian to have. It is “deeds” of the flesh, plural, but “fruit” of the Spirit, singular.
    2. Some say the fruit is “love” and it is modified by joy, peace, patience, etc.
  • Either way, as a Christian, these are things we should pursue.
  1. Live by the Spirit, walk by the Spirit (verses 24-26)

There’s a story that has been told from Civil War days before America’s slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, “You’re free.”

With amazement she responded, “You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?”

“Yes,” he said.

“And to say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes, anything.”

“And to be whatever I want to be?”


“And even go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes,” he answered with a smile. “You’re free to go wherever you’d like.”

She looked at him intently and replied, “Then I will go with you.”[4]

  1. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh and its sinful desires (verse 24). Notice this, get rid of the fleshly desires. Put them to death.
  2. Instead, live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit (verse 25).
  3. Paul closes this with an exhortation: “Get rid of boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (verse 26).
  • Applications
    1. We must walk by the Spirit (verse 16).
    2. The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. We must surrender to the Holy Spirit (verse 17).
    3. The desires of the flesh are numerous, and we must stay away from them (verses 19-21).
    4. Sexual immorality is a desire of the sin nature, we must beware of that sin (verse 19).
    5. We must guard against sexual sins, sins against humanity, sins of idolatry including spiritualism as well as sins of excess (verses 19-21).
    6. We must allow the Holy Spirit to reign in our life and produce this fruit.
    7. We must let the fruit of the Spirit push out the fruit of the world.
    8. We must have self-control. We must not be mastered by anything.
    9. We must have love for all.
  • We must have joy even in difficulty.
  • We must be patient, even in trials.
  • We must be kind
  • We must be gentle, submissive to the Word and to others.
  • We must have peace.
  • We must have goodness.
  • We must be faithful to God and to others.
  • We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (verse 24).
  • We must walk by the Spirit (verse 25).
  • We must not be boastful, challenge others and envious (verse 26).


In family life and in church life, there’s always a huge gap between the ideal and the real. For example, every autumn my family likes to go apple picking.

Here’s the ideal day of apple picking. The leaves are golden and rusty, the sky is beautiful, and it’s 75 degrees. We all pile into the van and start singing and laughing as we merrily drive to the orchard. We arrive early in the morning with plenty of time to enjoy the orchard. Surprisingly, the folks at the apple orchard say, “Today apples are free for families.” So our kids guzzle apple cider and stuff themselves with apple donuts—and they don’t even get a sugar high! Finally, after a perfect day at the orchard, we drive home as our children keep saying, “Wow, thanks, Mom and Dad!”

But the real day often looks like this. It’s a disaster from the start. We leave at least two hours late. The apple orchard closes at 5 P.M., we’re leaving at 3 P.M., and it takes an hour-and-half to get there, but I bark at everyone, “We’re going, so get in the car!” We missed lunch because we were scrambling to get everything done. With blood sugar levels plummeting, my wife and I start arguing. I think it’s her fault that we’re leaving late; she says it’s my fault. We keep arguing until the kids interrupt because now they’re arguing with each other. I turn around and snap at the kids, “Knock it off! I’m arguing with your mom.”

When we pull into the apple orchard, we only have thirty minutes before closing time. So we tell the kids, “Hurry up, so you can have some fun.” By this time of the day all the good apples are gone, and nothing is free. The entrance fee was outrageous because they know they can rip off suburban families who are trying to pretend they’re in the country for the day. When we get the kids back in the van, it’s already dark. On the way home, we finally get our apples: we stop at McDonald’s for an apple turnover.

Unfortunately, family life and church life aren’t always ideal. That’s why we have to practice love, acceptance, and forgiveness in the midst of real community among real fellow-sinners.[5]

We must walk by the Spirit.



[1] James L. Swanson, Bloody Crimes (William Morrow, 2010), p.46; submitted by Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois

76 LW 27.68–69.

82 Lightfoot, Galatians, 210. We may ignore Lightfoot’s comment to the effect that the third class of sins would be especially enticing to “the excitable temperament of a Celtic people,” as well as his jibe that the mention of orgies and drunkenness was “not unfitly addressed to a nation whose Gallic descent perhaps disposed them too easily to these excesses.” Later commentators have tended to follow, with some modifications, Lightfoot’s fourfold division of Paul’s catalog of vices. See Burton, Galatians, 304–10; Fung, Galatians, 253–61; Matera, Galatians, 208–9. See also C. G. Kruse, “Virtues and Vices,” DPL, 962–63; E. Schweizer, “Traditional Ethical Patterns in the Pauline and Post-Pauline Letters and their Development,” in Text and Interpretation, ed. E. Best and R. McL. Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 195–209.

[2] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 392.

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 392–393.

