Soteriology 035Galatians 5:4 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 16, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 35, Acts 5:1-11
October 16, 2016
Let me open with a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for today, this morning, and this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. So we’re thankful, Father, You woke us up and got us here. I do ask, Father, that You use these sessions in Your Word to really fortify us in Your truth, and we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
If we could open up to the book of Galatians, chapter 5 and verse 4. If you need a handout just put your hand up and here we are continuing to navigate through the shark infested waters of eternal security. Of course, we’ve done the easy part, we’ve laid out the case for eternal security, once saved always saved. And then we come to the hard part, trying to answer the various passages that seem to contradict the idea of eternal security. Many, many people teach that you can have salvation and lose your salvation. So we’ve interacted with passages in the Old Testament, passages in Matthew, passages in John, and last week we took a look at a couple of passages in the book of Acts, including the conversion of Simon, the Sorcerer, you recall. And now we’re moving into passages from Paul and there’s a lot of them but as you’ll see after we finish today they’ll go by pretty fast I think.
The first one is Galatians 5:4 and I was a very young Christian, I was teaching a Bible study, I taught everybody with great confidence and exuberance that you’re saved and you can never lose your salvation, and there was a guy in that study who was of the Assemblies of God background, and the Assemblies of God, most of the ones I’ve interacted with, believe you can lose your salvation. So he gives me a call in the middle of the week and he says I want to read this verse to you, which is Galatians 5:4 which says, “You have been severed from Christ,” wow, “you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” And he said how do you explain that verse, and I said dah… I didn’t have an answer. But I’ve had some time to work on it since then so I think I do have an answer to this. But again, it’s one of those verses that when you read it at first glance it says “You have been severed from Christ,” I mean, that’s pretty severe. And then it says “you have fallen from grace,” in other words, you were in the grace of God and then you took yourself out of the grace of God.
Well, some talking points on Galatians 5:4. The first thing to understand, and this gentleman from the Assemblies of God wasn’t denying this, but very clearly the Galatians are believers. We know that because Galatians 3:3, which I think is the key to the whole book, Galatians 3:3 says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” So clearly they were believers because they had “begun by the” what? “the Spirit.” And over in Galatians 4:6 he says, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” So he calls them sons of God, he tells them very clearly that they have the Holy Spirit inside of them, so very clearly the audience is saved.
And in Galatians 5 he says, “I say, walk by the” what? “Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. [Galatians 5:16] So obviously that kind of statement doesn’t make any sense unless they have the what? Holy Spirit, which is something only the believer has.
So I think the way to understand Galatians 5:4 is an insight that I picked up at Dallas Seminary from my professor, Dr. Pentecost, and once he explained this the whole New Testament started to make sense to me. He said that in the New Testament there are three types of Pharisees. So first of all, what is a Pharisee? A Pharisee is basically somebody who is mixing faith plus works, and typically what a Pharisee does is they try to put you back under the Law. So a Pharisee is anybody who is mixing faith and law together to accomplish something in your spiritual life.
And as you go through the New Testament what you’ll discover is there are three types of Pharisee; there’s not one… I used to think of Pharisee as just one group but there’s actually three. The first group are Pharisees that are mixing faith and law to be justified before God and I used to think that was the only type of Pharisee. So there were people now you’ve to trust Christ but you also have to submit to the Law of Moses through works to be justified before God. And that’s the crowd that Jesus is constantly arguing with in His earthly ministry, as recorded in the Gospels. And that’s why Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5:20 overthrows that crowd when he says, “… unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no wise enter the kingdom of God.” [ASV] And when He makes that statement He says to enter, in other words, to be justified it’s not a matter of faith plus law; it’s faith by itself.
And then going down to the bottom of the screen there’s a second group of Pharisees and these are what I would call ecclesiological Pharisees; these are Pharisees that aren’t really adding faith plus law to be justified, they’re adding faith plus law to join the church. And you’ll see that the whole ruling of the Jerusalem Council was aimed at that group, and when you study that passage you’ll see it very clearly because those that are meeting are clearly saved and they’re trying to figure out what are we going to do with all of these Gentiles that just got saved in chapters 13 and 14, which is Paul’s first missionary journey into southern Galatia. Once Paul goes into southern Galatia people start getting saved like crazy. But the leadership of the church is still Jewish so they’re trying to figure out what do we do with all these Gentiles that are now believers? They knew that a Gentile could get saved because of the salvation of Cornelius, in fact, they had their first meeting in Acts 11 to validate that point. But now you’re got another issue raising its ugly head; you’ve got a bunch of Gentiles that are saved and the Jewish leadership says do we put these people under the Law to join the church or not?
