The greeting.

Grace and peace and mercy to you beloved in the name of Christ.

The word.

This morning we are continuing to worship our Lord God in the book of Galatians. Our text is Galatians 4:1-7. Please read along with me as I read the very words of God. Read. 

Man under Law is a slave-child. Galatians 4:1. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.

Christ has satisfied and fulfilled the law to make us mature free sons. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

I will also read a bit from the next section for some context. But I intend to treat Galatians 4:8-20 in next week’s sermon dealing with the subject of “backsliding”.

Therefore do not go back to live under the law.  8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

The prayer.

Let’s pray to the Lord and seek His help in worshiping Him this morning. Pray. 

The problem.

Let’s remember the great problem with the Galatians. They once had believed the gospel of Jesus Christ as preached to them by the apostle Paul. (Acts 16:6, Gal.1:6, 4:13,19)

And so, they were saved from their sins and made children of God. To use the language of our passage, (V.8) when they were Gentile heathen, they did not know God. (Gal.4:8) Now having believed in Christ, they came to know God and to be known by Him in a savingly way. (Jn.17:1-17, Eph.2:12-22) So far so good.

But then as often happens when a great work of salvation occurs, the arch enemy of God moves in fairly quickly seeking to steal, kill, and destroy those that God has redeemed in Christ. (Jn.10:10-12, Acts 20:27-31)

Beloved, when you see some wonderful work of salvation, some sinner has been set free from bondage to sin and Satan you can be sure that the devil is enraged, and he will roar and thrash about. The devil does not sit idly by when his kingdom is being plundered. (Rev.12:12, I Pt.5:8, Isa.61:1-3)

I would apply this even to the work of sanctification. When a believer is increasingly dying to sin and living to righteousness the devil and his fallen angelic and human servants will most assuredly assault such a one. Remember righteous Job an object of Satan’s abuse. (Job 1:9)

Do not think beloved that as a saved person, as a Christian, that you will go to heaven on a soft bed of roses. No. All that go to heaven follow in the footsteps of our Christ. It has been appointed to us not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for Christ, to share in His sufferings. (Phil.1:29, Phil.3:10, I Pt.4:13, Mt.16:24, 2 Cor.1:5)

We that love and serve Christ, will like our Christ, live our lives here below opposing the devil and being opposed by the devil. (I Jn.3:8-9) The devil stuck Christ. He will strike us.

We are in a spiritual war Beloved. (Eph.6:10-18) We are not fighting against flesh and blood and earthly powers. We are fighting against evil forces of spiritual darkness. Our sword is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, the Bible.

The battle between the true Gospel of faith in Christ alone versus the false gospel of works of the law is a spiritual battle. A battle of God against Satan and Satan against God, light against darkness. Truth prevails, but we are called to fight the good fight.

The method the devil often employs is to corrupt the purity of the gospel. Remember Balaam. (Num.22-24)

The way that he does this most often is by adding the works of man to the work of Christ. And that is exactly what he did with the Galatian Christians. Not long after they came to know God, Satan sent some of his servants to preach a corrupted false gospel of faith in Jesus plus reliance upon one’s own works of the Law. (2 Cor.11:14, Acts 15:1-5, Gal.1:6-9)

The Galatians were quickly deceived. Their fallen flesh loved to hear that they could contribute to their own salvation. (Lk.11:42, Mt.23:23, Lk.18:9-14, Lk.10:29) What a great offense to the Cross of Christ. (Heb.3:1-12) What a trampling upon the Blood of the Lamb. (Heb.10:29)

And to a large degree they apostatized from the true God by embracing a false Gospel.

The question.

Now you might ask yourself a question. If the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is true, and it is, then why would the devil do this? Why would the devil assault true Believers since we are certain to go to heaven? Why would he waste his time?

Similarly, we can ask, since true Christians can never lose their salvation why is the apostle Paul even bothering to write this letter? Can you even properly speak of “apostatizing” as regards to a true Christian.

The answer.

For those that have been truly set free by Christ the devil no longer can keep you. If the Son has set you free then you are free indeed. (Jn.8:36, Col.1:13, Rom.8:1) But he can tempt you to be miserable on your way to heaven. Depressed saints fight less vigorously for Christ and against Satan. And depressed and confused saints depress and confuse other saints.  This is the devil’s ploy. We are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Cor.2:11) The battle for the true gospel takes place inside of the church not outside The battle for Christ alone paying for sins takes place mainly among those who call themselves Christians and not the heathen.

