Series: The Book of Galatians

Title: Hug the Mountain

Text: Galatians 3:1-8 (focus) with verses 10-14

Week of: 7/10/22

Guest Speaker: Darrell Whittenberg

Read Galatians 3:1-8  

Background on Galatia and draw similarities to Houston: 

  • It has a very multicultural population 
  • It is known for its ports and trade or commerce  
  • It is a place of regional power and influence 
  • It is a place where many religions are represented and there are many different belief systems represented in the population 

The letter to the Galatian church represents a massive change in Paul’s world.  It was the ultimate in changing sides and changing jerseys.  Think:  

  • Vegan becoming a Meat-a-tarian 
  • Conservative voting Socialist 
  • Texans fan rooting for the Cowboys 
  • An Aggie having Hook’em Horns on their license plate.   

This was a tremendous about face and could only have happened by a seismic shift is his world view and thus his relationship with God through and introduction to Christ. 

So, what exactly is Paul saying here?  He is emphatically stating that ANY gospel preached that is Jesus+ – Jesus plus ANYTHING is false. 

Where is he coming from on this?   

He was countering a doctrine that had crept into the church, even at this early state in the development of the church globally, that Jesus was not enough.  This false doctrine was teaching that Jesus was an important part of this relationship with God, but Jesus was not enough.   

This is why Paul declares in the first part of Chapter 3 – “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” and then says later in following verses, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?”  In today’s language, this would be said something like, “Are you crazy?  Who in the world has fooled you into thinking this?” 

This false doctrine had crept in and complicated the Gospel in just 2 short years.  In a time that did not have social media, the internet, printed materials, or any other form of mass communication it had taken just 2 years for the false doctrine of Jesus + Works to infiltrate the church. 

Why did they, the Galatians have such a problem with a Jesus and Jesus alone Gospel?  What was it about a Faith alone, by Grace alone message that was so difficult to deal with?  More importantly, why do we have such a problem with it today? 

Grace is humiliating, and we are prideful 

This message the Galatians had been deceived by was close to being the gospel of Christ, but it was NOT the gospel of Christ.  Just like the photo I showed you earlier that was altered (slightly), this modified gospel had portions of truth, but the main ingredient was not Jesus, it was works.  It was Jesus + … 

We are much the same today, we like the idea of being in control and we hate the idea of being helpless.  By adding works to the mix, we get to claim a degree of control and take some credit for “meeting God halfway”. 

Jesus tells us in John 14:6 that he is the only way to the Father.  He knew we would try to add to this and he confronts any other path right here when he boldly claims to be the only way to God. 

This false doctrine is just as alive today as it was in the 1st century.   

Read Romans 10:8-10 

Paul makes this whole message very clean and simple.  Faith alone, Grace alone through Christ alone. 

I like control, I like a god I can command 

We like to be in control.  We like to have say in how things work and exactly how far we are going to go in any “transaction”.  The problem is we are not built for control.  We foul everything up.  Just look at our history: 

  • Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden 
  • Esau lost his blessing and Jacob lost his brother 
  • Joseph had to spend time in prison and his brothers lived a life of guilt 
  • Moses lost 40 years of his life and had to go from being a prince to being a fugitive goat herder  

We are simply not built for control.  We do not have the tools needed for it and are not capable of carrying this weight.  This is why the Gospel and the purity of the message is so critical both to the Galatians and to us. 

Rules, Rules, Rules – they are fine for Thee, but grace for me 

When we have a set of rules that we have to live by in order to be “right” with God, we are the key to the puzzle.  We are the one with the power to keep ourselves in line and thus, the power to keep our relationship with God intact.   

Jesus was aware of our tendency to keep score and to rate our performance by what we consider the lowest comparison.  He knows that we want a score card so that we can know how we rate.  He dealt with this head on in Matthew chapter 10.   

Read Matthew 10:17-23 

Rich Young Ruler – it applies to all of us.  In our worlds standards – we are ALL rich (we are the 1%) and we all like to think we are “good”.   

We like to compare, but we want to pick the comparison.  Jesus tells us in this real story, he is the grading scale and no matter what we do we do not measure up.  The problem is we do not carry the currency of the Kingdom.  We do not value what he values. 

