The book of Galatians is filled with a struggle in the Galatia church to revert back to the legalistic following of the law. The Christians were being tempted to throw away all that Christ had done in order to return to the shackles they had been freed from. They were trading freedom in Christ for bondage under a guardian.
Galatians 4:1-7 teaches us how to avoid Christian immaturity: an understanding of what we were, what God did, and what we are [as a result].
Let’s explore those thoughts a little more.
1. What we were: Children in bondage (Galatians 4:1-3)
The ancient world had its own customs and ways it treated children. Children of wealthy parents were often under the direction of a servant who was charged with helping to raise the child. The inheritance belonged to the child, but it could not be touched without the supervision of the servant since the child was not mature enough. In a way, the child was not much different from the servant who looked after him as he had no power or access to control the money he would inherit. This is the picture of the law verses the freedom of Christ. The Jewish Law was the guardian that controlled the children of God until maturity. It was a means of raising God’s children up to obtain the promised inheritance, but that inheritance was not able to be taken under the law.
2. What God did: Redemption and adoption (Galatians 4:4-5)
God sent his son, Jesus, who was born under the guardian law so that he might provide a way to mature and receive the promised inheritance. Redemption is the act of setting one free from bondage. Jesus came as a means to be freed from the bondage of the guardian (the Law) so that we could take hold of God’s promises. Not only were we set free, but as a servant freed and adopted into the family, we have been adopted into God’s family even though we are not of Jewish origin! We have been set free from slavery of sin and Law by the purchase price of Jesus’ crucifixion. This price offered both freedom and adoption into the full inheritance promised to his children of the Old Testament.
3. What we are: Children and heirs (Galatians 4:6-7)
No longer servants or illegitimate children, we are brought fully into the family of God, with all rights and responsibilities! Our relationship with God is one of a father and his child. But we are not just any child, we are heirs of the Kingdom!
If you are a Christian, you have been freed from bondage by the redemption and adoption of God. Therefore, you are now his child and heir to the inheritance.
What bondage to you struggle with letting go of? What tempts you to return to sin or a legalistic following?