I Am Afraid Of You

Posted by on Oct 29, 2006

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

October 29, 2006

Sunday Morning

“I Am Afraid Of You”

Scripture Text: Galatians 4:8-11

Introduction:

 

A.   As most of you know, I have been a pastor for almost 33 years now.

1. One of the things that I have experienced as a pastor is what I call an emotional roller coaster.

2. How many of you have ever ridden a roller coaster?

3. If you have, you know that roller coasters go “up” and they go “down.”

4. Not only do roller coasters go up and down, but often times the ups and the downs are very close together.

5. Being a pastor is kind of like riding a roller coaster, at least emotionally.

6. There are emotional highs, and there are emotional lows, and often times these highs and lows are very close together.

7. One day you want to shout, the next day you want to cry.

8. One day you are on the mountaintop, the next day you are in the valley.

9. One day you are experiencing great joy, the next day you are experiencing great despair.

10.   Now to be honest, it is not this way all of the time.

11.   And that’s a good thing, too, because if it were, there’s no way that I could have survived 33 years of pastoral ministry.

12.   But some of the time it honestly is like riding an emotional roller coaster.

 

B.   Now what are some of the emotions with which we, as pastors, have to contend?

1. One emotion is “joy.”

2. For example, there is the joy of…

-seeing a lost sinner saved,

-seeing a believer grow in Christ,

-seeing a church give almost $ 200,000 to missions in one year.

3. Pastoring this church has brought me so much joy over the years.

4. Another emotion is “sadness.”

5. For example, there is the sadness of…

-seeing a lost sinner reject Christ,

-seeing a believer backslide spiritually,

-seeing a church hesitate to move forward for God.

6. While pastoring this church has brought me much joy over the years, it has also brought a certain amount of sadness.

7. A third emotion is “fear.”

8. For example, there is the fear of…

-seeing false teachers infiltrate a church,

-seeing believers within a church led astray,

-seeing 30+ years of ministry come to nought.

9. And these are just some of the emotions with which we, as pastors, have to contend. (There are many more.)

 

C.   You know, Paul, although he was more a missionary than he was a pastor, he also had to contend with these same emotions.

1. He had to contend with joy.

2. He had to contend with sadness.

3. He had to contend with fear.

4. We see this clearly in our text, this morning.

5. As we examine our text more closely, notice, first of all, that…

 

 

I.       Paul Was Joyful.

 

A.   Why was he joyful?

1. He was joyful because the Galatians to whom he was writing this letter had been delivered from the spiritual bondage of idol worship.

2. You see, when Paul first encountered these people, they were idol worshipers.

3. They…

-bowed down to idol gods,

-offered sacrifices to idol gods,

-engaged in heathen rituals in honor of idol gods.

4. You might say that they were enslaved in idol worship.

5. But Paul preached the gospel to them

6. And as a result of that, they…

-heard the gospel,

-believed the gospel,

-were freed from their bondage by the gospel.

7. Notice again Vrs. 8-9 of our text, “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods….But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God.”

8. I like those words, “but now…”

9. Paul said, “You used to be enslaved to your idol gods, which are not really gods at all, BUT NOW you know (have a relationship with) the true God of heaven!”

10.   And so, you see why Paul was joyful.

 

B.   By the way, did you notice how Paul described the idols that the Galatians worshiped before they were saved?

1. In Vrs. 8, he described them as “them which by nature are no gods.”

2. This reminds me of the psalmist David said about idols in Psa. 115:5-8, “They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:…They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:…They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat….They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”

3. In other words, they are not gods at all.

4. The Lord said it like this through the prophet, Jeremiah, “They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” (Jer. 10:5)

5. In other words, idols can’t hurt us or help us?

6. Why not? Because they are not really gods.

7. This is what God had delivered the Galatians from, the worship of idol gods who “by nature are no gods,” and because of this Paul was joyful.

 

C.   Now lest you think that you are somehow better or smarter than those Galatians, let me remind you that when God saved you, you too were delivered from the bondage and servitude of idol gods.

