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Fullness of Time

Galatians - Freedom!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Please open your Bibles to

Read Galatians 4:1-7

There is a Time for Childhood.

Facebook and Instagram are filled with short clips of kids doing kid things.
And it’s cute for a time, but you don’t want it to last forever.
Those of you with toddlers know the feeling.
I love playing with toddlers … for about 5 minutes, and after that, I want them to move on to someone else.
Because they don’t get tired of things.
What starts out as a fun game of peakaboo, can turn into an hour of, “I’m really tired of this.”
The first time a kid eats spaghetti with spaghetti sauce its cute.
It’s on their face.
It’s in their shirt.
It’s on the table.
It’s everywhere.
But you don’t want this to last forever.
You want the child to learn to eat without destroying the kitchen table.
Children must grow up.
And so, you parents work hard to teach your children.
You teach them how to use a fork and brush their teeth.
How to use a fork and brush their teeth.
You teach them how to tie their shoelaces and button their shirts.
And you gradually teach them harder and harder things, until they reach adulthood, you are expecting your children to mature.
Facebook and Instagram are filled with short clips of kids doing kid things.
And it’s cute for a time, but you don’t want it to last forever.
Those of you with toddlers know the feeling.
The first time a kid eats spaghetti with spaghetti sauce its cute.
It’s on their face.
It’s in their shirt.
It’s on the table.
It’s everywhere.
But you don’t want this to last forever.
You want the child to learn to eat without destroying the kitchen table.
Children must grow up.
And so, you parents work hard to teach your children.
You teach them how to use a fork and brush their teeth.
You teach them how to tie their shoelaces and button their shirts.
And you gradually teach them harder and harder things, until they reach adulthood, you are expecting your children to mature.
In verses 1 and 2, Paul is describing the process of growing into adulthood.
There is an expectation for children to grow up.
Different cultures have this process well outlined.
The ancient Greeks set the age at about 18.
And when a boy reached the age of 18, his hair was cut, and it was offered to the God Apollo.
The boy was now a man.
The Romans would take the boy’s childhood toys and offer them as a sacrifice to the gods.
Destroying and bringing an end to that period of time called youth.
The Jews had and continue to have a Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12 for boys to celebrate their entrance into adulthood.
Past generations had clearer milestones for becoming an adult than we do.
Today we have a series of milestones which mark more of a transition into adulthood, rather than a specific date.
When you are 16 you can drive a car, but you’re still not an adult.
When you are 18 you can vote, join the military, but are still limited.
When you are 21 you can drink alcohol, but your parents are still responsible for your health insurance.
So when exactly are you an adult?
We are not so sure in our culture.
That age is getting later and later, even into the early 30’s.
And in verses 1 and 2, Paul harkens back to where a boy was under a pedagogue, or a tutor.
This was a family slave who was given the task of raising the boy and teaching him his father’s values.
He was in charge of the boy’s education, training, welfare, even his discipline..
And there was a specific age, a specific date when the boy would come of age.
He would leave all of that behind.
And he would become a man.
Facebook and Instagram are filled with short clips of kids doing kid things.
Parents love to show off the cute things their kids do.
And it’s cute for a time, but you don’t want it to last forever.
And it’s fun for a time, but you don’t want it to last forever.
Those of you with toddlers know the feeling.
Those of you with toddlers know the feeling.
The first time a kid eats spaghetti with spaghetti sauce its … memorable.
The first time a kid eats spaghetti with spaghetti sauce its cute.
It’s on their face.
It’s on their face.
It’s in their shirt.
It’s in their shirt.
It’s on the table.
It’s on the table.
It’s on the floor.
Somehow it’s even on the ceiling.
It’s everywhere.
It’s everywhere.
But you don’t want this to last forever.
But you don’t want this to last forever.
You want the child to learn to eat without destroying the dining room.
You want the child to learn to eat without destroying the kitchen table.
Children must grow up.
Children must grow up.
And so, you parents work hard to teach your children.
And so, you parents work hard to teach your children.
You teach them how to use a fork and brush their teeth.
You teach them how to use a fork and brush their teeth.
You teach them how to tie their shoelaces and button their shirts.
You teach them how to tie their shoelaces and button their shirts.
And you gradually teach them harder and harder things, until they reach adulthood, you are expecting your children to mature.
