We’ve all seen the ads. The smiling models, supposedly real people just like you and me, tell their tales of what a louse and loser they were before they enrolled in the program. After just three weeks?»I lost ten pounds, I made a million dollars, I found the woman of my dreams, YO?» you know the story. La «antes» y «después de la» stories that we see on television and read about in magazines are impressive, but they can’t even begin to compare to the «antes» y «después de la» story that we’re going to hear about today!
The before and after scenario that Paul paints for us, in such vivid colors, extends across the whole world, holds promise for every living person on the planet, and comes to the lowly and lost?who know that they are lowly and lost. Echemos un vistazo a nuestra Escritura para encontrar hoy en Gálatas 3:23-29.
23Antes de que llegara esta fe, estábamos detenidos presos por la ley, encerrados hasta que la fe debe ser revelado. 24Así que la ley ha sido nuestro ayo, para llevarnos a Cristo para que fuésemos justificados por la fe. 25Ahora que ha llegado la fe, ya no estamos bajo la supervisión de la ley. 26Ustedes son todos hijos de Dios mediante la fe en Cristo Jesús, 27para todos los que fueron bautizados en Cristo os han arropado con Cristo. 28No hay ni Judio ni griego, esclavo ni libre, hombre ni mujer, porque todos vosotros sois uno en Cristo Jesús. 29Si perteneces a Cristo, Entonces tú eres la semilla de Abraham, y herederos según la promesa. (Gálatas 3:23-29 NIV)
Before the fulfillment of the promise came the whole world was held as prisoners – a whole world sitting in solitary confinement. Before the promise came?
Imagina conmigo por un momento. If Spielberg, Spike Lee, or M. Night Shyamalan were making an infomercial for the Apostle Paul then the opening scene of «Antes y Después» would be set in a dank, oscuro, dungeon lined with rusty prison cells. A single 40 watt bulb hanging in the center of the cracked and uneven ceiling barely breaks the darkness. A symphony of instruments rises from the silence to set the mood for the moment. Deep moans and groans wail like a saxophone at the midnight hour in Deep Ellum, in the heart of Dallas. The brass section comes to life with the sounds of chains rattling on a cold concrete floor and the rhythm of prison doors being slammed behind the guilty. The camera narrows its shot to a single cell where the «three tenors of internment» wail with hopelessness and sorrow deeply carved into every note. The music and movement of the opening scene sets the tone for the director’s portrayal of the abysmal plight of humanity.
Humanities plight. Before you can ever arrive at the «después de la,» you must take a long, silent look at the plight, predicament, and problems of each prisoner. The plight of each prisoner is the plight of each person who is sitting within the sound of my voice this morning. Yendo al punto, the plight of each prisoner is the plight of each and every person who has ever lived.
You may think that I am exaggerating. You may be convinced that you have never been a prisoner because you’ve never worn government-issue orange or been fingerprinted. You may think that you’ve never been shackled because you’ve never heard the sounds of prison doors close behind you. You may think that I am over-reacting, pero creo que no. You may have never had your picture snapped in a police station, stood in a line-up, or before a Judge, but the law has already found each and every one of us in violation. The Judge of all judges has announced His sentence and we have been found guilty as charged. The evidence was overwhelming. The charges were brought and corroborated with no dispute. The jury was unanimous. It was an air-tight case. Somos culpables. Culpable. There will be no appeal. This is the scene Paul sets for us in the beginning of our Scripture for today. Echa un vistazo conmigo en Gálatas 3:23.
23Antes de que llegara esta fe, estábamos detenidos presos por la ley, encerrados hasta que la fe debe ser revelado. (Gálatas 3:23 NIV)
Paul says that before faith came we were prisoners. The key had been thrown away and there was no defense attorney to plead our case. Que, mi amigo, is a hopeless situation. The law found us guilty. We couldn’t keep the law in all of its requirements so we were found guilty. I want us to take a look at a couple of words that Paul uses here so that we can better understand the confinement that is suffered under the law.
