1. The Meaning of the Command
2. How Our Desire for Other’s Possessions Prey on Our Heart
3. Turning to the New Testament
4. The Remedy for the Sin of Covetousness
Truth Taught- Jesus Christ has set us free from bondage to the Law. Our Christ-given freedom is to be used to glorify God and serve His people.
It’s important that we continue to be reminded that Paul is telling us what God wanted him to tell us. We must remember that the Law of God still has a purpose for us. It still shows us what God’s will is for the believer. It shows us who God is and what He is like. It is useful for an orderly life that seeks to please God.
Where we go wrong and this is where the Galatians were drifting toward is when we think we can be justified by keeping the Law of God.
Galatians 3:10–14 (ESV)
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
In our text today, we see the Apostle protecting us from two extremes. He has been very forceful in his determined battle against living by the Law in order to seek to be justified by it.
He realizes the pitfalls of the human heart. We can be made so against the Law and so pro freedom in Christ that we can take our freedom too far. He begins our section today by continuing his stance against the Law for justification but then in verse 13 he will balance this by protecting us against going too far with Christian freedom found in Christ. The Christian life is not legalism but it’s not a free for all either. He wants to make sure we understand this.
One extreme, Living by the Law for Justification
Second extreme, Paying no attention to the Law because Christ has set us free from the Law.
Chapter 5 begins what scholars tell us is his practical part of Galatians. This will go through to the end. Doctrine then living is how the Apostle typically arranges his epistles. The Book of Galatians is no exception.
Exodus 20:16 (ESV)
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
1. The Meaning of the Ninth Commandment
This commandment finds its context in the court of law. Here, specifically what is forbidden is bear false witness against one’s neighbor.
Where was John Smith on the night the crime was committed? You don’t particularly like Smith. He has cheated you in the past. You saw him at the time of the crime in a different location and you know he did not do it. Now is your time to get even or your time to tell the truth.
What do you do?
This command, while its first and most specific application is in a courtroom setting, it goes much broader than that. It is about telling the truth in every and all cases. Truth telling should hinder things like gossip, slander, and even unwarranted flattery.
-God desires that we speak in similar ways like He does. He always tells the truth and so should we. With Him there is no lie and always truth. He defends the truth and would have all of us as His people turn away from lies.
-God desires His people to care and serve and look out for someone else’s honor and good name. He wants us to defend other’s good name not slander it. We are to have one face not two. Care for our neighbor and not bring them down
-This sin destroys the godliness of God’s community. Slander and gossip destroy a godly society. It can destroy a church. It can destroy a family. It can make family members and church members against each other rather than for one another.
Hosea 4:1–2 (ESV)
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
The reason God gave us the Ninth Commandment is because He loves truth. He is building a nation to call His own and His people must be truth tellers. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is the oath a witness takes before taking the stand.
Bearing false witness can take place outside the courtroom. Most often outside the courtroom is where it occurs.
Truth Taught- Christians are children of Sarah and not children of Hagar the slave.
New Testament scholars suggest that this section of Galatians is Paul’s response to the Judaizer’s teaching that the Gentile Christians had to also observe Jewish tradition in order to be fully saved and included into the family of God.
We see here that a typical argument the false teachers may have used to convince the new Christians why that conversion to Judaism was necessary for them.
Their teaching had truth attached to it but was overall fallacious.
The argument is the contrast between Sarah (the free woman) and Hagar (the slave).
The probable argument which was often used by the Jews would go something like this…
Hagar had Ishmael who was not the son of promise but the son of the flesh. Abraham was Ishmael’s father but Ishmael was not the son of promise. Ishmael would go on to be the father of a great nation but the nation was the Arabs…Gentiles.
Sarah would give birth to the son of promise, Isaac. It would be Isaac that would be the father of a great nation, the Jews. The Judaizers conclude that God’s Promise would come through the Jewish people. In this they were correct. However, being a son of Abraham and receiving the Promise did not come about because one was Jewish. To receive the Promise of God which we know to be the Promise of the Savior Jesus Christ did not come because one could trace his lineage to Abraham even if that lineage also went through Isaac. It was Jesus who would be able to trace His lineage back through Isaac and He is the Son of Promise. So, being Jewish has nothing to do with being a child of God. Being a child of God has everything to do with sharing not in Abraham’s lineage but sharing Abraham’s faith. The Galatians had already believed.
One can see why the Galatians could be persuaded by this type of argument. Yet, to force Gentiles to become Jews, first, is not possible and second is a works salvation.
This is the background behind what Paul teaches us today…
Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.
Today, we turn to the eighth command, the fourth commandment of the second table that speaks of our respect for our neighbor’s person and property. If we really believe in God’s providence, if we really believe that our neighbor is made in the image of God, if we really care about the community more than we care about ourselves, then we will never distrust God’s providence so as to take from someone else something that does not belong to us. We will never steal from our neighbor to provide for our own. We will never do injury to our neighbor’s welfare, knowing that he’s an image-bearer, knowing that the sin is a sin against the community, knowing that God provides for us.
Our focus is going to be on Christians, rather than society in general. I want us to look at ways that we ourselves may be participating in stealing which has become socially accepted, respectable stealing. From an Old Testament perspective, stealing is not just a crime between one individual and another. It is a crime against the whole community. It hurts the whole community. And the statistics that we can quote today show the reality of that fact when we look at the socially common forms of stealing today. We see how stealing hurts not just individuals, but the whole society.
Aspects of Theft-
The basic reason is that they desire the object that was stolen by them. They could steal food because they are hungry or they can steal an object because they are greedy. The desire can be inbuilt or it can be fanned by the temptations.
Theft is usually deceptive – thieves perform their actions when no-one is looking.
Theft is an expression of prayerlessness, even when done because one is hungry, as lack of prayer indicates lack of trust in God.
Theft is an expression of discontentment, of not being satisfied with what God has given to us in his providence.
Theft is an expression of indifference to God’s requirements, clear evidence that faith in God is absent from the heart.
Theft is a form of laziness. People often steal because they are too lazy to work.