ESGAL04 Galatians 3:26-4:31
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. 12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. 13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? 17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you. 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
So, welcome back to our gallop through Galatians for we are just giving an overview. For instance, when I did this chapter before at my previous Church I spent four weeks in it; today we are going to do it in one. And if I really wanted I could have gone the other way and spent a whole year on Galatians alone.
Justification, which we have been speaking about the last 3 weeks, not only makes us righteous before God where He declares that we are ‘not guilty’, and this is fantastic enough, but we have also received many other things as a result.
In summary these four things are:
We are now sons
We are now equals
We are now heirs
We are now free
Every single one of these is remarkable.
1. In being justified we become Sons of God. This isn’t a sexist statement. Sonship in biblical times — and to some extent even today in some cultures — confers a higher status of gift or inheritance. In the Roman world sonship also brought with it direct access to the father and all his resources. Being a son in God’s Kingdom does not relate to whether we are a man or a woman. But either way we are now in a better position than before. Before we were orphans without any status whatsoever but God has brought us into His family and given us His name. Now we have all the rights that this brings.
2. In being justified we become One in Christ –
A common prayer said by many Jewish men each morning was, “Lord, I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” This sounds incendiary! The class idea of earthly status has no importance in heaven and this is emphasised by Paul’s choice of three polar opposite groups. Jews/Gentiles, Slaves/Free, Women/Men.
a. Jews were thought to be God’s chosen people, so they felt superior to the Gentiles whom they referred to as dogs. For Gentiles to be equated with Jews in God’s kingdom was a shocking statement.
b. Slaves did not enjoy the benefits of freedom on earth, yet in Christ they are just as free as everyone else.
c. The biggest jolt probably came next, when Paul declared equality between men and women in the Kingdom of God. In other words, God considers men and women as different, but equally loved and respected by him. Paul is often criticised for comments that seem sexist today, but if you really look at what he was saying, Paul was more controversial than anyone before him.
3. In being justified we become heirs in that we are now descendants of Abraham
1-2 An heir is one that still has not received what has been promised.
In the Roman Empire children did not make any of their own decisions until they were 25 though the father has discretion as to when this should happen.
To illustrate this in 1997 Prince William inherited £12m when his mother, Princess Diana died. The only problem was that he could not touch the money: it was held in trust until he turned 30 – and for 5 years he has now done what he likes with it. But until then he was underage – had not yet come of age.
Paul is saying that there is an inheritance to have but you must remain under tutors, remain under trustees until you have learned to be responsible.
The point is that the law was the preliminary stage; the law was the tutor that was supposed to bring them to the realisation that they could not achieve the law and that Christ was the only way to achieve righteousness with God. It’s time to put nursery school behind them, Paul says; the just live by faith, not by trying to keep the law.
4-5 God has provided a way to be set free because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, born to a woman, born human, born therefore under the law, as a servant but not one who sinned or had a sin nature at the very right moment of history, in the fullness of time. He was under law, not under sin. He became flesh, truly man, experiencing all the onslaughts of evil, all the temptations of the flesh, all the weakness of humanity, in order to stand beside us but without succumbing to sin.
Therefore when he was offered up as our Passover lamb judgement passed over us and instead was paid in full by the one who had no blemish, he bore the full requirement of the law in being the one who fulfilled it to the letter but on behalf of those who could not fulfil it, he bore the full weight of the law – death, the wages of sin. God sent His Son to die. God condemned sin in the flesh. Therefore in His dying paid the penalty for sin once and for all and in rising from the dead defeated our mortal enemy and gives us eternal life. He has freed us spiritual bondage to the law and from the elements of this world. God has redeemed us, bought us back from the marketplace of slavery and sin. For all who would no longer be illegitimate he has given us full rights as sons, to be sons by faith.
He, the perfect One, took what we deserve, that we, the sinners, might get what He deserved.
We now owe Him everything.