And you can see how a Jew would think that way because they had been under what for 1500 years? The Law of Moses, where if a Gentile gets saved they became a proselyte and they came under the Law of Moses to grow properly spiritually. Probably the most famous Gentile proselyte is… who am I thinking of in the Old Testament? Ruth, remember what she said to Naomi, her Jewish mother-in-law? Ruth was a Moabitess, she was not Jewish but she believed and she says, “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God.” [Ruth 1:16] And that’s basically the program of a Gentile in the Old Testament age; if they were believers then they came under the Law of Moses. And so the Jewish leadership is saying well, it must be the same then, as we’re in the age of the church.
And so they had a great big meeting about this in Acts 15 and it’s interesting, God doesn’t speak in Acts 15, He’s speaking through the Holy Spirit all the way through the book of Acts but there’s no actual word from the Holy Spirit here in Acts 15 so they have to go into the Old Testament and reason from the Scriptures. And James, who was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem by this time, who wrote the book of James, speaks up and he quotes the book of Amos, chapter 9, which talks about Gentiles being full participants in the millennial kingdom. And James says you know, if Gentiles are going to be full participants in the Millennial kingdom then let’s let the Gentiles into the church now without making them submit to the Law of Moses.
And Peter, I think gives the most humorous line there in Acts 15, he says well us Jews, we didn’t do a very good job for the last one thousand five hundred years keeping the Law, I mean, why do we think these Gentiles are going to do any better than we’ve done. So anyway, the ruling comes down that you don’t have to submit to the Law of Moses to join the church. So that’s a refutation of a bunch of ecclesiological Pharisees who are mixing law and faith to join the church.
Now the group of Pharisees that are being dealt with in the book of Galatians are sanctification Pharisees. Paul had planted all of those churches in Southern Galatia on his first missionary journey, he went back to Syrian Antioch, and his flock (within about a year’s time) had been overridden by legalists. And these legalists were coming in and they were basically saying look, all you saved people, to grow in Christ the way you’re supposed to you’ve got to mix faith plus law to grow; you’ve got to mix faith plus works to develop correctly. And the whole book of Galatians is a refutation by Paul against that middle group of Pharisees.
So Jesus, in Matthew 5 is overthrowing group one, justification Pharisees; the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 is overthrowing group two, or ecclesiological Pharisees. And the book of Galatians is really written to overthrow group three which are sanctification Pharisees. Yeah, you got saved by faith alone, we’re happy about that, but if you really want to develop the way you need to, you need to go under a works-based system.
So therefore Galatians is not dealing with justification issues, and we think it is because we are living in the wake of Martin Luther who quoted the book of Galatians extensively in his battle with the Roman Catholic Church. He said “the just shall live by faith,” quoting Galatians which is quoting Habakkuk. And Martin Luther actually called the book of Galatians his wife. I think the German (Hans, you can help me with this) is ‘Meine Frau‘, is that right? ‘Meine Frau‘, my wife. And he actually claimed he was married to the book of Galatians because it had such a monumental impact on his thinking, and he used the teachings in the book of Galatians, faith alone, to refute the works oriented justification of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of his day. So because we’re living in the wake of Luther’s shadow we think Galatians is all about justification.
But it’s very clear, based on the passages we’ve looked at earlier where he acknowledge that the Spirit is inside these people already, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 4:6; Galatians 3:3, that the book of Galatians is really not a book about justification. [Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”]
I mean, you can apply the principles to justification but that’s really not what the book is about. It’s about a bunch of people that got saved, who have no New Testament yet, and they’re being over-ridden by Pharisees who are trying to tell them yeah, you’re saved by faith alone and that’s great but you’ve got to really work out your salvation under the law by human performance to grow. And so Galatians is a refutation to that middle group. And once you understand that you begin the whole book of Galatians starts to make sense to you.
