Galatians 3:1-3

Shifting Gears


Intro: My Senior year of High school I was the teacher’s aid for this really cool teacher in our School !!

A)In fact she went on to become a family friend & thru that came to Christ – she attends CCCM to this day.  NEAT Lady


B) Now what I thought was  really cool is that she would let me borrow her  1980 Yellow Toyota Celica –

1) I would borrow it to run errands or go to lunch


C) I remember vividly the first time that she let me Borrow her car – she asked me if I knew how to drive a stick shift –

1) Being a Big Bad Senior Varsity Baseball player – I said sure – thinking it couldn’t be that hard could it ?


D)Well that day I ended up stalling her car 3 times in a row in one of the busiest intersections in Santa Ana –

1) I learned that day if I was going to enjoy driving that car or any other stick shift – I was going to have to learn how to SHIFT GEARS !!!



Well the same thing could be said about the Christian life – If we are going to experience all the blessings & power & resources that are available to us IN CHRIST –

A)We are going to need to learn how to SHIFT GEARS – How to shift from Law to Grace / from Performance to Dependence !!!!


B) This is why Paul was writing to the Galatians. He'd led them to Christ. They were saved, but they were stuck. They were Stalled!!!

1)There was nothing false about the promises of God or weak about their blessings in Christ.


C)The Christian life is everything its cracked up to be.

1)      The Galatians just needed to learn how to get  into the right gear!

So Here in Gal 3:1-3 Paul gives the Galatians a lesson on shifting gears

A)In verse one, He shakes them  up / he tells the Galatians their problem is more a result of stupidity than ignorance.  


B)In verse two, he takes them back to the beginnings of their relationship with God,

1)and asks why they've assumed God changed the way He does business.


C)Finally in verse three, makes them  think / Paul boils his conclusion down to a question about how they are going to be made complete in Christ !!

1) So Paul shakes them  up, takes them back, and makes them think.


D) Now If your Christian life has stalled - if you're stuck, and having problems shifting gears - then listen to Paul's prescription for the Galatians.

1) It applies to our lives, as well.               RD V.1-3



SO First, Paul shakes THEM  up!

A)He begins boldly – you realize  from the outset Paul is not going to mince words. He addresses his readers, "O foolish Galatians!"


B)Recently I ran across a list entitled, "Politically Correct Ways to Say Someone is Stupid". Here's a sampling,

1) "He's a few fries short of a happy meal.

2) The wheel's spinning, but the hamster’s dead.

3) His elevator doesn't go to the top floor.

4) He's a few clowns short of a circus.

5) If he had another brain, it would be lonely.

6) Too much yardage between the goal posts.

.7) In the pinball game of life, his flippers are a little too far apart."


C)Obviously, Paul is making no attempt here to be politically correct. He doesn't beat around the bush. He says it straight, "O foolish Galatians!"

1) Listen to how a few other translations render this phrase. The New English Bible puts it, "You stupid Galatians".

D)The Amplified Version, "O you poor and silly, thoughtless, unreflecting and senseless Galatians."

1) The Amplified seems to always live up to its name.


E) I especially like this one from the Philips translation. The chapter begins, "You dear idiots".


This reminded me of a con-artist named "George C. Parker". Not long after the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, on a whim, Parker decided to try and sell it to an unsuspecting tourist. Well It was so easy, he tried it again.

Before long he had abandoned all his other cons and was selling the Brooklyn Bridge exclusively.

Over the years Parker sold the bridge for as little as $50, and as much as $50,000.

Over and over the police were called in to stop new owners from erecting THE toll booth they were promised would make them rich.

Parker did so well selling the Bridge he eventually branched out and started marketing Madison Square Garden, Grant's Tomb, and even the Statute of Liberty.  The police finally shut him down in 1928 and sent him to prison.


George Parker proved that the old adage is true, 'there is a sucker born ever minute".

A)Or as Paul might say of the Galatians, "there's a dear idiot born every minute


B)See The Galatians had proved to be spiritual suckers. False teachers   were trying to sell them a commodity that wasn't even for sale.

1) The Galatians were attempting to purchase with their good works and religious deeds the spiritual equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge.


C) They tried to buy THE bridge - not the one that spans the East River in New York - but the bridge between man and God.