And you gradually teach them harder and harder things, until they reach adulthood, you are expecting your children to mature.
Verses 1 and 2 are describing this process, but in verse 3, Paul brings it home, “In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.”
The reality is, not only do children need to learn to behave rightly, but people need to learn to think rightly.
You leave the diapers behind.
Paul says that we were enslaved to the elementary principles in the world.
You learn to speak properly.
That phrase elementary principles are the most rudimentary and basic thoughts of mankind.
You grow up.
Man’s most basic thoughts not good, but are sinful.
This isn’t something that comes later to us in life, it’s something that we enter the world thinking.
says that the intentions of man’s heart are evil from his youth.
says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child ...”
Parents you see this to be true in that you don’t have to teach your children to disobey.
You have to teach them to obey you.
At our most basic and elementary level we are not good people.
This isn’t something that we learn, this is how we start.
David said he was conceived in sin.
Paul describes the reality and the extent of this in when he says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
In our most basic thinking, we don’t have good thoughts about God.
We are sinful in our thoughts
We are sinful in our actions.
We reject the authority of God.
Paul says we do not accept the things of the Spirit of God.
These are true statements about God, and we reject them.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, it’s present in our youth, and that foolishness stays with us even into adulthood.
Here in , Paul says that we are enslaved to these thoughts.
In , using some of the same language, Paul says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
What is holding people captive?
Philosophy and empty deceit that is according to human tradition and elemental spirits.
From our youth, we are held captive by a system of thought that is opposed to God.
This system of thought comes natural to us.
I would go so far as to say that Satanic thinking is holding people captive from their youth.
This doesn’t mean we come into the world worshipping Satan.
But we come into this world in rebellion against God, refusing God’s authority.
And this is what the Christian parent is trying to correct.
What is the first religion a child learns?
In America it’s the religion of Santa.
If you are good then he visits you and you get toys.
He’s always watching you, so be good for goodness sake.
The religion of Santa is a good example of these elementary principles that hold us captive.
These thoughts stay with people as we form our religious thoughts..
Here in , Paul says that we are enslaved to these thoughts.
All false religions in the world, even those that think they are close to Christianity teach the same basic thing.
That we are saved by our own works.
If we do good works, if we are moral, then we will become good and be rewarded for it.
This is the big lie that has swallowed up the planet and all of human history.
This is the elementary principle that has enslaved the world.
The lie is that you can be good enough.
It’s not a matter of being good enough.
We are at war with God.
And this is in us from our youth.
And we forget this when we look at the world around us and when we look at those who are lost.
Sometimes we think that we need to make people better.
That if we can improve their:
Economic condition
Their physical condition
Their mental condition
Then they’d be good.
We forget that no one can be good.
What we need to remember is that people are broken.
says, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners ...”
That describes our original condition.
Because Adam sinned, we begin sinners.
We come into this world held captive, or enslaved to a system that is opposed to God.
You know why there are so many people that are false converts.
They think they are Christians.
They join the movement of Christianity, thinking that Christianity is a way to clean up or improve their lifestyle through moral change.
They think they’re Christians, but in reality all they’ve done is modified their behavior, so they think they are good to go.
This is the alcoholic who joins a church, and stops drinking.
He’s modified his behavior, but spiritually he’s still broken.
Let’s think about this in a court of law.
A person commits a series of murders, but is never caught.
Over the next 10 years, he feels bad about his crimes and he decides to start doing good deeds.
At the end of the 10 years he gets caught and arrested and charged with murder.
He has a problem.
The problem is that he has committed terrible crimes, and you can’t undo them.
No amount of good deeds or moralism will undo what has been done.
But this is how many people approach Christianity.
This is how all people are.
We have a problem.
We are sinners.
Good deeds, behavior modification and moralism won’t change that, because we have already sinned.
We need sin taken care of, and that is only available through Jesus Christ.
Sin calls for death.
That is the only payment.
The only way out of our captivity is through Christ.

