23: “Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.” – Before faith, before turning our lives over to Christ, we had no hope of salvation except for what we created our selves. Our future rode on the back of our accomplishments.
25-26: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” – We were motivated by failure and when failure came, as it always will, the sharp rod of discipline, the slap of a cut reed, was the only pathway to redemption available.
28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” – We are no longer slaves to our situation – Christ has opened the door and we are all free to enter.
29: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” – Through Christ, all the promised glories of God become available.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you imprisoned?
Is your heart guarded and are you enslaved by your actions? Can you step through your prison door into the freedom that Christ has to offer? Are you able put down the baggage of your past failures, indiscretions, and sins in order to gain the glory that lies before you? Can you put down your feelings of guilt and become one with Christ? Will you accept the forgiveness that is being offered and the redemption that is available? Believe and it all comes true.
Should you be punished? As a child of God, do you think you should feel the sting of judgment or the slap of retribution? Does it seem that punishment should be your just reward for the sins you have committed? Is it difficult to accept that through Christ, God is sparing the rod and spoiling His child with love? Do you realize that if punishment were God’s way, no one would gain access to His kingdom? That all we would ever find is a place in the fires of eternal damnation? Can you rejoice knowing that God has a better way?
Do you feel left out? Are you living a life of separation and isolation? Are you despised, ridiculed, or set apart in your life or work place because you are a woman, or because of your color, age, race, or beliefs? Are there things you are not able to do simply because of societal barriers? Is the world a hostile and unfair place to live? Paul reminds us that in Christ, none of that matters. Who you are, where you live, the amount of money you have, and your role in society has no bearing on your accessibility to Christ’s love.
Do you feel one with Christ? If so, then do you recognize that all of God’s promises have been fulfilled for you? When you read stories of blessings and answered prayers in the Bible, do you put yourself into those stories? When you look at the stars do you think of Abraham or Jacob? When you look across a beautiful valley, are you with David? When you read the Ten Commandments are you sitting with Moses? When you see a rainbow is your heart filled with the hope of Noah? You are one with Christ and these stories are for you. Promises of the Gospel:
Following Paul’s cutting remarks towards Peter when he accuses him of hypocrisy, he writes a beautiful letter of promises fulfilled and futures assured. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace and because of that we have become free of the shackles that have isolated us and confined us all of our lives. We do not have to strive to be better than the next guy. We do not have to become priest-like, clothed in special garments. We are not required to maintain certain rituals, abstain from certain foods, or even adhere to a certain code of ethics. Yes, the Ten Commandments are still before us as guidelines to living a holy life. As our hearts move us, we should strive to follow them as a way towards the perfections that Christ modeled. However, we have come to know that we will always fall short in our own efforts to gain holiness. In that sense, we are all the same. We are one in our sinfulness. Paul reminds us that the Good News is Christ has also made us one in His love and salvation is available to all who believe.