• Tony Birkhead

Breaking the Rules... Week - 6




Because of The Promise, we now have:

  • A New Family

  • A New Team

  • A New Goal

  • A New Future


INTRODUCTION

Have you had the experience of a will being read and/or receiving an inheritance? What was it like?

What have you received by way of an inheritance? Was that meaningful? Why or why not?

What are some problems and pitfalls that families experience because of an inheritance being passed on to the next generation?

Because human beings are sinners, we are prone to jealousy and envy, and these sinful dispositions can often show up when an inheritance is being divided and distributed among family members. But in an ideal situation, things are honest, fair, and met with a grateful attitude because someone’s love and care is being poured out on the next generation. Thankfully, God’s inheritance for His true heirs is more significant, and more powerful, because He overcomes our sin. In fact, His inheritance is freedom from our sin.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Galatians 3:15-29

Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. 23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ GALATIANS 3:15-18.

How does the apostle Paul use the illustration of a human will in this passage?

Once a person has written and signed their will, it is a binding document once the person dies. Until that point, it can be modified and adjusted, but after death, no changes can be made. The expectation is that the instructions within will be followed to the letter, in honor of the deceased. Paul used the concept of a human will in the passage to emphasize that nothing about a will is going to change after it has been ratified. It is a covenant, a promise.

In the same way, nothing is going to change about God’s promises. He made a promise to Abraham to bless him so he would be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. This blessing would come in Jesus Christ for our salvation from sin and in the promised Holy Spirit who dwells in everyone who believes in Jesus. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus, not by obedience to the law since nothing can invalidate the promise that God ratified Himself (Gen. 15).

How does God’s promise of an inheritance compare to the way people conceive of an inheritance today?

God’s inheritance for His children is way more than money and stuff; it is eternal life itself with Him forever. God doesn’t just give you property in His inheritance, He gives you Himself. But beyond the substance of an inheritance, there is the mind-set about giving it that can differ between God and people. Human beings are prone to calculate how they dispense with their stuff in a will. They show favoritism and weigh actions in order to compensate their children or others appropriately after their death. Some are willing to write children out of their will because of a rift in the relationship. But God’s promise of an inheritance for His children is unchanging. All those to come to Christ in faith receive His promised Holy Spirit, the down payment of our sure salvation from sin.

READ GALATIANS 3:19-26.

Why is the law not contrary to the promises of God?

The law of God was given to Moses by the mediation of angels and then given to the people of Israel by the mediation of Moses. Paul did not deny that the law is of God, but he did emphasize that the law was not of the same priority as God’s promises that He gave to Abraham personally. Furthermore, the law is not contrary to God’s promises because they have different purposes. The promise of God is for salvation in Christ; the law of God was never meant to accomplish our salvation.

What is the purpose of the law of God if not to be our path of righteousness?

The law of God was given in addition to the promise of God to help address our sin problem, but only on a temporary basis. Until the promised Seed—Jesus Christ—would come, God gave the law to reveal our sin, to help restrain sin, to provide temporary atonement for sin, and to point toward the full atonement of sin that would come in Christ. While the law gives us dos and don’ts, we are sinners by nature and unable to obey God’s law. But without the law of God, we would fail to recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior.

So the law shows us that we are captive to our sin, no matter what we do, and opens our eyes to our need for salvation not by what we can do but by faith in the One who can do everything good and right for us. Our righteousness comes not from obeying the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, who obeyed the law perfectly in our place. And when we believe in Him, we are no longer under a guardian but true sons and daughters of God, true heirs of His promises.

READ GALATIANS 3:27–29.

What does it look like to live in slavery to sin in the world?

Slavery to sin in the world looks like the way of the world. It is living for yourself at the expense of others. It is doing what feels right and good to you. It is using other people to gratify your own desires. It is seeing yourself as most important and deserving of everything you want. But most important, it is living for self without any thought to living for the glory of the Creator God who created you, gave you life, and sustains your life with every heartbeat and every breath.

What should it look like to live as a true heir, as an adopted son or daughter of God with the Holy Spirit in our hearts?

