Galatians: A Call to Freedom
9.A slave or a Child
Galatians 3:26-4:7New International Version (NIV)
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
There is an incredible jump in knowing something and then experience it as your reality. And unfortunately, the gap between knowing and experience can radically interfere with your enjoyment of that said thing.
For example; and I’ll admit this is a weird example but I’ll use it anyway; I never ever liked white chocolate because I thought it wasn’t chocolate. This was until someone taught me that real white chocolate is made from Cocoa butter and then told me to feel how the cocoa butter melts in your mouth as you suck it; so the next time I ate real white chocolate I had the experience of this melting of the cocoa butter and it was incredible; it totally changed my experience of the whole thing.
Tonight, I want to address this reality in terms of how we as Christians can know that God loves us and know that we are children of God. However, and this is a big however, we need to experience this in order for this to be real and make a real difference in our life.
So, let’s dive in:
In the passage, Paul starts with the declarations:
1.You are children of God
In verse 26;
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
I cannot under-emphasise how powerful statement this truly is. The emphasis in this passage especial found in 4:5 is the idea that our being called the sons of God is in the context of Roman understanding of adoption.
The specific idea being explained in this passage although legal today; seriously rarely happens. During the time when Paul wrote this letter it was common, for a rich land owner who had no children to legally adopt one of his slaves so that someone would inherit his land.
In this adoption, as the legality was done with; it was as if that Slave was a son. All the realities of being a son was given to that slave and all the legal realities of that. Essentially, as soon as the legalities we done with that slave who was now a son had access to the entire estate of the father who adopted him. But in the same light he was responsible to the father as a son.
Now why I have to say this is I have heard it many times that people say everyone is a child of God. And unfortunately, this is simply not true; we are all creatures of God; all of us have been made by God; however, through sin and our choices we have enslaved ourselves and therefore are not children of God.
The reality of being a child of God is it is only given to those who, by faith, are in Christ. It is only believers who are Children of God; and as Children of God we have full rights as children!
Now; and I hope you get this; if you believe in Jesus; legally (if I can use that word) you are a child of God; the whole estate of God; all His love and all His resources are yours!
Pretty cool hey; bit you are responsible to the Father; and like a good father you can be subject to the discipline of the father.
Now, and this is what I want to emphasise; as a Christian, you have an incredible reality; you are a child of God in every way!
John says in 1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the Children of God; and that is what we are!
The problem is…
2.Are you acting like a slave?
Paul goes into another defence of not adding to faith through observation of the law; by giving the analogy of a Child and a slave; without Christ, we are under slavery.
What is Paul trying to say here; basically outside of Christ we are the same as slaves. No rights; and no benefits of being a son; he is ultimately taking a jab at those who think that following the Law is what matters.
What matters is what Paul says in 4:4
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[
In other words; it is in Christ and Christ alone that we receive the full rights of being children of God. The NIV says it better is says; “that we might receive the full rights of sonship.”
Now I need to give a warning at this level; we can actually – by putting our hope in being good enough; or thinking if we just overcome this sin then God will love us - be acting like slaves.
Most of us come to faith with the declaration that we are NOT good enough and then spend the rest of our lives trying to prove that we WERE good enough.
And that is the point; we are not good enough – we constantly need Jesus! We constantly need His death! Because we cannot be good enough; if you don’t believe me; just try it will destroy you; it will literally enslave you.
And I hope you get this; you may actually be saved; and believe; but because you are trying to prove how good you are you are living like a slave!
And if you live like a slave; although you have all the benefits of what God has done you are not going to experiences them in your day to day life.
Which leads me to my next point;
3.The importance of experiencing
In verse 6 it says;
b]6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
We can easily miss the emphasis of what Paul is saying here; Paul is saying Christ has secured our sonship; he has done what was needed. The danger is we can completely intellectually get this; but God goes further;
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit into our hearts who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
If we see the flow of the argument in what Paul is saying; we see how he develops the fact that Christ has done all that is needed to secure our sonship (in verse 4 and 5) that is the almost legal reality; but he doesn’t stop there; he moves and says because of this adoptions God does the next step and confirms this in our feelings through the Spirit; in our experience through the Spirit.
It is the Spirit that causes us to cry out Abba Father. In the Greek with the connection of the heart and cry in this verse means that there is a profound emotional reality that is being spoken about here; and what is that emotional reality; we cry out Abba Father.
Abba is baby talk; it is not daddy it is more da-da. Paul is trying to illicit a connect through his words to that profoundly intimate connection between a child and his father. That heart felts deeply emotional connection between father and child.
And this is what God does for us by sending His Spirit to us. It is not only an intellectual reality it is a profoundly felt reality.
To put it in the only way I can you don’t simply understand Christianity you get it; It is experienced.
Nats had something like this happen to her on Good Friday in the singing of “How deep the Fathers love for us” she said all of a sudden she was hit by the line the wrath of God was satisfied…
She said it hit her; God was wrath filled against her without Christ; now she had known that truth for years, but in that moment it was felt; she was shaken by it!
Christianity is one of those things that have to be felt; it has to move from pure intellectualism. Now I need to say this because you will hear what I am not saying; in no way am I advocating an unintellectual faith were everything is just feeling and emotions.
In fact that is a great problem with our generation, unless we feel like it we don't. The reality is that feelings follow actions. But I am in no way calling us to pure emotionalism.
The Bible calls us to give a reason for our hope and the faith is full or reason and practical hope.
What I am saying is it is not enough to just reason the faith out with pure intellect. God wants all of us our mind our emotions our will!
And so, to get our emotions God sent His Spirit into our hearts to make the truths of the Gospel felt truths.
Essentially, for the gospel to truly be impactful it has to be a Spirit enabled emotional and intellectual reality.
The question that now stands is how do we feel the Abba Father reality of our salvation.
And to answer this we have to see again the interconnectivity of verse 4,5 and 6.
The Spirit is given to us because of Christ coming in the fullness of time.
And so, in that is the practical reality of this tonight the way we experience the Spirit; the way we experience our Christianity, is the same way we start our faith: Through the reflection of what Christ has done for us!
It is as we meditate and reflect on and live out the reality of what Christ did for us on the Cross so the Spirit confirms this in us through an experiential reality.
To me this is the wonder and beauty of Christianity; it is not some set of rules to obey; it is not a series of meditations to contemplate. It is a loving relationship that truly moves us; and engages us on an intellectual level and on an emotional level.
I love the way C.S. Lewis puts it
“Guilty people do not act better; forgiven people do. Legalism says God will love us if we are good, while the Gospel tells us God will make us good because He loves us.”
And it is this felt love reality that changes our hearts!
And so I would encourage you tonight with a simple reality have you experience the love of God so that you have felt the Spirit cry out in your heart da-da!
Has the truth of love of Christ moved to the love of God? If you have not; if this hasn’t become an emotional reality; I would suggest stay at the cross; say in meditation about what God has done for you through the gospel; the Spirit will confirm this in you!