The devil can corrupt true Believers so as to prevent others from coming to Christ savingly. I am certain many a true Christian father and mother have left their true gospel church and followed after some heretical teacher with their children in tow and they have lived long enough to see the sad results of a false gospel in their children and their children’s children.  Such is the sad fruit when women and children rule the home, and the man forsakes his calling. (Isa.3:12, Mal.2:13-16) Remember Eve. Remember Adam obeying Eve. (2 Cor.11:3, I Tim.2:13-14, Gen.3:1-8)

Moreover, when Paul writes to these Galatian Christians, he is being gracious addressing them as backslidden Believers. (Gal.1:1-5, 3:1-3)

The truth of the matter is this. Each NT epistle is addressed to professing Christians and addresses them as such. But that does not mean each and every person within that visible body was in fact a true Believer. No beloved. The church is addressed as the body of Believers. But the church is a mixed multitude. The wheat and tares grow side by side in the same Body. (Mt.13:24-30) The sheep and the goats partake of the same word and sacrament. Remember Beloved, Judas was baptized. Judas heard all Christ’s sermons! And he went to eternal perdition. (Jn.17:12, Acts 1:25)

Not all have faith. Some believe the true gospel. Some really believe a false gospel. Only God truly knows. And He does know. (Heb.4:13, Lk.8:17)

Apostasy from the real gospel is real beloved. It means that a professing Christian is either really an unbelieving goat or a sinning sheep. God in His holy justice and holy mercy calls the wayward to repent and to return to Christ. That is what the book of Galatians is about.

The law.

As we have said, the Galatian apostasy is seen when they add the law to the gospel. Against this error Paul continues to argue. He heaps argument upon argument against trusting in one’s observance of the law for one’s righteousness or justification before God.

He spoke of the experience of the Galatians. That they came to know God not by their law keeping but by believing in Christ as presented in the message of the Cross. He showed them that Father Abraham was justified by faith in the promised Messiah and not by his circumcision or law keeping. (Rom.4:11-12)

He also showed them that the Law given to Moses was not meant to save us, it was meant as a tutor to bring us to Christ. The moral law shows us that we are lawbreakers and in need of an atoning sacrifice. The ceremonial law typifies the coming Christ and points us forward to the fullness of time as our text says.

This is one-way people use the law unlawfully. We can take something good and holy and right and use it wrongly and sinfully. (I Tim.1:8-9) All those that teach a false gospel twist the Scriptures in order to support their lies. (2 Pt.3:14-18) Be on your guard beloved. Live in the Word.

Well here in chapter four, he continues with another argument against seeking our righteousness based on observance of the law. Again, by this, he means to show them (and us) the freedom we have in Jesus so that they would return to Jesus and so that we would never leave Him.

The infancy and bondage. (WCF 7.5) V.1-3.

This time what Paul is going to show them is that by adding works of the law to the finished work of Jesus Christ that they are actually going backwards in redemptive history. And I do not mean that in the OT epoch the saints were saved by law keeping. They were not. Salvation has always been by faith in Messiah.

This is significant. These false teachers have said to these Galatians, if you want to advance in the Christian life then you need to add keeping the law of Moses to your faith in Jesus. So they are saying, just faith in Christ is not enough for your justification that you need to do the law if you want to be sound mature saved Christian.

Acts 15:1. Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Act 15:1)

Acts 15:1. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

What is interesting to me is that the false teachers believe they are helping the Galatians move ahead, but in reality, they are going backwards. They are promising freedom. But they are enslaving them.

Oh beloved, that is the wicked deception of sin. I am sure every so-called “Christian” cult starts this way. Follow the guru, he has the secret truth to move ahead in your spiritual life. Bondage.

Paul is saying by believing in Christ we are now the full-grown free children of God, we are no longer an immature child under the government of stewards and tutors, just like a slave.

Galatians 3:23. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:1. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.

Think of the OT epoch. This is what these Judaizers wanted to go back to. They did not realize that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all those old types and shadows. Christ is the Substance. The Judaizers wanted to go back to the shadows.  Paul says if you go backwards you are going back to the status if an infant child with no more freedom than a slave (practically speaking).

Think of this. Imagine you are required to live for a year or two away from your wife in some distant land. But you had a photo of her. No other forms of communication or contact. But at the end of two years, you were reunited. But after living with her and enjoying her company, after another year or two – you moved back overseas and started looking at her picture again! 😊

You had the real wife. You went back to the photo. Paul says that is what you are doing if you go back to the ceremonial law. And Paul likens the time under the ceremonial law not only as infancy but an infancy that is likened to slavery or lack of freedom.

We don’t often think of it like this, but the entire sacrificial systems though it depicted Christ crucified, for the people that lived under it, it must have been overwhelmingly laborious. Every sin required some sacrifice. The food laws, clean and unclean. The health laws, clean and unclean. The feasts, the traveling, the expense, the labor, the blood upon more blood upon more blood. The laws given to Moses were the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the judicial law. Read the book of Leviticus and imagine trying to obey all the strictures! We would swoon!

Hebrews 10:1. For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (see Lev.13 on leprosy)

Paul is saying, Christ has set you free from this. Going backwards is bondage.

He calls it bondage to elemental things. The elemental things are like building blocks for children or learning the ABC’s like a child. (Heb.5:12) The idea is earthly, physical, temporal things. True the old ceremonial system typified Christ but it did so in a very physical (infantile) way. Special times, special days, special clothes, special foods, special everything – physical.

In the NT epoch Christ’s gospel is set forth in its spiritual simplicity and purity.  (Jn.4:23-24)

But the return to the physical types and rites appeals to the flesh. But it is bondage. (2 Cor.3:6)

Colossians 2:20. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Actually, it is bondage and futile at the same time. Christ satisfies the ceremonial law so that there is no ceremonial law any longer. There is no temple. There are no sacrifices. It is not possible to seek one’s righteousness by obeying the ceremonial law of the Bible.