86 J. T. Noonan, Jr., “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” in The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), 9. That φαρμακεία was a common term for abortion-inducing drugs is borne out by its recurrence in other early Christian writings. Thus the Didache includes the following list of negative imperatives Christians were expected to obey: “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not corrupt boys. You shall not fornicate. You shall not steal. You shall not make magic. You shall not practice medicine (φαρμακεία). You shall not slay the child by abortions (φθορα). You shall not kill what is generated. You shall not desire your neighbors wife” (Did. 2.2). See further T. George, “Southern Baptist Heritage of Life” (Nashville: Christian Life Commission of the SBC, 1993).

[4] Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace (Crossway, 2014), page 182

[5] Stewart Ruch, from sermon “Shaping the World of Each Child,” at Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, Illinois

Our Savior Lives (John 20:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:55-57)

Resurrection Sunday

Our Savior Lives (John 20:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:55-57)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, April 21, 2019

Let’s think about children and joy. A number of years ago I was cutting the grass when all of a sudden I saw my then two year old, almost three year old, run out the back steps, get on her tricycle and ride up and down the drive way with a huge smile on her face. I saw joy, I saw excitement on her face. [This was not Meagan not paying attention] Now, at that time, we had a somewhat large yard and I was on a riding mower and I know her mother would not have let her out by herself. I was looking for Meagan but she was nowhere to be found which meant that Mercedes had found a way out. Mercedes loved and loves to play outside. I love seeing joy on her face. This made me think of the numerous moments of joy on a child’s face. I have seen it for almost 8 years now. But I think of holidays.

As Mercedes gets older she is really able to understand what is going on. One particular Christmas we carefully set out the gifts so that she could see them. She came out of her room and let out a happy scream and said “Presents!”

Do we have excitement in the Lord? Do we have joy in the Lord?

Let’s read John 20:1-10

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Theme: In the next few minutes I want to explain the resurrection and the significance of the resurrection.

  1. Let me start by explaining the Easter Rush.
    1. For the last 20 years or so the Christmas rush has been a bigger and bigger deal. Stores were opening earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving. Now, they are even opening Thanksgiving Day. I realized this when I served as a shift manager at a McDonald’s in a commercial area. We were working the day after Thanksgiving and it was a new store. We did not know how busy we would be. The rush began at about 6:30 am and did not end until after 11 am. But before the Christmas rush there was an Easter rush. Let me tell you about the Easter rush.
    2. Jesus has been crucified, the disciples are in mourning. But they do not realize that Jesus cannot be kept down.
    3. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to see Jesus.
    4. She was the first to the tomb and she sees the stone rolled away.
    5. Mary did the logical thing, she goes to Peter and John. This is likely John, usually when we read, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” we believe it is John. She runs to Peter and John. She was in a hurry.
    6. Do you think Peter and John would have believed her? I would hope so, but she may be the one whom Jesus casts 7 demons out of in Luke 8:2. She could easily say, “I saw the tomb empty and they may say, “You saw something…” “Come on Mary…”
    7. Peter and John run to the tomb, but John ran faster. Funny thing about running, we don’t need to run fast, just faster than the one we are running with. It is like when I have been running with others and a dog comes after us. I don’t need to outrun the dog, I just need to outrun the other people. This is the Easter rush.
    8. They get to the tomb and see the tomb empty.
    9. John saw and believed.
    10. Verse 9: They had not understood the Scriptures that He must rise from the dead.
    11. Notice that Mary was the first to the tomb and the last to leave (verse 11). She was very devoted and faithful, we can learn from Mary.
    12. This Easter rush preceded any Christmas rush. The Easter rush was a big deal because our Savior Lives! No one can keep Jesus down! He had been resurrected!
  2. The disciples learned the same thing we learn– Our Savior Lives
    1. What is the significance of the resurrection? As I make each of these statements I would like you to respond with Our Savior Lives!
    2. We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives. If He was not resurrected we would not have a relationship with Him. Our Savior Lives!
    3. Christ is our Savior who cannot die again. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again (Romans 6:9).[1] Our Savior Lives!
    4. Because of the resurrection we have new birth: According to his great mercy, [God the Father] has caused us to be born again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).[2] Our Savior Lives!
    5. We have forgiveness of sins because of the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).[3] Our Savior Lives!
    6. Because Jesus is raised we have no condemnation. Who is to condemn?Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).[4] Our Savior Lives!
    7. Because of the resurrection we have the Lord’s personal fellowship and protection.[5] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Our Savior Lives!
    8. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we know that we will also be raised from the dead: [We know] that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesusand bring us with you into his presence. (2 Corinthians 4:14; also Romans 6:4; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:20)[6] Our Savior Lives!
    9. If Jesus was not resurrected there would never be a Christianity. Our Savior Lives!
    10. The Romans would have shown the grave and it would be over. Our Savior Lives!
    11. Jesus’ resurrection shows the grave could not contain Him. Our Savior Lives!
    12. Jesus’ resurrection shows that He is the victor. Our Savior Lives!
    13. Jesus’ resurrection shows again, the miracles are true. Jesus has the power and authority over all nature. It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He letshimself be harassed and black-balled and scorned and shoved around and killed.[7] Our Savior Lives!
    14. No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.[8] Our Savior Lives!
    15. And all God’s people responded with Amen—AMEN!
  • The resurrection is of the utmost importance in the Christian faith.
    1. The resurrection gives us hope. We have hope eternal, but we can also have a relationship with Jesus because of the resurrection.
    2. Tennent, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary said the following: “Buddhist travel to the remains of Buddha, Muslims travel to Medina for the remains of Muhammed but there is no place in the world you can travel to worship the remains of Christ!” (1 Cor 15) We cannot do that because Jesus arose.
    3. The Bible also says that Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection. This means that we, if we trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior, will also have a future perfect and eternal body with Christ in His Kingdom.
    4. In 1 Cor 15:3-8 the Scriptures write about Jesus appearing to the disciples and later over 500 people all at the same time. Again, Jesus showed many that He has been resurrected.
    5. Later on in 1 Cor. 15:13-15 the Scriptures tell us that if Christ was not raised from the dead our faith is in vain! This means that our faith is useless. Later on in that same chapter the Scriptures write about our hope in the resurrection. You see, because Christ rose from the dead we have hope. We have hope that when we die it is not the end. We have hope that when our family members and friends who are Christians die they are not gone, but with Christ in eternal paradise. We can see them again because they will have resurrected bodies as Jesus did. Paul wrote, “Where O death is your sting.” (1 Cor. 15:55) There is no sting because we have eternal life in perfect bodies.
    6. Also, Christ’s resurrection shows that this is not simply His normal body coming back to life. No, this is a renewed body. In John 20:11-18 Jesus enters a room when the doors are locked. It seems as though our resurrected bodies may not be as limited as our current bodies. Jesus’ resurrected body will not die. Neither will yours. If you are a believer in Christ, you will have an eternal, perfect body.

