“Freedom Is Our Mother” ( Galatians 4: 21-26, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


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.

“Raised Up From” ( Isaiah 55:8-9, WYC ) by Carley Evans


In case you wonder why we don’t understand God, He tells us the reason. He says as far as the heaven is from the earth is similar to how far above us are His ways and His thoughts. God is beyond us, above us, raised up from us.

For why my thoughts be not your thoughts, and my ways be not your ways, saith the Lord. For as (the) heavens be raised (up) from (the) earth, so my ways be raised (up) from your ways, and my thoughts from your thoughts. 

Makes understanding the reason behind Christ’s entrance into the world a bit easier, however. If God is so far removed from us, then His coming as an infant – actually on the earth – makes perfect sense. How else are we to grasp who He really is? So much better is Jesus than Moses. So much better is the new covenant than the old – hearts not of stone, but of flesh and blood where God’s love is written directly by His Holy Spirit. 

That Jesus comes to earth is because God is raised up from us. Jesus descended to us so that we might live again.

“A Better Thing” ( Hebrews 11: 39-40, GENEVA 1599 ) by Carley Evans


The author of Hebrews delineates the champions of faith from the time before Christ, then says that although their faith allowed them to “obtained good report;” nevertheless they “received not the promise.”

“these all through faith obtained good report, and received not the promise,

40 God providing a better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

In order to obtain perfection, these Old Covenant saints needed us. What do we have that they don’t? The author says they have faith. What are they missing that is found in us? It isn’t as if God did not forgive sins during the Old Covenant times, it’s that it required the repetitive sacrifice of bulls and goats and lambs and doves – it required a great deal of shed blood.

What we have that the OC saints did not is – of course – the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the one and only sacrifice. His sacrifice is the promise we obtained; the promise they only looked for as through a glass darkly. The OC saints yearned for a better country – perhaps we should say – a better time, a better thing.

“Only A Shadow” ( Hebrews 10: 1-10, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. 2 Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said:

You did not want sacrifice and offering,
but You prepared a body for Me.
6 You did not delight
in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.
7 Then I said, “See—
it is written about Me
in the volume of the scroll—
I have come to do Your will, God!”

8 After He says above, You did not want or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), 9 He then says, See, I have come to do Your will.He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”

How are we sanctified? By the will of God through Jesus’ offering of His body once and for all. Why Jesus’ offering? Because God does not delight in sacrifices of bulls and goats. The blood of animals does not take away sin or the consciousness of sin. Jesus does not die on the cross to remind us of sin; He dies to cleanse our consciences of sin so we may approach the throne of grace without shame, in the boldness of freedom from guilt.

This is the successful Christian life — a life free of worry, guilt, self-loathing, hatred of others; a life full of mercy, compassion, kindness, self-respect and love of others.

“Simply The Good News” ( Hebrews 9: 15, ESV ) by Carley Evans


The English Standard Version of Hebrews 9:15 reads, “Therefore He [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

The King James Version of Hebrews 9: 15 reads, “And for this cause He [Christ] is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

The Holman Christian Standard Bible version of Hebrews 9:15 reads, “Therefore, He [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

Our redemption from the transgressions committed under the old or first covenant occurs because of a death. The death of Jesus makes Him the perfect mediator of a new covenant under which we — who are called by the Holy Spirit — are given our promised inheritance. That inheritance is guaranteed by the seal of that same Holy Spirit, who is known to us as the third person of the triune God.

Everything is purified by blood under the old covenant, and so also under the new testament. But, rather than the blood of bulls and goats, our purification is purchased by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said, ‘ Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the Book.” (Hebrews 10:5-7)

In doing God’s will, Jesus fulfills the Law. Jesus “does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10)

“Are You So Foolish?” ( Galatians 1: 6, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Paul bemoans what is happening in the Galatian church, writing: “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who calls you by the grace of God and are turning to a different gospel –”

 

The “turning away from [Christ]” happens in error due to the influence of Judaizers who call for men in the church to be circumcised. (Who knows to what Law these Judaizers might subject women!) At any rate, Paul is bewildered and disturbed that the Galatians are falling prey to people who demand full obedience to the “old covenant.”

 

In Paul’s mind, there’s no doubt these men (and women) of Galatia are called “by the grace of God.” They’re now deceived. Paul is distressed that they’ve been deceived “so quickly.”

 

Paul defends the gospel. He calls the gospel what it is — “the good news about the Messiah.” (Galatians 1: 7) He curses anyone who “preaches to [us] a different gospel contrary to what [we] receive.” (Galatians 1: 9)

 

He tells us that he is “advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among [his] people.” (Galatians 1: 14) He understands more than anyone what it means to obey the “old covenant” in order to please God. He fully comprehends the futility of human effort. He asks the Galatians (and us), “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ is vividly portrayed as crucified? I only what to learn this from you: Do you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (Galatians 3: 1-3)

“You Therefore Must Be Perfect” (Matthew 5: 43 – 45, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus acknowledges that under the old covenant, hating one’s enemy is expected. Retribution is the rule, not the exception — ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Matthew 5: 38) Today, Islam lives under this same rule of retribution. But, under the new covenant which Jesus introduces to His disciples and followers, Jesus calls them and us to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us], so that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 43 – 44)

Jesus calls us to perfection. In us there must be no evil intention, no thought or act of hatred or revenge. If we only love those who love us, “what reward do [we] have?” (Matthew 5: 46)

How do we love the man who murders our child? How do we love the woman who steals our husband? How do we love the drunk driver who totals our car? How do we love the colleague who cheats on his taxes? How do we love the neighbor who plays music so loudly it makes our floors vibrate? How do we love the driver who cuts us off in traffic and nearly causes a needless accident? How do we love the person in the grocery store who drops a jar of jelly and walks away without a thought?

I maintain we don’t. I maintain that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Living God, loves these individuals through us. Hence Jesus asks us to “be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 48)