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Galatians 4:21-31. A Fresh Start for a New Year

God in the Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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In order to make “A Fresh Start for the New Year”, we need to understand and walk in 1) The Desire for Freedom (Galatians 4:21-23), 2) The Design for Freedom (Galatians 4:24-27), and celebrate 3) The Delight of Freedom (Galatians 4:28-31).

Galatians 4:21–31. “A Fresh Start for a New Year” Safe Haven Worship Centre. Sunday January 6th 2019. Dr. Yoel Abells in his article, Avoiding the failure trap of New Year’s resolutions wrote this: “(A New Year) is an opportunity to reflect on days past and to consider the future”. Typically at this time, we make resolutions or commitments to change something (or multiple things) about ourselves. Unfortunately, just as typically, our resolve tends to last for a few days and then -- once again -- we find that we are linked to patterns we swore we would abandon. Why is it that we tend to abandon these resolutions or commitments so easily? Dr. Abells noted that he suspects the answer lies in the incongruence between our intent and the realities that impose themselves upon us. The new year marks a new beginning, buttressed by new hopes and renewed energy. We feel compelled to make radical changes and probably lose a bit of perspective, forgetting (albeit briefly) the parameters that govern our lives and the demands that compete for our attention. Once reality sets in, we can become easily discouraged. ( In Galatians 4:21–31 Paul points to the origin of this conflict in the contrast of grace and law, faith and works. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he employs an Old Testament story as an analogy, which serves not so much as an argument as an illustration. Paul contrasts two sons, two mothers, two covenants and two Jerusalem’s. In terms of our relationship with God, Paul calls us to have a new covenant perspective, and realize the grace of God in our relationship with Him. God calls us to abandon the effort of trying to live our lives confident in our own abilities, burdened with guilt and failure. Understanding and walking in the Grace of God is living a life of divine freedom in Christ. In order to make “A Fresh Start for the New Year”, therefore, we need to understand and walk in 1) The Desire for Freedom (Galatians 4:21-23) , 2) The Design for Freedom (Galatians 4:24-27), and celebrate 3) The Delight of Freedom (Galatians 4:28-31). In order to make “A Fresh Start for the New Year”, we need to understand and walk in: 1) The Desire for Freedom (Galatians 4:21-23) Galatians 4:21-23 [21] Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? [22] For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. [23] But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. (ESV) Law in this verse is used in two different senses. The first refers to law as a means of attaining holiness, and the second to the books of the law (Genesis through Deuteronomy), here particularly Genesis. Paul is saying, “Tell me, you who desire to obtain favor with God by law-keeping, do you not listen to the message of the book of the law?” To be “under” something is to be in complete subjection to it, and that constitutes slavery. In Scripture, to “listen” means to obey, so Paul is accusing (the Galatians) of subjecting themselves to something they fail to understand and therefore cannot obey. If they truly understood the law, they would know the danger of placing themselves under it.( Osborne, G. R. (2017). Galatians: Verse by Verse (p. 146). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.) • This is where we start the new year: If we set our endeavoring to do more, try harder or be more cleaver, we are bound to be burdened with guilt and failure. If on the other hand, our Fresh Start for the New Year focuses on God’s promises, God’s resources, and God’s enabling, then through His grace, He promises to provide, strengthen and empower us through His spirit working through us. Paul reminds his readers in Galatians 4:22 of their forefather Abraham, progenitor of the Hebrew race. It was in their racial descent from him that most Jews of Paul’s day placed their trust for salvation. But as John the Baptist had declared to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:9), for Jews to say, “we have Abraham for our father,” did not make them right with God, who “is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham”. Paul’s first historical reminder about Abraham was that he had two sons. Paul’s adversaries and their Jewish followers prided themselves in the fact that they were the biological descendants of Abraham as if that biological relationship were of paramount significance for salvation. If physical descent from Abraham is so all-important, then they who are Jews by birth are not any better off than are the Ishmaelites. (William Hendriksen: Galatians New Testament Commentary. Baker Publishing House. 