Living as a true heir of God means crying out to our “Abba, Father” in prayer. It means living for the joy and pleasure of our Father. It means humbling ourselves and caring about the needs of others, not just our own. It means living in peace and security because our Father will never abandon or forsake us. It means a renewed desire for God’s glory to be reflected in our words and actions. It means a new perspective on the law of God, not as a means to righteousness but as a guide to reflect the righteousness that Christ has already won for us. It means sharing the good news of our good Father who sent His good Son into the world to save sinners from their sin and adopt them as His forever children. Living as a true heir of God means living in the power of the Spirit, in the name of Jesus, for the glory of God the Father.

MOVING FORWARD

  • How will you respond in faith to the truth that God adopts as His children all those who believe in Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection to secure our salvation from sin and eternal life?

  • What are some ways you will look to other believers in Christ and begin to love them as brothers and sisters, fellow heirs with you in Christ?

  • How will you share with others the good news of our good Father who saves from sin and adopts sinners as true heirs of His promises when they believe in His Son, Jesus?

PRAY TOGETHER

Pray and thank God for the inheritance He provides His children through the finished work of Jesus.

COMMENTARY

GALATIANS 3:15-29

3:15-16. The Judaizers argued that since the law came after Abraham, then the law had priority over grace (salvation by faith alone). To refute this point, Paul appeals to a permanently binding contract or will. Once a permanently binding contract is written and signed, it cannot be changed. Paul argues that God’s promise of salvation by faith to Abraham was a binding contract and that nothing, not even the law, could change it. This promise of permanence was made to Abraham and his seed, Christ. The singular use of seed (NIV, “offspring”) (compare Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 24:7) was an allusion, not to Abraham’s many physical descendants, but to the coming Messiah who would be the conveyer of blessing (see Matt. 1:1).

3:17-18. Paul clarifies that the law, which was given 430 years after the Abrahamic grace promise, does not nullify justification by faith. Faith is the permanent path to salvation. The inheritance (that is, justification by faith) was given as an unconditional gift to those who believed. Contrary to what the Judaizers taught, the message of justification given to Abraham is permanent and has priority over the later law.

3:19. Now Paul reveals the purpose of the law answering the question, “Why was a change made at Sinai?” Paul answers this question by explaining the one purpose and the two characteristics of the law. The law was added because of transgressions. Transgressions means “a stepping aside from a right track.” The law laid down a right track (perfect standard) and made people aware when they were deviating from that perfect path. Yet the law was temporary. Its end point was the coming of the Seed (Christ, the Messiah). It is also inferior to Abraham and faith because it needed a mediator (angels and Moses on Mount Sinai)

3:20. Because the law required mediation, it required each party to live up to the contract. The Abrahamic covenant, on the other hand, was dependent only on the commitment of God, who is one. Therefore, the law was inferior to the promise given to Abraham.

3:21-22. Another question is raised: Is there conflict between the law and the promises of God? Paul answers, absolutely not! The law was not given to impart life and a right standing with God. Its purpose was to reveal that the whole world is a prisoner of sin condemned under its judgment. Such condemnation created in mankind a need for forgiveness and release from the law’s penalty—a need for forgiveness in Christ.

3:23-25. Before faith in Christ came, people were held prisoners by the law. In a final image, Paul conveys the purpose of the law. In the kjv the second half of this verse states that the law was given as our tutor (nasb more literal than NIV, “was put in charge”). A better translation is “custodian” or “strict nanny.” In the Jewish culture a slave was assigned to each child to escort them to school and to assist in their supervision. This nanny was not a thirteen-year-old, sweet, little baby-sitter. This supervising nanny was more like a stern sergeant who had the bark of a German shepherd and the bite of a Doberman pincher. Every time the child took liberties without permission on the path to school (children like to play) or did something wrong, this authoritarian nanny pointed her finger at the child and in no uncertain terms told the child what it had done wrong and delivered the punishment. By correlating the law with this nanny image, we learn that the law was given to point out sin and to threaten a great punishment if God’s people didn’t straighten up. Man’s very inability to obey this law perfectly, and thus earn God’s approval, caused men and women to long for a better way to salvation and a relationship with God—by grace. God brought hope to mankind’s hopelessness in the most amazing way by sending Jesus Christ into the world. The law led us to Christ for forgiveness and righteousness.

