“4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
Odd that Paul starts this portion of his letter with the aside, “What I am saying” as if he is fully aware that he has not yet convinced his readers in the church of Galatia of the extraordinary truths that they are no longer slaves but fully adopted sons of God and therefore are no longer under the law.
The law, reminds Paul, was only a guardian — a kind of trustee of a future inheritance –right up until Jesus died on the Cross and was subsequently resurrected and ascended to glory. At that moment, born-again believers were transformed. They were adopted as sons and therefore heirs of God’s promise to remove the yoke of the law by fulfilling every jot and stroke of that law through Christ’s sacrifice.
Once freed from the law, Paul exhorts his readers not to try to put themselves back under the yoke and burden of the law which will only drive them deeply into guilt and shame.
Instead, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV).
21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and the other by a free woman. 23 But the one by the slave was born according to the impulse of the flesh, while the one by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things are illustrations, for the women represent the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery—this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
God does not change His mind, but He does create two separate covenants with mankind – the first covenant, often referred to as ‘old’ provides the Law and for a long time, mankind lives under this Law. The second covenant, often referred to as ‘new’ provides the Grace and from that point on, mankind lives under this Grace. Once Grace arrives, the Law is no longer needed. In fact, the Law is nailed to a tree and is essentially fulfilled in the Life and Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all!
Putting oneself back under the Law once under Grace is like going back into Slavery once Freedom is obtained. Who does that?
Paul wearies over the church at Galatia, even saying he remains in labor pains until Christ is formed in them. He wonders how it is that they’ve lost their joy, covering themselves with once-removed burdens. He wants to change his tone, but he is bewildered and hurt that they’ve returned to Slavery unnecessarily.
Don’t make this mistake. Our mother is not Hagar but Sarah; and she is Freedom.
Exasperated, Paul wonders at the Galatians’ desire to place themselves back under the yoke of the Law. He worries over them as they fall victim to Judaizers who wish them circumcised, observant of certain days and specific customs. Paul says “it is always good to be enthusiastic about good;” but he also says he is “suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.” Paul strongly suggests to the church at Galatia that observing the Law does not and can not make them any more Christ-like!
15 What happened to this sense of being blessed you had? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them. 18 Now it is always good to be enthusiastic about good—and not just when I am with you. 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 20 I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you. 21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law?
Paul then tells them a story. He reminds the Galatians of the children of the free woman, Sarah and the slave woman, Hagar. Both children come from Abraham, but only one is the true heir.
Rid yourself of the yoke of slavery and take up the cloak of freedom in Christ.
No law gives what the Spirit gives, says Paul. The Spirit yields a harvest, says Paul. The law does not, and can not. The law is capable only of pointing out sin. This is the law’s value – that it convicts us of wrongdoings.
But the Spirit, says Paul, yields a better harvest – its fruits are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, courtesy, temperateness, purity.”
These qualities emerge not from awareness of sin, but from the power of our God, indwelling as the Holy Spirit.
Whereas the spirit yields a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, courtesy, temperateness, purity. No law can touch lives such as these;
Such a simple statement – “do to others what you would have them do to you.” But the second statement that Jesus makes is a bit grandiose, don’t you think? He says, “That is the law and the prophets.” Read it:
“Do to other men all that you would have them do to you; that is the law and the prophets.”
Jesus says that if you behave toward others in ways you’d like them to behave toward you, then you’ve fulfilled the law. Every word handed down to you from the Old Covenant prophets has led you to this understanding – that what you do to others should match what you would have them do to you.
If I’m lonely, I like to be comforted. If I’m hungry, I want someone to make sure I’m fed. If I’m hurt, I’d like someone to heal me. If I’m homeless, I’d like someone to give me shelter. If I’m different from you, I’d like your acceptance.
“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.”
You may hear certain Christians pronounce that God is Judge, God is Lawgiver, God is King; but they seem to forget that God is Savior. They conveniently forget that God’s plan is to save us. God’s intention is not to condemn, but to forgive. He comes to seek and to save what is lost. He sows seed in order to nurture it into growth, to ensure that growth is healthy and whole.
Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, KJV)
Walking after the flesh is being under Law; walking after the Spirit is being under Grace. Grace is not, and never has been, an excuse for sin. Grace is God’s gift to a dead world.
Once we were “under guardians,” under and “enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.” (Galatians 4:2,3) Then, “God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law.” Jesus came “so that we might receive adoption as sons” and no longer be “slaves.” (Galatians 4:5,1)
Paul is weary. He laments, “Now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:9) “Tell me,” he writes, “you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?” (Galatians 4:21) Don’t you understand that you are now “free children of promise” rather than bond “children of the slave.” (Galatians 4:28,31)
“For freedom Christ has set [you] free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Paul warns, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” (Galatians 5:4-5) “Only faith working through love” “counts for anything” “in Christ.” (Galatians 5:6)