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Galatians #11 Call to Grow up

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Freed to Be Free #11

Galatians 4:1-20

The Promise Calls for us to Grow Up

Which Kind Are You?”

A lot of Christians are like wheelbarrows—not good unless pushed.

Some are like canoes—they need to be paddled.

Some are like kites—if you don’t keep a string on them, they fly away.

Some are like kittens—they are more contented when petted.

Some are like a football—you can’t tell what way they will bounce next.

Some are like balloons—full of wind and ready to blow up.

Some are like trailers—they have to be pulled.

Some are like lights—they keep going on and off.

And there are those who always seek to let the Holy Spirit lead them.

Which Kind are You?

—Christian Inde[1]

Warren Wiersbe says “legalism leads the believer back into a 2nd childhood of Christian experience”  … and he doesn’t mean that in a good way.  He means that it makes us feel and act like children again.  We become selfish and self-centered.  We need to be led by the hand, especially when crossing the street. 

Paul is shifting the focus now from COMING to Christ by Grace to LIVING FOR Christ FROM a position of Grace.

There are three basic levels of behavior and decision making when it comes to doing right things or avoiding undesirable behavior

Level One – you do something that is desired or avoid something undesirable because of Fear of Punishment or Promise of Reward

Level Two – you do something because someone you respect has told you that it’s the right thing to do or not to do

Level Three – you do what is desired or avoid what is undesirable just simply because you know inside that it is right or wrong

At some point we have to grow up and do the right thing because it is right, because we love our Father, and because we want to look like him, and not just because we are going to get a lollipop, or to be popped on the hand, or not get into the church, or get the position we want …

Paul makes a pivotal shift here in chapter four from denying Salvation by Works to teach Salvation by Grace to now call us to living a life of Grateful Actions in the submission by the power of the Holy Spirit

The Wonderful News Folks is that there is Grace available for the Christian Living, just as there is Grace available for Eternal Life

But it is also exercised by faith.  We have to believe and live in the Power of the Holy Spirit within us

In Romans 7 Paul says “who’s going to deliver me from this body of death” and then in the next breath says “thanks be to God – through Christ Jesus” … God told Paul in 2 Cor 12:9 “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness”

“Oh I just can’t live the Life of Christ.” 



“There is no temptation that has taken you but that is common to man, and God is faithful and won’t allow you to be tempted above which you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor 10:13

Romans 1 teaches us that it is Faith from First to Last

“His Divine Power has given us everything we need from for life and godliness”

2 Peter 1:3

Well let’s begin this transition in our study

READ 4:1-7

1. The Spirit Within Helps Us to Grow Up

Maybe I should say that the Spirit EXPECTS us to Grow up … and THEN he helps us

The problem is that legalism, which is defined as strict, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code, hinders your move into maturity

  A. The Law Hinders Maturity

    1. remember Paul called

The law a tutor or supervisor and when you have to have it to know what is right and wrong you are a child again

    2. There is a place for learning what is right and wrong.  We are all spiritual babes and spiritual children … but there comes a time to grow up, and it’s not in real time.  You don’t have to be a Christian 20 years to grow up either.  It’s a matter of believing and obeying, from within through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit.

  B. The Promised Spirit Makes us Adult Sons

    1. remember our message last week.  In Christ Jesus we aren’t slave or free, man or woman, Jew or Gentile, we are all Adult Sons of God.  That means we have full rights and authority of being a child of the King.  We have the inheritance of Abraham which is Christ in you, the Holy Spirit received by Grace through Faith. 

    2. the law says “DO THIS” … the Spirit of Promise says “BE”

    3. you are an heir?  To the Promise of Abraham.  “The Just will live by Faith.”  You have been justified so LIVE By Faith

    4. When we come to Christ but remain bound by legalism, we are sons in right but not sons in fact or experience.  We are headed for heaven, we are bought with a price we are born into the Kingdom but unless we grow up, we aren’t experiencing the

When a Father places a supervisor over the children and puts their inheritance into trust, he was not bound to any predetermined age, it was strictly up to the Father’s determination. 

So in the Old Testament God had made the Promise through Abraham of the coming Christ.  He had appointed The Law as guardian to the children of Promise then, as Paul says here, “at just the right time” … “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son … to redeem those under the law, that we might receive full rights of sons …”

And then Paul affirms it “because you are son, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’ …

See verse five says we have received “full rights of son” … it means literally to be placed as adopted adult sons.

