Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 3, 1996

Galatians 4:16-18


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called "Judaizers" who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn't really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew, and that started by being circumcised.

Paul's in the middle of a section where he's sharing his frustration with the Galatian believers.

They used to be so kind and loving toward him, but they changed.

:12-20  Paul's frustration with the Galatians

:16  Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

The bottom line is that Paul has been getting some animosity from the Galatians, all because he was telling them the truth.


Maturity comes with the truth.

Ephesians 4:11-16  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

It's only when we starting speaking the truth to each other, that we are able to grow and mature.


If you keep telling me I look great, when there's a large green grapefruit growing on my back, then I'll never go to the doctor when I should.

If you keep telling me that you admire my walk, when you know that I'm really a carnal mess, I'm going be a lot less likely to change my life.

If you keep telling me that some goofy doctrine I've made up is okay, then I'm not going to be seeking the truth.


The one telling you the truth is your friend.

Proverbs 27:6   Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

We like to be told nice things, but a true friend is going to know that more than compliments, you also need to hear the truth.

:17  They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

zealously affect - zeloo - to burn with zeal; either a bad way as in envy, or a good way as in zeal.

The idea is that these Judaizers have this "zeal" for the Galatians, but not for a good cause.

they would exclude you - talking about how the Judaizers have told these Gentile believers that unless they get circumcised and start following the Mosaic Law, that they are not going to be saved.

that ye might affect them - this excluding the Galatians from salvation without the Law is done so that the Galatians would have this zeal to seek out the Judaizers for this better understanding of salvation.


Be careful about the "excluders".

It's a common ploy of cults to tell you that they are the only group going to heaven.

And what does that do?

It makes you want to join them, so you don't miss out on heaven!

This is another quality common to legalism, that people will be excluded from their group for not meeting their standards.

:18  But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

18   It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

Paul is saying that it's a fine thing to have zeal, as long as it's for a good thing, and as long as it's a continual thing, and not just whenever Paul is around.

Lesson #1:

Make sure your zeal is accomplishing something!

re:  "in a good thing"

Make sure zeal is towards a good thing.

We can get all hot and steamed over things, but never accomplish anything.


When the Crystal Palace Exhibition opened in 1851, people flocked to London's Hyde Park to behold the marvels.  One of the greatest marvels back then was steam.  Steam plows were displayed.  Steam locomotives.  Steam looms.  Steam organs.  Even a steam cannon.

Of all the great exhibits that year, the first-prize winner was a steam invention with seven thousand parts.  When it was turned on, its pulleys, whistles, bells, and gears made a lot of noise, but, ironically, the contraption didn't do a thing!  Seven thousand moving parts making a lot of commotion... but having no practical use.

Zeal (like steam) should be used for good purposes, for a "good thing".

Lesson #2:

Make sure it's your zeal for Jesus, not somebody else's

re:  "not only when I am present with you"

Independently working zeal.

It's possible to build up a fire, a zeal, when other people are around you.

But what's best is when it's just because of you and Jesus.

The best kind of zeal, the kind that lasts, is the kind that comes from within you.

It's a better fuel source!


It's kind of like a nuclear powered sub.

The old diesel powered subs had to stop quite often for refueling.

But a nuclear powered sub can go for months because it has this different kind of burning fuel.

The fire comes from the Holy Spirit.

Look at the lives of the apostles

When Jesus was arrested, they all scattered and fled.

After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, He appeared to the disciples who were in hiding being closed, locked doors.

But it wouldn't always be this way:

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

And then on the day of Pentecost, it happened:

Acts 2:1-4  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

When the crowd wanted to know what was going on, it was timid Peter, the guy who denied Jesus three times to little servant girls and such, who stood up and preached in front of the whole crowd.

What was the difference?  He had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Note:  The "fire" didn't come from a hot praise band.  The "fire" didn't come from a really great preacher who "fired up" the people (in fact the preaching came after the fire did).

Warning:  We can get fired up over the wrong things.

If the fire isn't coming from the Holy Spirit, we're in trouble.

Lesson #3:

Zeal that lasts.

re:  "zealously affected always"

What concerns me is when a person exhibits signs of  being "on fire" for Jesus, but it only lasts for a little while.

Feed the Flame

Zeal is a delicate thing and can be lost if we don't fan the flames.

Look again at the early church:

After Peter had preached, a group of believers was created:

Acts 2:40-42  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The Word of God, fellowship, prayer ...

Later on in Acts, after getting in trouble for preaching about Jesus, the persecution began to grow for the church.

But instead of allowing the trials to quench the fire, they prayed, and fanned the flames:

Acts 4:31  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Keep the fire burning!


Thy Glory

When Thy Shekinah glory fell,

  The priests stood still in awe; 

Nor could the great Apostle tell

  The glory that he saw 

When Thou didst lift him to the sky

To sights unseen by mortal eye. 


When Moses stood with unshod feet

  And Thy great Presence felt, 

No trumpeter could call retreat

  While gazing where Thou dwelt! 

He listened, raptured by Thy voice,

And strangely did his heart rejoice. 


The toilers' fishing nets were left

  In answer to Thy call, 

And worldly men, of sense bereft

  Before their feet would fall. 

Those simple men Thou didst endue

With power original to You. 


O Lord, we labor in a day

  When men of faith are few. 

Now just a remnant watch and pray. 

  Again we beg - endue 

Thy church with apostolic power

For true revival in this hour. 


Have we the holy channel blocked

  With unbelief and sin? 

Have we not asked and sought and knocked 

  To bring the glory in? 

How is now Thy Spirit grieved 

  That He withholds the shower 

That would revival tide bring in 

  And apostolic power? 


Is Thy blest Holy Word unread? 

  And have we ceased to pray? 

Have carnal longings in our hearts 

  Brought spiritual decay? 

Come, great Physician, come, 

  And circumcise the heart; 

Fleshly impediments remove 

  And all Thy might impart. 


So let the beauty of the Lord

  On Christians be outpoured, 

That we forget "our" ministry, 

  And glorify the Lord. 

We hate the boasting flesh 

  Which often claims Thy name. 

Descend, Oh Holy Ghost, descend 

  With all Thy purging flame!


Excerpts taken from "Heart Breathings" by  Leonard Ravenhill. Used by permission. (C) Copyright 1995 by Harvey & Tait Publications.