1)   Paul put it this way – They had been Bewitched – idea of being seduced by a spell –


D) But understand They were not bewitched  by Samantha Stevens twitch'n her nose, but by a host of false teachers waging  their fingers.

1)A group of Jewish legalists were shaking the finger of condemnation at the gentile believers in Galatia. –Must  Follow the Law to be Righteous


E) These believers in Galatia were seduced into thinking – their blessings from God were dependent upon their performance for God



But listen we can be guilty of doing the same thing: How many times have we said things like this

A)"God, if you forgive me just this once, I'll never miss another Sunday."


B) or "God, I'll teach Sunday School forever if I can just make that big sale." 1) or "God, you see me doing volunteer work for the Christian charity - I just know you'll bless me and my family now "


C) FOLKS LISTEN: when we do that we're trying to buy a bridge that's not for sale.    Jesus is the Bridge between Man & God .  CROSS

1) His righteousness is free / Blessings are Abundant – They are not a matter of our purity of Performance – but they come thru grace/ received by faith


Listen God isn't extending the bony finger of Condemnation & judgment.   God is reaching out to us with an open hand.

A)His fist is not clenched. His palm is open.{ Scarred


B)God is not threatening to write us off.

1) In fact, Paul assures us in Romans 8:33, "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us."


B)The Galatians had God all wrong!- They figured God was scouring the heavenly ledgers looking for evidence to write them off forever .

1) But as Paul put it, "It is God who justifies." God is treating me just-as-if-I'd never sinned, even when I do.

C) He doesn't write me off or throw me out when I blow it. He takes me in no matter what I've done! –

1) Washes me & cleanses me – when I come to him


D)They thought God was sitting at the judges' bench in heaven handing down punishment,

1) but Paul says God was on the cross handing out forgiveness.


E) He's not an executioner ready to take our lives. He's risen from the dead to offer new life.


F) The false teachers gave the impression God was a vindictive tyrant who was out to prey upon sinners.

1)   But Paul says, no. Jesus is right now at the right hand of God praying for sinners.   Listen CHURCH , God is for you!


Now if you have a hard time believing that - The question for you this morning, is, "WHO has bewitched You?"

A)Where did you hear you had to keep this set of rules or perform that set of disciplines before God would Accept you, Receive you, and Bless you?


B)Was it a misguided Sunday School teacher? Perhaps a pushy preacher? Maybe a legalistic friend?

1) Or maybe you just picked it up from the world around you. You figured God would treat you like everyone else?


C)Your teachers said, "make the grades". Your coach yelled, "have some guts". Your parents told you, "make us proud".

1) Now your boss reminds you, "do you want to  get paid?". Everywhere we turn we hear people saying its up to us to perform.   P.B.A.


D) We take that attitude and transfer it to our relationship w/ the Lord

1) Listen God says it is not your Performance that matters it is the performance of my Son – His Performance is perfect


So first of all Paul Shakes them up – he pinpoints the problem – you guys are trying to buy something that isn’t for sale { Foolish}

A)Next he TAKES THEM BACK –to the beginnings of their salvation in v.2 when he asks "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"


B) Paul wants to remind the Galatians of the terms on which God first accepted them. Was it "the works of the law, or the hearing of faith."?


The Galatians had forgotten what the Scripture says about our good works.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us quite graphically, "all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags..


A)The Hebrew word translated "filthy rags", literally means, "used menstrual clothes".

1) I'm not trying to gross you out, but that's what God thinks of our righteous deeds. See Our goodness isn't good enough for a holy God!


B)These Galatians were taking the mechanic's greasy rags, the janitor's soiled toilet bowl brush, the garbage collector's filthy gloves –

1) They were trying to swap them for the blessings  of Almighty God.


C) Now you know why Paul calls his friends in Galatia, "you dear idiots"!

1) They had forgotten how they were saved – so Paul takes them back to the simplicity of their Conversion


D) He wants them to realize that the same way they were saved is the same way they are going to grow!!!

Col 2:6-7

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, [Received By grace thru faith]  so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.


E) God wants us to Grow – His means & His way !!!!


This is what we need to realize: with God the terms haven't changed. God doesn't issue new policies in midstream.

A)He doesn't change how He does business. The way God saved you is the way He intends to treat you for the rest of eternity - by grace through faith!


B) Think of it this way If you've ever tried to drive a stick shift you know that the toughest transition is from neutral to first gear –

1) especially if you're sitting on the side of a hill.


