Forgiven Therefore Free: Rebuilding the Law, Mending the Curtain.

September 28, 2020

Galatians 2:15-21

God’s desire has always been to dwell with us.  He created us; He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  Adam and Eve desired to know all and do all apart from God.  While we cause the chasm, God works to build the relationship between us and Him.  We destroy, and He creates.

When Adam and Eve foolishly desired to have all the knowledge and be their own gods,  He gave them a promise to be their God. Generations later, His people end up in slavery, and He leads them out of slavery with a cloud by day and fire at night.

Once they are freed and wandering in the wilderness, He provides them with a hedge of protection and sets them apart from other nations.

Eventually, God gave them the temple so he could dwell among them.  While He desired to dwell among them, a curtain separated Him from His people.

In due time, He fulfilled the promise of being the sacrifice for us when He dwelt among people in human flesh.  He exchanged his life on the cross for ours.  He died so we could live.  He fulfilled the law given to us because we could not.

We now have His Spirit dwelling with us

Ultimately He will return and gather us to our home He is preparing for us.

When Christ made His sacrifice on the cross, the curtain was torn in the temple.  The barrier between God and His people was removed.  This curtain was not fashioned after a lace curtain your grandma has hanging in her kitchen or even the heavy blackout curtains you have in your bedroom.  This curtain was 12 inches thick.  It was made of rich un-tearable goat hair woven together.  The average thickness of the walls in your home are 3.5 inches.

How God comes to His people has changed over the years.  What hasn’t changed is that He has always been at work for us and restoring our relationship with Him.

The temple was where God’s people went to meet with Him and offer sacrifices.  The curtain was in place to keep separation between God’s holiness and the unholiness of the people.  It wasn’t as if the unholiness of the people could contaminate God.  The protection was put in place because of how great the glory of God is.  Entering into the presence of God would mean death for the people.  On the rare occasions when the priest would enter the area beyond the curtain, a rope would be tied to his foot.  This was to ensure the body could be removed if anything went wrong.

God gave the people a temple so He could dwell among them yet He knew His glory was too great for them in their sinful position. He knew more needed to be done.  He knew He would do it for them.

When Christ came, He was shrouded in flesh just like ours.  While He was walking among His people, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

Jesus was not talking about the building, He was talking about himself.  God was dwelling with them in the here and now wherever they went.  They no longer needed to go to the temple.  He would die and rise three days later.  The curtain would tear.  There would no longer be separation.  He would send His Spirit to dwell within them.  He would make the final sacrifice.  They no longer needed to make the journey to make sacrifices.  They were free to live and serve their neighbor.

While Paul was writing his letter to the Galatians, he was at odds with people who said things like… we must still adhere to the law.  We must do these things to stay in the good graces of God.  We must do these things to be set apart as people of God, to be righteous.  We must do these things in order for God to dwell with us.

Paul refutes them without question when he says

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 3:21)

The people of Paul’s time were telling everyone they must be circumcised to be in the family of God.

God tore down his own body and rebuilt it so His spirit could dwell within us and we could walk throughout our lives in freedom.

There was a time in biblical history where the law was designed to set God’s people apart.  It was a protection, a hedge for them.  They had to stay within those lines.  Just as to dwell near God they needed to be near the temple. Now through Jesus we no longer do the law to set ourselves apart from others.  The wall that divided the Jews from others had been taken down.  The curtain that divided God from his people was now torn in two.

What does this mean for us?

It means we walk in freedom with His Spirit dwelling within us.

It means we don’t need to run around trying to protect or justify ourselves and our actions with the law or some new law we create.  When we look to the law to do these things, we are attempting to rebuild a structure we can not rebuild.  We are looking for protection and assurance from the very thing that is telling us how we fall short.

We look like frantic idiots and run ourselves ragged trying to rebuild the law to set ourselves apart or to earn the approval of God.  Christ has already set us apart.  1 Peter 2 tells us to rely on the stone the builders rejected, the living stone.  It is because of Christ, the living stone, we are set apart, a royal priest hood.

We lose confidence in the assurances of Christ when we are rebuilding a hedge of protection and relying on our own abilities and work.  Instead of the work Christ has already completed and the work His Spirit is doing within us each day.

Not only do we lose confidence when we are building this wall, we also push others out.

When we look at our work and whatever flimsy pathetic structure we are building, our assurance and confidence will crumble.  Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover their shame.  Whatever we build up around ourselves in an attempt to cover our shame will shrivel in the glorious light of Christ.  Adam and Eve were not able to cover themselves with shriveling leaves, neither can we.

Instead we look to Christ for our assurance, and we use our time, talents, and energy to serve our neighbors instead of building our own wall around us and keeping our neighbors away.  We think we are keeping out the bad when we are building these walls, but really all we are doing is keeping out those we could serve and keeping the bad of ourselves in and staring at it while we build this ridiculous structure of crumbling works.

Christ tore Himself down and rebuilt himself in our hearts.  We are set apart, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, declaring the glory of Christ because He called us out of our darkened structures of shame and into His wonderful light.  We are already built into what we are to be and being built into what we are to be.  Christ has finished the work.

Write out 1 Peter 2:1-10 in your own words or copy the text

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