In this chapter, Paul employs two extended metaphors, both dealing with being sons.
In the first word picture, Paul compares Christ-followers to adopted sons who have come of age. No longer under the guardianship of the Law, they have now entered into the fullness of their rights, privileges, and responsibilities as heirs.
This is worth reading again...
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:4-7).
Through faith in Jesus, we are adopted into the family of God. It is God’s Son who purchased our adoption, and it is the Spirit of the Son who indwells us. No longer is the Law our nanny. Instead, the very Spirit of God has taken up residence in us to transform our thinking and guide our lives.
As fully adopted children of God, we don’t have to go through a priest or intermediary to get help. We have the privilege of talking directly to God, our Father.
We also have the hope of being co-heirs with Jesus. That means we inherit all that he deserves because of his obedience. That is plenty of motivation to listen to the Spirit and to obey.
This new status is far superior to the old status under the Law. Paul urges his readers not to devalue the incomparable privilege of living as adopted sons and daughters of God.
This new status is not something we have to earn through slavish obedience to the Law. This new status is based on God’s promise. He is the one who makes it happen. That is the gist of Paul’s second word picture.
We are not children of the slave woman, defined by human effort to accomplish God’s will. Instead, we are sons and daughters of God’s promise, which is accomplished through God’s power. We enter our new status through faith. In what God has done.
Now we are free children of God. We are not free to do whatever we want. Instead, we are free from sin, free to know our Father, our Savior, and the Spirit, and free to follow Him in doing what is good and right.
In other words, as adopted children of God, we are called to live as true sons and daughters of God in freedom and Spirit-empowered righteousness. The Law couldn’t make this happen. But what the Law couldn’t do, God has now accomplished through His Son and His Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, let’s choose to live a life worthy of our grace-bestowed status as God’s children, redeemed by Jesus and filled with his Spirit.
What did you want to be when you were a child? I wanted to be a princess. In second grade, I wore my hand-me-down dress with the crinolines underneath and announced to everyone that I was a princess, spirited away from imminent death, and left to live in poverty with my guardians. (This is what happens when you teach children about Mephibosheth.) If I had stayed in my childhood imaginings, you would be addressing me as “Princess Linda”. As part of the pattern of childhood development, we leave behind our childish ways and learn to behave like adults. As we read Scripture, we also see a spiritual maturing element. In Galatians, we find the value of the Old Testament Scriptures. While there was a certain amount of glory to the law, there was a greater glory in the gracious salvation of God, found in Christ.
With the coming of Christ, the nation of Israel moved from childhood into adulthood. The law could not justify the guilty sinner. Nobody was righteous. “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 10”11) The law could never give a person oneness with God, it separated men from God; there was a fence around the tabernacle. Childhood excluded me from certain adult privileges like driving a car, voting or assuming my rightful place on the throne. It was great to pretend to be a princess but I wanted to be a princess with my own set of wheels. “Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.” (Galatians 3:23) You will be relieved to know that I have traded in my childhood princess status for the garments of adulthood. Believers no longer need to wear the spiritual garments of childhood where the law was their guardian. In Galatians 3:27, we read, “…you…have clothed yourselves with Christ.” The believers have laid aside the garments of sin, “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6): and by faith received robes of righteousness. (Colossians 3:8-15) The believer has an adult status before God, leaving behind the childhood guardianship of the law. Why do people go back into the childhood of the law?
My legal status as a tiara-wearing princess was soon discovered to have no merit. My parents were not just my guardians, they were my parents and I was their heir, and consequently, I still had to eat my peas. Our status as Christ-followers makes us heirs of God where the law could never make us heirs. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs, according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) This section of Galatians is valuable to us as we read the Old Testament. It shows us that the spiritual lessons of the Old Testament are not just for the Jews, but have an application to Christians today. Freedom in Christ means that I can leave the childhood of the guardian of the law and move into the adulthood of inheritance. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11) The Christian life ought to take on new wonder and meaning as you realize what you have in Christ. All of this by grace-not by the law. You are an adult in God’s family, an heir of God. Are you drawing on your inheritance?
Galatians 1:6-9 & 3:1-14
Have you ever found certain biblical teachings to be confusing?
Verses like “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13) and "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). Which is it?
Or Jesus' delay when Lazarus died. When the sisters send word, “Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3), they clearly expect him to come. And yet Jesus delays. “So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:6). That’s confusing. Why would he wait?