Just as there is a time for childhood, there is also a Time to Grow Up.

God cares about time.
In verse 2, Paul says that children were under a guardian or a manager until a specific date set by a father.
The Greeks had a day in mind when the boy would become a man.
The Romans had a day in mind when a boy would become a man.
The Jews had a day in mind when a boy would become a man.
And God had a day in mind when Jesus would become a man.
God had a day, because God cares about time.
He should because He started time.
Though He is outside of time and eternal, He operates in our time.
For example:
God created time when He made that first day in .
He created it, and marked it, by the rising and the setting of the sun.
God has things occur in a timely manner.
He planned for Israel to be slaves in Egypt for 400 years.
He planned for them to be captive in Babylon for 70 years.
God cares about time.
And in verse 4 it says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son ...”
When Jesus came it wasn’t a random event.
God wasn’t bored.
He wasn’t throwing darts at the wall and saying, “Let’s see what sticks.”
God wasn’t reacting.
It was the fullness of time.
Another way to say it is that when Jesus came it was the perfect time.
When Jesus came to earth, God wasn’t taking a chance.
He wasn’t casting the cosmic dice and hoping things worked out with Jesus on the earth.
Before the foundation of time this was the plan, and this was that predestined time.
God’s eternal plan was that Jesus would come into the world and then die for His people.
Think of some of the things that were going on when Jesus came.
The Romans were in charge.
They were the world power at that time.
Their power even extended as far as the island of England.
One of the things that Rome was known for was their roads.
It’s been said that all roads lead to Rome.
They made travel a bit easier.
Greek was the dominant language of the day.
Most people spoke Greek.
Even the Hebrews spoke Greek.
In the New Testament when the Old Testament is quoted, they are quoting a Greek version of the Old Testament.
This means the world is primed and ready for a message to be preached and proclaimed across the globe.
Their roads that make it easier for a message to quickly spread from region to region.
And their is a single language that means more people can understand this message.
It’s the perfect time, rather the fullness of time for the Good News, for the Gospel to be preached.
And what is the good news?
That Jesus was born of a woman.
Jesus was sent from God to earth.
He came born of a woman.
He came born of a woman.
And He was under the law.
Because since He was born of a woman, He was fully and completely man.
Why is this so important?
Because He was completely and fully human.
He entered the world like one of us.
And being under the Law, He obeyed the Law.
By being man He was able to be the human that none of us could be.
He could represent us before God.
By being under the Law, He could obey on our behalf.
He was perfect, having never sinned, not even once.
Since Jesus came as one of us, He was able to redeem those who also were human and under the law … that’s you and I.
He came to redeem us.
That word redeem is related to slavery.
Within Judaism a Jew could became a slave of a fellow Jew.
Don’t confuse this with the American form of slavery that we are familiar with.
It was a financial obligation.
A person was either in need of money, or he was in debt.
He would voluntarily become a slave until the debt was paid.
He could be freed though if he was redeemed.
Redemption was connected to the price of a slave or his debt.
And once redeemed he was a free man.
Jesus came to redeem us.
He did this to free us.
Before we were enslaved to elementary principles.
These are things that had captured and enslaved every other human.
But Jesus came to stop all of that.
Remember a child is a child until a date, until the fullness of time had come.
What does this mean for us?
Well, the fullness of time has come.
It’s time to grow up.
Jesus came for you to advance toward maturity.
No longer like a child, who thinks like the rest of the world.
But as someone who knows truth and is growing in Christ.
In , Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
We give up the childish ways.
And so give up those childish ways.
What are childish ways?
They are the elemental principles of the world.
They are the things that come naturally to us.
Youthful lusts.
Foolish talk.
Vain dreams.
We are to give them up.
Remember these are things that hold us captive from our youth.
This happens through repentance.
God cares about time.
And the fullness of time has come.
Now is the time to spiritually grow up.
To go beyond these things.
Repentance isn’t always repenting of alcohol and drugs.
For some people repentance is leaving childish things behind.
In Paul says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Do you make the best use of your time?
God has saved you for a purpose.
He has gifted you, and He has gifted you for a purpose.
Your time on earth is to serve God in a specific area.
But to do that you need to know what your gift is.
Now is the time to fulfill God’s purpose for you.
The time is to fulfill God’s purpose for you.
He has gifted you to fulfill that purpose.
It’s tied to a spiritual gift.
It’s to be used for the building up of His church.
It’s time to grow up.
How do you spend your time?
Do you spend it on things that are part of your old life?
Or are you spending it on things for God?
In Christ, we put off childish ways, and we advance towards maturity, making the best use of the time.

It’s hard growing up, but then you reach the Time for Adulthood.