1. Of course, our gods were different than the gods that the Galatians served, but we had our gods! (Amen?)

2. Some of us served the god of alcohol.

3. Some of us served the god of illegal drugs.

4. Some of us served the god of sinful pleasure.

5. Some of us served the god of material wealth.

6. Some of us served the god of power and prestige.

7. Some of us served other gods of this world, but the point is, we all had our gods.

8. But thank God, when He saved us, He delivered us from the bondage and servitude of these idol gods. (He set us free!)

9. I love what Jesus said in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

10.   That’s reason to be joyful (to rejoice).

 

D.   And so, the first emotion with which Paul had to contend was joy.

1. Paul was clearly joyful.

2. Notice also, that in addition to being joyful,…

 

II.      Paul Was Mournful.

 

A.   Someone asks, “Why was Paul mournful?”

1. The Galatians had heard the gospel.

2. The Galatians had believed the gospel.

3. The Galatians had been freed from the bondage of idol worship by the gospel.

4. Why on earth was Paul mournful?

 

B.   The answer is found in Vrs. 9 of our text, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

1. Why was Paul mournful?

2. He was mournful because after God had delivered the Galatians from the bondage of idol worship, they willingly put themselves back under bondage.

3. Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying.

4. When I say that they willingly put themselves back under bondage, I don’t mean that they started worshiping idols again.

5. That’s not what happened.

6. What happened was, they exchanged the bondage of idol worship for a different kind of bondage.

7. What kind of bondage?

 

C.   The answer is found in Vrs. 10 of our text, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.”

1. This is clearly a reference to the law of Moses.

2. These Galatians, even though God had delivered them from the bondage of idol worship, willingly placed themselves under the bondage of the law of Moses.

3. They were observing the Jewish feasts, and the Jewish Sabbaths, and the Jewish ceremonies.

 

4. Paul said, “How could you do that? After experiencing the liberty that comes from knowing Christ as your Savior, how could you willingly put yourselves back under bondage?”

5. This is why Paul was mournful.

 

D.   (Illus.- I believe I understand a little of Paul’s sadness , as well as his frustration. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to win a man to the Lord who’s name was Mike. I knew Mike for a long time and had shared the gospel with him many times. You can imagine how joyful I was the night that he finally decided to trust Christ as his Savior. I will never forget that night as long as I live. However, my joy soon turned to sorrow. Instead of coming to our church, Mike began attending and later joined the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. You see, his wife was a Seventh-Day Adventist. Why did I go from being joyful to mournful? Why wasn’t I happy about him joining the Seventh-Day Adventist Church? Because that church teaches that in order to be saved, you must keep the law of Moses. What Mike did was exactly what the Galatians did. Even though God had delivered him from the bondage of his sin, he willingly placed himself back under the bondage of the law of Moses by joining the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.)

 

E.   You know, the Adventists don’t have a monopoly when it comes to placing believers under bondage.

1. Some Baptist churches are almost as legalistic.

2. (Illus.- Let me just give you one example of what I am talking about. In some Baptist churches today, it is looked upon as a cardinal sin for a woman to wear a pair of slacks. To the best of my knowledge, the only verse they use to support their position is Deu. 22:5, that says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” The Bible does say that, but what they don’t tell you is that verse is a part of the law that God gave to Moses. In that same chapter, it goes on to say that we should not wear garments [clothing] woven with different kinds of material, such as wool and linen. [Deu. 22:11] If we put ourselves under this Mosaic law, then we would have to practically empty out our closets. In the very next verse in that same chapter, we are commanded to sew “fringes” [tassels) on the corners of our garments. [Deu. 22:12] I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a single garment in my closet that has tassels sewn on to the corners. Do you? The point is, if we are going to put ourselves back under the law of Moses, then let’s go all the way!)

3. The only admonition that we find in the New Testament concerning how women should dress is found in 1 Tim. 2:9, which says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.”

4. Now it is true that some slacks are not modest [because of the way that they fit – or don’t fit] and should not be worn by Christian ladies, but at the same time, some dresses are immodest as well.