Coming into Christ we don’t have to wait for a trust to mature, we don’t have to wait for another gift, we are given the Holy Spirit to mark that we are fully Adult Sons with full rights of Sonship … so we need to Grow up …

The Spirit within us gives us that desire to no longer call out to our base nature but to call out to God in an intimate way as Abba Father or Daddy

But not only the desire but the ability …

In the Old structure, we could be no greater than servants of God … But Jesus, in John 15:15 he tells his disciples, I have not called you servants … I have called you Friends

The Spirit helps us Grow Up because …

2. The Spirit Transforms Us

We are not simply servants any longer we are friends of God and Adult Sons

READ 4:8-11

If you have trusted Christ and so been given the Holy Spirit, aren’t you glad that the Holy Spirit has changed you?

  A. You WERE Conformed v8

    1. conformed to the world’s agenda – Romans 12:2 calls it the “pattern of this world” – we forget which mold to use … can I tell you something … you and I need to get up each morning and decide we are going to use God’s mold and not that old worldly mold we have been using all these years …

    2. conformed to the law of sin and death – but now I have been set free from the law of sin and death

    3. conformed to someone who thinks he is a god (satan) – they had worshipped idols.  That is what they did … They had stared into the faces of gods made with human hands … gods with no emotion, gods with no brain, eyes with no light, ears with no ability to hear. 

They had offered up sacrifices, prayers and petitions, looking to a blank face of a worthless god. 

But NOW! … they knew Jesus.  They may have not seen him or touched him with human eyes and hands, but they had looked spiritually into his face and heard him say “FORGIVEN” … They had looked into his eyes and seen the light of Love … They had offered up their love, prayers, petitions, and found a soft ear that heard their cries … and so WHY would the return now? 

    4. They HAD been this way.  Why, because they didn’t know better and you couldn’t do any different.  So  you lived by the set of rules you knew … “when you did not know”

But the Good News is that in Christ Jesus the Spirit Transforms us

  B. You have been Transformed v9

    1. “but now” … now you KNOW …

    2. don’t surrender again to conformity to someone who thinks they are god.

Paul was not afraid that they would really go back to idols, or that they would reject the authenticity of Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ.  But their actions made it practically the same thing. 

Churches are full of people who confess Christ but are what I call “Practical Atheists” … that is you would never say there isn’t a God, and you don’t trust in his Son or are indwelt by the Spirit, but we live as if it were not true.  We don’t live FOR him, we don’t obey his authority, we don’t take advantage of his power for us who believe

Ephesians 1 says that the same power that resurrected from the dead is FOR US who believe … Do you Live what you Believe?

    3. … v9 “BUT NOW … that you KNOW God … or rather are KNOWN By God”  our transformation WILL end in conformity, but conformity to Christ …

Those he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed into the Likeness of Christ.  Everything Satan does is a counterfeit.  He tries to do what Jesus is doing.  So, he wants to conform us to himself when Jesus wants us to be conformed into HIS likeness.  He wants to restore in us what we lost because of Sin. 

   4. But you are a new creation in Christ Jesus

    5. It is HIS work … Paul makes it clear to us … Paul says “now that you know God” and then he corrects “rather known by God” … You see without God choosing us we can’t choose him

Because he has chosen intimate relationship with us, we can know intimate relationship with him

John 15:16 you did not choose me, but I chose you

1 John 4:10 this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

Phil 3:12 -  I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me

Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Because he has transformed me … I seek to be transformed

Because he has loved me I seek to love him

Because he has known me I want to KNOW CHRIST …

Romans 12:2 so do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of the world, but be TRANSFORMED by the Renewing of your Mind

… BE TRANSFORMED … EXIST in TRANSFORMATION … Don’t just be converted and then go back … DWELL in TRANSFORMATION

It is not so much something you do but something you are … you surrender to the divine nature placed in you by the Holy Spirit

  C. Don’t Go Back vv9-11

    1. do you wish to be enslaved again?

    2. have I wasted my efforts? V 11 

    3. Wiersbe says that when they abandoned the freedom of Grace and returned to the Bondage of the Law and Legalism that they left the School of Grace and reenrolled in the Kindergarten of the Law

    4. “but now that you know God …” Do you recognize the Sacrifice that Jesus made to set you free?  Why would you return then?  He took on our yoke of slavery to the Law, conquered it and then paid the penalty for our yoke to sin, though he had never sinned. 

Why would you return? 

    5. you go back to “observing special days and moths and seasons and years!” …

Was there anything wrong with holy days?  Is there anything wrong with us celebrating Christmas and Easter or any other day of remembrance?  That would even beg the question then is celebrating through a weekly worship service wrong?  Well of course there is nothing wrong in itself.  These are good things to point us to and draw us near God.  They are useful in expressing our love for him and fellowshipping with him.  However, if they only serve the purpose of attempting to Gain God’s favor or favor of a religious elite.  If you worship for the approval of man or to try and force God’s approval it is vain and useless

Blessed Believer

Sweet Saint

Precious Partaker of the Life of Christ …

We are called in Christ to GROW Up … stop living simply by the rules which you think someone will follow up

But Live according to the Spirit who lives in you and calls you to life

Live a Transformed Life

Because the good news is that in Christ, through faith, by the Power of the Holy Spirit we are

3. Transformed, Unrestrained Love and Joy

Read 4:12-18

What happened when they went back again to idolatry? 