The key verse, every book of the Bible has a key verse, I believe, that unpacks the meaning of a book more than any other book, is Galatians 3:3. If you understand Galatians 3:3 you’ll understand the book of Galatians, where Paul says, in response to these sanctification Pharisees, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the” what? “Spirit,” in other words, he’s acknowledging that they got justified by faith alone, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” He goes you guys are crazy succumbing to this heresy that you’ve been introduced to by these sanctification Pharisees. Every good thing that God has ever done in your life has been by the power of the Spirit by faith alone. And Paul’s point is do you think it would be any different in your growth in Christ? You grow in Christ the same way you got saved, by faith alone under the power of the Spirit, not by submitting yourself to some sort of external legal system.
And of all of the books, and this is why one of the first books I taught when I came to this church was the book of Galatians because I feel that its message is needed more in Christianity, perhaps than any other book because most Christians hear the gospel, they get saved, they have the Holy Spirit inside of them, but they’re never really taught the principles of the spiritual life. And what they hear over and over again on Christian media, the Christian printed page, Christian pulpits, is be good or be holy. Well, anybody that’s walked with the Lord for any amount of time knows that if you try to work out, if you try to achieve some sort of standard of personal holiness through human power you’re going to be very frustrated. And Paul, in Romans 7 is talking about his own frustration when he went down that road as a new Christian.
So we’re telling people to be holy but we never tell them how to be holy. I’m talking about holiness in daily life and that’s what the book of Galatians is really about. “Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you now trying to perfect yourself through the flesh.” And so Paul, in Galatians, is overthrowing the sanctification Pharisees, just like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is overthrowing the justification Pharisees, and just like the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 is overthrowing the ecclesiological Pharisees.
So what therefore is happening in Galatians 5:4, where he says, “You have been severed from Christ, … you have fallen from grace,” the point of that statement is the Galatians were missing the grace of God, not in the first tense of their salvation (which they already had) but where are they missing the grace of God? In the middle tense of their salvation. That’s the point.
So when people use Galatians 5:4 to argue you can lose your salvation Paul is not even dealing with that issue at all; he’s assuming that they’re saved, he’s assuming that they are secure. What He’s dealing with is their development or their growth. So the book of Galatians is a book really about the spiritual life. That’s what the book of Galatians is about. And we’ve gone through, have we not, the three tenses of salvation: Justification, the past tense of salvation where we’re saved from sin’s penalty at the point of personal faith in Christ.
And then moving to the opposite end of the screen, glorification, the future tense of salvation where we will be saved from sin’s very presence, after I’m out of this body either at the rapture or death, whichever comes first. But then there’s the middle tense of salvation and most of the New Testament is dealing with that middle tense, that’s the confusion, where we are gradually, under God’s power, being delivered from sin’s power. And so what you’ll discover is the word “saved” is used in the past tense, present tense, future tense. So if somebody asks you if you’ve been saved the answer is I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved.
And the book of Galatians is not dealing with tense 1 and it’s not dealing with tense 3, it’s dealing with tense 2. Now if you don’t understand that you’ll read Galatians 5:4 and miss the point of it and think it’s talking about questioning people’s salvation.
So when Paul says “you have fallen from grace” you have severed yourselves from Christ, he is condemning them for reverting to a performance based relationship in daily living. Would you not agree that being saved but going back to a performance based relationship with God in daily living is quite a fall from God’s grace? So they were missing the grace of God in the middle tense of their salvation. Now I have to admit to you that I fall into this all the time because I get up in the morning, I look at my day like you guys look at your day and I see these tasks that I have to do that are monumental and bigger than me and I start to become anxious because I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pull this off in the flesh. And the moment I do that is the moment I, as a Christian, have fallen from God’s grace. I’m still going to heaven, my name is still written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but I am missing the present tense grace of God in daily life because every task that God gives me and every task that God gives you, you’ll discover that the power, the reservoir of power is available to us if we would just take time to acknowledge it and tap into it.
