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God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

July 26, 2020

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Passage: Galatians 3:1-9
Service Type:

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves1

Galatians 3:1-9


WELCOME / Name & title / let Kids go to class


Welcome those on Facebook Live – thank you for participating. 

We want you to know that you are important to the body of Christ, even if your situation doesn’t allow you to join us today, so please send us a message on Facebook to let us know you were watching as well as how we can pray for you or walk with you this week. 


If new or feel like new, here’s a quick snapshot of what we’re about at River City.


Purpose of global church = ambassadors for Christ, message of reconciliation 2 Cor 5:17-21.

  • Simply = everything aimed at glory of God = parent, talk, work, school, recreate, rest, etc
  • Not about buildings or programs. PEOPLE are the church; message carriers.
    • Don’t need to all be in the same room for that. 
    • Can thrive during pandemic; national or global unrest; markets good or bad
  • Result = every man, woman, child in Riverside, and surrounding communities where you live, have a gospel-centered interaction whenever they encounter YOU.
    • Youth, young adults love Jesus w/ heart, soul, mind, strength - need leaders
    • Young kids, not just learning Bible stories, but gospel so grow in wisdom and truth like Jesus when he was a kid
      • KIDCITY - only have capacity to serve age 8 and under. Need folks willing to help out 1 or 2 a month.
    • Business men/women, auto workers, medical professionals, teachers, artists, etc leveraging abilities and resources for God’s glory. 
    • See people finishing well – not coasting to the finish, but running hard until the sun goes down
  • The vision of River City Church is faithfulness. Faithfulness in how we carry the message of Jesus to the people God has placed in our lives.  




But, we have an enemy that is opposed to all of that. He will not rest until he has completely distracted us, made us self-focused and ineffective for kdom of God. Jared Wilson, = the devil has a file cabinet with a folder that has your name on it. Knows exactly what it would take to bring you down and crush you, and every day he is working hard to make that a reality.2 Some of these deceptions we’ve talked about have been a little nit-picky and maybe subjective, but this one today is in every one of our file folders. This one works so well on all of us. 




If someone asked you today, “Is it true that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves," what would you say? Over 60% of “born again” Christians say “yes”, and 82% of Americans feel the same way.3  Jay Leno – name 10 commandments. Top Answer: God helps those... 


 God helps those who help themselves is a dangerous deception – it sounds good, but isn’t biblical.


Let's take a look. Turn to Galatians 1.


Galatians 1:1,2 - Paul, an apostle – not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches in Galatia.


Galatia = Region (modern Turkey) became ruled by Rome 50 years before birth of Jesus, and it was about 100 years later, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that the apostle Paul helped start several churches in this region on one of his missionary journeys


Paul preached gospel of Jesus (life, death, res) many were born again. 


Until Christ, people of God = Israel. Had God’s laws, his presence, his representatives, and they were marked by the covenant sign of circumcision as well as submitting oneself to the Law of Moses.


Gospel spreads & created tension among Jews (had always regulations/customs) and non-Jews especially over circumcision.


About two years after the churches in Galatia were planted, into that tension came some now-saved former Jews who were saying in order to be fully, really saved, these new Christians needed to also follow the regulations of the Jewish law that they had had to follow, and had effectively convinced the Galatians that true salvation is the work of Jesus PLUS the covenant sign of circumcision. 


Paul got word that the churches in Galatia had made salvation Jesus + circumcision and it crushed him. Broken-hearted and angry, he sat down to write this letter to remind them of the truth. And as Paul often does, he begins his letters with a reminder of the gospel:


Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Frustrated, still begins w/ gospel. Oh for the grace to do that with my kids, with my wife, with those who think differently than I do. This is the simplest explanation of the Gospel that you might ever see.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. 


Better news than 

  • “your cancer is gone” is “your sin is gone.” 
  • “your Profit and Loss sheet shows you had the best month of sales in the past 10 years” or “you got all A’s this semester” is “you have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” in Christ. 
  • “it’s a girl! Or It’s a boy!” Is “the Son of God came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Time to receive that good news is NOW! Romans 10:13, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. 


After starting with the gospel, Paul addresses the issue at hand.


I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 


So what is this other gospel that the Galatians were turning to? What is the distortion that had been allowed to corrupt their view of the gospel of Christ? And in Galatians 2:15-16, Paul uncovers the deception that’s going on: 


[15] We are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners," [16] and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.


Now, when you see repetition like that in scripture, you’ve come across something very important. And in verse 16, Paul repeats himself three times. 

  • We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law BUT BY FAITH IN JC
  • Justified… not by the works of the law JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN CHRIST
  • By works of the law no human being will be justified


Turn the corner to Galatians 3:1-9 CSB

[1] You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? [2] I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? [3] Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? [4] Did you experience so much for nothing-if in fact it was for nothing? [5] So then, does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law? Or is it by believing what you heard- [6] just like Abraham who believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness? [7] You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham's sons. [8] Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. [9] Consequently those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.