The first word that I want us to take a look at is the word Paul uses for «held.» Pablo dice, «We were held prisoners by the law.» La palabra griega para «held» significa, «para guardar, proteger por una guardia militar, ya sea para prevenir la invasión hostil, or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight, under the control of the Mosaic law.» The word is used four times in the New Testament. Let’s take a look at a couple of places where the word appears.
En 2 Corintios 11:32, Paul writes about the time that a governor had an entire city surrounded and under surveillance so that he could arrest Paul. Lean conmigo.
32En Damasco, el gobernador bajo el rey Aretas tenía la ciudad de los damasquinados vigilado para arrestarme. (2 Corintios 11:32 NIV)
The word is used in a positive way in Philippians 4 where Paul tells us that God will «protector de la» our hearts and minds if we will turn to Him in the midst of our anxiety. Read with me from Philippians 4:6-7.
6No se inquieten por nada, más bien, en toda ocasión con, oración y ruego, con acción de gracias, presenten sus peticiones a Dios y denle gracias. 7Y la paz de Dios, que sobrepasa todo entendimiento, guardará vuestros corazones y vuestros pensamientos en Cristo Jesús. (Filipenses 4:6-7 NIV)
What a wonderful promise for those of us who are being attacked by anxiety and worry about what is going on in our lives right now. Turn to Him, trust Him, confiar en él, clame a él, and He will guard your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus. God will guard our minds so that we will not be enslaved and held prisoner by anxiety.
The same word is used of the law, but in a negative way, as we are told that before the promise came the law held us as prisoners. It shut us up and held us tight in its clutches always serving to remind us of our sin and our inability to meet its high demands.
In the next phrase of verse 23 Paul says that we were «locked up until faith should be revealed.» La palabra que usa Pablo para «locked up» es una palabra interesante. Los medios de palabras, «shut up together,» o «to enclose.» The word was used in the first century by fishermen who would catch a large number of fish in their nets. As a matter of fact the word is used in Luke 5:5 in exactly this way. Echa un vistazo conmigo.
5Simón respondió:, «Maestro, he trabajado duro toda la noche y no he pescado nada. Pero porque tu lo dices, Echaré las redes.» 6Cuando lo habían hecho, cogieron un gran número de peces asi que sus redes comenzaron a romperze. (Lucas 5:5-6 NIV)
Simon Peter’s nets were so full, the fish were so cramped in the nets, that the nets began to break. That is a great picture of the bind we find ourselves in under the law. We are enclosed, encircled, pressed down upon, and bound up on all sides by the law as it convicts us of our sin.
We must remember that our problem is not that the law is bad or evil. The law came from God to serve His purpose in salvation history. Our problem is that we are unable to keep the law in its entirety. Scripture teaches us that if we fail to meet every command of the law that we are guilty. We can shift the blame from our guilty conscious and blame the law, but that is like saying that geometry is flawed because we can’t pass the test.
Martin Luther spent some time in a monastery after he was converted to Christ. Luther had such a desire to be pleasing to God that he was meticulous in trying to keep himself spotless before God. Each day he would go before the priest to confess his sins during confession. Martin would pour over his soul trying to recall each and every sin that he had committed since the last time he had sat in the confessional booth. He recounted not only what he had done, but what he had failed to do so that hopefully he could walk out of the confessional with a clear conscience, no trace of sin. Luther spent so much time in the confessional racking his brain that the priest thought he was trying to avoid work.
Finalmente, when Martin Luther exhausted his list he would head out the door and feel clean and free?por un momento. Without fail, each time Martin would leave the confessional, before he ever got back to his duties, he would be reminded of something he had done or failed to do that he had not confessed – and the guilt would overwhelm him. The law keeps us hemmed up and penned in. The law holds us as prisoners.
Pablo continúa en el versículo 24 to show that the law was given by God to fulfill its purpose – to lead us to Christ. Lean conmigo.
