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Religion vs. Relationship (Part 2)

Galatians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Religion vs. Relationship (Part 2) Galatians 4:26-31

Good Morning! Last week we looked as we are going through Galatians in verses 21-25 we discussed the slavery to the law and how it relates to us today. This week we are going to look at the other side of that coin - the relationship side and finish out Galatians chapter 4. If you remember correctly, we looked at the beginning of the allegorical comparison of Hagar and Sarah a bit as we looked at
Galatians 4:24 ESV
Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
Galatians 4:25

Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

Now recall that we finished out last week talking about the slavery that is found in the Law for the new believers in Paul’s day. This week, we are going to look at the promise found in the Abrahamic Covenant through Sarah. This is a promise that entails a relationship. As with last week, we are going to define the word relationship.
Now I realize that most of us know what a relationship is, but for the sake of everyone being on the same page, bear with me here:
Now we’ll skip the relationships that have to do with math, because that’s obviously not the relationship we are dealing with here.
but here are the definitions that apply to people:
The relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: such as
b: a specific instance or type of kinship
A state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings
a: had a good relationship with his family
b: a romantic or passionate attachment
As you can already see, there are some vast differences between the religion we discussed last week, and the relationship we’ll be discussing this week.
Also last week we discussed justification and sanctification a bit - we’re going to touch on those some more as well.
Think of a relationship between a slave and a master, and think of what that relationship looks like. The slave is religiously trying to please the master because that is what that relationship dictates - as a slave, one must please the master at the risk of being cast out, abused, killed, etc. The driving factor here is fear.
Now think of a healthy relationship between a parent and a child - when the child disobeys the parent, the parent out of love for the child corrects the child out of love and concern for the child. The child obeys the parent out of a relational love for the parent as the child learns that the parent is correcting the child out of love and safety for the child.
These are the key elements of Paul’s allegorical comparison. The child Hagar mothered was the child of the slave, born as a slave to the law.
Now we see the
I. The other Covenant
Picking up in verse 26:
Galatians 4:26

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother

We’ve switched gears to Sarah now - “free Jerusalem”. Remember last week we covered the two covenants, and Hagar was the Mosaic Covenant - the law, with all of it’s ceremonies and rituals of the flesh trying to earn it’s way to God. We covered how Ishmael came through the fleshly desires to fulfil God’s promise, and the outcome of that fleshly desire. Now we’re going to look at God’s plan for the Promise.
Also last week we discussed the multiple uses of the example of Abraham Paul has used throughout the chapter to push his point forward. The theory here being that this was the part of the law that the other missionaries had been using to push their agenda forward.
But Paul used the Mosaic Covenant to show that they are in slavery. And now, he’s going to use the Abrahamic Covenant to show the “New Jerusalem”. How does this New Jerusalem fit into the equation though?
a. Location
Jesus eludes to it some, as we look at the word “above”, meaning up above, as he says to the scribes and pharisees in
John 8:23

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

Below and above, Jesus is from above, and Paul knows this, as Paul refers to it in Colossians 3 verses 1 and 2:
Colossians 3:1-2

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

John further elaborates in
Revelation 21:2

2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Note that “coming down” means it was “up above” to begin with.
Paul again in
Hebrews 12:22

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,

Paul is not talking to a future sense audience folks. He’s talking to the then and there, as in they have already come into the heavenly Jerusalem - as in that heavenly Jerusalem is the church, which is of heavenly origin (Christ is the originator). We are of Christ, we are the Church, we who are in Christ are of the New Jerusalem. What does that mean? it means we have
b. freedom
Jesus refers to this freedom in John 8:31-32 and 36
John 8:31-32; 36

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Paul knows this freedom is a truth of the Gospel, and is going to tie this in with his statement from verse 7 from a few weeks ago
Galatians 4:7

7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

We are free from the Mosaic Covenant. How does that relate to us? How did we receive that freedom?
II. The Adoption
Galatians 4:27

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.”

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.”
“For it is written” - this is a direct tie to
Isaiah 54:1

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD.

So first we look at
a. The Barren
Remember we are looking at this comparatively to Hagar and the slaves. The barren is in this sense referring to the Old Testament church that and in Isaiah’s sense it was those that were the few believers where they were deployed by the circumstances of the Babylonian capture yet saw no new believers (did not bear). So what Paul is showing is there have been no new “children” of God being born of the Mosaic Covenant, as it failed based on the fleshly religious attempts of man.
b. The Song
For Isaiah, this was a prophecy, for Paul it was reality. And Paul isn’t talking cry in pain, as we see rejoice and not in labor-it’s a cry of joy, because she (Jerusalem) is again having “children”, but not through the religious works of the flesh, rather through no labor of man at all.
c. The Children
The desolate refers to a woman who was unmarried and forsaken. She was abandoned, left out, and left to her own demise. The Jewish peoples were exiled, and in that exile became more than likely fewer in number rather than gaining new believers.
d. The Husband
The Husband is God in the Abrahamic Covenantal relational marriage sense. Remember, this relationship would have been known by the audience, as they were becoming familiar with scripture. If we look at verses 4-8 of Isaiah 54, we see a bit more clearly the relational aspect:
Isaiah 54:4-8

4  “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

5  For your Maker is your husband,

the LORD of hosts is his name;

and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,

the God of the whole earth he is called.

6  For the LORD has called you

like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,

like a wife of youth when she is cast off,

says your God.

7  For a brief moment I deserted you,

but with great compassion I will gather you.

8  In overflowing anger for a moment

I hid my face from you,

but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”

says the LORD, your Redeemer.

