No Longer Slaves
The 6th message in the Galatians series.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
No Longer Slaves
It’s Labor Day Weekend which is also typically in the middle of family reunion season. Some of you had family reunions last couple weeks and more of you will in the next couple weeks. This is fitting because today we are talking about the difference between work and family- at least that is the way that Paul has framed this issue.As he continues to clarify to the Galatians that they are children of God, not because of the work that they do, but because of the promise of God.They are not sons and daughters because they have committed themselves to the work, but rather they are sons and daughters because God has committed himself to us.We are not sons and daughters of good we’ve done, we are sons and daughters because of what He has done.
Many of you will gather with family and friends tomorrow, not out of obligation, not because you’ve got to punch a clock or put in your time, but because you are going to gather with the people you love on a holiday, a day of rest from labor. You’re not here today out of obligation- you are not here to punch a clock- or put it your time, you’re here today because it’s a family reunion. What different about this gathering of family is that it’s every week and it’s okay to find a date at this family gathering…
Now many people in our culture view Christianity as an enslaving way of life- that you’re required to keep rules, go to church, read scripture, etc. You have friends who think, I couldn’t be a christian. I enjoy spending my Sundays on the lake or they think, I couldn’t be tied down…. Early Church father Augustine had this fear. He was a player who lived a life of supposed freedom from rules and constraints, but when he came to Christ he would write
“Our heart is restless until it finds rest in You.” – Augustine
There are many today who have chosen a life without limits, a life with no rules, but they find themselves enslaved to those things they chose.
This chapter is about the difference between servants and sons- the difference between working and belonging.
Jesus told a story that dealt with those themes, the story of the Prodigal Son. A farmer had two sons, the younger chose to throw off the life of his family and live as he pleased- Tired of the rules and the way of life on the fathers farm he went to live as he pleased, do what he wants, but then he found himself enslaved to poverty and hunger working in a pig pen.His condition is so bad that in the pig pen he says, even the servants on my father’s farm have it better than this, I’ll return to him and live as a servant. I’m no longer worthy to be called a son, so I’ll return as a servant…When the Son returns home, he goes to give his father his speech about living as a servant, but the father doesn’t let him finish. He calls everyone together to have a party because “my son who was lost is found, he was dead but is alive again!”
Paul’s main point of emphasis here is:
We are no longer slaves.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Gal 4:4 God sent forth his Son
Gal 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Gal 4:7 So you are no more a servant, but a son;
Everything else that we will look at in this chapter hinges upon this idea. God has done this incredible work to bring us into the family of God! God has moved heaven and earth, God has come in the form of a man, sending the Son of God to redeem them that are under the law that we might RECEIVE the adoption of sons.
Now, servitude and and adoption looked differently back then.
Back then adoption of orphans took place. However, something that was common then that is not common now was the adoption of adults. Often a man or a husband and wife who had no heir, no children would adopt an adult and make his steward of their estate.
He would take care of their affairs late in life, receive the inheritance, and often carry on the family name.
There’s an example of this in the Old Testament.
God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, but Abraham and Sarah had no children. So Abraham says to God, will I have an heir or will Eliezer, my oldest servant be my heir?
Abraham says I have no child of my own, but he was brought up in my house.
Getting desperate, Abraham is looking to pass on his legacy through Eliezer. This would happen with many couples who did not have children, they would adopt an adult with no means of his won, or who was a servant with no possessions of their own and they would become an heir.
Paul is saying in these verses that because God has adopted us through the work of Christ for us, that we have become heirs.
That all that God promised to Abraham is our’s.
Now the Jews believed that the promises of God were theirs because they were in Jewish in heritage and in practice.
Paul is saying the promises are ours through faith.
Then Paul gives us this beautiful passage in verse 6.
THEN God sent his Spirit to cry within our hearts, Father!
This is not a mere informative experience- it’s not merely learning the basic truths of the gospel- it’s an experience in that the spirit comes to dwell within-
Christ is not an experience or feeling, but he’s more than a fact or figure.
God sends His Holy Spirit to cry within our hearts, Father!
God sends His Spirit to work in our hearts to give us faith and assurance. There is this work within, this work in us, that says,
I am a child of God!
Oh man, this is important. Please grab onto this and don’t let go.
Paul says that God has sent His Spirit to cry “father!” Within our hearts, but the Galatians had this feeling of inadequacy.
They were insecure. They were afraid that it wasn’t enough. That their faith wasn’t enough, that they needed faith AND, that they needed faith plus.
Throughout scripture what we see is that God wants us to have confidence that we are His, for us to have peace and rest in the knowledge that we are forgiven and adopted into the family of God…
God gives us peace, not panic.