And that’s how they fallen from, that’s how they’ve missed God’s grace, severed from Christ in terms of walk and fellowship. So therefore Galatians 5:4 is not dealing with a loss of salvation issue. But once again, when you cherry-pick a verse and throw it in someone’s face, (as happened to me) and you’re given no context it looks an awful lot like you can lose your salvation. But looking at the whole book I’m convinced Paul is not teaching they can lose their salvation, he’s concerned about them missing the grace of God in the middle tense of their salvation. They’re reverting to works in daily life.
The problem with our… first of all, we’re works oriented to begin with, that’s part of our sin nature. We like works (to a certain extent) because who gets part of the bragging rights? I do. So works automatically appeal to me. That’s why Adam and Eve, the first thing they did in their fallen state is they covered themselves, remember? Genesis 3:7, so they’re trying to fix themselves through their own power which is religion. [Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”]
And beyond that we’re in a world system that all it does is scream works righteousness to us all the time. I mean, you get ahead in your job and you get the good performance evaluation in your job of if you’re a student you get the good grade, if you do the work. Right? If you please somebody. And so we take this world system we’re in, which is all oriented towards works and I take my natural sin nature which likes works anyway, and in my Christian life I quickly forget that the same grace that saved me is the same grace that’s going to empower me and I’m going to heaven, my name is still written in the Lamb’s Book of Life but I’ve missed the unmerited favor of God through power in terms of daily life. And that’s what Paul’s condemning here in Galatians 5:4, it’s not a statement about loss of salvation.
And by the way, it’s the same issue in 2 Peter 3; notice 2 Peter 3:17-18, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men” and look at this, “and fall from your own steadfastness,” people read that and say wow, you can lose your salvation, you can “fall from your own steadfastness.” But look at the next verse there, verse 18, “but” what? the first two words in verse 18, do you see them, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”] He’s not questioning whether these people are saved to begin with.
What is being short-circuited is their growth in Christ. And if you go back to a works orientation it will short-circuit your growth every single time, because in 2 Peter 1:5-7, as you study it you’ll see this is the whole context of this book of 2 Peter. It’s all about how saved people grow and we know that we’re growing as the Holy Spirit is producing in us faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love and we’re to allow the Spirit of God to work in us. [2 Peter 1:5, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,  and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,  and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”]
So when I try to achieve some level of spiritual maturity through human power that is what Peter is talking about when he says you’ve fallen from your steadfastness. It’s not a first tense salvation issue, it’s a second tense salvation issue because Peter, like Galatians, is written to all believers. And of course Peter goes on and he talks about here’s what’s going to happen when you don’t grow properly, you’ll lack productivity, you’ll lack harmony with your new identity, you’ll even begin to question whether you’re saved; you’ll lack stability, you’ll forfeit rewards, so the whole premise of it, like the book of Galatians, is to grow in the middle tense of your salvation. And that’s how to handle 2 Peter 3:17 which says you’ve fallen from your own steadfastness. It’s not opening the door to Arminianism or the idea that you can lose your salvation. [2 Peter 3:17, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,”]
Having said all that, let’s go to another passage; now this passage is going to bring up four passages. Ready for this? And these will terrify you and they’ve terrified me for years and I’ve really tried to drill down and figure out what these mean. They are the passages that we call the household codes; I’m not exactly sure why commentators label these the household codes, probably because it’s how people in God’s household are supposed to act. But this is what all of these passages say: it says, [2 Peter 5:19] “Now the deeds of the flesh are evidence, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,” sounds like some of our congregational meetings sometimes, doesn’t it? “factions,  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you,” before, now look at this, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now the New Testament doesn’t just say this once, it says it four times, the same type of literary style. Once in Galatians 5:19-21, a second time in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, a third time in the book of Ephesians, chapter 5:5; and a fourth time in the book of Revelation, chapter 22:14-15. It lists all these sins and it says those that live like this “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
[Galatians 5:19, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Revelation 22:14-15, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.  ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
So you can see how this would be a very troubling passage. And how you handle those passages depends on which lenses you put on as an interpreter. So let’s put on our Calvinistic lenses for a minute; can we do that? Calvinism teaches that if you’re really saved you’re going to be living right; they call that the perseverance of the saints. And a Calvinist would say, when Paul says those that live like this “will not inherit the kingdom of God” he’s dealing with unbelievers in the audience; he’s dealing with people who are not one of the elect and we know they’re not one of the elect because they don’t have any fruit. So if you open that door then you’re always worried, oh my gosh, if these sins characterize my life I guess I’m not one of the elect. So that’s said of eyeglasses number one.
