Summary: The Galatians were clothed with Christ, but they'd been convinced that Jesus wasn't enough. Someone had told them they needed to follow rules and laws to be acceptable to God. Why was that false?
OPEN: Jesus told a parable about KING who invited everybody to his son’s wedding. Now, I’ve been told that the custom of the day was for the host to supply his guests with appropriate wedding garments, but Matthew 22:11 tells us “when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.” The King was amazed and asked the man “‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 22:12-13)
The parable has to do with… Salvation. Jesus was teaching us that the only way we can be saved is to wear the wedding garment God has supplied. But what wedding garment would that be? Well Galatians 3:27 tells us “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In other words, when we’re buried in the waters of baptism… we put on Jesus. We’ve put on HIS mercy; we’ve put on HIS forgiveness; we’ve put on HIS righteousness.
Baptism is not a “work” of our righteousness (the Bible NEVER describes baptism that way). Baptism is when we allow someone else to bury us in a watery grave, and then lift us out of that watery grave to walk in newness of life. Baptism is not OUR work… it’s the work of Jesus in us. Or as Colossians 2:12 says: we’ve “been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him THROUGH FAITH in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
ILLUS: I once read that in some parts of Africa converts to Jesus burn their old clothes after baptism and then put on a new white robe to show what Jesus has now done with their lives. Jesus BURNS our past up… and clothes us with Himself.
In Genesis, we read that God gave new garments to Adam and Eve. After Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and God covered their nakedness with the skins of animals HE sacrificed for them. In the same way, God covers our nakedness/sinfulness with the righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice. That’s what happens when we’re baptized - we put on Christ’s righteousness. Our sin is covered and we stand before God as those who have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus
But the churches in Galatia apparently didn’t understand this. They’d been clothed with Jesus, but they began to think Jesus wasn’t quite enough. They began to think that they needed something MORE than what Jesus could supply; that they needed some rules to follow and some laws to obey. Somebody had convinced them to turn back to the Laws of Moses for salvation. That’s where the real rules were. That’s where the real laws could be found. I mean, when it came to rules and regulations, the Old Testament had a bunch of them.
And the Galatians had become convinced that if they just followed all those rules the right way, God would love them more.
And Paul said: “ARE YOU CRAZY?” Well no, he didn’t actually say that. What he said was: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6) In other words – if you’re a Christian - Jesus better be what you rely on. Why? Because Jesus isn’t about following rules, Jesus is about following … Jesus. You can’t add anything to Jesus.
In fact Galatians 3 tells us “if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin.” (Galatians 3:21-22) The law imprisoned people in a list of DO’s and DON’TS, and if you tried following that kind of lifestyle (of dos and don’ts) then you’d always end up looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re walking in a straight line. You’d never even be sure you’d done everything right.
But now wait a minute! If the “LAW” of Moses was such a BAD idea, why did God create it to begin with? Why give the Law to Israel and then require them to observe it? Well, Paul asked that very question: “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Then he says “Certainly not!” Galatians 3:21
Paul tells us that “The law was our guardian until Christ came” (Galatians 3:24) Or as the KJV says it: the law was our SCHOOLMASTER to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” You see, a School Master was a teacher. But what’s a teacher supposed to do? Teach us. The Old Testament Laws were given to teach us about what righteousness looks like. If you want to know what a Holy God looks like… read the Old Testament because the Law was designed to help us realize that there was a standard of right/wrong. For without God’s Law… there’s no absolute standard of what is moral or immoral.