I am going to read the words to Because He Lives

 Because He Lives

Think about it:

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

 When I was a child, on Christmas, my birthday and Easter I received gifts (probably too many definitely too many). On Christmas and Easter we would go to my grandparent house in the afternoon and I was always eager to share the news of what I received. After my birthday, I could not wait to share with my friends what gift I received.

When we have joy we share it. Joy is the gift that keeps on giving if we allow it to.

Share Jesus He has risen!

Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross paying the price for your sins? Sins are the wrong things we do.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.


Let’s pray


[1] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-t-keep-jesus-down

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

Palm Sunday, The Savior Enters Jerualem (Mark 11:1-10)

Palm Sunday, the Savior Enter Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-10)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 14, 2019 

The Savior Enters Jerusalem

Humility and Royalty, we like both don’t we? We like both of them. For example, many, many people watched when Prince William was married a few years ago. Remember Princess Diana. I think people liked Princess Diana because she was royal and humble. We like those things. We like strength with humility. We like someone who can save us, but also not act better than us, right? In Science fiction this is Superman, but in reality this is Jesus.

I grew up under Superman played by Christopher Reeve.

Clip from superman II when superman flies and you hear the music and then he says “Zod, you care to step outside?”

I love that clip, that is so awesome! The next few minutes in the movie are great! It is exciting, we know that they are about to be rescued. I see the same idea when Jesus enters Jerusalem.

As I looked at this passage I was trying to think of a different theme, but I kept coming back to what I had talked about before. Today, I see the same idea. He enters in humility, but is worshipped. Later, Jesus is humble all the way to the cross.

My theme today is that our Savior Enters Jerusalem

Application: worship Him as Savior

Read Mark 11:1-11: 

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

  1. I know this is a familiar story, but try to think about it with fresh eyes.
    1. We need to try to read the Bible as if we have never read it before. When this happens we will notice all kinds of new things.
    2. I like how John MacArthur sets up this passage:

The week begins with His arrival in Jerusalem. The year is 30 A.D. by the best chronology. The month is the first Jewish month, Nisan, and the arrival is on the tenth and the crucifixion is on the fourteenth and that all matters because God has established a very firm time table.

Importantly, it is the Passover week of that year and Friday will be the day when tens of thousands of Passover lambs will be slain, none of which can take away any one’s sin. However, on this Passover, there will be one sacrifice made for sin that will take away the sins of all who have ever believed through all of human history and it will be the sacrifice of the true Lamb.

This is neither the heavenly coronation of Christ, nor is it the earthly coronation of Christ. It is not a coronation of Christ at all, it is a mock coronation. It is a false coronation. It is a fraud. There are no formalities here in this coronation. There are no dignitaries. There is no regalia. There is no fanfare.

