Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 36: Freedom by Faith

Class #36:  “For Christ has set us free, not for a political freedom or a freedom of the flesh but for a theological or spiritual freedom, that is, to make our conscience free and joyful, unafraid of the wrath to come.  This is the most genuine freedom; it is immeasurable” (LW, Vol. 27, p.4).

1 John 1:6-10 speaks of our Christian freedom from sin.  Believers do not walk in darkness.  Yet, it is not that we are sin-free.  We continually confess our sin and He continually forgives and cleanses us.  We say, “No,” to our own sinful nature and fight against it.  The Gospel promises freedom from sin, law, death, wrath, and the devil.  Through faith in Christ, I do not fear death, as I have the promise of eternal life.  Christ has taken the wrathful curse so that the devil’s accusations are not true.  I am not going to hell for my sins, I am forgiven.

“Therefore one’s spirit must be trained, so that when it becomes conscious of the accusation of the Law, the terrors of sin, the horror of death and the wrath of God, it will banish these sorrowful scenes from its sight and will replace them with the freedom of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, life, and the eternal mercy of God” (LW, Vol. 27, p.5)

Overhead: Galatians Class 36 Overhead
Handout: Freedom Study 2 in the Conscience

#57- Those Who Are Hostile To The Word and Hostile to God

“Therefore Christ says here: ‘You seek to kill Me, because My Word finds no place in you. Whence comes this sin, that you begrudge Me My life and want to take it from Me? Could you be free and rid of sin? Is it possible that you are Abraham’s seed? No, you must be God’s enemies and murderers. You are motivated by the foremost sin, enmity toward God. If you were well-disposed toward God, you would also be well-disposed toward Me. My Word finds no place in you. To be sure, God’s Word does assail you; but you do not mend your ways. I am catching nothing with My net. Indeed, I cast My Word among you; but you are averse to it and hostile to God. It follows that since you hate My Word and oppose it, you must also be hostile to Me. God has the advantage that you cannot kill Him. Me, however, you can kill, since I am mortal.’ Therefore an unbeliever is a murderer of God and of man, whether he be called Abraham’s seed or anything else. For if he could kill God, suppress the truth, and exterminate the divine Word, he would do so. Subsequently he also becomes a murderer of man.

This sermon is directed against the boasting of the Jews, who assumed that they, as Abraham’s seed, could not perish. Gross arrogance is now making itself felt in the papacy, yes, also among us. Many of us say boastfully: ‘We are evangelicals; we have learned this doctrine well.’ They brag that everything they do is right. They expect the Gospel to yield to their pleasure, just as the Jews supposed that because they were Abraham’s seed they could do as they pleased. The pope and the bishops also believe that their Baptism authorizes them to do as they choose in the church and in Christendom (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 418).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 35 Freedom from Wrath (in the Conscience)

Class #35:  Last Sunday we began with a thematic overview of freedom and St. Paul’s summary statement in 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty/freedom by which Christ has made us free.”

This Sunday we begin to unpack the New Testament liberty/freedom that we have in Christ.  The law cannot secure our freedom, either by refraining from sin or by doing good works.  It cannot provide freedom from wrath.  Only faith in Christ created by the Word of Gospel can set us free from the eternal wrath of God.

For what answer was St. John the Baptist looking when he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

Overhead: Galatians Class 35 Overhead
Handout: Freedom Study 2 in the Conscience

#56- Apart From Christ, You Are Not Free. The Devil is Riding You!

“Christ means to say here: ‘Now you see what two great virtues are yours! You are hostile to God and to your fellow men who do not see eye to eye with you. Therefore you are not free; you are committing these two sins, and the devil is riding you.’  The pope cannot show a greater affinity with the devil than by being hostile to all that God and man say and do. These two sins are two great lords and emperors. When they take possession of a man, he would like to see all the world dead. The pope, his bishops and princes, yes, the burghers, the peasants, and all men now do this; they are all enemies of God and man. They do not want to have the truth preached to them, nor can they bear to have a person who cites God’s Word assail their evil ways. Therefore they would be glad to kill all if they could. That is the source of damning, judging, condemning, defaming, and killing. That is Abraham’s seed.