Sarah had birth children, as God had promised. Israel and Judea (Jerusalem) were taken captive, and here in verses 6 through 8 we see that represented. Paul is saying that the Promise throughout Isaiah 54 is fulfilled, and moreover that we are the children that are more. Look now at
Galatians 4:28

28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

Again, Paul beautifully ties us into the family line. Paul has used Isaiah 54 to show our relationship to the Promise, calling us brothers, children of the Promise.
Let’s look at another comparison. Remember back in verse 19 Paul calls them “my little children”. Paul is laboring over them, to remind them that they already have a home. They are still in the process of trying to please God and win His favor, not realizing that they have already got it because He chose them. See the New Jerusalem or the Jerusalem above is already rejoicing because they are already a part of the family through the Promise of Jesus. We already have the security of our kinship. The adoption papers are signed and recorded, we are His and nothing will change that as we see in
Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is absolutely nothing we can do to separate us from God if He has adopted us. That’s the relationship we have with the Father.
III. The Challenge
Galatians 4:29

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.

This is referencing Genesis 21:9 in how Ishmael was treating Isaac.
Genesis 21:9

9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.

The KJV and NIV translate this to “mocking” and the NKJV translates it to “scoffing”, but the bottom line is that it wasn’t funny to Issac - or Sarah. The naysayers and non-believers are like Ishmael, in that they laugh, mock, scorn, and bully those that are of the Promise. For the most part all of the persecution was coming from the Jewish population at that time, because the Christians weren’t in bondage to the Law, using the Law to justify their actions, up to and including murder.
Those born of the flesh are going to mock those born of the Spirit. The rest of the world are still Godless, thus Fatherless, and that’s how they’re going to act. They are either still trying to please God with their own fleshly actions, or they’re trying to distance themselves completely because of their own desires, and either way they are doing the will of the devil.
John 8:44

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

We are fortunate enough that we live in a country that has freedom of religion, thus our “persecution” right now is merely mocking us for our faith. But at any moment that freedom could be removed as countries and leaders rise and fall. We must always be prepared for that day. How?
1 Peter 3:15-17

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

Carry ourselves as children of the Promise, knowing we have our security already.
IV. The Outcome
Galatians 4:30-31

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.

Referring back to Genesis 21 again, Sarah had Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away:
Genesis 21:10

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.”

Those that are not born of the Promise are not going to inherit the things of the Promise. If you haven’t accepted the free gift of Christ, you’re a slave, and slaves don’t get to participate with the family. And that’s the question:
How are you related? Sons and daughters or slaves?
Our adoption secures our freedom in Christ and secures our relationship with the Promise. We are no longer born of the flesh, rather we have become sons and daughters of the King, we are relationally bound in a way that could never be broken, because we obey out of a relational bond where if (and when) we fail there is forgiveness as we are able to call him “Abba Father”.
If you’re not adopted, well, then you’re the slave. Still trying to make it on your own, trying to be good enough, doing good deeds to try to earn your own way to please the Master. You’re an Ishmael, born out of a fleshly desire to work your way to the Father. And the Bible is clear -
John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

All the religions of the world try to work their way to God or a god - Christians are an exception, because God did the work to have a relationship rather than a slave.
As our time today comes to a close, that work of Christ was sufficient enough for everyone.
John 3:16-17

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

He didn’t die so that we could continue to attempt to win favor through trying to be better christians through our works. He died in order to rise again so that you could have a relationship with Him. If you’ve already accepted Christ, there is no “and” to the work of justification - Jesus paid it all in order to have the relationship with you, and you will never be able to do the right works or enough works to earn your own way there. Right now I’m going to ask that everyone close their eyes and bows their heads.
Now if you don’t know Christ today, the first step is to admit that you’re a sinner. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We all have sinned, therefore we all are sinners. Some of us have been freed from our sins through our adoption, others of us are still slaves to our sin trying to do enough good to cover for our sins that we can never repay. That’s why Christ came - to pay for your sins. Romans 6:23 says “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. God sent His Son to be the ultimate perfect sacrifice for all mankind. Once you’ve admitted that you’re a sinner, it’s great to see God’s promise and sacrifice He made for us to be reconciled to Him. Romans 5:8 says “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. But knowing all of that doesn’t bring you into a relationship with Him. And it wasn’t the end of the story, either. Romans 10:9-10 : “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” So the first step was admitting to God that you’re a sinner - you may say but I’m a good person, I’ve done this and that - none of that matters. Remember, it’s not a balancing act or scales. We’re all sinners. The second step is to believe that Jesus came to die and be raised from the dead for your sins - Jesus was the sacrifice, His rising from the dead was the victory that gives us freedom. The last thing is to confess Jesus as Lord - it’s a verbal commitment to a relationship in Christ, where Christ has done the work and we are the children of that labor. It sounds easy, and it is just that easy, the only thing holding you back is you. We’re not going to embarrass you, we’re not going to call you down to the front to be in front of everyone, but if you feel called and led, this is your time.
If that’s you, if God is calling to you to draw into a relationship with the only perfect father, answer Him today. If you don’t know how to start, just pray something like this, Dear God, I know I am a sinner in need of your all sufficient grace, and Lord I believe that you did send your Son to die for me, and that you raised Him from the dead proving victory over death hell and the grave. I choose you Lord, to learn to follow in Your ways, and to be able to spend eternity with You. I thank you for the freedom from the bondage of sin, and I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.
If you need someone to talk to, I’m here, Scotty and Josh are here, if you feel led to come up to the cross, now is your time.
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