24Así que la ley ha sido nuestro ayo, para llevarnos a Cristo para que fuésemos justificados por la fe. 25Ahora que ha llegado la fe, ya no estamos bajo la supervisión de la ley. (Gálatas 3:24-25 NIV)
» The law was put in charge.» Now that’s an interesting phrase. The law was the «tutor» of God to lead us, enseñarnos, and show us our need for the Savior. La ley, according to Paul in Romans 7, pointed out his sin at every turn. Pablo escribe,
7¿Qué diremos, entonces? La ley es pecado? Por supuesto que no! De hecho yo no habría conocido el pecado sino por la ley. Porque yo no hubiera sabido lo que la codicia, si la ley no dijera:, «No codiciarás.» (Romanos 7:7 NIV)
If the law is a spotlight detailing our sin before our eyes, then what does that have to do with «being in charge» of us? How does the law lead us to Christ? Esa es una gran pregunta! Primero, you must understand the word that Paul uses here. The word that Paul uses is translated in different ways in different versions of the Bible. Permítanme darles algunos ejemplos. In the New Century Version we read,
24En otras palabras, the law was our guardian leading us to Christ? (Versión nuevo siglo)
A similar translation is found in The New Living Translation of the Bible. Permítanme leer a usted.
24Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. (La nueva traducción viviente)
The King James Version translates the word as «schoolmaster» and the New King James uses «tutor» en lugar de eso. Finalmente, in Dr. Eugene Peterson’s translation, llamado «Un Mensage) .. ,» escribe,
Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for. (Un Mensage) .. )
Eugene Peterson really hits the nail on the head in capturing the true meaning of the word for «tutor. La palabra griega significa, «a guardian and guide of boys.» Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the upper class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.
Paul uses the same word in 1 Corintios 4. Turn to verses 14-15 with me and let’s take a look together.
14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (1 Corintios 4:14-15 NIV
The tutor or guardian was oftentimes harsh. He was present in the life of a child to teach him how to behave and to watch over them when they ventured out of the house. Paul is saying that you may have 10,000 who are there to scrutinize your every move and keep you in line, but you do not have many who treat you with the love of the Father.
La ley, as it convicts us and shines a brilliant light upon our failures leads us to the One who alone can justify us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise! Él ha venido, not to condemn, but to set the captives free! Jesús’ very first public sermon contained these words,
18 «El espíritu del Señor está sobre mí, porque me ha ungido para predicar buenas nuevas a los pobres. Él me ha enviado a proclamar libertad para los presos y la recuperación de la vista para los ciegos, para liberar los oprimidos, 19 a proclamar el año favorable del Señor.» (Lucas 4:18-19 NIV)
We could spend the rest of our lives retelling the stories of Jesus setting the prisoners free. Una y otra vez, everywhere He went, Jesus released those who were in bondage to every kind of prison. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who was greedy and willing to take advantage of those in his community for his own financial gain, but after he met Jesus he was set free from the prison cell of greed.
Demonic spirits had called Mary Magdalene’s heart their home until the day she met Jesus. When Jesus met Mary Magdalene the demons departed and Jesus alone had sole possession of her heart. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise! He is the freedom longed for by those who know that they are prisoners of their own sin. Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save those who are imprisoned. John wrote in John 3:17-18,
17Porque Dios no envió a su Hijo al mundo para condenar al mundo, sino para salvar al mundo a través de él. 18El que cree en él no es condenado, pero el que no cree, ya ha sido condenado, porque no ha creído en el nombre del unigénito Hijo de Dios. (Juan 3:17-18 NIV)
Now that the Son has come and met every requirement of the law, we are invited to believe, to trust in Jesus and what He has done for each of us. Él es nuestra justicia. He is the payment for the sin we have committed. Pablo escribe en Gálatas 3:25-27,
25Ahora que ha llegado la fe, ya no estamos bajo la supervisión de la ley. 26Ustedes son todos hijos de Dios mediante la fe en Cristo Jesús, 27para todos los que fueron bautizados en Cristo os han arropado con Cristo. (Gálatas 3:25-27 NIV)
We no longer have need for a guardian or tutor to make sure that we arrive where we are intended to go – Jesus is our destination. Paul said that we are all sons of God when we put our faith in Christ Jesus. Paul is echoing the words of the Apostle John where he wrote in John 1:12-13,
12Mas a todos los que le recibieron, a los que creen en su nombre, les dio el derecho de ser hijos de Dios-13children no nacen de la descendencia natural, ni de la decisión humana o la voluntad de un marido, sino de Dios. (Juan 1:12-13 NIV)
John and Paul got their Christology from Jesus who taught all of His followers that He was the way to the Father. Jesús dijo:,
6Respondió Jesús:, «Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida;. Nadie viene al Padre, sino por mí. (Juan 14:6 NIV)
I know that we live in a day when society tells us that there are many ways to God. The message is even gaining a wider audience in the Church as teachers and preachers who want to try and fit in with society teach that Jesus is our «Cristo,» but God may have other ways, other roads for other people. These teachers and preachers look upon God’s Word as merely another book on the shelf and not the infallible Word of God. I don’t care about fitting in any where. I only want to please my Father and be obedient to His Word. Jesús dijo:, «Yo soy el camino?Nadie viene al Padre excepto a través de mí.»