God gives us faith, not fear.
God gives us assurance, not anxiety.
1 John 4:13
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
Romans 8:1 & 16
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
2 Timothy 4:18
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
2 Timothy 1:12
I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have entrusted unto him against that day
1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 3:19-21
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
If we doubt our place in God’s family, we do not need to try harder, we do not need to do more, we do not need to look anywhere else- we must trust Christ!
If we graduate from anything, we graduate from our own effort to trusting Christ.
If we graduate it’s from the law to grace- not the other way around.
Paul’s main point is we are no longer slaves, and the outgrowth of that is Paul asking, why would you return to slavery?
If we are sons and daughters, why live as slaves!?
Kid’s watching AFV. Pastor went to demonstrate faith by stepping up onto a pew on the stage… I have faith this pew can hold me so I’m not afraid to stand on it.
The pew could hold him, but it wasn’t secured to the floor, so it flipped over backwards and so did he…
Why step off of the sure foundation in Christ to stand up on the unsteadiness of your own efforts.
If you have fear and anxiety now, imagine how much you will have when you’re trusting in yourself…
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Notice what phrase that Paul uses “weak and beggarly elements.”
In verse 9 Paul calls these principles “weak and beggarly” or “weak and worthless” John Stott points out that they are weak because they’re ineffective- they don’t work and they’re beggarly because they only ask more of us, they give us nothing.
The elemental spirits- of the messages of this world don’t work and add nothing to us- they leave us more tired and more destitute.
He uses this same word in verse 3 referring to the elementary things of this world the worlds idea of being worthy is through the keeping of rules and the doing of good deeds.
Every religion in the world gives you a staircase to climb. Measures of sacrifice, measures of devotion, measures of allegiance- if you climb them- if you accomplish enough, do enough, give enough, give up enough, then you’ll achieve transcendence or nirvana or purgatory or paradise or a greater next life-
The destinations are called different things, the sources are different prophets- but all of the messages are the same- do!
This is the thinking of the world. Only the message of Christ is different. Instead of this world’s message of “do,” the message of Jesus is “DONE!”
The message of every religion in the world is “do!”
The message of Christ is “DONE!”
The message of this world is “try harder!”
The message of the gospel is “trust him.”
Now let’s look back at those beginning verses.
Paul says that when we were under the law, we were like Children under a guardian. We weren’t slaves, but we were the same as slaves in that we weren’t free. We had guardians and teachers and governors…
3Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
When we think of slavery, we think in terms of the enslavement of sin. Paul is saying, whether we lived our lives enslaved to sin or under the guardianship of the law, we weren’t free.
As long as we were children, we had no advantage over the slave. When we were children, we were just like slaves and ordered around by simple instructions and rules with no say in the conduct of our own lives.
Paul is pointing out that for the Jew and the Greek, the one who lived under the law and the one who lived lawless, neither were truly free. Neither had liberty.
In God’s grace, we are all advanced. We are are all made truly free.
In Christ we are all forgiven and free.
When Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son, he doesn’t stop when the son returns. He doesn’t stop with the party. He keeps talking. He starts talking about the older son. The one who never left the farm. The one who had kept all the rules. The one was working in the field the very moment that the irresponsible younger brother came home.
The older brother hears all the revelry and singing in the house and wants to know what is going on…
He hears the reason for the party and he won’t go in.
Instead he stays outside, fuming.
The father comes out to speak with him. The older son is angry that this party is being thrown for his younger, irresponsible brother.
The Father says, all that I have is yours.
He’s saying to the older brother, there is still an inheritance for you, you can come in and celebrate with us now. Join us. Come celebrate. But the older son won’t come in. The law and rules end up becoming a stumbling block for him…
He felt that he deserved the party because he had been a worker, because he had done so much. The truth is that there were servants who had worked harder and longer than this son…
The Father is saying to him, why would you want your relationship with me to be like that of a servant, when you are my son?
Why are you trying to work for what is freely yours?
You see, Paul is telling the Galatians,
You were slaves. You are sons.
Our struggle is that we often forget what we were and what we are.
We forget how destitute we were.
We forget how blessed we are.
John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace became an orphan at the age of 7. When he was 11 he started working on a ship. The ship was in the slave trade. At the age of 23 in a horrible storm he called out to God for mercy and he was forgiven and adopted into the family of God.
He walked away from the slave trade and became a pastor and writer. Over the mantel of his study were the words of
15And thou shalt remember that thou wast a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee:
You WERE slaves.
You ARE sons and daughters.