3:26-27. By grace we are God’s adult children. Paul calls us sons of God. Under the law we were children. In verse 27, Paul explains how this adult sonship occurred. We were united with him through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). This placement into the body of Christ unites all believers. In addition you have clothed yourselves with Christ. In Roman society, when a youth became old enough to be considered an adult, he took off his children’s clothes and put on an adult’s toga. This switch indicated that he had adult citizenship and responsibilities. In the same way, the Galatians had laid aside the old clothes of the law and had put on Christ’s new robes of righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 4:23-24).

3:28. Having explained the vertical change that grace brought, now Paul shows its horizontal effect when he states you are all one in Christ. In Christ, human distinctions lose their significance. Regardless of race, profession, or gender, all who come to Christ must come the same way—through faith and repentance. As a result, with all distinctions erased, all believers are united in Christ. This does not mean that all distinctions are erased on the human level. A slave was still a slave in the eyes of Rome, but not in the eyes of God.

3:29. Furthermore, in Christ, believers are Abraham’s seed. As the offspring of Abraham, we are heirs of the promise of righteousness through faith. Thus, grace is superior to the law because it unites us with God and one another in a way that the law could not.

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Proverbs 30:5

In a previous job, I had a boss who kept promising me a promotion if I just waited “a little longer” and “kept working hard.” That’s exactly what I did. I waited and worked. But the promotion never came. He was someone who dangled a promise in front of me, but never came through. Have you ever known someone who overpromised, then under-delivered? Maybe it was a boss. Perhaps a friend. Or maybe even a family member. Whoever it was, it can be easy to grow jaded and skeptical. To immediately assume whatever is promised won’t actually happen. While people constantly disappoint us, there is one who never will: God.

Today’s verse tells us that, “Every word of God proves true…” Could you imagine meeting a person like that?! Who never overpromised or made plans they couldn’t keep?

Do you doubt? So, what promises of God do you struggle with doubting? That you’re saved by the blood of Jesus alone? That Jesus is coming back for his Church? That he will answer prayer? No matter what they are, you can take refuge in the promises of God. They are sure. They never fail. They are as real as the sun above your head and the earth beneath your feet.

Choose your refuge- A refuge is “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.” Imagine you’re in a war and being chased by vicious enemies. Ahead, there are two fortresses you can seek refuge in. One is hundreds of years old. It is built of sturdy stone and has impenetrable iron gates. It has weathered hundreds of storms and sieges in its lifetime. Then, there is another. It, too, looks impressive on the outside. But as you look closer, the gates are made of rotting wood. The bars over the windows are rusting. And there are cracks in the foundation.

Which refuge would you choose? Obviously the choice makes itself! You would look for safety in the first fortress. As Christians, we have the same choice each day.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:2

From Ryan,

A good friend of mine adopted a boy who has been through some traumatic events in his life. He is a great kid and is full of life. One of his quirks, however, is that he becomes obsessed with things; it might be as simple as a card game or video game. Once, our families were together at a local minor league baseball game, and everyone was having a good time. A player randomly threw a ball to my friend’s son and he became completely obsessed with getting another one. He no longer cared about baseball, who won, or his friends around him. He just yelled for a ball every time a player had one by the bench, and he would race to beat the other kids for foul balls. He became obsessed with getting another ball and forgot why he was at the game in the first place. He was upset when we left because he didn’t get another ball.

I was reading today’s verse and the story I just told came to my mind. Abraham had been promised by God that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Unfortunately, he and his wife were getting old and didn’t have any kids yet, so how could this promise from God ever come to pass?

Instead of trusting in God and His promise, they grew impatient when He didn’t fulfill His promise in the time they expected Him. They decided to make things happen themselves because they didn’t believe could happen any other way. This caused much pain and hurt in their family as you continue to read the rest of the story. Of course, God does eventually & miraculously fulfill His promise and they have a child (Genesis 21:1-2).