For those who believe God’s Word and trust in Jesus as their sole justification, Paul dice que somos «clothed in Christ Jesus.» Siendo «clothed with Christ» o «clothed with the Spirit of God» is a theme that runs throughout God’s Word. John MacArthur writes about this in his commentary. Escucha estas palabras poderosas.
When Gideon faced the overwhelming forces of the Midianites and the Amalekites, «the Spirit of the Lord came upon» le (Judg. 6:34). «Came upon» significa literalmente «clothed,» indicating that Gideon was enshrouded, or mantled, with the Holy Spirit as a divine coat of armor. That is the concept Paul uses here. The believer who identifies himself with Jesus Christ through faith is divinely clothed ? with Christ. That is a graphic way to describe how Christ’s life, presence, and righteous nature envelop the believer. (John MacArthur, Gálatas, p. 99)
In biblical times those who were baptized put on new clothes after their baptism to signify their new life in Christ. Their new clothes were not simply symbolic, they were significant. When we are «vestidos en Cristo’ we not only put on the new garments of eternal life, but we put on the new garments of His way of living. Paul wrote to the Colossians and told them to take off their old way of life and put on the new. He describes it this way.
8Pero ahora abandonen también todo esto: ira, rabia, malicia, calumnia, y el lenguaje sucio de tus labios. 9Dejen de mentirse unos a otros, habiéndoos despojado del viejo hombre con sus hechos, 10y han revestido del nuevo auto, que se va renovando en conocimiento a imagen de su Creador. 11Aquí no hay griego ni judío, circuncidados o no circuncidados, Bárbara, Escita, sean esclavos o libres, Pero Cristo es todo, y en todas. 12Por lo tanto, como pueblo elegido de Dios, santos y amados, revístanse de, amabilidad, humildad, mansedumbre y paciencia. 13Tolerense unos a otros y se perdonense unos a otros si alguno tiene queja contra otro. Perdónanos como el Señor los perdonó. 14Y sobre todas estas virtudes pongan el amor, lo que les une a todos en perfecta unidad. (Colosenses 3:8-14 NIV)
We become clothed with the virtues of Christ at our new birth, when we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The way Jesus lived is the way we are called to live, empowered by His Spirit.
We are also made part of a new family – a family in which the differences of race, clase, and gender are overcome by the ties that bind us together. In our last section of Galatians, Pablo escribe,
28No hay ni Judio ni griego, esclavo ni libre, hombre ni mujer, porque todos vosotros sois uno en Cristo Jesús. 29Si perteneces a Cristo, Entonces tú eres la semilla de Abraham, y herederos según la promesa. (Gálatas 3:28-29 NIV)
There is no disputing the fact that in society there are differences that separate us. These barriers are insurmountable in society. I’m not being negative; I’m just telling the truth. For those of you who doubt what I am saying, just give me a minute to explain. We have years and years and billions of dollars that testify to the fact that government programs do not bring us together. We have every sort of «sensitivity training» known to man, but we still suffer from the deep divides of class, raza, and gender. That great African American theologian, Rodney King, pleaded with us, «Can’t we all just get along?» and the answer that has sounded with resounding clarity since that day is, «No!» Society, educación, government policy, sensitivity training, and sophistication hold no promise for bringing us together. Only Jesus can bridge the divides that separate people. Only Jesus can turn foes into family. Only Jesus can turn adversaries into allies. Only Jesus can transform mortal enemies into eternal brothers and sisters.