This really is very similar to His birth. In His birth, His mother arrives in Bethlehem in humble obscurity riding on a donkey. Here He arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Yes, He is the true King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, and no monarch in all human history remotely compares to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is none so magnificent, powerful, wise, sovereign, just, pure and holy and all the elite and all the monarchs of all human history collectively together stacked on top of each other wouldn’t go high enough to touch the hem of His all-glorious garment. This is a true King, but this is no coronation.[1]

  1. As we look at this passage, we notice where Jesus was coming from being Bethphage.
  2. We can notice that in the first few verses Jesus’ disciples obeyed Him and went and got a colt.
  3. Then we see the parade in the following verses.
  4. Before we get there, it is important to make note that in this Gospel Jesus’ Divinity is called a “Messianic secret.” Jesus would tell them not to tell anyone. An example of this is Mark 8:29-30. Peter had confessed Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus told him not to tell anyone about this (Mark 1:43-45 is another example.).
  5. However, in this case Jesus allows people to worship Him. In this case He allows Himself to be known as King.
  6. Jesus is the authentic King, He is the True King. When I was twenty years old I was looking for a car. I was at a dealership and my dad showed up. I thought, “This is great, my dad is here and can co-sign.” I did not realize that that was not why he was there. My dad came to the dealership because a few weeks earlier my older brother bought a car at this dealership and traded in his old car. But when my brother traded in his old car he gave the dealership a fake title. Really. What happened was that my brother was making payments on his car to my dad and mom. When my brother turned 21 my dad declared the debt paid and gave him a title, but it wasn’t the real title. The real title was in my dad’s safe. My dad made a simple title on the computer. What is funny in this mess is that the dealership did not figure it out. My dad realized this was the case and brought in the real title.
  7. There are a lot of fake Messiahs. In fact, there had already been fake Messiahs in Judaism. But Jesus is authentic. There are people out there who promise eternity and all the answers. Just watch politicians. Jesus is Truth and He has the answer to eternity. When He came into Jerusalem the people recognized this.
  1. In verses 8-11 we find the parade. Jesus now makes His entrance.
    1. But He is going to enter riding on a donkey. Come on, you and I know that no one of importance rides on a donkey!!! A donkey! Well, to the Jewish people it was quite royal to ride on a donkey. In fact, in 1 King 1:33 we see David having his son ride into town on his donkey.
    2. Now, to the Romans the donkey wouldn’t be anything of royalty. In fact, a few years ago I heard that while Jesus is riding into one end of Jerusalem on a donkey, Pilate of Rome was riding into the other end of Jerusalem on a war horse with soldiers. What a contrast. But Jesus is the real King.
    3. There is another reason he is riding a donkey: Mark doesn’t really tell us why this happened, but Matthew does.  Matthew 21:4: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet.” What prophet? Zachariah, 500 years before Zachariah 9:9, Zachariah said, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you gentle and mounted on a donkey, not even a donkey but even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden…the foal of a donkey.’”[2]
    4. Now, they put coats on the donkey for Jesus to sit on and then they put coats and leafy or palm branches on the road. Spreading coats under a person was recognition of royalty.
    5. Now, this happens during Passover and Jewish hopes of a Savior ran high, so Rome, not wanting any trouble, had extra soldiers around.
    6. People in front and all around Jesus were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” This comes from Psalm 118:26. Hosanna is Hebrew and means “save us.”
    7. Someone wrote:

On Palm Sunday, my 5-year-old niece, Stephanie, sat on my lap while we listened to the pastor’s sermon. He described Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem and how the crowds cried, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” At that, Stephanie perked up and began to sing, “Oh, Hosanna, now don’t you cry for me!”[3]

  1. The people are ready for a Savior. They are worshipping Jesus as King. Now as they shout and worship the Lord this bothered some. It’s not listed in Mark, but John’s Gospel chapter 19:39-40 adds: Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
  2. Jesus will be worshipped one way or another. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
  • The people worshipped Him then, are we worshipping Jesus now?
  1. The Romans weren’t worried and they shouldn’t have been. For less than a week later Jesus would hang on the cross and say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  2. Jesus, the King comes into Jerusalem, the people worship Him, the people were eager for a Savior.
  3. A few years ago, okay, maybe like twenty-two years ago, ESPN believed Vinny Testeverde was the Savior for the Browns. He wasn’t and couldn’t have been. There is One Savior and He is not a sports player.
  • Let’s apply this a little more. We must think about the following:
    1. We must also worship Jesus as King.
      1. He is your king as well. The Romans missed this, the Jewish elite missed this. They missed that the King and Savior of the world is making His entrance. They missed it, you don’t have to.
      2. When you leave this place, leave in worship and leave in excitement. Praise God that He did enter Jerusalem on a donkey for if He hadn’t we wouldn’t be saved. He had to come to Jerusalem to die in our place. Worship Jesus as King!
    2. They were excited about Jesus entering Jerusalem, am I excited about Jesus in my life?
    3. Think about Jesus’ example. Jesus enters in humility and He goes all the way to the cross in humility. Live this example.

Author and educator, Howard Hendricks, sat in a plane that was delayed for take off. After a long wait, the passengers became more and more irritated. Hendricks noticed how gracious one of the flight attendants was as she spoke with them. After the plane finally took off, he told the flight attendant how amazed he was at her poise and self-control, and said he wanted to write a letter of commendation for her to the airline. The stewardess replied that she didn’t work for the airline company, but for Jesus Christ. She said that just before going to work she and her husband prayed together that she would be a good representative of Christ.

