Galatians 4: Born free, stay free

March 15th, 2007

Christians are supposed to be born free. We used to be slaves to the elements of the world, a lifestyle of rules in which each person goes through a lifetime of daily grind and then dies, but Jesus came to set us free. If we’re no longer slaves to the rules and rituals, why do we go about setting up new rules and voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the same slavery from which we are supposed to have escaped? Why do people wear uniforms to church? Why are there so many unwritten rules about the behaviour of church members? Where has our joy gone? We need to throw out the old spirit of slavery, and instead embrace freedom.

Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — Chapter 4

4:1 While the heirs are children, they are no different from slaves, although they are owners of everything. 4:2 They are under the authority of guardians and trustees until the date specified by the father. 4:3 It is similar for us. When we were children, we were slaves to the elements of the world. 4:4 But in the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born to a woman, subject to the law, 4:5 to redeem people who were subject to the law, so that we could be adopted as children. 4:6 Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Dad, Father!” 4:7 You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and if you are God’s children, then you are heirs of God through Christ. 4:8 In the past you did not know God, and you were slaves to things which are not real gods. 4:9 But now that you know God, or rather are known by God, why do you want to go back and be enslaved to weak and pathetic elements, all over again? 4:10 You are religiously observing days, months, seasons, and years. 4:11 I am afraid that I have wasted my efforts on you. 4:12 Please, friends, be like me, because I became like you. You did nothing wrong to me. 4:13 As you know I first preached the Good News to you because of a physical infirmity. 4:14 Although my illness was inconvenient for you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead you welcomed me as if I was a messenger of God, or even Christ Jesus.

4:15 Where has your joy gone? I can tell you that, if you could, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 4:16 Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 4:17 Those people pursue you keenly for unhelpful reasons. They want to alienate you from everyone else, so that you become fanatical with them. 4:18 It is a good thing to be enthusiastic for a good cause at any time, and not only when I am present with you.

4:19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 4:20 I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am unsure about you. 4:21 Tell me, those of you who want to be subject to the law, do you not hear what the law says? 4:22 It is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman, and one by the free woman. 4:23 The son by the slave woman was born through human effort, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. 4:24 These things provide an illustration, representing two covenants. The slave woman Hagar represents the covenant from Mount Sinai, bearing children to slavery. 4:25 Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the Jerusalem that exists now, because she is in slavery with her children. 4:26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 4:27 It is written, “Rejoice, you barren one who bears no children. Break forth into shouting, you that do not suffer labour pains. The children of the desolate one are more numerous than those of the one who has a husband.”

4:28 Friends, we are children of the promise, just as Isaac was. 4:29 But just as the son who was born through human effort persecuted the son who was born through the Spirit, the same thing happens now. 4:30 What does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son, because the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.” 4:31 So friends, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Entry Filed under: Legalism

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