‘Now, you noble little beast, you herblet, you little fruit, you floweret, are you Abraham’s seed? It is the devil’s seed that you are!’ According to their flesh and blood, they are Abraham’s seed; but according to their works, they are the devil’s seed. Similarly, the pope is the Christian Church inasmuch as he holds to Baptism, the Gospel, and Holy Writ; but since he is the enemy of God and of all Christians, he has fallen away from Christ and Baptism and has the devil as his father. He and all his cardinals, bishops, monks, and priests are children of the devil; for they are all murderers and liars (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 417-418).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 34: Freedom

Class #34:  The Galatians Bible Study restarts after a summer hiatus. We begin with a thematic overview of freedom and St. Paul’s summary statement in 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty/freedom by which Christ has made us free.”

The general idea of freedom is “to be at one’s own disposal” (in contrast with a slave). With political freedom, the laws (constitution) form the limits of individual freedom and protect that freedom.  With philosophical freedom, man seeks an independent self-determination by withdrawal from that which oppresses (false dogma from the world, inner desires, etc. ) so that there is an inward peace and control of the inner soul.

St. Paul’s liberty/freedom as taught by the New Testament is quite different from those ideas.  Galatians 4:7 says, “You are no longer a slave but a son….”  Man cannot be a free agent either outwardly or inwardly; there is no self-dominion(Romans 6:20-22, 7:23). Believers in Jesus Christ have been given a liberty/freedom of which St. Paul exhorts us to stand fast in it(5:1). It is freedom from sin, law, God’s wrath, and death.

Overhead: Galatians Class 34 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 4 21 thru 31

#55- Those Under the Devil are both Liars and Murderers

“This was also the case in Paradise. When the devil had diverted Adam from truth to falsehood and had taken his soul by lies, he also robbed him of his life and gave him death. Then he had the entire man. Thus the bishops boast today that they are the Christian Church, but they will not tolerate the truth about Christ. They suppress it and thereby confirm their lies. If we do not admit that they are right, they hang, drown, burn, and exile us. Thus the burghers, the peasants, and the noblemen now vent their hatred and envy on us if we do not bow to their will. Nor are the bigwigs kindly inclined toward the preachers who tell them the truth.

He who falls away from Christ and His Word and does not stand right with Him becomes a slave to these two sins. He becomes a liar, an enemy of the truth, and an enemy of his neighbors life. Fine virtues, indeed, are displayed by the man who through lies becomes so base as to be hostile to God and man and unable to bear the truth! He is antagonistic to our Lord God, who permits him to hear the truth. If he could kill God, he would be glad to do so. He does his utmost, however, by blaspheming, cursing, and reviling Him. And he murders and kills man. Christ means to say here: ‘Now you see what two great virtues are yours! You are hostile to God and to your fellow men who do not see eye to eye with you. Therefore you are not free; you are committing these two sins, and the devil is riding you.’” (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 417).

#54- Like A Bathed, Clean Sow Who Plunges Into A Mudhole…

“These are the two fine virtues of anyone who falls away from his faith, the doctrine, and the Word: he is both a liar and a murderer. Thus I also say to the father, the pope: “You are baptized, purged of sin through the Baptism of Christ, as St. Peter says (1 Peter 3:2): ‘Your sin and death are drowned in Baptism and in the divine Word; you are thoroughly cleansed and washed.’ But you are wallowing in sin again, like a sow that is washed clean, soaked, and bathed but forthwith plunges into the nearest mudhole and gets herself dirty.’ I say: ‘Dear sow, you were just bathed, and you were nice and clean. Why don’t you stay away from the puddle and the mire and remain clean?’ Thus I also say that the bishops are bathed and made clean by the blood of Christ, that they are also called by the Gospel, that they are baptized, etc. But they insist on turning back, as a sow, after her bath, again wallows in the nearest mudhole and defiles herself; so they also become murderers and liars.

“Your defection from Christ, your failure to remain loyal to Him, stamps you as liars. For My words are the truth, and you do not give ear to them.” He who does not hear the truth is a liar and full of lies. He cannot comprehend and tolerate the truth and God’s Word. After the lies have taken root in him, he cannot be favorably disposed toward Him who speaks and teaches the truth; he hates Him and would like to kill Him. If he does not do this with his fists, he does it in his heart and thus becomes a murderer; for these two virtues, lies and murder, follow each other (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 416-417).