As a brief side note, one thing that made the Galatians susceptible to this deception is they did not appreciate all the advantages they had in Christ Crucified. When we do not know the goodness of our salvation in Jesus, we open ourselves to discontentment and then deception and defection.

It is like the husband. If he does not appreciate the goodness of his lawful wife, he will open himself to the temptation of finding his contentment in an unlawful paramour.

The maturity and freedom. (WCF 7.6)

We come now to the epoch of maturity and freedom. 

Christ has come. The day of infancy has passed. (Rom.10:4) This is what Paul is getting at in V.4-7. Let’s look at the excellencies of the Christ we know and love as we live in the time of maturity. The shadows are gone. The substance has come.

Galatians 4:4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Salvation is of sovereign God.

Paul says, when the fullness of time came. That is what Paul is showing, God’s redemptive timetable, the Old progressing to the New. Oftentimes when we look at daily events things appear random. This kingdom comes. That one fades away. This war starts. Famine and pestilence break out over there. We cannot see the order or the purpose. Oh Beloved, when we walk by faith in the word of God we learn that God governs all His creatures and all their actions.

God ordered everything to bring Christ in the first time. And now He orders all history to bring Christ in the second time. And then comes the eternal estate.

Salvation is of grace.

Then we are told that God sent His Son. Notice beloved who moves to whom. Sinful man does not first move to God to be saved. God first moves to sinful man that we might be saved. (Rom.3:9-18, Jn.3:16) This is grace.

And in order to save us God does not send more commandments for us to obey, He sends One that can satisfy for our not obeying.

The idea here is that with the coming of Christ we are no longer infant children with no freedoms under the law but now we are come of age, we inherit of the Promise – Christ.

Our Savior is the Son of God.

God the Father sent forth His Son. Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God. (Eph.1:3, 2 Cor.1:3, Jn.20:17)

Jesus is the Second Person of the divine Godhead. Jesus is Jehovah. Christ forgives sins because He is God. We worship Jesus because He is the Lord. Christ was able to perfectly perform the Law and to fully sustain the wrath of God for us because He is fully divine. (WLC 38)

Our Savior is the Son of Man.

And the eternal Son of God became Man as He is born of a woman, of a virgin. Jesus Christ is the Son of Man. Jesus was made like His brothers in every way except sin. Christ was born under the Law of God. (WLC 39, Heb.2:14)

John 1:14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Our Savior is subject to the law.

The Messiah after the flesh is not only a true Man, He is also a true Jew. Jesus was born under the law. Salvation is of the Jews.

Jesus was born subjected to the Law of God. Think of that. The Law Giver takes human flesh and puts Himself under obligation to His own Law. He did all of this for us.

Galatians 4:4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 

Our Savior satisfies the Law.

Now Paul tells us why Christ has come and why Christ has satisfied the Law. He is our Surety. (Heb.7:22) 

Galatians 4:5. so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 

Our Savior redeems us from the curse of the law.

So that He might redeem those who were under the Law. Oh Beloved, we should commit this to memory and dwell on it constantly.

2 Corinthians 5:21. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ has not come to redeem society or culture. Jesus has not come to make us healthy or wealthy. He has come to make us holy. Christ has come to redeem sinners. Christ has come to ransom us back from the guilty sentence of the Law. Christ has come to seek and to save sinners. (Jn.8:15, 12:47, Eph.2:15, Ps.68:18, Rom.8:3, see WCF 20.1 on liberty)

Christ has not come as a good teacher as a second Moses to give good laws, Christ has come to die for sins and to rise for justification.

Christ came to take the curse of the broken law in our place. 

Christ is the Anti-type. Christ is the true substance.

Hebrews 8:6. But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second…13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. (Heb.7:2, 2 Cor.3:6, Heb.8:8,13, 9:15, 12:24)

Hebrews 9:8. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Our Savior procures our adoption as sons.

Now for all of these wonderful benefits of living in the fullness of time, in the time of the church’s maturity, the time of the new and the better covenant if we do not believe in Christ then we have not received of Christ. But if we have believed, then we are utterly new creatures in Jesus. 

Herein we see glimpses of the Trinity and the Trinitarian nature of our salvation. God the Father sends God the Son to Calvary to pay the price of our redemption. God then sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts to apply the work of redemption to us.  Christ purchases our sonship. The Spirit applies it. 

Galatians 4:4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 

And the Bible does say “into our hearts”. I do not want to make too much of this, but God does not merely saying “into our minds”. Knowing things intellectually about Jesus is not the same thing as loving Jesus and trusting Jesus or being born again.

The Spirit casts out our stony heart. He gives us a new heart by which we cry out Abba Father. (Rom.8:15) We are no longer slaves. We are God’s beloved children.

Stand firm in Christ beloved.

Let no one defraud you of your heavenly gracious salvation in Christ with a bowl of earthly legal self-salvation. (Gen.25:29-34, Heb.12:14-17)

Amen

 

 

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