2004. p. 180) Please turn to Genesis 21 The two sons that Paul refers to here in Galatians 4, were distinct in a number of ways, first of all in having different mothers, one who was a Slave/bondwoman and the other who was a free woman. The first son was Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar, an Egyptian slave of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. The second son was Isaac, whose mother was Sarah. The background to what Paul is talking about in Galatians 4, is explained in Genesis 21. Genesis 21:1-10 [21:1] The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. [2] And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. [3] Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. [4] And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. [5] Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. [6] And Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me." [7] And she said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age." [8] And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. [9] But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. [10] So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." (ESV) • Here, Isaac illustrates the believer in several particulars. He was born by God’s power. He brought joy. His name means “laughter,” and certainly he brought joy to his aged parents. Salvation is an experience of joy, not only to the believer himself, but also to those around him. He grew and was weaned (Gen. 21:8). Salvation is the beginning, not the ending of our Christian lives. After we are born, we must grow (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18). Along with maturity comes weaning: we must lay aside “childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11). Isaac was persecuted (Gen. 21:9). Ishmael (representing the flesh) caused problems for Isaac, just as (the flesh) causes problems for us. (Paul will discuss this in detail in Gal. 5:16ff.) (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Ga 4:24). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.) Throughout the analogy, all distinctions between the two sons are based on the fact that they had two different mothers, not on the fact that they had a common father, Abraham. The heritage of the line through Hagar is lostness and bondage, and the heritage of the line through Sarah is salvation and freedom. We cannot claim to belong to Abraham unless we belong to Christ.( Stott, J. R. W. (1986). The message of Galatians: Only one way (p. 123). Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.) Paul’s second historical reminder in Galatians 4:23 was that the son by the slave/bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through promise. Many years after God first promised a son to Abraham, Sarah had not yet conceived. When he was 86 and she 76, Abraham feared that, according to the custom of the day, his chief servant, Eliezer of Damascus, would be his only heir. He cried out to God in despair, and the Lord reaffirmed His original promise, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir” (Gen. 15:1–4). But when, after several more years, Sarah still had not conceived, she induced Abraham to father a child by her female slave, Hagar. The birth of that son, whose name was Ishmael, was according to the flesh, not because it was physical but because the scheme for his conception, devised by Sarah and carried out by Abraham, was motivated by purely selfish desires and fulfilled by purely human means. Ishmael represents all those who base their hope for eternity on what they themselves are able to do on their own works. • A Fresh Start for this New Year is a renewal in the promises of God. We are not to try to short cut His timeline or think that we can speed up His timeline. If we trust in Him, continue to follow His directives, even when it immediately doesn’t seem to work, then He promises to bless in His time. The birth of Isaac, the son by the free woman Sarah, was through promise. His conception was supernatural, not in the sense that he was conceived directly by the Holy Spirit, as Jesus was, but that the Holy Spirit miraculously enabled Abraham and Sarah to produce a child after she was far past normal childbearing age and had been barren all her life. “Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life” (Heb. 11:11). When Isaac was born, his father was 100 and his mother was 90 (Gen. 17:17; 21:5).The conception of Ishmael represents man’s way, the way of the flesh, whereas that of Isaac represents God’s way, the way of promise, The first is analogous to the way of religious self-effort and works righteousness; the second is analogous to the way of faith and God’s imputed righteousness. The one is the way of legalism, the other the way of grace. Ishmael symbolizes those who have had only natural birth and who trust in their own works. Isaac symbolizes those who also have had spiritual birth because they have trusted in the work of Jesus Christ. (cf. Rom. 9:6-18). When Abraham got Hagar pregnant, he was operating on the false notion that “God helps those who help themselves” He was trying to take the blessing, rather than waiting to receive it. • This ties into what we looked at last week