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God's Not Mad at You
For heaven’s sake, don’t go back.

For heaven’s sake, don’t go back.

DECEMBER 15, 2020

/ Programs / Key Life / For heaven’s sake, don’t go back.

Steve Brown:
For heaven’s sake, don’t go back. Okay? Let’s talk on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
This is Key Life with our host, author and seminary professor Steve Brown, he’s nobody’s guru, he’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the first few verses of the fourth chapter of Galatians, and we’re primarily talking about, bragging on the father. That’s a passage and I’m not going to take the time to read it to you again. We read it yesterday, but it’s the passage where one of the most wonderful statements ever made in the entirety of the Bible is found. It’s weird. Paul says that the Spirit’s in us and he speaks through us crying out to God, Abba. That means daddy, Abba, Father. And so we’re going to brag on the father and I’m going to take most of the time doing that, but there’s a lot of other things in this passage that we need to check as we go by this particular place in the book of Galatians. And yesterday we saw the peculiar proclivity of believers to return to their past slavery, Galatians 4:9.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits whose slaves you want to be once more?

In other words, you’ve got Paul here absolutely amazed they want to go back. Now we have this proclivity, because it’s built into our DNA, to think that when Paul is talking about this, he’s talking about a drunk going back to booze. Or a sex addict going back to pornography or a liar telling lies again, or that’s not what Paul’s talking about, now. Now that’s not a good thing to do, to go back to those places. I mean, we have been redeemed and things ought to change in our lives. I mean, there ought to be the flavor about us that wasn’t there before. I believe in sanctification. I just think it’s slower than most people think it is. But I believe in that, but that’s not what Paul’s talking about here. If you’ve been reading the book of Galatians and you recognize what’s going on here, you recognize that Paul is talking about the law. He’s talking about religion. You know, it’s hard to be religious. It really is. I’m a religious professional, I’ve been doing this longer than most of you have been alive. It’s hard to be religious. You know, if you’re a pastor and you’re in a formal church, it’s hard to wear the clothing of the religious. I one time served a church that was a Scottish Presbyterian church. It was in Boston or in a suburb of Boston. And everybody in the church had come from Scotland by way of Prince Edward Island. And they were used to their pastors wearing a collar, a clerical color all the time. And I thought when I first came there, I’m not going to do that. Then I heard what the former pastor had done and alienated everybody. He even took his robe off in the pulpit and said, he felt like a woman. He was never wearing it again. And he did a lot of other things. And that was one divided church. And if you want to get into trouble, irritate people from Scotland. I mean, they, those people have strong convictions, so I decided, okay, I’m going to wear that thing. And I did. I slept in it, for the first year. I remember taking, I had an elderly sec, and this doesn’t have anything to do with the text. I don’t know why I’m even telling you this. But I remember taking my elderly secretary back to her home one afternoon, wearing the collar and a truck driver, cut me off and I stuck my head out the window and I was, and then I realized, Oh, spit, I’ve got this stupid collar on. I can’t do that. And you know, there were a lot of other problems, after a year and they knew that I loved them. And I did. And they loved me. I began to take it off on Mondays and then take it off on Tuesdays. And eventually I wasn’t wearing it, but it’s hard to be religious. It really is. You wear clerical collar too, don’t you? You know, it’s a metaphor, but it’s the same thing. You know, that’s what religion will do to you. It gives you a bunch of rules. And if you, that’s what discipling is often all about and. I don’t like that. I don’t know a better word for it. I think discipling is important, but when discipling becomes teaching young Christians to obey the rules and to act the way other Christians act and to read the books that other Christians read and listen to the music that other Christians listen to, so we can all be the same. That’s not Biblical, that’s not what’s going on here. It’s hard to be religious. And that’s what Paul was talking about here. You know, it would be so much easier for me, if I’d just be a little bit more religious, you can’t imagine the criticism that I get and it’s from people, it’s not mostly, although sometimes it’s just plain angry. Did I tell you about the time that Cindy, our secretary, our receptionist said in tears, will you talk to this man? I can’t talk to him. And I said okay, put him through. So she put him through and he’s opening comment was Dr. Brown, millions of people are in hell because of you. And I went, good heaven. And then I said, I didn’t know, I had that kind of power. And he said, this is not funny. And he hung up. You know, you can deal with people quickly if you do it right. And you have the skill, but most of the criticism is not that way at all, it’s from gentle men and gentle women, who really are concerned. And I have to answer it a lot of that. And I don’t mind, you know, this is my family. This is God’s people. And so I’m generally kind when I write them back, but what they want me to do folks is to be more religious. And it’s the very thing that Paul is talking about here, go back to the rules, put on your clerical color, be stiff and serious. This thing is stiff and serious, go, and Paul says, are you crazy? You’ve been freed from all of that.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

And that’s enough. And if that’s enough for him, it’s enough for you. Now, I am not antinomian. And you say what in the world is that? Antinomian is a word that was coined by Martin Luther, anti, against, the law, nomian. And I’m not against the law. I think for law is probably one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given his people. It shows us how to live. I’m not against religion. I really am a religious pro. I love church. I love listening to my pastor. I love the liturgy and the music, both the contemporary and the traditional. I love being a Christian and with all that involves, so I’m kind of into religion, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There is a toxic kind of Christianity that will destroy you. And Paul knew it. He says at the end of this text,

I fear that I’ve labored over you in vain.

That’s scary. So there is this proclivity and I have it too, man I, if I just would be more religious, if I would just go back and be, you know, political correctness is a problem in our culture, but, you know, what’s even a greater problem for Christians? It’s Christian correctness. If I just do more of that and be, be a little bit more that way, I’d be better off. Back when Barry Goldwater was running for president. Some of you don’t remember that, but that was an interesting time. And he was a guy, you know, he would go into Tennessee and speak against the Tennessee Valley Authority, and that’s crazy. And then he would go into Florida and speak against Social Security, that was even crazier. And he was always doing that. And he had a Senator friend who said to him, Barry, I know that you have to walk through that field where that bull is, but you don’t, you don’t have to wave a red flag at him every time you walk through the field. Well, there are people, who say some sort of like that to me, you don’t have to wave a red flag every time you walk through that field. Just be more in the box. Just be nicer and follow the rules and don’t wave that red flag and you’ll be better off. And I know it, but then I read Galatians 4 and I think, I’m free, thank God almighty. I’m free. And I’m not going back. I’m just not, okay? You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
And that was Steve Brown, continuing our unhurried tour of Galatians, yesterday we turned the page to get into chapter four and today we continue to exploring the idea of slavery in our tendency to slip back into it. More good stuff tomorrow. Please join us then. Hey, by the way, have you joined the Key Life CD family yet? Now it’s not like a regular family. We don’t have arguments over where we’ll have Christmas dinner. No, the Key Life CD family is a group of folks who get two free CDs from Steve each and every year, as funds permit. These CDs are from talks at various events where Steve speaks throughout the year. And usually, this is audio that hasn’t been heard anywhere else previously. So get in on this right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an email to Steve@keylife.org and ask for the CDs. By mail, send your request to

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