If I’m an Arminian I put on a different set of lenses, so when it says those that live like this “will not inherit the kingdom of God” the Arminians say well, these are people that are saved but then they started living like the devil and they became what? Unsaved, loss of salvation.
Now number three is a group of people that I call extreme Free Grace people and I’m careful about the use of the word “extreme” because any time anybody disagrees with somebody on something you just call your opponent extreme. But I really couldn’t come up with a better definition and it’s actually a view that I experimented with and held, even in my recent history. For example, if you were to go back and listen to my Galatians sermon series, which I did here a few years ago, I basically argued what I would call the extreme Free Grace view when I was trying to handle Galatians 5:19-21. That’s because I hadn’t been exposed yet to a better view which I’ll share with you.
But the extreme Free Grace view is this idea of millennial exclusion. So when it says those that live like this “will not inherit the kingdom of God” it’s arguing that these are saved people, they’re just not going to get into the kingdom. Well, if they’re not going to get into the kingdom then where are they going to go? Well, they’re going to go to a place called outer darkness, which to me is kind of like a Protestant purgatory when you think about it. But they’re going to be in some dark place, they’re not in hell, praise God for that, but they’re kind of in some dark place or they’re in the… remember the Bob Uecker commercial, only the older people know who Uecker was, you’re going to be in the Bobby Uecker seats during the football game, the baseball game, the basketball game, so you’re there but you’re like way off in the ghetto somewhere because you let these sins dominate your life. Or some people are arguing that you actually missed the millennial kingdom entirely, and this is an older view taught by people like Lange, you’ll find it in the commentary Lange, and a lot of my friends in the Free Grace circle have actually resurrected this view. So you see a lot of this mindset coming out of groups like the Grace Evangelical Society, I like all those guys but when you get in their circles and get into their conferences and things you’ll see a lot of them promoting this millennial exclusion idea.
Or, they’ll argue that it’s an extreme loss of reward at the Bema Seat Judgment. And one of the things that bothers me about it is they almost turn heaven into hell and I’m not denying the fact that there will be loss of rewards at the Bema and there’ll be some regrets but they make it so severe they make it look like the believer is actually in hell. And Zane Hodges, the late Zane Hodges, who I have great respect for as an exegete, my wife and I were at a dinner party hosted by one of the people from the Free Grace movement and then in comes the great Zane Hodges, he had retired from Dallas Seminary and so he was kind of an idol of mine and he sat right next to me. And I’m the kind of guy that likes to get along with people, except my wife was next to me also and so she starts asking him theological questions. In the Gospel of Luke there’s a story of a man being cut up with a sword at the final judgment, and my wife asked Zane, she said well who is that guy? And he said that’s a believer, not an unbeliever. And she said well what’s the sword chopping this guy up? You’ll find the story in Luke, I think it’s around Luke 18, Luke 19, somewhere in there. He said that’s the Word of God because Hebrews 4:12 says the Word is a what? A double-edged sword, it’s the Lord just chopping someone up verbally because their life was characterized by certain sins that they never were able to get free of. [Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”]
So this is what I call an extreme view; you can call it millennial exclusion, you can call if wrath of God at the Bema Seat Judgment, and I have a real problem with that because my Bible over and over again tells me there’s no longer condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. [Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”] And it tells me over and over again, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that I’m not a candidate for the wrath of God. [1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”]
So when people make the judgment seat of rewards so severe that they turn heaven into hell rather than just momentary regret, to me you’re moving into a theological extreme. Fortunately I was rescued by this fourth view, which I call the classic grace view, which I think is the right view and I’ll try to show you why I think that. When Paul says “those that live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” he’s switching subjects; he’s switching from you, the believer, to they, the unbeliever. Now why is Paul switching subjects? Because in the context you’ll see what Paul is doing; he’s trying to argue don’t live any more like the unbeliever. Why should you not live like the unbeliever anymore? You should not live like the unbeliever anymore because you’ve been bought with a price. And that’s all Paul is saying; he’s not getting into the subject, maybe you’re not saved if these sins are in your life; he’s not getting into the subject of maybe you’re going to lose your salvation if these sins characterize your life. He’s not telling them they’re going to some kind of Protestant purgatory, outer darkness, or turning heaven into hell with a very severe Bema Seat Judgment understanding. He’s simply switching topics. He mentions unbelievers very quickly and he says don’t look like them. Why? Because you’re a different identity to them. And then he goes right back to talking to believers again, or talking about believers. So those are the four views; I’ve laid out which view I think is right, now it’s just a matter of trying to prove it.