5. And so, the Seventh-Day Adventists don’t have a monopoly on legalism, some Baptists are almost as legalistic.

 

F.    Listen to me for just a moment.

1. The Christian life should not be about obeying rules, even though rules, if they have their basis in the Word of God, are a good thing (necessary).

2. The Christian life, on the other hand, should be about experiencing and enjoying a relationship with Jesus Christ.

3. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 9 of our text, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God.”

4. Paul put it like this in Phil. 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.”

5. The sad truth is, a lot of believers are so consumed by their efforts to obey the rules, that they totally miss out on enjoying a personal relationship with Christ.

6. This is so sad!

 

G.   And so, the second emotion with which Paul had to contend was sorrow.

1. Paul was mournful.

2. But notice also, that in addition to being joyful and mournful,…

 

III.    Paul Was Fearful.

 

A.   Why was Paul fearful?

1. The answer is found in Vrs. 11, “ I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

2. In other words, he said, “I fear that all the time and effort I spent teaching you the Word of God will prove to be wasted time.”

 

B.   Now what did Paul mean by that?

1. He simply meant that if these young believers did not free themselves from the binding influence of the false teachers who had led them astray, their Christian lives (effectiveness for Christ) would never amount to much.

2. Now don’t misunderstand me, those false teachers could not rob the Galatians of their salvation.

3. Salvation is by grace through faith, and once a sinner is saved, there is no way that he can lose his salvation.

4. Jesus put it like this in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:…And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

5. And so, there’s no way that false teachers can rob us of our salvation, that is if we are truly saved.

6. I’ll tell you what they can do, however, and that is they can ruin (destroy) our effectiveness for Christ.

7. That’s what Paul was afraid would happen to these Galatian believers.

 

C.   This is perhaps a pastor’s greatest fear, that he would invest his life (his time, his energy, his prayers) in winning someone to Christ, then teaching them the Word of God, only to have them fall under the binding influence of false teachers.

1. (Illus.- Let me share with you one of my greatest fears. One of my greatest fears is that when the time comes that I am no longer the pastor of this church, when I am completely out of the picture, that some yahoo will come along and destroy what it has taken years and years and years to build. This is why I have made the following decision: I will never die and I will never step down from being the pastor of this church! Of course, I know that I am not irreplaceable. I know that. It’s just that when you invest the better part of your life into something, you don’t want to see your labors come to nought one day.)

2. I’m sure that many pastors share this same fear!

 

D.   And so, the third emotion with which Paul had to contend was fear, he was fearful.

Conclusion:

 

A.   What have we learned from our text, this morning?

1. First of all, we learned that Paul was joyful (because the Galatians had been delivered from the spiritual bondage of idol worship).

2. Secondly, we learned that Paul was mournful (because they had willingly placed themselves back under bondage – not the bondage of idol worship, but rather the bondage of the law of Moses).

3. Finally, we learned that Paul was fearful (that the investment he had made in the lives of these Galatian believers would all come to nought).

B.   Let me ask you a couple of questions.

1. First of all, are you saved?

2. In other words, have put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Savior and been delivered from the bondage of your sins?

3. If so, you have reason to be joyful, and I rejoice with you.

4. However, if you are not saved, you should be fearful this morning.

5. “Fearful of what?” you ask.

6. Fearful of dying without Christ and being condemned to an eternity separated from God in a horrible place called the lake of fire.

7. Perhaps you need to respond to the invitation this morning by coming to receive Christ as your Savior.

 

C.   Second question, for those of you who have been saved, have you willingly put yourself back under some kind of bondage?

1. Are you more concerned about obeying rules than you are experiencing and enjoying your relationship with Christ?

2. If so, you should be mournful.

3. God set you free from bondage and He doesn’t you ever in bondage again, either to your old way of life, or perhaps some new kind (system) of slavery.

4. He wants you to be free!

5. Not free to do as you please, but free to know Him and to serve Him.

6. Perhaps you need to respond to the invitation this morning by coming and asking God to help you free yourself from your self-imposed bondage.