“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir. ” (Galatians 4:7)
We have been talking about what it means to BE God’s “Own child.”
This is so important because all of true Christian living flows out of what we ARE because of Jesus, and His work on our behalf. From the moment we truly say “yes!” to Jesus – we are no longer orphans, beggars, or urchins… we wear a new name, as adopted sons and daughters of the Father’s Own Family.
The apostle draws our attention to one other thing that we are no longer… we “are no longer a slave…”
In its most simple terms, to be a slave means that you do not have control over your own life… you are controlled (mastered) by something (or someone) else.
There are three main things to which Scripture says we were naturally enslaved (today… we will look at the two that are mentioned in the context of this passage).
The first is mentioned in 4:3… the Galatian believers were once “enslaved to the elementary principles of this world.” What does this mean??
In simple terms, elementary principles represent all the ways in which human beings try to control their own surroundings… or even God Himself. Whether it be incantations, or religious practices (done to coerce God’s actions), or idol worship, or even prayers (offered to get God to do what we want Him to do)… elementary principles were the hallmark of pagan religions and practices. The apostle tells us that this is a form of being enslaved, that can even weave its way into our Christian faith (see Gal. 4:8-10!). True Christianity is formed on the foundation that we, as God’s children, exist to seek God for what He wants to do. Everything else is, essentially… idolatry and witchcraft.
Jesus came to bring us into a new kind of relationship with God. One not based on our efforts (even at righteousness) to manipulate God or to gain His attention. Jesus came to bring us into “sonship” – to bring us into God’s Household and BE in His continual Presence. To know Him… and to know His ways… and to participate in our part of ushering in the King’s Kingdom here on earth.
The second thing to which we were enslaved… was the Law. Before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, righteousness was based on our ability to DO the Law. The problem was that the Law was constantly demanding our continual efforts at doing what we were required to do. And… we were not very good at doing those things. What was intended to help us, became a means of enslaving us… as the mastery of the Law demanded our constant best efforts at doing good.
But then came Jesus… “to redeem those under the Law, that we might receive our adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:5) Jesus did not come to do away with the Law, He came to end its mastery over us.
Because of Jesus, righteousness is no longer based on what we do, but on what Jesus has done. He came. He fulfilled the Law. Those who receive Jesus share in what He has done… and also share in Jesus’ “Sonship!”
Because of Jesus, we are no longer enslaved to the elementary principles of this world (our efforts at manipulating our circumstances) or to the Law (our efforts at doing what God requires). Through Jesus, we are set free from every earthly master!