Notice Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So is this they’re not saved to begin with, Calvinism? Is this they lost their salvation, Arminianism? Is this they’re going to outer darkness in the sense that they’re not going to enter the millennial kingdom, extreme pre grace?
I don’t think it’s either of those three; I think it’s a switch in topic because when you go back to verse 16 he uses the second person pronoun “you” and whenever he says “you” he’s talking to the believing audience. “But I say walk by the Spirit, and” what? “you will not carry out the lusts of the flesh.” Obviously when he says “you” he’s talking to believers who have the Spirit. And then he goes on in verse 18 and he says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” And then what does he say there after he mentions all of those sins, “carousing, and things like this, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you,” notice the switch, “that” what? “those,” so he just switched his whole pronouns. He moves from “you” to “those.” That’s sort of an interesting switch, isn’t it.
Now why is he moving from “you” to “those”? His point is why would you go back to acting like an unbeliever; they’re not going to heaven like you are. In fact, your identity is completely different than an unbeliever so why would you behave like them. And that view fits the context so well because what is he saying here in Galatians 5:17? “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Have you notice as a Christian there’s a war inside of you? And his whole exhortation is to not go back to the Adamic nature but to live according to the Spirit’s desires and the Spirit’s empowerment.
And he goes on and he says,  “But the fruit of the Spirit is” what? “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” That’s how you’re to act, don’t go back to the sin nature because when you go back to the sin nature you’re acting like people that aren’t going to heaven anyway and you’re a totally different person than they are. You have a totally different identity.
So the view that he’s switching subjects and getting believers to live according to their new identity fits, I think, the context very nicely. And you see the switch from “you” to “those.” Now notice the second time this happens. Let’s go over to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, this is a second household code. Paul says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
So there again it says if these sins characterize somebody’s life they will not inherit the kingdom of God. So Calvinism says these are people that are not saved, they’re not one of the elect. So he is making statements to his flock there in Corinth and he’s basically making a point that there are some of you all that may not be Christians, and you know you’re not a Christian because these sins characterize your life. Arminians say these are people that had salvation but what? Lost it. The extreme free grace view comes along and says these are people that are saved, that are eternally secure but they’re not getting into the what? The kingdom, they’re going into some kind of outer darkness, and that’s how they interpret “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Fortunately there’s a fourth view that rises to the rescue where Paul is not getting into the subject, maybe you’re not saved, maybe you lost your salvation, maybe you’re not getting into the kingdom but he instead switches subjects and addresses the conduct of unbelievers and says why would you as a child of God imitate an unbeliever; you’re of a totally different identity than they are. And that’s Paul’s only point. And I think that’s what he’s doing here because he uses the word “you” when he begins the sentence, or the statement, and when Paul uses the word “you” in Corinthians he’s always talking to saved people. “I brethren” earlier “could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not solid food; from now on you are not able to receive it. And even now you’re still not able,  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal, and behaving like mere men?” When he uses the word “you” he’s talking to saved people. And that’s how he begins 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Or do you not know” watch the switch here, “do you not know that the” what? “unrighteous” now he’s talking to a different group or about a different group. He doesn’t say “or do you not know that you will not inherit the kingdom of God,” he says, “Do you not know” then he starts talking about unbelievers and what characterized their lives.
