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Galatians 4:1-7

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No Longer Slaves

Galatians 4:1–7 (ESV)

1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,
2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

A. Introduction

I watched this video online about a “Slave Bible”. It is displayed at Washingtons Museum of the Bible and only has 232 chapters in it! 90% of the Old Testament has been removed and about 50% of the New Testament has been removed. No book of Galatians, exodus or Jeremiah.
For many enslaved africans this was the first bible they read. It was meant to repress rebellion but it didn’t work because people fought slavery until the emancipation.
Now slavery might not exist today but racism does and it needs to stop.
The Apostle Paul often used social concerns as illustrations in his writings as he does here in Galatians as he uses the language of slavery.

B. The Inheritance of Sonship v.1-3

What is inheritance? It can be described as a portion, birthright, heritage or right of ownership.
a. We know of inheritance today as something that is passed down from generation to generation.
b. We can put something in a trust fund for our loved one and they have to reach a certain age before they can have it.
Comparison between a child and slave(1-3)
a. The heir, as long as he is a child:
The word child has the idea of a minor. It doesn’t suggest a specific age, rather someone who is not yet legally recognized as an adult.
i. In both Jewish and Greek cultures, there were definite “coming of age” ceremonies where a boy stopped being a child and started being a man, with legal rights as an heir. (Guzik)
ii. In the Roman custom, there was no specific age when the son became a man. It happened when the father thought the boy was ready. When Paul used the phrase until the time appointed by the father, he shows that he had the Roman “coming of age” custom more in mind than the Jewish custom. (Guzik)
iii. In ancient times, the “coming of age” of a son carried tremendous significance. This did not occur at a specific age (such as twelve or thirteen), as it did among Jews and Greeks;
rather, the “coming of age” was determined by the father.
In Rome this event was usually marked on March 17 by a family celebration known as the Liberalia.
During this event, the father formally acknowledged his son and heir. The son received a new “grown-up” toga and entered into adult responsibilities. (Life Application Bible Commentary)
iiii. “There was a Roman custom that on the day a boy or a girl grew up, the boy offered his ball, and the girl her doll, to Apollo to show that they had put away childish things.” (Barclay)
v. There comes a time in our journey with God that we spiritually need to grow up. That we need to put down the bottle, that we need to stop where diapers, and stop complaining because we don’t get what we want
b. As long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave though he is master of all
No matter how wealthy a father may be, his infant son or toddler child cannot really enjoy that wealth. In the Roman world, the children of wealthy people were cared for by slaves.
i. No matter who his father was, the child was still a child, under the supervision of a servant. In fact, the child himself was not much different from the servant who guarded him.
ii. The servant was commanded by the master of the house, and the child was commanded by the servant.
c. Enslaved to the elementary principles of the world
Now the elements meant a lot of different things in the Greek world.
i. It meant the letters of the Alphabet. The A,B,C’S
ii. It meant the physical nature of the world such as air, fire, and water.
iii. It sometimes referred to the larger scope of the world such as the sun, moon and stars because of the various beliefs in different greek Gods .
iiii. But Paul when using it often was referring to spirits, angels, and demons that inhabit the world. In the book of Romans he refers to it as “Principalities and Powers”
v. We were in bondage to these powers until it was broken by grace as we were adopted in God’s family as sons and daughters of His kingdom.