En Cristo, the Jew and the Gentile, the slave and the free, men and women are loved, forgiven, and called into a bold new creation! If God has reached out to us like this while we were enemies of the cross, then it is imperative that we extend the same hand of fellowship and forgiveness to one another. There is no excuse that is big enough to separate us. There is no history of animosity that the story of His grace and mercy can’t rewrite.
You need to know that this is not a natural by-product of the new creation. What we see in society, with all of the divisions and schisms, is all too often what we see in the Church of our Savior today. Once again I’m not being negative, I’m just telling the truth. Piensa en ello. Churches today are filled with folks who look alike, have the same interests, and seek their comfort rather than the cause of Christ. Office buildings and factories better reflect the heart of God than His Church. On Monday morning men and women from every neighborhood, every class, and every race park their cars and gather with a mission in mind. They produce a product, provide a service, or assemble under the banner of a cause. They go home each evening to their own homes and begin the same routine the next morning. On Sunday morning those who worked side-by-side with people who were so different from themselves because they shared a common vision go to their «own» iglesia. They go to black churches, white churches, Hispanic, Indio, and Asian churches. Poor folks who don’t have the «correcto» clothes to wear feel too intimidated to visit the ornately decorated church on the corner. Wealthy folks feel intimidated to visit the church in the «campana» because of the stories they’ve heard about gangs, drogas, and crime. Because of these barriers brothers and sisters in Christ stick with those they feel comfortable with?and the heart of God is grieved.
How do I know that the heart of God is grieved? Is it because I am a great proponent of the politically correct teaching that we are all one and we just need to love one another because it is the right thing to do? Great idea, but there is no evidence that it is possible just because it is the «correcto» thing to do. Is it because the world would be better off and experience a greater peace if we all got along? Good reason, but not the best?and neither is it the biblical reason. The reason I say the heart of God is grieved is because God’s Word teaches us that when all of God’s people are gathered around His throne for the first time there will be no distinction between Jew and Gentile, esclavo y libre, or men and women. Venga conmigo a Apocalipsis 7:9 y déjame mostrarte lo que estoy hablando.
9Después de esto miré y allí ante mí estaba una gran multitud que nadie podía contar, de cada nación, tribu, personas y lenguas, de pie delante del trono y delante del cordero. Ellos vestían túnicas blancas y estaban sosteniendo ramas de Palma en sus manos. 10Y clamaron en voz alta: «La salvación viene de nuestro Dios, que se sienta en el trono, y del Cordero.» (Apocalipsis 7:9-10 NIV)
Jesús oró, «Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.» We are called to come together, but we ain’t there yet. The great divide still exists, we are still separated, we are still huddled with those who are more like us than «ellos.» Nos necesitamos los unos a los otros. The wall of division was torn down on the hill of victory, at Calvary, but we need a family reunion.
Unity comes only through Jesus, but before we can ever be united as a people we must first come to God by faith, por nosotros mismos – we must come to Jesus who is calling us to join the family of faith united in His blood, the blood of redemption for all of His people.
Let me close by taking you back to the infomercial of «Before and After.» If you will remember that dark, gloomy scene of prisoners shackled behind bars and without hope. When the darkness grew darkest, just as the 40 watt bulb was flickering for the last time, the door to the prison house swings open and stepping through the door is the Radiance of Light. The Man in the doorway holds a key in His hand that is the key to every cell. As He strolls down the narrow hallway light dances from His finger tips and illuminates every stone, every cell, and every heart. The prisoners notice the radiance of His glory and the soundtrack of shackles, chains, and wailing is replaced with the wonder of a choir singing together, «Ven Señor! Over here Lord! Thank You Lord!»
Some prisoners continue to lay upon their bunks even though Freedom has stepped onto the scene. Others rush their cell door and anticipate Freedom’s release. Before they were hopeless, they were in isolation, but after Freedom came they came together and formed a family of gratitude?those redeemed by grace. You are invited to the family.