Galatians 3-4 Summary
When the Jews were under the Old Covenant relationship with Almighty God, they were required to obey a litany of liturgical, ceremonial and purification statutes.
But when Jesus Christ died on the cross and he became our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world, that old order was done away with. But some people were trying to convince the Christians that they had to follow some of those Old Covenant requirements in order to be saved.
So, Paul set out to correct that error. Circumcision was no longer required of God’s people, who were now those who believed in Jesus Christ with genuine faith. And all those old liturgical, purification, and ceremonial laws (including the Sabbath) were also no longer required of God’s people (Gal 4:8-11).
So, Paul explained that adding these old traditions and ceremonies onto their salvation by grace was not of God, but it was of human origin, of the flesh of man, for Jesus had set them free of that old order of things, for now they were under God’s grace. So, these outward works would not save them.
But the people were being persuaded that the Jews were somehow superior to them and that they needed to be more like the Jews in order to be saved. So, Paul made it clear to them regarding the stature of the Jews who had rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah (the promised seed of Abraham).
He told these Christians plainly that the unbelieving Jews were NOT the children of promise, but the Christians (Jew and Gentile) were. He told them that the unbelieving Jews (symbolized by Jerusalem) were of Hagar, the slave woman, because they were still in slavery to sin. But they (the Christians) were of the free woman (the Jerusalem from above).
And he went on with this allegory by explaining that the unbelieving Jews were the persecutors of Christ and of Christians, too. And he encouraged them to cast aside these Jews who were trying to convince Christians they needed to be more like Jews in order to enter into the kingdom of God.
Galatians 4:31-5:1 ESV:
“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Okay, let’s stop here. I know that in context this is speaking specifically about the Old Covenant regulations (not God’s moral laws) that they who believed in Jesus were set free from having to keep now that Jesus had died on the cross for their sins, and now that they were under grace.
But what was the reason Jesus died on that cross? He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He shed his blood for us to buy us back for God so that we would now honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15, 21).
He died so that by faith in him we would be crucified with him in death to sin and so that we would be raised with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and so that we would now walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 2:20).
Jesus died, not just to forgive us our sins, and not just to promise us eternal life with him, but he died to deliver us out of our yoke of slavery to sin so that we would now become slaves of God and of his righteousness. For, if we continue living in slavery to sin, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
So, the Jewish Christians were not just delivered from slavery to all those old liturgical regulations of the Old Covenant, but they were now delivered from their bondage to sin so they would now be slaves to God.
So, they still had to obey God. They were not set free from having to obey the Lord. And they were not forgiven their sins so that they could go on living in their sins guilt-free, either. So, God setting them free from those Old Covenant stipulations was not God saying they no longer had to obey.
Galatians 5:13-15 ESV
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
So, we aren’t forgiven our sins so that we can make it our practice to look at porn, to swear, to chase after idols, to commit adultery against our spouses (adultery by Jesus’ definition), or to lie, to cheat or to steal from others, etc.
Jesus died to free us from slavery to sin so we would be slaves of his righteousness, and so we would love God by obeying him, and so we would love others as we love and care for ourselves. For God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for His return (Tit 2:11-14).
So, please understand this. If we make sinning against God our practice, our habit, our addiction, we will not inherit eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins no matter what we profess with our lips that we believe (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Shine Jesus Shine
By Graham Kendrick
Lord the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me
Shine on me
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be light
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