The currency of the Kingdom is only the identity of Christ. This and this alone will purchase our entry. 

Share story of being in foreign country with no local currency. Relate to trying to work our way to entry into the Kingdom.  We are carrying the correct currency and therefore, our “dollars” have no value. 

Jesus clearly lays out the cost of entry.  It is surrender.  It is recognizing our desperate need for a savior and our inability to save ourselves.  It is the crying out to Him and Him alone and receiving the grace that is not merited by faith in Him.  It is not mere words it is the rendering of a heart that has realized it is lost and hopeless.  It is then lived out in a life of loving Him and loving people. 

So, what are we to do with this?  How exactly are we to live?  Is Paul saying all grace and no works?  How do I take this from this place on a Sunday morning and use this in some way the rest of the week? 

Good questions all. The answer is not nearly as complicated as we think it is or make it out to be. 

Hug the Mountain

Share story of answering the question from the kids – How much can I do and still go to heaven?  Essentially, how much sin is too much sin.   

This is the wrong question.  The question is, will this action, movie, conversation, music, drink, or purchase make me closer to the mountain or will it create space between me and the mountain?  If I am doing this – whatever “this” is, AM I HUGGING THE MOUNTAIN? 

People of the ditches: Tell the story of driving the tractor for the first time – keep it short. 

Here is what I mean by this.  We like to run to extremes, and we like to run to the extreme of whichever stance best suits our needs at the time.   

Some read this section of scripture and come away with a feeling of absolute liberality and the removal of any need for our actions to match our profession of faith. 

Still others will read the letters written to the church in Corinth or the church in Colossae and come away very legalistic and will treat grace as something that is earned and kept by our actions.  In fact, if you simply look to chapter 5 of this same letter, you will see Paul imploring the church of Galatia to live out their faith and exhibit the grace they have been afforded by their actions. 

Paul, was and is, effectively calling us to live in the full awareness of the fact that we have been gifted grace, not justice.  Mercy, not merit.  He is calling us to live a life of gratitude and for our actions to decry our appreciation of this great mercy and the humiliation of our sin should motivate us to show grace to others.   

Read Galatians 5:13-24

Finally, Be Known for What We are FOR 

Relate the story of coaching and hearing kids talk about what “makes us a Christian”. 

Paul is not calling us to join a club.  Jesus did not invite us to become members of a political party or ask us to all wear the same jersey.  Jesus invited Paul, and us, to die.   

He calls us to die to our self and live under His leadership.  We should be known for what we are for, not for what we are against. 

We, as believers in Christ, are for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22-23. 

I am afraid that we have a reputation for being against a whole list of things.  Things that are not what God has called us to and things we should not be doing, but that is not what we should be known for.  We must be known for looking like and acting like Christ. 


As we close in prayer today, I want to challenge you.  I want you to purpose to slow down as you go about your life this week.  I want you to make every effort to ask the Holy Spirit some questions about what you are doing, and then be quiet. 

Ask Him: 

Am I hugging the mountain or am I trying to be as close to the edge as possible in what I am doing, saying, reading, watching, and occupying my time with.  Am I as close to God as I can get with what I am doing or am I as far out on the ledge as I can be without falling off?  Am I hugging the mountain? 

Ask Him: 

Am I walking with you, at your pace?  Am I living in the full blessing of grace – free from the penalty of sin and shame and do my actions show my appreciation for this grace and not the abuse of it? 

Ask Him: 

Am I known for what you were known for?  Do I love the things you love and is what breaks my heart the same thing that breaks yours? 

If you ask those questions and the Holy Spirit convicts you of areas that are not His best for you and are not accurately reflecting His grace, ask Him to help you walk in a better way.  Ask Him to help you Hug the Mountain. 

Sermon Application Questions 

What does having a correct view of grace look like in our interactions with: 

  • Our spouse 
  • Parents 
  • Children 
  • Family 
  • Coworkers 

In what ways can we exhibit a life that is overly focused on works? 

In what ways can we exhibit a life that is abusing Grace? 

Paul was dealing with a “Jesus + ________” Gospel.  In what ways do we tend to add to the Gospel in our lives today?  How do we guard against this tendency? 