Have you become so obsessed with a promise from God that you forget to actually trust Him for it? Instead of relying on God, are your thoughts and time so consumed with chasing this promise that you forget everything else around you, even God?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

We spend a lot of time thinking about God’s plans for us. While this is definitely a wonderful thing, it’s easy to have the attitude: “It’s all about me.” God cares about every intricate detail in our lives. Jesus said that he even numbers the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). And after all, when compared to God, everything is small. But should we expect that the main purpose of God’s plans is to make us happy right here, right now?

Jeremiah’s message in today’s devotional verses is radically different. Jeremiah wrote to a group of people held captive. They were ripped from their homes and now live in exile. He was reminding them that although they’re not where they expected, God has not forgotten them. Even amidst this insanely hard situation, God’s plan will stand. As Jeremiah knows very well, God’s plans are always good. God hasn’t forgotten them.

Just a few verses earlier, we see a big part of God’s plan for them is to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). In other words, God wants them to know his plans are not just to benefit them personally. God is also telling them that he is not removing them from the situation immediately. He does promise to restore them; but it’s not coming quickly. Instead, it’s 70 years out, when many of them will be dead. God is letting them know they can move forward, because in the eternal picture, God’s justice will prevail and everything will be made right.

Today, during tough situations, God wants us to know he has a plan and purpose. He also wants us to know that as we submit to his plan, he will use us to bless the world. The key remains during both good and difficult times: You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. 8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

Psalm 138:7-8

David was a man who walked through trouble on a regular basis. His psalms express the struggles and disappointments he faced, yet in the end, he turned his focus back to God. The key to his victorious attitude was his strong conviction in the Lord’s character and faithfulness.

David was confident in God’s purpose. That’s why he could say, “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me” (Psalm 138:8). The only way we can walk through trouble and avoid defeat is by keeping our focus on the Lord and His purpose. He has promised to do a good work in our life, but sometimes He chooses to complete it in valleys of hardship.

David relied on the Lord’s power. When troubles arise, we too can trust God for deliverance, but it may not be by escape. At times He sustains us through the difficulty, walking with us every step of the way.

David believed the promises of God. In today’s two verses from Psalm 138, he repeatedly reminds himself what the Lord will do. We also need to have some specific promises from Scripture that will anchor us in times of trouble. The truths of the Bible are our most valuable possession when the storms of life assail us. Self-reliance or advice from others will never equal the help that God’s Word offers us.

The Lord knows what you need in times of trouble, and He assumes responsibility for accomplishing it. Your job is to believe that He will fulfill His purpose and keep every promise. The trial will last only as long as He sees fit. Until its conclusion, keep walking with your eyes on Him.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Corinthians 13:12

We all have legitimate questions: Why did this happen? Why didn’t that happen? And of course, I have mine, too. But the truth is, even if we had some of the most troubling questions in our hearts answered, we wouldn’t be satisfied. The answers would only raise more questions! The Bible doesn’t promise us a peace that necessarily gives understanding, but it promises a peace that passes human understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

I received a letter from Warren Wiersbe, a great author and Bible teacher, after my son went to Heaven. He said, "As God’s children we live on promises, not on explanations. And you know as well as I do the promises of God." He went on to say, "When we arrive in Heaven, we will hear the explanations, accept them, and we will say, ‘May God be glorified.’ "

In my time of grieving, I found myself with many questions and didn’t seem to have many answers. Nevertheless, here’s what I know for sure: I know my son, Christopher Laurie, is with the Lord. And I know one day all of my questions will be answered. In our opening Scripture we read, "We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist." The King James Version says, "For now we see through a glass, darkly."

It reminds me of a car with tinted windows. Someone drives by, and you’re straining to look through the glass. You’re saying, "Who’s in there?" That’s how it is for us sometimes. We try to look at Heaven. We try to figure out the big questions of life. But it’s hard to make it out. Maybe we see a little silhouette, but we’re not even sure about that.

But one day the view will be clear to the farthest horizons, and we will see as clearly as God sees us now. Until that time, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

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