On September 14, 2014, pastor Darin preached a sermon from Gal 3:27-29 entitled "Clothed with Christ.” The apostle Paul writes to the churches in Galatia in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey): http://bibleatlas.org/full/galatia.htm. After Paul established these churches, false Jewish Christian teachers called “Judaizers” came and taught that to be justified before God, you had to believe in Jesus, and do the works of the law, and that Gentiles had to become Jews by being circumcised. Paul writes to demolish this wrong thinking: being right with God is through faith in Jesus alone, not the works of the law or circumcision, and in Christ ethnic and gender divisions (not distinctions) are eliminated: In Christ we are all Abraham’s offspring and sons of God through faith in Christ. In our text, Paul points to baptism as the sign that this is all true. The main idea of the sermon was that baptism is a God-given sign signifying we are clothed with Christ and have a new identity through faith in Christ. Four points:
1. The problem of our nakedness (shame): To understand baptism, we need to go back to the opening chapters of Genesis. Prior to their fall into sin, Adam and Eve were naked, and had no shame. But after they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they hide from God and covered themselves. Because of sin, human beings feel this deep sense of nakedness—of shame. Where is shame showing up in your life?
2. Wrong responses to our shame:
a. Apply our own “fix” according to our own wisdom: In Gen 15, God promised Abraham that he and Sarah (who felt shame because she couldn’t bear children) would have many descendants. But after many years, in Gen 16 Sarah took matters into her own hands and gave her maidservant Hagar to Abraham so that they could have children through her (she bore Ishmael). This wasn’t God’s intention, and it was a source of grief. What ways do you try to fix your shame problem? Trust Christ who fixed your shame problem on the cross.
b. Live a lie: many who are ashamed of not having a job still leave the house as if going to work. In what ways are you living a lie, trying to cover your shame? Turn to Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, who has covered all of your shame by bearing your shame on the cross.
c. Deny reality and refuse help: in South Korea, many refuse to deal with their depression because of the stigma, often resulting in suicide. In what ways do you deny reality and refuse help? Take hold of Christ’s love for you: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Go and seek help from someone in the church. Let us also look out for others who may be struggling, and help them as we are able (Gal 6:1-2)
d. Draw distinctions to give us a sense of superiority to others: Examples: Politics, economic standing, values, doctrine, race/ethnicity, style and dress, food, ways we educate children. Do you allow your differences with others to cause you to have animosity toward them? Let us walk in love toward those who differ from us.
e. Act hypocritically: Peter celebrated his freedom in Christ and ate with Gentiles, but when Jewish Christians from Jerusalem came, he stopped eating with the Gentiles and separated from them because he feared what the Judaizers would say. Paul confronted Peter over this hypocrisy, reminding him of the Gospel of Christ (see Gal 2:12-21).
All of these examples show that outside of the grace of the Gospel, shame is the most powerful motivator. But our baptism points us to a totally different identity, and motivation:
2. In baptism we are clothed with Christ:
a. Verse 27 “…put on Christ.” The word for “put on” has to do with clothing oneself (see Luke 24:49). Baptism is a sign of clothing which answers the question, “who are you?” Paul says at your core, you are clothed with Christ. Your identity is bound up with Christ. You belong to Christ. You are one who God views through the lens of Christ.
b. Since our identity is Christ, in Christ there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (v. 28). Distinctions are not done away with: we don’t stop being male, female, or whatever ethnicity we are, etc. But those distinctions do not ultimately define who we are, and they are not to divide us. We can celebrate the distinctions through our oneness in Christ.
c. Clothing gives a sense of security. What do you do when you feel insecure? Go back to your baptism. Who you are at the core is not determined by such things as career, education,economics, ethnicity, etc., but who you are in Christ. Get rid of the filthy clothes you’ve been trusting in, and put on the spotless clothing of Christ through faith in Him.
3. Baptism is intended to be a sign to enfold you into a new identity in Christ. Matthew 28:19 speaks of how we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The idea of “the name” signifies a change in identity. God makes a claim on your life. God has designed you to find your identity in Him. When you do, burdens are lifted and you are free to love your neighbor. The heart of that identity is that in Christ, you are now a son of God:
4. Baptism speaks to being sons of God: In the ancient world, a son was an heir, but this didn’t apply to females. The Gospel changes that: men and women in Christ are sons of God through faith in Christ, with the full rights of the children of God. As an heir, every possession of God—all that He owns—is yours in Christ. Reflect on how should this inform how we live.
Conclusion: Jesus went through a baptism on the cross: He was naked, utterly humiliated and exposed, as He bore all of our sin (our shame, guilt—our nakedness) so that He could cover you. In Christ, all of our shame is taken away. Let us remember our baptism and what it says to us: We are clothed in Christ. We have a new identity in Christ. We are sons of God through faith in Christ. When doubts and shame creep back into your thinking, keep going back to what your baptism says about you, not what you, the devil, or others say about you.
For more information on baptism, see http://www.monergism.com/topics/baptism