Doing it for Christ’s sake adds another dimension to submission. You are submitting not just to your employer or husband or parent, but to the Lord, because of your love and gratitude for him.[4]

Can we humbly bow to Jesus in this way?

In reality, later during Holy Week they think that they defeat Jesus, by killing Him, but in killing Him we all win.

Jesus, our King, Our Savior, hailed as royalty right now, will humbly go to the cross and win on our behalf. He did this for us.




[1] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/41-56/the-false-coronation-of-the-true-king

[2] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/41-56/the-false-coronation-of-the-true-king

[3] Brenda Fossum, Duluth, MN. Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.”

[4] Lorne Sanny, “The Right Way to Respond to Authority,” Discipleship Journal (March/April 1982)

The Law of Love (Gal. 5:13-15)

The Law of Love (Galatians 5:13-15)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, April 7, 2019

Recently, I watched a documentary about Billy Graham. I am fascinated by the way God used Billy Graham. When I lived in Cincinnati, I would watch his sermons on Saturday evening. Long before that I saw Billy Graham in 2002. I have read a biography of Billy Graham and I also read the autobiography titled, “Just as I am.” There are many things I respect about Billy Graham. One of them is his humility, another is his courage. Let me explain. Billy Graham was preaching during the race riots and segregation of the south. Yet, he refused, yes, refused to preach where the people were segregated. In fact, he saw ropes setup to divide the people. Graham asked the usher what was going on and they explained how the ropes separated the whites from the blacks. Billy told him to take it down. The head usher said no. Billy Graham told him again and the head usher said he would quit. Billy Graham then walked over and took the ropes down himself. After that Billy Graham spoke out against racism and segregation. Billy Graham was a true servant of the Lord. He united with Martin Luther King Jr. and included blacks in his crusades. Listen, we do not do good things like that to others if we do not start with good thoughts about others.

In the passage today, Paul calls us to love others.

My theme today is:

The Law of Love

Let’s read Galatians 5:13-15:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

  1. You are called to freedom.
    1. Notice how Paul begins this section. We are called to freedom. Paul had said this in verse 1 of this chapter.
    2. In context, Paul had just wrapped up a section encouraging them not to go backwards. Paul had talked about how they were doing so well in their Christian walk and then they backed up. They reversed course and now he picks up from that.
    3. There is a strong change in the rest of this letter.
    4. Some people think of this next section like an appendix to the letter.
    5. Paul has written much on doctrine and now he switches to ethics. He now writes about Christian living.
    6. Paul exhorts them of this idea of “freedom” but then uses the pronoun translated as “brothers and sisters.”
    7. We are called to freedom: A story is told of a town where all the residents are ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, and then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings, and you can fly like birds!”
    8. All the ducks shout, “Amen!” And then they all waddle home.[1]
    9. We are called to leave our churches, be free and serve. We are called to be the best people. The most loving teachers, the most loving citizens, the most loving lawyers, the most loving coaches, the most loving managers, the most loving waiters and waitresses, the most loving servants.
  2. Don’t use your freedom for sin, but instead serve.
    1. Paul exhorts them not to use their freedom for the flesh.
    2. Using your freedom for the flesh would be doing worldly and negative things with your freedom in Christ.
    3. Whereas the conventional wisdom calls for killing your neighbors with kindness, resident Bryan Stewart took the idea to its literal extreme.

According to the Pensacola News-Journal, Stewart was approached by neighbors about unpleasant yelling and other noises emanating from his home. Stewart responded by exiting the house with his hand in a strike position, wielding a machete with the word “kindness” scrawled across. One of the neighbors stepped in to block the oncoming blow, and in the ensuing fracas, suffered a cut on his left hand.

Police eventually responded and arrested Stewart, who was booked on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill.[2]