C. The Freedom of Sonship v. 4-5

a. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman
(v4-5)
Paul uses the phrase the “Fullness of time”
i. Since Jesus was going to die and rise and then send out his messengers throughout the world, it was important for him to come at the time he did.
ii. The Roman Empire had forced a truce upon the civilized world. They had also hacked out a road system that facilitated ease of travel from nation to nation, city to city.
iii. people had grown tired of the decline in morals-- many were without hope.
iiii. the Greek language was known everywhere.
v. . Combine these elements, and you discover a perfect opportunity for the church.
vii. We need to trust in God’s fullness of time too for our lives. Even though we cant see tomorrow. God does and he is never late.
c. To Redeem those who were under the law
i. John Newton, the man who wrote the most popular and famous hymn in America, Amazing Grace, knew how to remember this. He was an only child whose mother died when he was only seven years old.
ii. He became a sailor and went out to sea at eleven years old. As he grew up, he became the captain of a slave ship and had an active hand in the horrible inhumanity of the slave trade.
iii. But when he was twenty-three, and his ship was in real danger of sinking, he cried to God for mercy, and he found it.
iiii. He never forgot how amazing it was that God had received him, after the horrible things he said and done. To keep it fresh in his memory, he hung across the wall over the fireplace mantel of his study.
v. the words of Deuteronomy 15:15: You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you. If we keep fresh in our mind what we once were, and what we are now in Jesus Christ, we will do well. (Guzik)
d. That we might receive the adoption of Sons
i. just as Israel, as heir to the Abrahamic promise, was redeemed as son of God from slavery in Egypt at the time appointed by the Father (, so also believers were redeemed to adoption as sons of God from slavery under the “elements of the world” at the fullness of time and became heirs to the Abrahamic promise.(Dictionary of Paul and His Letters)

D. The Spirit of Sonship v.6-7

a. Because you are sons, Abba father
i. Now this and the next verse are central in Pauls entire arguement.
ii. Paul tells them they they are sons of God. That they are a part of the family and children who have been adopted by God.
iii. We need to remember this, when we feel like an orphan in the world that we are a part of a family of God.
b. Crying out, Abba, Father
i. This phrase “Abba” seems to intimate to some
ii. A pastor once told me that his congregation was getting on him because he said “Abba” daddy in his prayer!
iii. Think about what Paul said here. They were “crying out”. It wasn’t a whisper or a wimp but i’d imagine an uncontrollable crying out to Him in screeching shouts.
iiii. You know we use to didn’t even have to give altar calls in the church. People would come down themselves because they were so moved and hungry by the Spirit of God that they couldn’t resist it.
c. God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our Hearts
i. We see how God has SENT the Spirit of His Son into our Hearts.
ii. This is part of the inheritance we have as believers in Christ.
iii. As heirs with Christ we need to claim all that he has provided us with
iiii. We pray all the time for God to fill us with His Spirit, when we already have it.
V. Paul talks about the Spirit here because He is trying to get it across to them that rituals and rules bring death but His Spirit brings life!
d. Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son
i. We are no longer slaves because we are sons and daughters of the king
ii. a slave has to obey its master whether it wants to or not
iii. it’s talking about our motives and desires here.
iiii. A lot of times in the church people can be like “I have to go worship”. But, no…WE get to worship!
v. We are no longer a slave to our sin but we gain freedom from it through faith in Christ.
vi. Sin desires to devour it. It’s crouching at the door of our hearts but we need to master sin before it masters us.
vii. We need to be able to resist temptation when it shows it’s ugly face.
e. If a son, then an heir through Christ
i. Paul goes on to say, if we are truly sons and daughters then we are also heirs through Christ.
ii. An heir of what? Go back to verse 1. It tells us we are heirs of everything. That’s everything in the kingdom of God. That is Christ Himself. That is the spiritual blessings that He has for us.
iii. An heir enjoys all the privilges of sonship and his promises.

E. Application

a. Now you can go with our lives shackled and imprisoned to our regrets, to our bitterness, to our enjoy, to the deadly poison the oozes from our tongues in words of gossip and slander, we can continue to be locked up in our sin.
b. or you can choose God’s grace, healing, and forgiveness. We can choose to live as free people. We can choose to know that we have been adopted by God and that His Spirit lives in us and has given us everything we need to live a Godly life.
c. Can you imagine how are lives would be different if we didn’t act live slaves but we acted like free people and didn’t live in fear to people and circumstances and walked in His Spirit and recieved everything God has for us?
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