Who are the true children of God? Are we born into this world as children of God? How do we become the seed of Abraham? What does it mean to receive the adoption of sons and daughters of God? These are important doctrinal concepts to understand and Paul attempts to clarify them for us in Galatians.
We left off in our study of Galatians with Paul saying in 3:26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” He means, only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are God’s – true spiritual children. Verse 27 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Now, this verse could be speaking of water baptism. But Paul is most likely speaking of those who have been baptized into Christ spiritually or – by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And have put on Christ or – taken upon us His righteousness. Verse 28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” All are saved in the same way – all are entitled to the same privileges. There is no favoritism. All who place their faith on Christ to save them – will be saved by the merits of the Savior and – all are given the same privileges as children of God – justified by faith. Note that when Paul says, “there is neither male nor female,” that it was intended to abolish the distinction of the sexes relative to God. There is no male or female in Christ. Circumcision is now of the heart. Paul adds “for ye are ALL ONE in Christ Jesus.” And, Paul ends with Verse 29 “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The promise made to Abraham related to the Messiah. It was a promise that in Jesus all should be blessed. And if you are a believer – a Christian – then you are Abraham’s seed, “and heirs according to the promise.” Again, not by the Law – but by faith – according to the promise made to Abraham by God.
The first two verses in Chapter 4 describe a person who has come to faith but remains a babe or a child in Christ. 1:1-2 “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he (or she) is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he (or she) be lord of all (the one who will someday inherit the whole estate); But is under (is subject to) tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” The Father – God – decides when this happens. Until the child matures into a son or daughter of God – a child lacks understanding of spiritual things and initially are still carnal in nature. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, and ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Like the Prodigal Son who was immature in the faith and irresponsible with the inheritance. He put himself in bondage to a Gentile citizen. Back to Galatians 4:3 “Even so we, when we were children (still immature in spiritual things), were in bondage under the elements of the world.” Paul is speaking of the Law, which kept the Nation of Israel in bondage as children to the elemental things relative to God. Throughout the New Testament, the word “bondage” is often tied to the law. Paul taught in Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” And for our LDS friends, Colossians 2:20-22 “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste no; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” Back to Galatians 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come (when the time was right), God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law (while the Law of Moses was still in effect).” This is when – as it says in John 1:14 “the Word was made flesh” – when the Word became the Son. What came forth from God to earth – was not a Son. God’s son – as it says in this verse – was made of a woman and was made under the Law. What came forth from God was God’s logos – His mind, will, emotion, words – and entering, into humanity became God’s Son…made of a woman, made under the Law. Why? Galatians 4:5 “To redeem them that were under the law (who were the Jews, the Children of Israel), that we (those who put their faith in Christ) might receive the adoption of sons (and daughters).” The only way unregenerate people can become God’s children is – by spiritual adoption (see Romans 8:15, 23; Ephesians 1:5). Now, Galatians 4:6 “And because ye are sons (heirs with Christ), God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Abba is translated as “Papa or Daddy” and is the same term the Savior used in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Mark 14:36). A person cannot have a personal relationship with laws and ordinances. But believers can have an intimate relationship with God.
Paul continues to counsel the Galatian saints to resist the efforts of others to get them to revert, back to the Law of Moses. He urges them to hold tightly to the freedoms which come with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Paul isn’t talking about the mere freedom to say or do anything, anytime without a care. That is not the liberty wherein Christ has made us free, is it? Paul is telling the Galatians to stand in the liberty where Christ has made them free – which would be a liberty to die to self, to live by the Spirit and, by the laws written on our hearts by God. Christ gave us – the removal of laws and bondage and, therefore the liberty to authentically love. God, himself is consummately free – for He is love and true love can only exist in freedom. We are created in His image and as such He seems to seek for all of us to be as free as He is in order to love as He loves.
If we insist on keeping laws and ordinances, Paul says in Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Scripture makes justification plain and clear – it is either by works or it is by grace – but it cannot be both. Paul taught in Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” And Paul also said in Romans 4:4-5 “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Any amalgamation of Grace and works will render His grace ineffectual. I want to make it clear here, that Paul is not giving us – a two-roads to heaven choice here. He is no way saying that the Law and/or Grace by faith in Christ – are the two ways. There is only one way and it is by faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 5:5 “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” And then, Galatians 5:6 “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision (being a Jew) availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision (nor being a Gentile); but faith which worketh by love.” It is all about love.
Verse 13-14 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty (created for them and us by faith on the cross and nothing more); only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh (to justify sin), but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The whole gospel, including all the commandments could be summed up in loving others as ourselves. This is faith which worketh by Love. Verse 16 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” How do we seek the will and Spirit of the Lord? We petition Him in prayer, and we seek Him in Scripture. Talk to God – ask Him to help you grow and understand and overcome yourself. Then accept the influence of the Holy Spirit in your life when it is presented. As maturing Christian’s, we learn to submit our flesh and will – to that of the Father’s will, by the Spirit and by the Word. And to walk in the Spirit is not to feed the flesh. Again, this is a choice. As Paul says in Romans 7, there is a war between the Flesh and the Spirit with each seeking to dominate the other. By choosing the Spirit we will not – by virtue of, the fact that the Spirit is in control – fulfill the lust of the flesh – no matter how powerful it may seem or be. Remember – we have our identity in Christ – not in our flesh. We see ourselves as new Creatures in Christ, and don’t identify any longer with the former man or woman of the flesh.
Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (you can’t just do whatever you want to).” That last line hearkens back to Paul who said openly in Romans 7:15-16 “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.” Ever find yourself in that situation as a Christian? You want to serve God with all, of your heart and soul and might, but you fail miserably. That’s because our flesh is at war with the Spirit. Galatians 5:18 “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Bottom line, if we submit to the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are free from the demands of the law. True liberty prevails as the Spirit calls us to love others as ourselves. 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
It is with this understanding that Paul now says in Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (meaning lustful thoughts, sexual immorality, including pornography), Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance (disharmony), emulations (jealousy), wrath (anger), strife, seditions (stirring up discontent), heresies (false doctrines), Envyings, murders, drunkedness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” All, of those things Paul mentions are representative of the carnal nature of man. These were the sins that were prominent in the Gentile or heathen world. But then, Paul presents us with the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness (gentleness), temperance (self-control): against such there is no law (there are no commandments of God against such personal character traits).” These are the Godly attributes that characterize the lives of those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Holy Spirit. No external law is needed in the life of a believer. Then Paul states Verse 24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Those who belong to Christ have been crucified with Christ, and all the affections of their flesh have died. This is not an immediate event, but we have, to choose to die daily, to take up our cross, and walk in perfection from that point forward. Then Paul concludes, Verse 25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” In other words, let our actions be in harmony with our faith and beliefs.
As Paul concludes his letter to the believers in Galatia, he gives clear advice for righteous daily living: “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” “Let us not be weary in well doing.” “God forbid that I should glory (brag), save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
And this concludes our study of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. Don’t forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast.
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Until next time, God Bless!