Forsaking Freedom (Galatians 4:8-20)
Series: “Set Free to be Free”
Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson KY – May 21, 2017
Read Acts 15 for a history of some of the interaction with the Gentiles coming to faith and how the apostles and church leaders dealt with that.
Read Galatians 4:8-20. In these verses, Paul mentions the Galatians first coming to faith. For more information about some of the first Gentiles that came to Christianity, check out Acts 10.
Read Galatians 4:9. Notice the beauty of verse 9 when it comes to salvation. Paul says, “. . . you have known God, or rather are known by God.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary is helpful here. It explains this as “you have known God” referring to salvation from man’s perspective, while “known by God” refers to salvation from God’s perspective. Paul reminds the Galatians (and us) that we know God because He has known us. As the beautiful children’s song says, “Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!” Ask yourself, “How did I first come to know God? When did I first start to love Jesus?”
Also, in verse 9 Paul speaks of these “weak and beggarly elements.” This perhaps may remind the reader of the language Paul uses in Acts 14:15. Read the passage here.
Read Galatians 4:11. Notice how Paul is concerned that he may have wasted his time on the Galatians. Sometimes, those in gospel ministry feel this way. You pour much into someone only to see them abandon everything that you have taught them. In doing so, they go to a life of bondage, to something of much less worth than the beauty of the gospel.
Read Galatians 4:19. Paul longs to see Christ formed in the Galatians. We know that we are to strive to conform to the image of Jesus (see Romans 8:29). This involves us striving purposely each day to be molded by the Holy Spirit to become holier and holier; more like Jesus. This is the process of sanctification, which means to become holy. We should seek to have Christ formed in us and help others to see Christ formed in them. Ask yourself, “Do I feel more formed like Christ today than I did yesterday? Last year? Five years ago?”
The first clarification of the sermon is to point out that culture matters, but not when it comes to our justification before God. That is to say, observing cultural traditions or niceties does not make us any holier. However, it is important to maintain propriety and dignity in one’s culture. For instance, in many missional situations in different parts of the world, missionaries must be careful to not offend in any way. Whereas the behavior of the missionary may not be in violation of the Bible, it may be offensive and disruptive to fellowship with others in that culture. Similarly, different parts of the United States have different cultural practices when it comes to basic manners and daily living. We should be aware of these cultural elements and live with grace and humility towards those around us. This is not a matter of justification, but it is a matter of Christian growth and maturity. What are some other areas that may not be biblical issues, but they are cultural issues?
The second clarification of the sermon is that our freedom in Christ is not a license to sin. Paul speaks to this extensively in Romans 6. Read it here.
- Where is my justification found?
- What are elements in my life that bring me false justification?
- How does my life demonstrate that the gospel is enough for me?
The entire sermon can be found here.