C) In Christianity first gear is often the hardest as well. It is hard for some people to admit they can’t do it on their  own.


D)It is tough to look at the cross and realize they put Jesus there.

        People  want to prove themselves  not humble themselves

1)They want to earn their  way, not depend on another.


So Many struggle as a Christians, because They’re still trying to find 1st gear.

A)Still trying to go from  Law to Grace./From  Performance to Dependence


B) I think we all have been there at one time or another : Where as long as you're doing fine - walking faithfully before the Lord - you're cool.


C) But the moment you stumble and sin - the feelings of unworthiness crowd out the joy and peace of God.

1)   You feel ashamed - so you stay away from God - and cut yourself off from the very power that you need.


D)You say things like , "man, I just don't deserve God's blessing." And I agree, But that's what grace is all about –

1) having faith enough to walk in a love you really don't deserve!


E) Listen  You'll stop backsliding downhill when you learn to shift it into the grace gear!   [ God treats me w/  grace – gives me what I don’t deserve]

Listen again to the question, "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

A)Paul is taking them back - If you started by faith - continue by faith.-



So Paul shakes'm up, takes'm back - finally in verse 3 he really makes'm think. He asks another question, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect [Complete]in the flesh?"

A)Now this is what I want you to see – God wants us to be made complete – He wants us to grow – He doesn’t want us to struggle in sin


B) Grace is not an excuse for spiritual lethargy & apathy – Not an excuse to remain in sin – God wants us to become complete in Him

1) He wants that to be our aim – The question is how is it going to happen ?

      Thru our FLESH OR by HIS SPIRIT ?


C) The Galatians got off to such a good start! They entered the race by grace! But between the giving and the living their grip slipped.

1)   Rather than being a vessel in which the Spirit works - they became a muscle that works on its own.-


D) The Galatians had started in the Spirit trusting in the work of God – but now they were trying to finish in the flesh !!!


What Paul wanted to know was - Why, after getting a jump-start on the Christian life by the influence of the Holy Spirit –

A)After being washed clean and born anew by the life of the Spirit, growing and becoming productive through the vigor of the Spirit,


B)sealed and secured by the presence of the Spirit, filled and overflowing with the power of the Spirit –


C)After all that, why would they abandon the Spirit for the flesh?



Now when Paul mentions the flesh – what does he mean?

A)The flesh is me - not just the evil in me - but my good, my righteousness, my energies, my ingenuity.


B) The flesh is me apart from the HS – it is what I am apart from JC


C)We often think of the flesh as being something evil – but the flesh can get real dressed up – It can look very religious

1) It can masquerade as righteousness & holiness


D) A person can even be in the flesh while attempting to serve the Lord – trying to serve Him in our own strength or with selfish motivations


It is Thinking that I can some how provide all the ingredients necessary to cook up a dish that pleasing to the Lord.

A)But understand  there're nutrients and spices and sweeteners and tenderizers that always go into a real work of God.   that I just don't have -


B)After we're saved we need to say goodbye to the flesh - and rely on the Spirit to grow us up and make us productive!         Close with this


C) The prophet Zechariah was called to restore hope to a discouraged people, especially to a disheartened leader, named "Zerubbabel".

1)   Israel had returned to their land, but the work of rebuilding the Temple had been ignored.


D)Zerubbabel had faced so many obstacles. For two decades they he'd tried and failed.

 1) But Zechariah assured the beleaguered people that the impossible would be accomplished. He says in Zechariah 4:6, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel,  Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit... Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'"


When the Temple receives its finishing touches what song will Zerubbabel sing? "Grace, grace to it!"

A)The only reason given - the only glory shown - has nothing to do with man's prowess - the praise is all to the glory of God's grace.


B)God will do the work - not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God. Grace will prevail -

1)   God is at work in us! He's shaping us into a Temple. He's shining His love and virtue and truth through our lives.


C) We are lights, individually and collectively, to this dark world - and God promises to keep us burning brightly with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

1) Its not by our might or our power - its a work of the Spirit.


D) SO Don't keep living as if its up to you - measuring yourself by rules and rituals - grinding out your own goodness - trying to stack up –

1)   toiling rather than trusting!


E) Since you became a Christian through the work of the Holy Spirit - since it was the Spirit that infused new life - then, let Him finish what He started.