with our efforts and plans. Motives, regardless of how good, do not justify ungodly means. We must do things God’s way and in God’s time. Illustration: God Hath Not Promised All this speaks about understanding and trusting in the promises of God. How can we summarize what God has and has not promised? In poetic form, one writer put it: “God hath not promised Skies ever blue, Flower-strewn pathways always for you. God hath not promised Sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, Peace without pain. But He hath promised Strength from above, Unfailing sympathy, undying love”. (Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.) Secondly, in order to make “A Fresh Start for the New Year”, we need to understand and walk in: 2) The Design for Freedom (Galatians 4:24-27) (Galatians 4:21-23) Galatians 4:24-27 [24] Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. [25] Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. [26] But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. [27] For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband." Paul here specifically states that his present illustration is an analogy. This refers back to verses 22–23, where the analogy begins. He states that his thoughts are expressed “allegorically”, (ἀλληγορούμενα, allēgoroumena) which is a transliteration taken from allēgoreō, is a compound of allos (other) and agoreuō (to speak in a place of assembly, that is, publicly), and means “to speak other than one seems to speak.” It was used of a story that conveyed meaning other than what was apparent in the literal sense of the words. As a figure of speech Paul expresses the concepts that he is presenting in a trope form, which is defined as ‘any literary device that uses words in other than their literal sense’.( Barnes, P. (2006). A Study Commentary on Galatians (p. 212). Darlington, England; Webster, New York: Evangelical Press.) It has the idea of one thing being represented under the image of another. In this case, the spiritual truth is illustrated by the historical story, and translating “analogically” is consistent with the basic meaning of the Greek. Paul did not in any sense deny the literal meaning of the story of Abraham, but he declared that that story, especially the matters relating to the conception of the two sons, had an additional meaning. Thus he compared the narrative to the conflict between Judaism and Christianity (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:603). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle explains that these women, the bondwoman Hagar and the free woman Sarah, are illustrations of two covenants. The two mothers and two sons plainly and graphically represent two covenants. Hagar and Ishmael represent the covenant of law and works, anti Sarah and Isaac represent the covenant of grace and faith. The allegory here is complex, featuring three layers of meaning. Sarah and Hagar not only represent the two covenants, but correspond to the two Jerusalem’s, which cites also have adherents or children. The two Jerusalem’s, in turn, represent the church verses corporate Judaism. Perhaps the use of this allegory is Paul responding to the Judaizers in kind. His opponents may have been the first to introduce this allegory into the argument. The Judaizers may have accused the Gentile converts of being like Ishmael, excluded from the inheritance, while the Judaizers were true sons, like Isaac. To receive the promise, they may have argued, the Gentiles must become Jews through circumcision and law-keeping. In reply, Paul may be trying to reverse the allegory, showing that the distinction is not racial, between Jew and Gentile but spiritual, between those born of the flesh (Ishmael) and those born of the Spirit (Isaac).(Edgar H. Andrews. Free in Christ: The Message of Galatians. Welwyn Commentary Series. Evangelical Press. 1996. p. 248). As we have seen previously, the Old Covenant of law was given through Moses at Mount Sinai and required God’s chosen people, the Jews, to keep all the commands God gave in conjunction with that covenant. Because the terms of the covenant were humanly impossible to keep, it produced a type of religious slavery, as it were, bound to a master from whom they could never escape. Anyone, including a Jew, who attempted to satisfy God and gain freedom from condemnation by trying to live up to that covenant in his own self-righteousness was spiritually like a child of Hagar, the bondwoman. Someone trying this would be a slave, struggling for a freedom he could not obtain by his own efforts. In the law God laid the responsibility on men and said ‘thou shalt …, thou shalt not …’; but in the promise God keeps the responsibility Himself and says ‘I will …, I will …’(Stott, J. R. W. (1986). The message of Galatians: Only one way (p. 124). Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.) • This is how our Start for the New Year comes into play. Committing to a set of rules, a set program, a set of activities to make everything right is bound for failure. Relinquishing sin, submitting to the direction of the Holy Spirit and seeking to please God, promises freedom and blessing. The descendants of Hagar through Ishmael eventually moved into the desert areas to the east and south of the Promised Land. They came to be known broadly as Arabs and their territory as Arabia, and it is significant that Mount Sinai is located in what is still known today as the Arabian Peninsula. It was between the sons of Hagar and Sarah that the modern Arab-Israeli animosity began some 4,000 years ago, producing a continual conflict between two peoples who both trace their lineage from Abraham. Galatians 4:25 tells us that Mount Sinai in Arabia corresponds to the present Jerusalem. Paul states that Hagar/Sinai corresponds to “the present Jerusalem.” The word translated “corresponds” is sustoicheō, a term found nowhere else in the New Testament. It means literally to “stand in the same line” or “place in the same column.”  Throughout this passage, Paul was establishing two columns of implied correspondences and complementary antitheses: Chart Slide HAGAR SARAH Ishmael, the son of slavery Isaac, the son of freedom Birth “according to the flesh” Birth “through the promise” Old Covenant New Covenant Mount Sinai [Mount Zion] Present Jerusalem Heavenly Jerusalem (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (342). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Both Mount Sinai and Jerusalem are commonly associated with Jews, not Arabs, but a major emphasis throughout the Galatian epistle is that historical, geographical, racial, social, and all other superficial distinctions among people have no spiritual significance (see 3:28). In fact, on the spiritual level, one’s identity as Jew, Gentile, Arab, or whatever makes no difference. What unbelieving members of those groups have in common is infinitely more important, and damning, than any of their differences. Spiritually, they are all lost, because they are all spiritual descendants of Hagar and Ishmael, religious slaves who live by the futile power and for the sake of their struggling and never-attaining flesh. Paul refers to the first Jerusalem as present, showing he has in mind the earthly, historical city by that name. Just as God chose Mount Sinai as the geographical location to give the Old Covenant to Moses, He chose Jerusalem as the geographical location where the Old Covenant would be upheld, propagated, and exemplified. In this illustration both locations represent the Old Covenant of law and works and the bondage they produce. It is obvious that the holy city was also the location for the consummation of the New Covenant in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but because the people rejected that New Testament in blood, the present Jerusalem, like Mount Sinai in Arabia, is where Hagar still figuratively lives in slavery with her unbelieving children-self-righteous, Christ-rejecting, grace-ignoring Jews. Except for a relatively few believers, the Jewish inhabitants of geographical Jerusalem in Paul’s day were truly in deep bondage to damning legalism. And the Judaizers in Galatia were trying to subvert believing Jews back into that bondage-to the ritual, ceremony, self-effort, and all other works of the flesh that constitute the hopeless slavery of the spiritual children of Hagar. Please turn to Hebrews 12 Galatians 4:26 specifies that the spiritual descendants of Sarah through Isaac, on the other hand, live in the Jerusalem above and are free, because she is our mother, if we are among those who live by faith in God’s gracious promise, given to Abraham and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Christian’s “citizenship is in heaven,” the Jerusalem above, “from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Usually citizenship is based on a person’s nation of birth. It does not change when the person travels abroad. Someone may spend almost his or her entire life in other countries and still maintain citizenship at home. Our citizenship in the “heavenly Jerusalem” as children in God’s family will not be fully realized until the end of time (see Hebrews 11:10, 14–16; 12:22; 13:14; Revelation 3:12; 21:2). Though we may not yet be at home, as believers we carry a passport called the Holy Spirit. We should live each day as true citizens loyal to God (Barton, B. B. (1994). Galatians (p. 152). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.). Referring to Mount Sinai, the writer of Hebrews says to believers: Hebrews 12:18-23 [18]For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest [19]and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. [20] For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." [21] Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." [22]But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, [23]and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (ESV) • This heavenly city, which one day will come to earth (cf. Rev. 21:2), is now the “city of the living God” (cf. Heb. 12:22), the home of departed believers of all ages. Our citizenship in this city is now and this speaks to the reality of Law and grace. The inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem are free from law, from works, from bondage, and from the flesh. They are also free, as inhabitants of the present Jerusalem are not, to genuinely do good and to please God. Before coming to Christ, a person is free to do virtually whatever they want that is wrong, but he is not free to do anything that is right in God’s sight. The Holy Spirit not only delivers the believer from the bondage to sin but enables them, for the first time, to do what is right. THE ONLY WAY TO BE FREE is to be Biblical. If we fail to heed the teaching of Scripture, we’re enslaved. Freedom, on the other hand, comes to those who hear God’s Word and respond with obedient faith. Jesus puts it this way: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31, 32)( Wilson, T. (2013). Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 163). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.) One day the heavenly Jerusalem will descend to earth (Rev. 21–22); but it already exists, even more surely and eternally than the present, earthly Jerusalem. “Born again” (John 3:3) can also be translated “born from above,” and it is only those who are born from above who have spiritually ascended to the heavenlies to live in the Jerusalem above. This is all reflective of genuine faith: As the writer of Hebrews said of faithful Abraham (Heb 11:10)., “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” The “Jerusalem above” is “our mother,” Paul said, drawing perhaps on the statement of Ezra 10:7, where Zion is called “the mother of us all.”  The Jerusalem above is the counterpart of Sarah, the freeborn wife of Abraham, just as the earthly, temporal Jerusalem corresponds to Hagar the bond woman. When Paul wrote these words to the churches of Galatia, the “present … Jerusalem” was indeed a city of servitude, held in bondage by the Roman occupation forces. In a.d. 70, just a few years after Paul’s own death, the city of Jerusalem and its temple would be completely destroyed and the Jewish people deprived of a national identity for nearly two thousand years. Paul, however, looked beyond the transience of this present age toward the eschatological renewal God had promised for his people. Paul reminded the Galatians that their true spiritual identity was to be found above, not below, forward, not behind, precisely because he knew that believers who find their spiritual (focus on the present) world are “like a company of soldiers who are armed with the wrong weapons, and who are fighting on the wrong front.” (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (343). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) • On focus in this present age should not be to blindly support an earthy Jerusalem but do our part in living and promoting the principles of the Jerusalem above in justice and real peace, that only comes though faith in Christ. In Galatians 4:27, Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1, He says: “For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband." Those words were originally written to cheer the Jewish exiles in Babylon but are here applied to Sarah, the barren woman whose barrenness seemingly stood as an impenetrable barrier to the fulfillment of God’s promise to her husband, Abraham. As freedom and greater fruitfulness came again to the nation in Babylonian captivity, so it would come to the people in captivity to the law and its death penalty. Sarah’s barrenness/inability to bear children pictures the inability of human beings to bring themselves to life spiritually. In one sweep Paul sets forth the common factor of divine power in behalf of Sarah, the captive Jews, and the church. The common element of all three is divine power granting freedom and fruitfulness. Everything in this trilogy is the result of regenerating grace, not human effort. Paul has explained this using Isa. 54:1 because it follows immediately the great fourth Servant Song, which celebrates the redeeming death of the Servant of God. It is no stretch at all, then, to think that Paul would have read Isa. 54:1 as a celebration of the new state of affairs brought about by the death and resurrection of Christ. (Moo, D. J. (2013). Galatians (p. 308). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.) Poem Expressed Poetically: “Hagar, Horeb, earthly Salem, Works of Flesh will not avail them. Sarah, Zion, heavenly Salem, Christ, their Lord, will never fail them. (William Hendriksen: Galatians New Testament Commentary. Baker Publishing House. 