Galatians 3:26 (NKJV) 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
In Roman law being adopted into a family meant that all debt was cancelled, all criminal charges are dropped, they could not be put to death by their new father, and they could not be disinherited by their new father. In legal terms they were a completely new person. When one was adopted they officially and permanently became the father’s heir. No wonder Scripture says
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
7 In being adopted as sons we have been made co-heirs with Jesus of God. No longer are we babes, no longer immature children but grown up heirs. We have come of age, sons who can take their rightful place as a result of God’s gracious work.
We have the status of being sons, as well as the status of being holy, the status of being righteous all the while striving to be holy, to be righteous, to act as sons of God when one day we will be what we are.
We did not make ourselves sons for we were incapable being slaves; for what slave can set themselves free? We have been set free on the initiative of God and therefore all that we have received has come from God and therefore he is worthy of all our praise.
But the Galatians might not have heard the Gospel at all if Paul had not been sick. It was the fact he was sick that Paul preached the Gospel to them.
Paul, I’m sure, had other plans but actually it turned out to be fortuitous for those he would not otherwise have preached the Gospel to. It may seem to us that our daily lives are unordered to a certain extent and that the minor decisions that we make have no bearing upon the Kingdom of Heaven but on occasion we get glimpses into God’s ordained structure. Sometimes we see that God uses a casual conversation we have had to stir up consciences or we make a plan to go somewhere and we just happen to meet someone and so on. What is lacking very often in us is the spirit of faith and expectancy. That God can use us every day, every moment of a day if we allow Him to. These ‘God-incidences’ occur from time to time without asking God it would happen more often if we asked Him and become aware of and live in the Spirit day by day, moment by moment.
God works out all things according to His purpose.
As for sickness the Bible testifies that Jesus healed all those who came to Him. However other testimonies in Scripture shows that sometimes sickness will come to us as in the passage we have read today, and with Timothy and Epaphroditus in other passages. No one wants to be ill but God can use even this. Being sick does not limit God working His purposes out in our lives.
God’s ways and thoughts are different to ours – He see the big picture – but He is also our God who cares for us more than the birds of the air and He knows everything about them as well.
God works everything out to His peoples’ good and that is sometimes past finding out.
Let me tell you a true story:
Lizzie Johnson made thousands of bookmarks. At thirteen Lizzie injured her back in an accident, and she was to spend the rest of her life, twenty-seven more years, flat on her back. Her only view of the world was from a mirror mounted above her head. But she still wanted to do a great thing with her life, so when she heard in those days that you could free an African slave for £30, she made a quilt and tried to sell it for £30. Nobody would buy it. So she turned to making bookmarks, and she raised £750 a year for the rest of her life. She gave every penny of that to projects in this world that go to building up rather than tearing down.
What about the quilt? One day a bishop from India was travelling through and she gave it to him. He took that quilt with him on his speaking tour around the US, and he told the story of Lizzie Johnson. Then he asked people if they would place an offering for missions in the quilt. He raised £75000 for missions. Talk about how There was a Japanese man who became a Christian through these missions and became a missionary himself. And that’s just what we know about. God creates miracles through small efforts!
John 15:16 (NKJV) 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Freedom is only given to the children of the Gospel. It is through the Gospel alone. Religion, if we take it to mean working towards God, is the opposite of those who come by faith: for God came to us, gave His life for us, giving us the promise of eternal life in and through Jesus Christ. The Gospel is freedom. Not freedom to do whatever we like but freedom to serve the one who has given it all; a true freedom. We’ll see more of this next week for:
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
However it is important to note that we can get ourselves re-entangled in the idea that we have to do things to please God. Scripture says otherwise:
Hebrews 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please Him.
Romans 14:23 whatever is not from faith is sin.
We only do ourselves harm when we try to seek God’s approval by working to please Him. We have forgotten we already have His approval because Jesus paid the price in full. He has accepted us. It is finished. There is no more to do. Freedom has been given – now we can revel in it. What is our response except to rejoice and to love Him in return – He deserves our allegiance.