“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” Galatians 4:8-11 ESV
Before any of us knew the Lord, we were enslaved to sin, without hope, and without God. We were destined to spend eternity in hell, in eternal fire. And, we could do nothing in ourselves to be acceptable to God, no matter how many good deeds we might have done (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:8-9).
The only way that we could be made right with God, and be acceptable to God, was through God the Son’s sacrifice of himself on a cross so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Co. 6:20; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Through Jesus’ death on a cross, and through his resurrection, he put sin to death on our behalf. He conquered sin and the grave. He brought to nothing Satan’s power and control over our lives. And, all this was so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness; so that we could now live godly and holy lives to the praise, honor and glory of God.
But, not everyone is saved from their sins. We have to combine what Jesus did for us on the cross with faith in him. And, that faith is both God-given and God-persuaded. So, it submits to Christ as Lord, it dies with him to sin, and it now walks with him in righteousness, by His Spirit. It turns away from living for sin and self to now walking in agreement with the Spirit of God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
How can we?
So, we were once enslaved to sin and to the things of this world that we had made into gods, which were our idols. But, once we trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we left those lives of sin and those idols behind us to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. So, we were no longer enslaved to sin, to the passions of our flesh, and to idolatry.
But, the Christian life is a walk of faith, and of obedience, which must be maintained daily. And so, sometimes, it is possible for those who have truly trusted in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord of their lives, if we don’t persevere, maintain, and retain our walks of faith, to slip back into our old ways, into our old habits. And, we can become enslaved again to the things which Jesus freed us from.
And, there are all sorts of things that we might have been enslaved to, but all of us were enslaved to sin. And, all of us were under the control of Satan.
But, some were slaves of religious performance, or of legalistic requirements, or of trying to earn their own salvation by good deeds. Others were enslaved to human traditions, and ceremonies, and customs which were passed down to them from generation to generation, which often superseded God and His Word. And, others were enslaved to self-pleasure, and self-gratification, and to entertainment, and to mediocrity, etc.
So, the questions being posed here are, “After Jesus set us free from the control of sin and Satan and the flesh, and free from man-made religion, and free from idolatry, as well, how can we go back to all of that? How can we return to what is miserable and useless and is against God and is against His Word? How can we return to self-pleasure, and doing what pleases our flesh without regard for God and for what he requires and desires of us?”
“Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:12-16 ESV
There are people who, when they first believed in Jesus Christ, were zealous for the Lord. They were committed to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, since that time, they have been led astray. I was there at one time. I was one of them once, until the Lord Jesus brought me back. So, I identify.
And, so the questions are, “What happened? How did we go back? What changed? How could we have been walking in faithfulness to our Lord, listening daily to the Spirit’s voice, going where he sent us, and then all of a sudden switch gears? What causes that?”
There are many reasons people bail, or they return to the mud from which they were once delivered. And, the same reasons may not apply to us all. But, one common denominator is that we forgot God. We took our eyes off of Jesus, and we got our eyes on the flesh and on the world and on the things of this life and we let them overtake us. And, we began to drown.
For, as long as we live on this earth, we still live in flesh bodies which still have a propensity to sin. We are still tempted by the flesh and by Satan to sin against God, and it is possible for us to sin, too.
So, if we don’t maintain our walks of faith with the Lord, and if we get lazy or complacent, or we get distracted by the things of this world, they can throw us off course. And, this is why we have the warnings we have in scripture to Christians to watch and pray, to be on our guard, to be alert, to persevere, to abide in Christ and have his Word abide in us, and to take heed if we think we stand, lest we fall.
But, there is another reason why Christians can turn back to be enslaved all over again by the things from which Jesus set us free. And, that is false teaching and deception, and us falling for the lies because we aren’t persevering in knowing and walking in the truth.
“They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.” Galatians 4:17-20 ESV
False teachers are looking for people who will follow them without question. They often prey on the naïve, the uneducated, the lazy, the weak, the complacent, and those who are living in moral failure. They don’t usually go after those who are firm in their faith, for they know they can’t persuade them. So, they generally will prey on those they think are vulnerable and that they can persuade to come to their way of thinking.
But, they have to first of all persuade their target audience that they have something to offer them that is better than what they already have, or that it is the answer to what troubles them. And, so they have to pull them away from what they were following, if they were seriously following anything, to show them a new and better way.
So, they will convince them that what they had was the wrong way to go, and that what they have to offer is the right way. But, that doesn’t make someone a false teacher. As followers of Christ we, too, should be trying to persuade people to leave behind them their old lives of living for the flesh and to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.
But, these false teachers’ goal is to pull people away from true faith in Jesus Christ so that they become followers of them, instead. And, so they will lead you away from your pure devotion to Jesus Christ by convincing you that it is bad, that it is unhealthy, that it is not normal or that it is crazy.
And, they will convince you that their way is better, and that you will be happier, more content, and more at peace if you follow them, instead.
And, this especially works with the cheap grace gospel, for it alleviates all guilt over continued sinful practices, and it frees the adherent to continue on in habitual sin without guilt and without remorse while guaranteeing them salvation from the punishment of sin, the forgiveness of God, and heaven as their eternal destiny.
But, the questions need to be asked, “How can you, once you have walked in fellowship with the Lord, and you have known freedom from slavery to sin, be engaged in it all over again? How can you turn back to what Jesus freed you from?”
And, for those who never did believe the true gospel, and/or who bought into the cheap grace gospel from the get-go, and so you never did die with Christ to sin or live to him and to his righteousness, please know that Jesus died to deliver you out of your slavery to sin, not to coddle you in your sin.
And, to both groups, please know that our Lord cares about you. He is concerned about you. He died to set you free, and he wants you to walk in freedom. So, will you surrender your lives to him today?
The Spirit Calling
An Original Work / November 12, 2019
Hear the Spirit calling.
He’ll keep you from falling.
Tenderly He’s calling,
“Come and follow Him.”
Walk with Jesus daily.
Don’t give in to lazy.
Folks may call you crazy.
Fellowship with Him.
Follow where He leads you.
Eat what Jesus feeds you.
His love will renew you
If you follow Him.
Do what Jesus tells you.
Don’t let your faith fail you.
His love will avail you
If you walk with Him.
Jesus, Lord and Savior,
Reigneth now forever.
He gave us His favor
So we’d live with Him.
Turning now from our sin,
Holy Spirit live-in.
Holiness we walk in,
Purified by Him.