  1. The people of Galatia could face two temptations. One would be legalism. The other would be libertarianism. Paul had talked negatively about the law, but he certainly did not want to see them use their freedom for sin. One writes: This was an extreme form of antinomian teaching that held that freedom from the law meant release from all moral restraints. Paul wrote about and rejected this kind of perverted theology in Rom 6:1–2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” The logic of libertinism was appealing to many who had reduced the message of salvation to cheap grace. They must have argued something like this: “Why worry about moral rules and guidelines or even the Ten Commandments? We love to sin. God loves to forgive. Why not indulge our natural appetites so as to give God all the more occasions to display his grace?”[3]
  2. Instead, Paul gave them a good use of their freedom.
  3. Rather, use the freedom through love to serve one another.
  4. Instead of sinful ways, serve.
  5. The English word “serve” does not adequately translate the Greek verb douleuete behind which stands the common Greek noun for slave, doulos. Through love, Paul said, you should make yourselves slaves to one another. Thus freedom and slavery are not simply mutually exclusive terms; they stand in the closest possible relationship to one another and can only be adequately defined in terms of object and goal: what we are slave to and what we are free for.[4]
  6. Luther insisted that a living faith expresses itself in works of love, in service to the neighbor. That such good works are done in freedom is a consequence of justification by faith. Believers who have been made right with God by faith no longer labor under the compulsion of the law or the self-centered need to serve others as a means of enhancing one’s own status before God. In a sermon on 1 Cor 13 Luther asserted: “One does not love until he has become godly and righteous. Love does not make us godly, but when one has become godly love is the result. Faith, the Spirit, and justification have love as effect and fruitage, and not as a mere ornament and supplement” (quoted in G. W. Forell, Faith Active in Love [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1954], 84, n. 27).[5]
  7. Of course this is cross referenced throughout the New Testament:
  8. 1 Co 8:9 But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.
  9. 1 Pe 2:16 Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves.
  10. Mt 7:12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.
  11. Ro 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
  12. Jn 13:34 “I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  • The law is summed up in one word, love.
    1. Verse 14: the whole law is fulfilled in one word… the implied word is “love.”
    2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself is from Lev. 19:18
    3. Paul’s ethical argument throughout this entire passage is based on the premise that the moral law of God, far from being abrogated by the coming of Christ, remains the divinely sanctioned standard for Christian conduct and growth in grace.[6]
    4. Paul did not mention the first part of the greatest commandment: Love the Lord. I like what one scholar writes about this: Why did Paul call the selfless love of neighbor the fulfilling of the whole law? Not because it is superior to the worship and adoration of God, but rather because it is the proof of it.[7]
    5. Martin Loyd Jones shares: We see them now, no longer as hateful people who are trying to rob us of our rights, or trying to beat us in the race for money, or position or fame; we see them, as we see ourselves, as the victims of sin and of Satan, as the dupes of “the god of this world,” as fellow-creatures who are under the wrath of God and hell-bound. We have an entirely new view of them. We see them to be exactly as we are ourselves, and we are both in a terrible predicament. And we can do nothing; but both of us together must run to Christ and avail ourselves of his wonderful grace. We begin to enjoy it together and we want to share it together. That is how it works. It is the only way whereby we can ever do unto others as we would that they should do unto us. It is when we are really loving our neighbor as ourselves because we have been delivered from the thralldom of self, that we begin to enjoy “the glorious liberty of the children of God.[8]
  1. If you fight you will destroy each other.
    1. We see this interesting idea in verse 15. In my words: if you fight you will destroy each other.
    2. Paul is saying, but… in contrast to love if you fight you will destroy each other.
    3. This verse is a window into the churches of Galatia. It shows that they were back biting and harming each other.
    4. So Paul is essentially saying if instead of loving one another and serving one another they are harming each other then they will consume each other.
    5. I think of this like the threat of nuclear war, we end up destroying each other. Think about it. If a nuclear war breaks out no one wins.
    6. After this verse Paul will jump into the section on walking by the Spirit.

Let’s apply:

  1. We must live out Phil 2:3-4 as we serve Christ. Phil 2:3-4: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  2. We are saved freely, but we cannot use that freedom for bad.
  3. If we are harming other people in our freedom then we must understand it is a circular effect of negativity. It is like the fish chasing each other down in a fish tank, no one wins. Or, the school fights where one fights and then another, etc. Or, a football rivalry, only this is bad.
  4. We must do good to those who are mean.
    1. This means that we must think loving thoughts about others.
    2. We must think of others as more important than us (Phil. 2:3-4).
    3. We must not meditate on bad things about people.
  5. We will think of ways to win people with love. We must pray for others. We must love our enemies (Matt 5:43-44).
  6. This helps the Christian witness.
  7. This helps the Christian.
  8. This helps the world.
  9. This worships God.

So, can we be like Billy Graham? Can we love when others hate? Can we love when others dehumanize? Can we assume the best? This starts with our thinking. Can we live this passage? Can we serve one another?

None of us can, but Jesus can and He lives within us.

Walk by the Spirit.



[1] Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story (Word, 2000); submitted by Debi Zahn

[2] Jelani Greenidge, pastor, Portland, Oregon; source: David Moye, “Florida Man Threatens to Kill Neighbor with ‘Kindness’–The Name of His Machete,” Huffington Post (1-14-19)

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 375.

[4] Ibid

[5] ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

Receive grace, give grace (Galatians 5:1-12)

Receive grace, give grace (Galatians 5:1-12)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 31, 2019

We are going to talk about Galatians 5:1-12, so please turn there as I introduce it.