Then, of course, there's the faith and works dilemma in the book of James (2:14), “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”
And what about the "Law or Grace" tightrope, the subject of today's Scriptures? The Apostle Paul is making it clear that keeping the law—which so many were trying to do—cannot save. He writes, “Those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse.” (See Gal. 3:10). In contrast, he continues, “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life’” (3:11).
Are God's law and his grace contradictory or do they work together? I'm confused! Are you?
How would you explain this to a young Christian?
Even though we know the difference between law and grace, our lives often seem to be tied up in law-keeping.
|In high school, my band director required certain activity involvements to earn our band award.
We had to check the boxes.
___ Practice an hour a day
___ Play with an ensemble regularly
___ On-time for rehearsals
___ Perform for an outside group
___ Sell concert tickets
|In my Christian college, we were expected to follow certain disciplines to complete our program successfully.
___ Have daily devotions
___ Attend chapel regularly
___ Attend a local church on Sunday
___ Witness, distribute tracts
___ Be involved in Christian Service
Were you ever trying to “keep the rules,” hoping to earn God’s favor? What was that experience like?
Perhaps you have regarded biblical law in the same fashion. Is keeping The Ten Commandments or pursuing the characteristics of a "good" Christian your purpose? Wanting to grow in our Christian faith is a worthy goal for all of us, but is that growth dependent upon our law-keeping and rule-following?
What is the value in following principles (instructions) for Christian living?
Have you found yourself trying to check all the boxes in your Christian life? How comforting it is to realize that the God of all grace extends his gracious love to us, not because we keep the rules so faithfully, but because Jesus paid the penalty for law-breaking and we who have trusted him are declared righteous and free to obey and serve.
Are you experiencing joy, not by law-keeping but by responding to God’s grace in obedience and service?
jbd & gmd
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and my wife and grandson, and I have been outside trimming our boxwood bushes. Over the past several months the bushes have developed some errant growth, which needs to be cut off and the bushes restored to their intended shape. One of the tools we’ve used is an electric hedge trimmer. It has teeth that go back and forth in a straight line along the blade. The blade is a straightedge.
Many people use various forms of straightedges. Carpenters, for example, would be hampered without a straightedge. Carpet layers sometimes use a serpentine straightedge (kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?).
The problem with pruning our boxwoods is that most of the bushes do not have flat surfaces. Some of the bushes are barrel-shaped, some round, some more oval, some conical, and so forth. You can probably see what we’re up against using a straightedge to trim something that isn’t straight. We have to apply the straightedge over and over again to small portions of the bush in order to correctly trim and shape the bush.
The Bible has a lot to say about straightedges, particularly the Straightedge of all straightedges. Unfortunately, we bushes need the divine Straightedge applied to us over and over again so that we can be brought into the intended shape. We’d probably prefer a serpentine straightedge curved according to what we want. But that’s not the God of all straightedges.
“Be holy because I am holy” (Lev 11:44). “By one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb 10:14).
One of the best worship choruses of all time is about being straight as the Straightedge:
Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness is what You want for me
Righteousness is what I need (that's what I need)
Righteousness, righteousness is what You want for me
Take my heart and mold it
Take my mind; transform it
Take my will; conform it
To Yours, to Yours, Oh Lord.
Life Application Questions
Hebrews 9:1 – 28
Most of us like immediate answers. Ask for a hamburger now, and in less than two minutes it should be in our hands.
Small children are headliners when it comes to patience. When the two-year-old says, “Now!” they really mean ‘It should have been in my mouth two minutes earlier.’
Disciples of Jesus are also waiting. Great anticipation surrounds the event which we believe alters everything—the return of Christ. About that glorious day songs have been written, prayers lifted and tears beyond counting rolled over cheekbones. Thankfully, Scripture provides world-class encouragement to waiters.
After a long and lengthy theological syntactical display, the 9th chapter of the Book of Hebrews deposits golden wisdom in faith’s vault. Speaking about that Day, Scripture declares the spiritual wealth of Christ Who “…bring[s] salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
In our waiting, we join the heritage of believers like Abraham, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham’s wait extends from the very long ago to a time perhaps ten thousand years from today; and, there is struggle in waiting for the Day.
Disciples wait believing in the surety of Him Who is Christ. We were called and now choose to live believing in the One Who answers as we pray, “Come quickly Lord Jesus”. We wait (Revelation 22:20).
Which spiritual disciplines sustain your faith as you wait for the Day?
Are you aware of moments when waiting for Christ’s return is most challenging?
Are you able to help sustain others who struggle with the waiting?