Now question, who are the unrighteousness? Back up in the chapter and look at verse 1; the context solves this, “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the” who? “unrighteous…” when Paul uses the word “unrighteous” in verse 9 it’s the same word for the unrighteous that he’s used in verse 1. So who are the unrighteous? The unrighteous are judges that the Corinthians had submitted their disputes to, unbelieving judges. And Paul says don’t you all know that you’re wrecking your testimony when you do that? There’s so much conflict in the body of Christ that you have to go to an unbeliever to get them to resolve your case? Don’t you know you’re discrediting the gospel because Jesus said “All men will know you are My disciples by your” ability to win arguments… it doesn’t say that, “by your love for each other.” [John 13:35]
So because there’s so much tension and friction in the body of Christ in Corinth that you have to get an unbeliever to resolve your case you’ve just wrecked your testimony. Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the” who? “saints?” [1 Corinthians 6:1] So the unrighteousness are different than the saints; you see that?
“But brother goes to law with brother, and that before” who? “unbelievers.” [1 Corinthians 6:6] Who are the unrighteousness in verse 1? Unbelievers. Who are the unrighteousness in verse 6? Unbelievers. Therefore who are the unrighteousness in verse 9? Unbelievers. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous” now he’s dealing with a different group of people, which is defined earlier in the chapter as unbelievers, the unbelievers he’s talking about, not the sinning believer.
And you’ll notice in verse11, you see the conjunction “but” three times? Now he’s transitioning back to the who? The believer. That’s why he says “some of you…were” past tense, it says “were four times there in verse 11. [Verse 11, ““Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” And he goes back to which familiar pronoun in verse 11? “you.” So what is Paul trying to say? Paul is trying to say… what he’s not saying is maybe you all aren’t saved; he’s not saying maybe some of you all are going to lose your salvation. He’s not saying some of you are going to go into outer darkness. Those are foreign to his thoughts and writings.
What he is saying is you, as a Christian, should not imitate an unbeliever because when you imitate the sinful pattern of an unbeliever you are living outside of your destiny and your character because unbelievers have a completely different destiny than you have. That’s the only point.
And this fits the larger context very nicely because what does Paul condemn the Corinthians for in the prior chapter? It’s actually reported that there is immorality among you an immorality of such a kind does not even exist among the” who? “the Gentiles. It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the” who?” the Gentiles, [that someone has his father’s wife.]’”’ [1 Corinthians 5:1] It was an incestuous issue and Paul says why are you acting just like an unbeliever, in chapter 5?
And it fits the context very nicely in verses 18-20 of chapter 6 where he says, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the” what? “Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your” what? “body.” Don’t use your body like an unbeliever uses their body because they have a totally different character and a totally different destiny than you have. That’s his only point. He’s not trying to second guess the salvation of the Corinthians or argue they’re going to lose their salvation or miss the millennial kingdom. And you arrive at this conclusion simply by watching Paul shift in pronouns from “you” to “the unrighteous” which is defined earlier in the chapter as unbelievers, and then back to “you.” See that?
Notice Ephesians 5:5, here’s the third time this transpires. Ephesians 5:5, third household code, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Now if I put on my Calvinist lenses I would say well, Paul is talking there to the un-elect, the non-elect in the flock because if those sins dominate their lives, impurity, immorality, covetousness, then they never were one of the elect so they’re going to hell. If I put on my Arminian glasses I would say Paul is addressing all believers but these are believers who what? Lost their salvation. That’s how they would understand not inheriting” the kingdom of Christ.” If I put on my extreme free grace glasses I would argue that this is really talking about believers who are going to miss the what? The millennial kingdom, they’re going to go into outer darkness.
Now that third view, extreme grace, millennial exclusivism could not be right. How do I know that? Because Paul, in chapter 1 verse 18 says “all believers” will inherit heaven or the kingdom. Does he not say that in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance” of some of the saints… it doesn’t say that, does it? If you’re a saint you’re going to enter. As J. Vernon McGee says you’re a saint or you’re an ain’t. So the idea that some are going to make it into the kingdom, some are not is an idea that Paul taught something directly against in Ephesians 1:18. Paul is consistent because in Ephesians 5 he can’t be saying that some are going to make it, some aren’t; some Christians will get into the kingdom, some will not.