When I was training for my first marathon, I would try to run a really, really long route each week. I am not really sure how far it was. A car tracked it at 26 miles, but that may not have been accurate. I only made it all the way through that route one time and my mapmyrun app did not work properly so I did not get a final reading on the distance. Technology and running can be a real bummer because it makes it like the run does not count if the technology does not track it. I would run down these country roads and it was quite enjoyable. Many times, I would get up in the morning and not really feel like going on this long run, but by 11:30 am I was ready to go. I most always started out really good. I felt good, I was running fast and I was in the best shape of my life at about 35 pounds less than I am now. But though I started out good, I did not finish well. My first 10 miles would go really well. Then between 10 and 15 miles I started to slow down. Then, almost every week, at about 18 miles, I would run up one particular big country hill and the wind would hit me at the top of the hill, then as that wind hit me I would think, “why am I doing this?” I would then stop, pull out my cellular phone and call Meagan. I did this from January through early April of 2013. It was funny because by late March Meagan would answer her phone and say, “where are you at?” She knew, regardless of how I started I could not finish this route. Meagan would come and get me and I would keep running until I saw her and end at about 20 miles.

Funny as it is, I would beat myself up for not finishing the route. I wanted to finish. I started so fast. But I did not end well. After I finished, I would get home and start stretching only to experience Charley-horses in my side and calves.

In the passage we are going to look at today Paul encourages the Galatians that they were running well. Paul encourages them to keep going.

My theme and application today is:

Receive grace, give grace

Let’s read Galatians 5:1-12:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.

  1. Paul tells them “You are called to freedom.”
    1. Let’s look at verse 1.
    2. Paul had just finished talking about how we are children of the free woman, children of Sarah.
    3. Now, in verse 1, Paul says we have been set free for freedom.
    4. The New American Commentary shares: If Galatians is the Magna Carta of Christian liberty, then Gal 5:1 has reason to be considered one of the key verses of the epistle. With the language of freedom and slavery still ringing in their ears from the analogy of Hagar and Sarah, the Galatians are now told by Paul: “Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery” (Phillips).[1]
    5. They are set free from Jewish ceremonial laws and regulations BUT NOT from obedience to God’s moral standards.
    6. Paul gives an application, “Therefore…”
    7. This is a command: keep standing firm, do not be subject to the “yoke” of slavery.
    8. The law is described as a yoke. A yoke would be used to control animals and animals are NOT free. Here the yoke figuratively represents the burdensome nature of slavery.[2]
    9. We are commanded not to be subject to the Law which would be slavery.
    10. Jn 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    11. Jn 8:36 So if the son sets you free, you will be really free.
  2. Now, Paul gives the consequences of the law, severed from Christ.
    1. Look at verses 2-6
    2. Verse 2: Paul specified that he is the one writing this.
    3. Paul essentially says, if you receive circumcision… in other words, if you follow the Law, Christ will be of no benefit to you.
    4. I think Paul is meaning if they are trusting in the law for salvation then Jesus is of no benefit.
    5. Verse 3: Paul repeats: if you receive circumcision you must follow the whole law. Again, I think what is meant is if you receive circumcision for salvation you must follow the whole law (see Rom. 2:25 as a cross reference).
    6. Verse 4: Those who are seeking to be justified (declared righteous) by the law have been severed from Christ. They have been severed: broken off, abolished, alienated from Christ.
    7. The Moody Bible Commentary believes that alienated is a better word.
    8. “The Greek word for “severed” means “to be separated,” or “to be estranged.” The word for “fallen” means “to lose one’s grasp on something.” Paul’s clear meaning is that any attempt to be justified by the law is to reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone.”[3]
    9. In this verse Paul specified that he is applying this to those who wanted to be justified by the law. This is a strong warning.
    10. Paul adds that they have fallen from grace.
    11. Luther interpreted this expression to mean “You are no longer in the realm of grace” and illustrated it graphically in the following way: For just as someone on a ship is drowned regardless of the part of the ship from which he falls into the sea, so someone who falls away from grace cannot help perishing. The desire to be justified by the law, therefore, is shipwreck; it is exposure to the surest peril of eternal death. What can be more insane and wicked than to want to lose the grace and favor of God and to retain the law of Moses, whose retention makes it necessary for you to accumulate wrath and every other evil for yourself? Now if those who seek to be justified on the basis of the moral law fall away from grace, where, I ask, will those fall who, in their self-righteousness, seek to be justified on the basis of their traditions and vows? To the lowest depths of hell!27[4]
    12. Wow! There are severe consequences for trusting in your own merits for salvation. We must trust in the grace of Christ.
    13. Verse 5: Paul begins explaining more “for” is an explanatory conjunction.
    14. Paul is explaining how they are waiting for the hope of righteousness:
    15. They are waiting by faith and through the Spirit
    16. ESV Study Bible: [this] means that Christians do not attempt to produce perfect righteousness in their lives by their own efforts (as Paul’s opponents were futilely trying to do), for their hope is not in themselves; instead, they wait for God to complete righteousness in them—either when they die and are with the Lord ( 12:23) or at Christ’s return (1 Cor. 15:49; cf. Rev. 21:27). An alternative explanation is that “the hope of righteousness” refers to the believer’s hope and expectation that God will declare that the believer is in fact going to be judged righteous at the final judgment.
    17. Verse 6: In Christ what matters is faith and that faith is working through love.
    18. The ESV Study Bible shares: Paul is not opposed to circumcision in and of itself but only if it is required for salvation. True faith is a living and active thing and produces love.
  • Paul says essentially “you were running well, pick up where you left off…”
    1. Look at verses 7-12
    2. Verse 7: Paul seems to be trying to encourage them. He says they were “running” well. They were living the Christian life well.
    3. Paul asks who hindered them and then he adds detail, they were hindered from obeying the truth.
    4. In verse 8, Paul adds, this did not come from Jesus. In other words this teaching did not come from Jesus.
    5. Verse 9: A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. Paul will copy and paste this for 1 Cor. 5:6. “Leaven is often used in Scripture to denote sin (Matt. 16:6, 12) because of its permeating power.”[5]
    6. So, we come to verse 10: Paul encourages them again. He has confidence in them, IN THE LORD. He has confidence in them, but only in the Lord. He has confidence in the Lord working in them.
      1. This is the way it should be for all of us. In the Lord we have an awesome future, but we do not live our Christian life in our own strength.
      2. Live in Christ.
    7. He has confidence that they will adopt no other view besides the correct one.
    8. Paul is also saying that the one disturbing them must bear his judgment.
    9. So, we come to verse 11, Paul is saying if he preaches circumcision, in other words, the law, why is he persecuted.
    10. Apparently, Paul has been persecuted and apparently, he is also accused of preaching the law. Paul says if this were the case the stumbling block of the cross is gone. The stumbling block is salvation by grace. The NET Bible notes: That is, if Paul still teaches observance of the Mosaic law (preaches circumcision), why is he still being persecuted by his opponents, who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law? The offense of the cross refers to the offense to Jews caused by preaching Christ crucified.[6]
    11. 6:12: Those who want to make a good showing in external matters are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do so only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.[7]
    12. Verse 12: is a simple, yet provocative, statement.
    13. Paul is essentially saying if you are going to believe in the law don’t stop at circumcision, castrate yourself. “The Greek word Paul used for mutilate was often used of castration, such as in the cult of Cybele, whose priests were self-made eunuchs.”[8]
    14. The Moody Bible Commentary shares: Paul sarcastically dismissed the legalists as troublers. As with Jesus’ command in Mk 9:43-45, Paul’s words calling for legalists to mutilate themselves were not to be fulfilled literally. Rather they were meant to stir the Galatians to cut off relations with the legalists.[9]
  1. Let’s apply this:
    1. We are set free, we must know that we are saved by God’s grace.
    2. We must respond in worship of Christ.
    3. Since we are saved by God’s grace, we must not think we are better than any other Christian.
    4. Since we are saved by God’s grace we must give others grace.
      1. We must not be judgmental.
      2. This does not mean we do not call out sin, it just means that we must be full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14).
      3. We must love and support people even when they fail. That is what grace is.
    5. We must recognize the strong consequences of living under the Law, alienation from Christ (5:4).
    6. We must wait expecting Jesus and His future Kingdom (verse 5).
    7. We must continue living for Christ as we started, we must keep the faith (verse 7).