This is our third point.
There’s something fun about looking back on your childhood.
It’s fun to look back on where you’ve been.
It’s fun to look back on the adventures of your youth.
Sometimes we even think that we want to go back to being a kid.
Because things were easier then.
You didn’t have to think about where the money would come from.
You could fall down and know that the worst would be a skinned knee and not a broken hip.
But in reality, you don’t want to become a kid again.
There are benefits to being an adult.
You have freedom in being an adult.
Amanda and I married when we were young.
She was 19, and I was 22.
We were just kids.
I remember the first time we ever went shopping, we went to Costco.
We could buy whatever we wanted.
Oh and we did.
Any kind of cereal.
Any kind of soda.
The world was at our fingertips.
It was a feeling of freedom.
It was at that point I knew, I never wanted to go back to being a kid.
In verse 5 Paul says, “so that we might receive adoption as sons ...”
When a child reached the age of adulthood, he received the benefits of being an heir.
He became an heir of his fathers work.
He even participated in the fathers work.
Paul is saying that we receive this.
But what’s astounding is that we are not naturally children of God.
Sometimes a childless Roman man, would adopt a slave child and that slave would be treated as an actual son of the Roman man, even becoming an heir.
Meaning as he grew, he was a full fledged member of the family, receiving all the benefits of being a part of the family.
Jesus has freed you from going back to the elementary thinking of your past.
If you are a believer, you are now on the path to maturity.
You have been adopted.
You are a full blown member of the family of God.
You don’t want to go back to what we were.
And now you receive the benefits of His Kingdom.
You now live as an heir of God.
In verse 5 Paul says, “so that we might receive adoption as sons ...”
When a child reached the age of adulthood, he received the benefits of being an heir.
He became an heir of his fathers work.
He even participated in the fathers work.
Paul is saying that we receive this.
But what’s astounding is that we are not naturally children of God.
Sometimes a childless Roman man, would adopt a slave child and that slave would be treated as an actual son of the Roman man, he would become his heir.
Meaning as he grew, he was a full fledged member of the family, receiving all the benefits of being a part of the family.
This is a picture of what has happened to you.
According to , you were once a child of wrath.
But in God’s great love, He has adopted you.
The work that God has done in you is even greater than the kindness that a Roman man extended to an orphaned slave.
says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”
Do you ever wonder what these blessings are?
He says you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
They are yours now.
These are the benefits of being adopted into God’s family.
What are these blessings?
First, your nature changes.
A slave could be adopted, but he still had a sinful nature.
Not you.
Your sinful nature died when you were converted.
That’s what you proclaimed at your baptism, that you are a new person.
The world around you, the people around you have a sin nature.
They are still held captive to the elementary principles of the world.
They are slaves of sin.
But to the believer, you are not a slave of sin.
Next, you have the Holy Spirit.
In verse 6 it says, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts ...”
He dwells within you.
This is a blessing of being a child of God.
What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit within you?
This means that if you have the Holy Spirit, you have a confidence.
He is a guarantee that you belong to God.
This means that if you have the Holy Spirit, you have a confidence.
You don’t have to question your salvation.
You don’t have to question if you belong to Christ.
This confidence is made evident in that you can talk to God.
Prayer is a reality of this confidence.
If someone is afraid to pray, he is lacking confidence.
This might be because he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit.
Notice what the Holy Spirit does within you?
Again, verse 6, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
We’ve heard that phrase before.
We talked about that last week.
Notice who is doing the crying, notice who is crying “Abba! Father!”
In this text it’s not you.
It’s the Holy Spirit.
Which makes sense.
There is such unity, and love within the members of the Trinity, that they glorify one another.
One of the attributes of the Holy Spirit is that He exalts the Father and the Son.
But what does this do for us?
Well, in , Paul says, “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”
So in Galatians it’s the Spirit who says, Abba Father.
And in Romans it’s us who say Abba Father.
The presence of the Holy Spirit means that He transforms your worship.
Just as the Spirit exalts the Father and the Son.
Him being in you, He directs your worship to the Father as well.
The presence of the Holy Spirit means you can actually worship.
You worship in spirit and in truth.
You worship because you have the Holy Spirit.
He changes your heart.
He causes you to cry out to God.
A benefit of the Holy Spirit in your life is that you are able to worship.
There are benefits to becoming an adult.
And there are benefits to maturing in Christ.
And I don’t ever want to go back to a life without it.

Paul describes children in this text, and he describes people who have matured and are no longer in that child like stage.

Where are you in all of this?
The time for living as you entered the world has passed.
We must press on towards maturity.
This can only happen if you are in Christ.
The fullness of time has come.
God has sent His Son to free us from the childish thinking of our past.
To free us from the thinking that comes so natural to us.
So live in it.
Abandon foolish thinking.
Pursue Christ.
Live in the benefits of His Kingdom.
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