A Study of Galatians 4
by Mark Trodd
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BORN OF THE SPIRIT – HEIRS OF THE PROMISES THROUGH FAITH
Paul, having re-established his credentials, reminds the Galatians that they have been redeemed from the Law and set free to live by faith. Christ lived under the Law so that He could fulfill its requirements and so become qualified to redeem them from the Laws condemnation..
By faith, we have died with Christ, and we have also been raised up with Christ to a new life. The Law has fulfilled its role of exposing and restraining sin, but now we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to apply the Word of God to our hearts and to make us more like Jesus. It is through the fruits of faith (in the finished work of Christ), empowered by the grace of God, not through the fruits of the flesh (my own works), that we become more like Jesus
A: BEING OUR TRUE SELF IN CHRIST MEANS BELIEVING WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT US.
Galatians 4:1-20 Born of the Spirit and Heirs of the Promise.
Having established that we are the offspring of Abraham and heirs of the promise, through faith, Paul implored them to live as the children of the Promise, not as slaves under the Law. Observing traditions and seeking to meet the obligations of the Law cannot transform us from slaves of sin into Children of promise – only putting our faith in Christ can do that.
The Holy Spirit is the seal of our new status, and the source of the transforming power that will bring our lives into conformity with who we have become in Christ. What the Law could not do, The Spirit of Christ will do as we learn to follow His lead. In Christ, we are now members of the Kingdom of God and heirs of all that comes with this standing. And, this is true even as we struggle with the training and the transition to eternity.
“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you”.
B: BEING FREE MEANS BECOMING ALL THAT GOD INTENDED US TO BE RATHER THAN A SLAVE TO OUR PAST.
Galatians 4:21-31 Slave or Free
Paul longs to see them living out of the freedom and the standing that the gospel brings. Paul uses allegory to make the distinction between Promise and Law clear. Hagar was the slave of Sarah and Ishmael was born to her because Abraham tried to fulfill the promise of God through his own efforts. It was a lapse in faith that has had consequences ever since. God had already said that His promise would be fulfilled through Sarah, and that Isaac would be the child of Promise. When Isaac came along, there was no doubt that it was the result of God both because of her age and because God had told them He would do it 25 years earlier.
The difference between the children of faith and the children of the flesh is not always obvious because it all starts in the heart. If I live by faith, then it means I will believe God and act accordingly. Paul said in Corinthians, “I believe, therefore I speak”
But, if I live by the flesh then I will not believe God and so act accordingly. Unbelief in the Bible was always about the people of God refusing to listen to or take seriously what God had said to them, and then doing what they wanted.
Our new life is to be built on the finished work of Christ, and we are called to live our lives in a freedom that is lead by the Spirit and bears the fruit of love. The way of faith, made possible by Christ, is a call to believe God and to bring our lives into alignment with Him. It is an invitation to do the opposite of what Adam did; to return to the life of intimacy and completeness that Adam lost.
“It’s for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery.”
1. Gideon was called a Might Warrior while he was hiding in a wine-press. His story is about how his title and his testimony became one. How does the way we see ourselves influence the way we behave? What does God think of you?
2. As a follower of Jesus and a child of God, I have a new status that requires a lifestyle to match. The Holy Spirit was sent to bring the two together in us. Discuss
3. How does the way of faith differ from the way of the flesh?
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