Sometimes the Christian life is described as a run (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 5:7). Other times the Christian life is described as a walk (Gal. 5:16; Eph. 4:1). We must keep moving in the Christian life. We must keep growing in the Christian life. We must stay the course. We must “hold fast.” We must not give up.

I told you about the many times that I could not finish that long running route. There was one time I did finish the route. Here is how I finished. I ran to the end. I did not give up. I had pressure to finish. Meagan was in Dayton so I could not call her to pick me up. I knew a few people I could call, but I did not want to call them. This pressured me to finish.

Some of us need to be challenged in our walk with Christ. We need challenged. I watch a show called “A Football Life” which is about various NFL players. I watched the episode about Bill Cowher, the former Steelers coach. It is interesting because you see him motivating players on the sidelines. He is telling them in a very strong way, “Your job is to rush the quarterback.” His motivation is yelling. But it works for the football players. Some of us need challenged. We need the Word of God to challenge us like a football coach. “Your job in Christ is to sack the enemy.” “Your job in Christ is to be contagious Christians and this sacks the enemy.”

Some of you have beat yourself up enough. You are giving yourself standards that are not from the Holy Spirit. Maybe, just maybe, you must lessen the pressure. After those long runs, I ran the 2013 Cincinnati marathon. Then in 2014 and 2015 I ran two more marathons. I ran a second Cincinnati marathon and in 2015 I ran the Pittsburgh marathon. But in my training in 2014 and 2015 I lessened the pressure. I could not finish that long running route. I wanted to but could not. So, I did not try to run longer than 20 miles straight. Remember the grace of God.

Receive grace and give grace.



[1] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 352.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ga 5:1.

[3] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195?mt=11

27 LW 27.18.

[4] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 359.

[5] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195?mt=11

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ga 5:11.

[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Ga 6:12.

[8] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195?mt=11

[9] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 75968-75970). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.