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The Slave And The Son

Galatians 4:1-5
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were under age, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (NIVUK)

The young heirs of a wealthy estate in the Roman Empire had no power or authority; they could not manage the estate or benefit from it directly. Even though they would inherit it all one day, as children they were under the authority of their father’s servants. They had as much say in what happened as the lowest slave. In the same way, Paul says, God’s people were under the authority of the Law before Christ came. They had no freedom to be true heirs of the Kingdom until they received Christ and grew up spiritually.
However, the Galatian Christians had been convinced by false teachers to go back to their spiritual nursery instead of accepting the privileges of being grown-up sons. And Gentiles, who had no ancestral right to be heirs, had been adopted into the family of God when they believed in Jesus. So the Jews who had been slaves to the Law (with no prospects apart from punishment every time they broke the Law), and the Gentiles who were previously incapable of gaining family rights, were both accepted as grown-up sons of God because Jesus paid the price to redeem them and bring them close to God.
Too many believers today seem to want to go back to their spiritual nursery instead of growing up into Christ. Like the Galatians, we need to be reminded that we cannot earn our favour with God. He grants us the right of sonship, freely, as we trust in Jesus. Believing that He has forgiven us and set us free is the only way to grow up spiritually. That will mean admitting our sins and accepting His forgiveness, instead of relying on our own goodness. So, paradoxically, it is often the worst sinners who grow up the most quickly once they have received the grace of Christ. Paul was one such sinner. Perhaps you are another. Do not give up hope, but simply repent and receive the forgiveness He offers you (www.crosscheck.org.uk) and accept the privileges of a grown-up son in God’s household.

Holy Father. Thank You for Jesus who paid my ransom, and took me from being a slave to the Law to being a son in Your house. I am sorry when I have forgotten how much You have done for me. Help me not to go back to spiritual childhood, or to sin’s slavery, but to grow up in Christ; accepting the privileges of a grown-up son and grateful for my salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams