"Do" vs "Done"

Take your Bibles with me and turn to the book of Galatians. Galatians chapter 5. For this entire year, I’ve been preaching through this great book of Galatians and talking about the Grace of God. I took about two months off to go through the “I Ams” of Jesus in John, but we are going to come back to Galatians and finish it up for the next several months.

Galatians is a book that is all about grace. It is all about the fact that Salvation is a free gift from God. And that we can’t add anything to it.

You know this already, but I’m going to remind you of it anyways because some people are new to this: Galatians was written to a group of churches in a region called Galatia (which is in Turkey today). These churches were gentile churches. (Like we are a Gentile church.). They were not made up of people who had a jewish background.

But some jewish people who called themselves Christians had started going through these Galatians churches and preaching to them that if they really wanted to be Christians, then they had to obey the law from the Old Testament too. They had to be circumcised. They had to keep the feasts and the sabbath. They had to go through the whole law and basically become jews.

And this whole book of Galatians is just Pauls reaction to this. It goes into so much detail about how we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. It talks about how we have been adopted as Children into God’s family and how we have become heirs of God. It talks about how it’s all grace, it’s all a gift from God that we didn’t merit. And religion has no part in it. Works has no part in it. We are saved by faith and we live by faith. We are saved by grace and we live by grace.

You see religion says “do.” Do this work. Do that work. Don’t do this. Do this. Be a good person. Be respectable. Give. Come to church over and over again. Keep this moral code. Do. Do. Do. Do. Do.

Every single religion - whether it’s islam or judaism or bhudism or hinduism or taoism or various Christian cults - every single one of them is just man trying to do enough to make God happy. It’s all us trying to work our way up to God.

But true Christianity isn’t a “do” religion. Jesus didn’t come here to say “do”. The truly Christian message isn’t “Do.” The true Christian message is “done.”

You see it’s called the “Gospel.” “Gospel” means good news. News means it’s already happened. It’s not the “good advice” it’s the good news.

I want you to imagine that you’ve been trying to buy a house. You have a beautiful house on Western picked out and you’re trying to do everything in your power to scrape together $30,000 dollars to put down as a downpayment and get a mortgage to get that house.

So you’re taking an extra job. You’re picking up shifts at Dominoes. You’re selling your stuff. You’re buying lottery tickets. I mean, every get rich quick scheme that is out there you are trying. You are buying every book by Dave Ramsey and by Suze Orman and by Robert Kiywasaki. You are listening to Tony Robbins and to Zig Ziglar and anyone else you think is going to make me rich enough to buy that house. Every new thing that comes along you are doing and you are just wearing yourself out and sadly, you are getting nowhere.

And someone comes along and they say “I’ve got good news for you, you can have that house.” And you say, ok, tell me what I have to do. What plan do I have to sign up for. Do I sell Lula Row, do you have a new job for me, did you find a banker who can set me up with a new long term loan. Please tell me what I have to do to get this new house! I’m desperate. It’s my dream.

And the person says “No, you don’t understand. I don’t have good advice for you. I have news for you. You can have the house. It’s yours. Someone paid for it. Just walk up to the front door and you’ll find the door is unlocked and inside there is a deed with your name on it.”

You say “I don’t understand. What do I need to do.” And the person says “Nothing, it’s already done. Just take it.”

That is the difference between Christ and religion. Religion, all religion, is just a bunch of different people saying “do.” When Jesus says “done.” Religion says “this is what you have to pay.” Jesus says “I’ve already paid it for you.” Religion says “be good”, Jesus says “I was good for you.” Religion says “Get an A on the test.” Jesus says “I took the test for you, I got a 100, just accept my score.”

Again, it’s a “do” thing vs. a “done” thing.

And listen, if you have trusted Christ as your savior. If you’ve accepted his “done” then you don’t have to worry about the “do”s anymore. You can stop working yourself into the grave trying to buy that mansion - someone already bought it for you. You’ve been set free from the “do”s by what Christ has done.

Now, with that in mind, let’s read Galatians 5:1-6

”1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

They say that in Thailand you can go and you can see these huge elephants that can just walk through houses and cary trees around with their trunks. Massive, insanely strong animals. Some of the strongest things God created. But it’s actually a pretty common thing for Elephants to be domesticated and all you have to do to keep an Elephant in place is just put a ring with a rope around it’s neck that is tied to a pole.

Now think about this, an elephant could break that rope like a little piece of fishing line. I mean just snap it with almost zero effort. But they don’t.

The reason they don’t is because when they were babies, those ropes could hold them. They pulled and they pulled against those ropes until eventually they just gave up trying. Then after awhile, it just got engrained in them that if that rope was around their neck it was no use.

So now, all around the world there are these massive animals so strong they could pull down a tree. Yet they are staying in place by a tiny rope. All they need for their freedom is just to walk away, but they are bound.

Galatians has been teaching us for four chapters now that we are free from the “dos” of religion. That we are saved by grace. That we don’t need circumcison anymore. We don’t need the religious system of the jews anymore. We are free.

Look at verse 1:

”Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

You’ve been set free! You are free from the “dos” because of what Jesus has “done.”

But do you know what these Galatians were doing, the same thing a lot of Christians today are doing, even though they can just walk away from the “dos” they go right back to it.

Do you know what a “yoke” is? A yoke is something you put on an ox or a horse then attach to a wagon. It basically sticks you to the wagon and makes you work.

If you are trying to please God by a checklist of dos and don’ts. If you are trying to earn God’s favor through religious works or traditions or ceremonies or through giving or through tithing or through church attendance or through any number of things. Do you know what you are doing? You are putting the yoke back on.

Have you ever seen Ben Hur? I love that old movie. You know the scene where he is in the hull of the ship as a galley slave and he is just rowing away and he is in bondage. He’s been there for years. Then another ship comes ramming into them and his shackles are loose and he can get away. He’s free! How crazy would it be for Ben Hur to swim back into that ship and put the shackles back on and say ‘You know, I think I like rowing.’ That would be CRAZY!

But that is sort of what these Galatians were doing, they were saved by grace through faith and yet they couldn’t believe that that was enough so they were running right back to religion and putting the shackles back on.

The jews really liked this phrase “the yoke.” Whenever a jew in Jesus day got serious about studying Judaism, they would say he was “putting on the yoke.” But here Paul said “Don’t be entailed again with the yoke of bondage.”

It kind of reminds me of Jesus. When Jesus was on the earth dealing with these crazy religious Judaisers, remember he said to them…

”[Mat 11:28-30 KJV] Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.”

In Acts 15, the early church leaders met together to discuss what they were going to do with the gentiles and that word “Yoke” came up again referring to religion, Peter said:

”Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

So here is the idea, and it’s our first point:

1. Religion is slavery.

Religion, or any kind of self-salvation, is a yoke. It’s a hamster wheel. It’s a grueling awful treadmill.

The truth is if you are trying to save yourself by being good enough - it’s never going to happen - you’ll never be good enough.

  • There will always be more church services to attend.
  • There will always be more classes to teach.
  • There will always be more projects to do.
  • There will always be more people to give to.
  • There will always be things for you.

And if you are trying to earn God’s favor by doing, it’s a yoke. It’s shackles. It’s slavery.

Paul says:

”be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Here is my second point this morning:

You have been set free from religion.

The point of religion. The whole point is self-salvation. The whole point is earning favor with God. Trying to earn enough brownie points for God to like you and accept you and to maybe offset some of the bad things you’ve done.

But here is the thing we Christians need to remember. We don’t need to earn God’s favor. It’s been given to us through Jesus. We don’t need to earn forgiveness, it’s been given to us through Jesus. We don’t need to earn righteousness, it’s been given thus through Jesus.

The mansion has been deeded to you. It’s a gift, you don’t have to work for it.

Look at the first phrase of verse 1 again…

”Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free”

If you have trusted Christ - you have been set free. Period. It’s a past tense thing. You’ve been emancipated from religion.

There was a fateful day in our country when President Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation and in one sweep of a pen, millions of people stopped being slaves and were set free. The one thing they wanted more than anything, their freedom, was theirs. They just had to believe it.

Church, the cross of Christ is our spiritual emancipation proclamation from the deeds of religion. If you are here this morning because you are hoping to earn favor with God, if you do what you do to earn God’s favor, you are putting the shackles back on.

But these verses are making another point:

3. You have to chose between Christ and Religion.

Look at verses 2-4:

”Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Now, I want you to understand something - this isn’t talking about losing your salvation. Every commentary I read on this says that this is talking about Christians who are already saved, talking about how they live their Christian life, not about losing your salvation.

These Galatians were gentiles. They weren’t circumcised. They had believed in Jesus and now some jews were telling them that if you really want to please God and be a good Christian, you have to do the jewish stuff too and be circumcised.

And Paul says “no”. You have to make a choice:

  • Are you going to trust what Christ has done for you or are you going to try to keep doing it yourself?
  • Are you going to trust Christ or are you going to trust the law?
  • Are you going to live a “do” life or are you going to live a “done” life?

You have to choose - religion or Christ. But if you choose religion, then you are going to be putting the shackles back on and you are going to be missing all of the spiritual power and the freedom that comes from Christ and from Grace.

God wants us to

”Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Now, this has been a very doctrinal message and a little bit abstract, so let me conclude this morning by spending a few minutes telling you what I think this means for you:


Here is what I think this means for us…Some of you need to…

Trade working for trusting.

I’ve talked to many of you before about your salvation before and many times some will come to me and they will say “Pastor, I don’t know if I’m saved. I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough. Maybe I didn’t come down at the altar. Or, I’ve done bad things since I was saved.”

It may be possible that you’ve never been saved, but in either case, what you need to do is the same - you need to just trust what Jesus has done for you on the cross and take yourself out of it. It’s all because of Christ and what He has done, not because of you and what you have done.

You will never do enough to get saved. You will never be good enough to get saved. You can’t pray hard enough to get saved. Because it’s not about what you do - it’s about what Jesus did. All you need to do is trust Jesus. Stop looking for the next circumcision and start standing in the freedom which Christ has made you free. Stop looking for the next “do” and rest in the “done.”

Some of you need to take this verse and you need to…

Trade guilt and obligation for gratitude.

Church isn’t supposed to be a “have to” thing - it’s supposed to be a “get to” thing. We live the Christian life because it is a joy and because it is a gift, we don’t live it because we are trying to earn God’s love and favor.

Trade legalistic rule-following for Spirit-led Christ following.