“No Pastor, Not Idolatry, Judaism …”

oh you miss the point …  you can call it what you want but if you are worshipping the FORM and not the Father you are in idolatry

If you are worshipping the way of expression and not The Way, The Truth and The Life, it is Idolatry.

So for them to turn to Judaism was the same as returning to the false idols they had left behind at the first for Christ.

So, in like fashion even Christian Worship, Studies, and Expression can become idolatry.  When we worship Architecture, and Worship Style, or other expressions, we are idolaters not worshippers.

We have become enslaved again though unfettered by Christ. 

Paul asks in verse 15 What happened to all your joy?

Have you lost the Joy in your Salvation?

Structure, Sin, and Successes can steal your joy

Structure – making sure we do it right, so worried we will do it wrong

Sin – doing it my way, rejecting God’s way, being trapped up in old patterns

Successes-  focusing on the feeling of success and not the Father who we seek to please …

Paul says in verse 18 … there’s nothing wrong with Zeal … but be zealous for the RIGHT thing …

Only in Grace and Gratitude can we live in the Unrestrained Life

  A. Not Restrained by Fear

    1. I do not fear death any longer because I have been given life

    2. I do not fear punishment because Christ has taken my punishment at the cross

    3. if I am disciplined, it is for my benefit then

  B. Not Restrained by Failure

    1. I need not fear failure because Christ has already succeeded in the level of perfection that God require

    2. I need not fear my own failures because his love for me is secure and my hope in him is sure. 

“I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that he is able to KEEP that which I’ve committed to him against that day” 2 Tim 1:12

    3. you know not what “failures” you have that are actually God’s hand in disguise.  Paul’s goal was to spread the gospel in other places.  He didn’t set out to evangelize Galatia … but he got sick.  His humanity caused “failure” in his original goal … but his unrestrained relationship of Joy with Christ caused him not to focus on what he didn’t or couldn’t do but focus on the new opportunity that grace had provided … it was BECAUSE of the failure that Paul came to preach the Gospel to Galatia

By the way … Human failings are OFTEN part of the reality of scripture.  Anyone that tells you that faithful Christians will always be healthy and that you can speak to your sickness and it will flee … do not understand this truth.  Take them to this passage and compare it with 2 Cor 12:7-9.  Paul had a PHYSICAL malady.  It was a physical falling.  It was grotesque so much so that the Corinthians are said to have referred to him as the “ugly little jew” … Paul says “you would have taken out your eye and given it to me” … meaning that he had a problem with his eyes but it must an ugly malady that would have caused normal people to turn him away.

But Paul’s human frailty and his frustration in the challenge of doing ministry in those conditions did not restrain him but FREED him all the more

He gets an answer from God that his Grace is Sufficient … and … his Power is perfected in Weakness and so Paul says “I will GLORY in my weakness”

Unrestrained by Failure

  C. Not Restrained by Formation (Successful Performance)

    1. some people have “achieved” a spiritual status that they are proud even satisfied and it keeps them from moving any further with the Spirit because they think that they have arrived

    2. but surrendered to the Spirit within you get a true reality of perfection.  You have our eyes focused on Jesus and not on the best or the worst of yourself.  You keep moving toward Jesus.  You keep surrendering to the pruning and shaping hand of the Spirit

Don’t you see how the Evil One twists the truth?

He tells you that God is trying to squelch your liberty while all the while he is keeping you bound by sin, when in reality God sets you free

Satan tells you that God wants to limit you when in reality God wants you to live a life of unrestrained Joy and Love

Love … the greatest tool of behavior modification is LOVE … it makes a … sinner saved by grace want to act like a saint indwelt by the Holy Spirit

It makes a person who has been given everything she needs for life and godliness live in that power

It makes a person who has been set free bind themselves out of love to a Savior who is oh so worthy and oh so trustworthy


The Story goes that a wealthy man bought a much sought after large painting of Jesus.  He spent whatever was necessary to acquire the art.  He brought it home and tried to find a place for it, in his house with all his other art.  Finally frustrated, he brought in an Architect and said, “Tell me where to hang this picture.”  The architect finally concluded, there is no where to hang it in this house.  Without missing a beat, the man said, then build me a new house around the painting. 

—Evangelical Messenger[2]

Folks legalism is like trying to bring Jesus into YOUR house and make him fit YOUR things. 

But the Christian life is receiving Jesus and allowing him to rebuild YOUR life into a house made for him.

What about you?  Are you ordering your life around him or asking him to fit in with your life?


[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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