1 “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
3 So also, we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:1-7 [NASB]
Paul wrote this letter to the Galatian Christians after he left there and later heard about a group of teachers who taught contrary to what he taught. The group of teachers told the Galatian Christians they had to become Jews before they could become Christians. In essence, they said they had to undergo circumcision under the Jewish Law before they could become Christ-followers. Paul spent this letter to the Galatian Christians explaining the difference between the Law and the grace gift of God through Jesus Christ, His Son.
In Galatians 3, Paul told the Galatians the Law was a tutor for the Israelites to lead them to God, but belief in Jesus Christ’s as God’s one and only Son is the only way to complete redemption from sin and guilt. The Law led the Jews to recognize their sinfulness and inability to cleanse themselves perfectly and permanently.
In today’s passage, Galatians 4:1-7, Paul used a metaphor to explain living under the Law of God versus being a son or daughter, an heir, of God. The metaphor he used applied commonly in their society. When a person was a minor, though by law an heir of his father, and until the person became a legal adult, the child was not different from a slave. He (at that time, and for our day, she, as well) took orders from his father or the father’s manager/steward/overseer. This is equal to guardians of children today when parents have died. Until the child is an adult, he takes orders and instructions, and obeys them. This makes the child equal to a slave in that regard though he is still an heir of his father.
The second part of this metaphor comes in verse three. In this extension of the metaphor, the “child” is the person who lives by the Law of God. The person who lived by the Law after God provided the perfect sacrifice and freedom from the Law was still in bondage to something less than perfect. Paul equated a person in bondage to the Law as a child/slave, a person still in bondage to elemental things. These elemental things were elementary and rudimentary principles of the world. For people after Christ’s death and resurrection, these elemental things included working to earn salvation according to the Law of God. Remember, the Law of God could not save a person from his or her sins, but only led a way to God.
Understanding these two metaphors as Paul used them in this passage then means people who followed the Law of God sought to work their way to salvation. These people were entrapped by works theology, the elemental levels of faith. That made the person no better than a child under civil law and a basic son of God able just to drink the milk of God’s Word. To accept by faith the truth of the Gospel – God’s perfect and complete redemption of people through the redemption of a person from the filth and power of sin, the person must believe only in Jesus Christ for redemption and cleansing. Redemption is the redeeming by a form of payment the price to recover a person from the power of another person. Christ redeems and frees people from the power of sin and death.
How does this happen. Paul explained this in verses four through six. He said, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law so He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive adoption as son.” Because God gave His laws to rule the religio-political society of Israel, anyone born from that point (Jewish and even Gentile, who knew of the Law) came under those laws. God chose to have His Son born to a woman under those laws so when this Jewish boy grew to a man and showed Himself as the Son of God through His teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection, people could see the Son of God surpassed the Law of God. Belief in Jesus Christ is paramount. Only through His sacrifice is perfect/complete redemption from sin received. Annual sin sacrifices never permanently cleansed a person from his or her sin. Jesus’ sacrifice of His life as the spotless Lamb does.
Paul taught further in verse six when a person believed in Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God for his or her salvation, he or she received the Spirit of the Son. When a person believes in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior, Jesus’ Spirit resides in him or her and he or she becomes an adopted son or daughter of God. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Galatians 3:26 says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to take away the sins of everyone in the world makes you a son or daughter of God and an heir of God. Paul explain in verse six, because you are sons and daughters of God, you can now call to Him, “Abba! Father!,” which means “daddy, father.” You can use that term of endearment because you are in a personal relationship with God through Christ. You no longer have to go through a priest to talk to and hear from God.
To conclude his metaphor, Paul said in verse seven, when you believe in Jesus Christ, “You are no longer a slave (or a minor), but a son (and daughter), and if a son/daughter, then an heir through God.” What do you gain by being an heir through God, a co-heir with Christ? You receive peace from knowing your relationship with God is permanent because your sins are completely and permanently washed away and you can stand in the presence of Holy God. Since you have an unending and eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you will have eternal life with Him in His kingdom, heaven. Death will not separate you from Him.
Relationship with God; God made us for this purpose. He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight, In love He predestines us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Jesus said this same thing in Matthew 25:34, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
What do we have to do with this teaching? Consider, like Paul wanted the Galatians to consider, whether you are listening to other teachings instead of accepting by faith that the only work needed to be done for your salvation and redemption Christ did on the cross. Nothing more needs to be added and nothing removed. Our salvation from our sins and self comes completely and perfectly through God’s gift of mercy and grace – Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It is not a works-based salvation. Nothing we can do is worthy enough to earn our release from the judgment we deserve for our sins. God provided the exact sacrifice needed to release us from His just judgment, His holy and blameless Son.
What is keeping you from believing in Jesus alone? Do you feel you have to earn God’s love? You cannot earn it. You are fallible. God loves you no matter because He created you. His showed His extreme love by allowing His one and only Holy Son to die the worst death, asphyxiation from hanging on a cross. Will you accept that is all that is necessary? Believe. Do not add to the Gospel by trying to prove your worth. You are worthy because God created you, now give Him your heart.What will you decide today?