|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 17
Meditation Title: Sons not Slaves
Gal 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Some of the arguing found in this letter or small book is some of the most logically consequential that we have from Paul. A number of his books or letters do follow through his points logically, but it is true of this one especially. In 3:1-5 he challenged them as to whether their Spirit-lives had been received by faith or by effort, acts of the Law. In 3:6-9 he showed that Abraham, their father, had been declared righteous by God because of his faith, not because of having done things. In 3:10-14 he reminded them that those who failed to keep the law were cursed and so that is why Jesus became a curse so that the blessings promised the world through Abraham could be ours. In 3:15-18 he used the analogy of a modern day will and pointed out that the original will can only be put aside by the benefactor and that the Law did not put aside the promise to Abraham. In 3:19-25 he considers the purpose of the Law – to drive us to the place of realising we need a Saviour. In 3:26-29 he points out that now we are ‘in Christ' we are sons of God and it is at this point that he declares, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (3:29). He had already referred to ‘an inheritance' back in verse 18 and so it may be that which was in the back of his mind, is now coming to the fore, that we are inheritors, not earners, of God's blessings.
Now he takes and expands on the picture of what happens when someone is an inheritor. He starts out by thinking about the position of a child who has been mentioned in a will: “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.” (4:1) The reality is that a young child whose father has just left him the whole estate IS in fact the estate owner, but in practical terms he is no better off than a slave on the estate. Why? He gives the reason: “He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” (4:2) i.e. although the estate IS his, it is administered by adults on his behalf because his father would have known that until he was of a certain age he would not have been able to handle it himself.
Now he applies that to the position of the Jews: “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.” (4:3). The fact was that they had been in relationship with God and they had been His people from the time at Sinai, yet they had clearly shown that they had not been able to break free from the sinfulness that the rest of the world knew. The fact that they were God's ‘children' hadn't released them from sin. The ‘basic principles of the world' that he refers to here, are simply the fact that we are human beings made in the image of God with great potential, yet since the Fall we are slaves to sin and cannot free ourselves from it, and so we constantly fail and get it wrong and drift away from God in our preoccupation for self-centred concern. So yes, the wonderful world made by God was theirs, and the potential of a relationship with God was theirs, yet they constantly showed they were unable to enter into the wonder of that ‘inheritance'; they were still ‘children'.
That situation, says Paul, continued on unchanged until Christ came: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.” (4:4) God had a time in history when He had planned for Jesus to come, and when that time arrived Jesus left heaven and entered this world being born through a woman, and came into the nation that was still under the Law, and so was subject to the Law. He came with the express purpose, “to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (4:5) i.e. Jesus came to pay the price for those law-keepers who in reality failed to keep the rules (everyone!) and who had therefore shown they were sinners in slavery to sin. Having paid the price for their freedom, it meant that they were now free to enter into the fullness of what God had planned for them, the ‘full rights of sons'. All of God's blessing, promised through Abraham, was now available to them (us!).
Just in case you aren't sure about that, Paul continues, think about what you have received: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba , Father.” (4:6) When you came to Christ, he gave us his own Holy Spirit to dwell within us and so we find ourselves, prompted by Him, when we pray, to cry out to God as ‘daddy'. That natural spirit-spontaneous cry is a mark of what has happened to us. Thus it confirms to us, “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (4:7) We have indeed been freed from the slavery of sin and realise that now we are ‘sons' with all that that means (as we saw in a previous meditation) and therefore we are also inheritors or heirs, those who now are receiving our promised inheritance, the promise of God's blessings, that came originally through Abraham.
Has the wonder of all this ever grabbed your heart? That God has promised you a life of blessings (God's constant decrees of good) and Jesus has died so that anything in you previously that might have stopped you receiving those blessings, has been dealt with, so now all you are is a receiver of God's constant decrees of good for you. That is what God is doing now, in respect of YOUR life as a Christian – decreeing good for you, all the time – because He promised He would, and now there is nothing to stop that happening (except perhaps your unbelief!). Declare today, you belief in what God's word says and declare you WILL stop trying to earn it, and will just receive it and rejoice in it, and will enjoy being His child, His son! Hallelujah!