Convo w/ Muslim friend = I asked How do you get to heaven? He said by obeying one of the pillars of Islam. I said, okay, say you do that… does that mean you get in? Not necessarily, he said. You have to do it well enough. I said, how do you know if you did it well enough? He said you don’t till you get there. And even if you do it right, Allah could change his mind. I said, that sounds depressing to me! He said, oh, we’re not allowed to be depressed either. 


I wonder how many American Christians today, us included, feel like my friend. You believe in Jesus, you confess your sinfulness and need for a Savior, but you live every day as if you’re not 100% confident that Jesus’ death on the cross is all you need to get to heaven. And you’re hoping that because your good deeds outweigh your bad God will give you the benefit of the doubt, or you somehow hope to scoot into heaven on the good graces that your parents and grandparents were really involved in their church and God lets them bring a friend to heaven


Verse 1? Who has cast a spell on you? “Who has bewitched you?” It is the language of witchcraft to believe that you have to or that you can add something to the cross of Christ in order to be saved. It’s utterly satanic. 


Verse 2: Do you receive the Spirit by obeying the law, or by believing what you heard? 

Verse 3: Do you think that what the Spirit started, you have to finish?

Verse 5: Does God give you the Spirit and signs because you obey the law, or because you believe the gospel?


Romans 3: ALL have sinned. NONE are righteous. NO ONE does good. And that’s where Satan slips the deception in, starting at the garden of Eden, and it’s in all of our file folders today. You hear those words, NO ONE DOES GOOD, and you bristle at it. Fake news. I’m not that bad.


We struggle with that because our flesh yearns for work, for credit.4  

Works righteousness is like that forbidden tree in the middle of the garden. We can see it right there. It is always within the eyesight of us enjoying God’s grace. And every now and again, we hear the serpent whisper: “Yes, yes, grace. But there’s more. There’s an enhancement. There’s real power, real enhancement here with this. Take and eat.”5


Favorite part of construction, mowing, cleaning is looking back / “I did that.”

Satan’s goal for “God helps…” is to look at your own right-ness and say “I did that.”

And it’s so tempting! Because it promises to make so much of us.But it is utterly satanic. 


Look at Verses 6-9: Faith, faith, faith, faith, faith. It is by grace you are saved, through faith. And this is a GIFT! not of your own doing. Ephesians 2. 


Unless Jesus’ blood covers you, and cleans you from all of your unrighteousness, there is not a single solitary thing you can do to honor God

  • You can’t tithe enough to the one who owns every single blade of grass. 
  • You can’t sing loudly enough or passionately enough to the one who is surrounded by the voices of angels. 
  • You can’t present a scale that has more good than bad to the only person who ever lived a perfect life. 
  • You can’t go on enough missions trips or plant enough churches to satisfy the person who left heaven to come to earth to die for your sin instead of his own. 
  • You can’t eat enough communion bread to satisfy the Bread of Life. 
  • You can’t drink enough communion wine to satisfy the one who drank the full wrath of God for you. 


The gospel is God-centered: It’s 100% Jesus. + nothing. It’s not Jesus plus circumcision. It’s not Jesus plus the Eucharist. It’s not Jesus plus missions trips or Sunday attendance. It’s not Jesus plus being on your best behavior. IT’S JESUS AND ONLY JESUS


And the best news that I can give you today is that God doesn’t help those who can help themselves. God helps those who CAN’T help themselves. If you’re struggling with addiction or despair or hopelessness or suffering, Jesus did not avoid people like you – HE CAME FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU! He sees you, he knows you, he hears you.


Salvation is not Jesus + getting your act together. The people Jesus was the hardest on during his ministry, were those who taught you had to have your act together for God to approve of you. Here’s how Paul finishes his letter to the Galatians:


As for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The world (it’s ideas, it’s standards, it’s pursuits) has been crucified to me (it is dead to me) through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.


Listen – Satan might have a folder on you, where he knows what it’ll take to crush you. But there is a folder with Satan’s name on it, even back in Genesis 3, God knew what it would take to crush the serpent’s head, and he did it in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus who right now sits exalted at the right hand of God, with a name that is above every other name, interceding for you and for me, praying that we would see that salvation is not based on anything I’ve done, anything I am doing, or anything I will do, but only through Christ in me. 




  1. Sermon titles and topics taken from Jared C Wilson, The Gospel According To Satan (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2020)
  2. Wilson, Jared The Gospel According To Satan (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2020), 156
  3. Ibid, 159
  4. Ibid, 161
  5. Ibid, 163
  6. Ibid, 163