So the Calvinist, the Arminian, the extreme free grace views are not right; fortunately a fourth view rides to our rescue. “For this you know with certainty” now when he says “you” he’s talking to who? Believers in the church at Ephesus. “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person” he’s just switched, he switched from the second person pronoun to person, so what is Paul doing here? He’s making a simple point that you, he’s not second guessing salvation, he’s not saying maybe you weren’t saved if you have these sins in your life, maybe you’re going to lose your salvation if these sins are in your life, maybe you’re not going to get into the kingdom if these sins are in your life, but he’s not getting into that at all. He’s simply making a little dinky point that everybody has blown up and made a big deal about that a Christian should not imitate a non-Christian in daily life. Now why would I not imitate a non-Christian in daily life? Because I’m a new man, I have a new identity. And does that not fit with everything he said in Ephesians 5?
[Ephesians 5:3] “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints;” [Verse 6] “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them;” don’t imitate the unbeliever.  “for you were formerly darkness, … but instead even expose them;  for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” The whole point of the chapter is don’t go back to living like an unbeliever because that’s not who you are. Don’t go back to living like a child of darkness because you’re of a totally different quality and character.
So as you explore view number 5 and don’t just adopt it because I think it’s true, explore it yourself, I think what you’ll discover is view 4 fits so well with the context that Paul is not getting into the issue of the insecurity of the believer. That’s not his point.
One more and we’re finished. The book of Revelation, I think this one is the easiest one to understand. Revelation 22:14-15, John writes, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. [15, Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”] So it’s talking about redeemed people in the eternal city called the New Jerusalem. And then it says outside, outside what? Outside the city are who? The dogs, the sorcerers, the immoral persons, the murderers, and idolaters.
Notice these sins: sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters and liars. So let’s put on my Calvinistic lens for a minute. If I was a very strong Calvinist I would argue that John is addressing people within the church that are not saved; that’s why they’re outside the city. If I were to put on my Arminian lenses for a minute I would argue that these are people that once had salvation but what? lost it. If I were to put on my extreme free grace lenses for a minute I would argue that these are believers but what did they miss? The millennial kingdom. In fact here the millennial kingdom is over, this is the eternal state. So they’re kind of stuck out on the [can’t understand word] seats forever. And I don’t think of those views captures what John is saying, because look at these five sins: sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters and liars.
Go back to Revelation 21:8, one chapter earlier. “But for the cowardly and the unbelieving and the abominable” does this sound familiar, “and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters,” the same five sins,” keep reading the verse, it says “…their part will be in the lake that burns with” want? “fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” John here, when he uses these expressions is not talking about believers at all; he’s just making a final statement of the destiny of the unbeliever. And that’s why our behavior shouldn’t involve these sins. Why would I imitate these sins when those people are on a totally different track than I’m on. Now “second death” is very clearly a reference to hell; there’s no doubt about that because in Revelation 20, another chapter a little earlier, John mentions the Great White Throne Judgment, if your name is not found written in The Book of Life, Revelation 20:15, then he was thrown into the lake of fire, backing up into verse 14 the lake of fire is the what? “second death. [Revelation 20:14, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”]
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. So therefore when Revelation 21:8 mentions those five sins and Revelation 22, same author just a chapter later, mentions those five sins it’s not a statement at all about believers. It’s simply a description of the final destiny of the unbeliever. And that’s why Paul, in the household code says don’t imitate the unbeliever because they’re on a totally different track than you’re on; they have a totally different destiny. Live according to your heavenly identity.
So all of this to say is people take these household codes and if you’re not given this background they’ll throw you into a state of insecurity about your own salvation: (A) maybe you never had it if these sins show up in your life, (B) maybe you lost it if these sins show up in your life, (C) maybe you’re going to miss the millennial kingdom if these sins show up in your life. And what I’m trying to argue is all of that is a bunch of extra baggage reinserted into these passages. Paul is just making a little dinky point; he’s not even getting into soteriological issues, he’s just making a little dinky point that you ought to live according to your new identity, not the way unbelievers live, because your destiny is really different than theirs.
So I don’t know if I confused your helped you but that’s the way to navigate through the household codes. Any questions.