2004. p. 183) Finally, in order to make “A Fresh Start for the New Year”, we need to understand and walk in: 3) The Delight of Freedom (Galatians 4:28-31) Galatians 4:28-31 [28] Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. [29] But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. [30] But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." [31] So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (ESV) Again addressing the Galatian believers as brothers (cf. 1:11; 4:12), Paul tells them that, like Isaac, they are children of promise. Every believer, like Isaac, is supernaturally conceived, miraculously born, and the offspring of God’s promise to Abraham fulfilled in Christ. Those who have begun to sink back into the trap of legalistic Judaism must remember that they are children of promise, who owe their life not to their own effort but to the miraculous power of God, just as Isaac did in the physical realm. God’s sovereign power of grace gave them life, and to fall back under law was to deny that divine work and to dishonor God. The connection from Abraham’s actions to what Paul was directing the Galatians to is that the Galatians needed to cast out the Judaizers and their legalism right out of the church. • There is no room for the effort trying to earn favor with God. It must be cast out of our minds and totally rejected in all that we do. In Galatians 4:29-31 Paul mentions three results of being a spiritual Isaac, a redeemed child of promise through Sarah. 1) First of all, just as in that time, when there was resentment of Isaac by Ishmael, the spiritual descendants of Isaac, who was born according to the Spirit, can still expect persecution by the spiritual descendants of Ishmael, who was born according to the flesh. When Abraham held a feast to celebrate Isaac’s weaning, Ishmael mocked the occasion (Gen. 21:9). He hated Isaac just as his mother hated Sarah (16:4–5). So it is now also, Paul told the Galatians. Throughout history, and still today, the physical and spiritual descendants of Hagar and Ishmael have, respectively, opposed and persecuted the physical and spiritual descendants of Sarah and Isaac. Please turn to Romans 2 Those who hold to salvation by works, trusting in their own performance of the law hate those who proclaim salvation by grace apart from human works. Beginning with the Old Covenant sign of circumcision, Paul explains: Romans 2:25-29 25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. [28] For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. [29] But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (ESV) • Whether within Judaism or Christianity, legalists have always been persecutors. Those who trust in God have always been persecuted by those who trust in themselves. It is the false religious system of Revelation 17:6 that is “drunk with the blood of the saints.” Being a spiritual Isaac, a redeemed child of promise through Sarah. 1) Will bring resentment and 2) The spiritual children of Sarah and Isaac will receive an inheritance that the spiritual children of Hagar and Ishmael will not. Paul states in Galatians 4:30, “But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." Paul here cites the words of Sarah in Gen. 21:10 to illustrate that those who are attempting to be justified on the basis of keeping the law will be cast out of God’s presence forever (Matt. 8:12; 22:12, 13; 25:30; Luke 13:28; 2 Thess. 1:9). The command to “Cast out the slave woman and her son “is an AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE meaning to “drive off the slave girl” and in the context of Galatians would mean “kick the Judaizers out!”( Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul’s First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians (Vol. Volume 11, p. 50). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.) Please turn to Matthew 7 As Sarah had Hagar and Ishmael cast out of Abraham’s household (Gen. 21:10–14). so will their unbelieving descendants, those who live by works of the flesh, be cast out of God’s household. For those who think that they are basically good people trying their best to do good things and will try to stand before God on the Day of Judgement relying on this, Jesus gives this chilling warning: Matthew 7:22-23 [22] On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' [23] And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' (ESV) (cf. Matt. 25:41). Being a spiritual Isaac, a redeemed child of promise through Sarah. 1) Will bring resentment and 2) They will receive an inheritance and finally 3) Third, Galatians 4:31 specifies: although believers are brothers in Jesus Christ and therefore not children of a slave, but of the free woman, they are nevertheless under obligation to live faithfully for their Lord. In all of this, Galatians 4:21-31 presents a very particular picture on obedience. People expect to get to heaven by being good people—Muslims by obeying the Qur’an, Some Catholics by going to mass, Freemasons by being on the square, theological liberals by just existing. The evangelical Christian must never give the impression that we are all saying the same thing. ‘Draw the line in the sand,’ says Paul. ‘Make clear the differences.’ Hear Augustus Toplady: “How vast the benefits divine Which we in Christ possess! We are redeemed from sin and shame, And called to holiness. ’Tis not for works that we have done, These all to him we owe; But he of his electing love Salvation doth bestow”.( Barnes, P. (2006). A Study Commentary on Galatians (p. 219). Darlington, England; Webster, New York: Evangelical Press.) (Format Note: Some base commentary from MacArthur, J. (1996, c1987). Galatians. Includes indexes. (121). Chicago: Moody Press.)
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