Given the post Christian nature of our culture today, in what ways would living out a Jesus Alone-By Faith Alone -Through Grace Alone Gospel make us conspicuous?  

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask and discuss the following questions.

Conversation Starter: We are all tempted to forget or lose sight of things at times. Do you find yourself easily distracted by new or interesting ideas?

Read Galatians 3:1-5

Q: The beginning of Galatians 3 starts with the Apostle Paul asking one blunt question and five rhetorical questions to the Galatians church.

  • What are they and what is the Apostle Paul seeking to teach them by each question?
  • What does it mean to pursue “perfection by the flesh”? Paul most likely was referring to the Mosaic Law (rule following) and personal accomplishments (competitive achievement). 
  • How does this question help get to the heart of what Paul has been teaching the Galatians throughout his letter?

Read Galatians 3:6-9

Q: The implication of Paul’s final question in verse 5 is that God blesses people as they receive his gifts by faith, not because people have earned his favor by adhering to the law. To demonstrate this, Paul turns to the father of the people of Israel, Abraham. How was it that Abraham became righteous in God’s sight?

Q: What was the promise that God gave to Abraham? From verse 6, how did Abraham become right with God.

Q: What do verses 1-5 tell us about how we grow as Christian?

Q: What do the answers to the previous two questions indicate regarding the question of whether a person needs to submit to the Jewish law (and be a Jew) in order to be pleasing in God’s sight?

Q: If law is not the way one becomes a full member of God’s people, then what is? Hint: It’s not difficult, however it needs to thought through.

Read Galatians 3:10-14

Q: In verses 10-11, Paul asserts that, short of achieving everything in the law, we are cursed. Additionally, no one is declared righteous by the law.

  • How does Jesus Christ address these problems for us? Read verses 13-14.

Q: How does Deuteronomy 27:26 (which Paul quotes in verse 10) provide evidence for the argument that a person cannot be righteous through the law?

Q: How does Habakkuk 2:4 (quoted in verse 11) provide further evidence?

Q: The people of Israel learned through the law they were under a curse because of their sin, and at the same time they were told they must find life through trusting God to bless them. How do both of these truths find their resolution in Jesus?

Q: Given this understanding, why is it a problem to try to make God accept us by doing what is good, whether through returning to the Jewish law or through some other means?

Personal Reflection: Since the late 1700s, Rock of Ages has been a familiar song sung in many churches. The third verse of the song, in particular, beautifully articulates the truth we find in the book of Galatians.

Not the labors of my hands

Can fulfill the laws commands

Should my passion never fade

And my efforts all be weighed

All for sin could not atone

You must save and you alone

Personal Challenge: As week conclude this week’s study in Galatians 3, you are invited to spend time meditating on the words of this hymn or even possibly singing this hymn. Let it inspire you to thank God for meeting the demands of the law that we could not, forgiving us our sins, and saving us from ourselves. 


Let’s discuss a few more questions as we end our time and look at living out what God has spoken to us this week.

  1. What did you hear?
  • What is your one “take-away” from this week? How did God speak specifically to you through this week’s passage and study?
  1. What do you think?
  • How did this passage and study affirm, challenge, or change the way you think about God and the truths shared?
  1. What will you do?
  • What is your next step? How will you take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to your life this week?  

Pray for any needs that were shared. Pray for the families represented in the group. Pray for the next steps shared by your group this week; that they would turn to God as their source of power and restoration!


Galatians 3:1-14, Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, John 14:6, Romans 10:8-10, Matthew 10:17-23, Galatians 5:13-24.

FAITH TALK QUESTIONS:  From “Hug the Mountain” Galatians 3:1-8.

  1. How did Paul describe the Galatians? 
  1. Does Paul add any new argument for justification by faith here?
  1. Why does Paul bring up the example of Abraham?
  1. When and how did God decide to take the gospel to the Gentiles? Why is this important to Paul’s argument?


  • Summer Series: Galatians
    • July 17 – Galatians 3:23 – 4:7
    • July 24 – Galatians 5:1-12
    • July 31 – Galatians 5:13-25
    • August 7 – Galatians 6:1-10
  • Fall Kickoff Series: #Blessed – Begins August 14