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Slavery Or Freedom

Galatians 4:24-26
These things are being taken figuratively: the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: this is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. (NIVUK)

The story of Hagar and Sarah is a picture of two totally different approaches to love and fulfilment. Hagar, the servant girl, was used by Abraham to produce a child. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, agreed because she could not bear children. However, although the child Ishmael grew up in Abraham’s household, he would not be the heir. God had promised to give Abraham a son … he had no reason or right to sleep with the servant girl. When God’s promise was finally fulfilled, it became obvious that He was right after all.
Paul was teaching Christians who were tempted to go back to legalistic religion. ‘Can’t you see, the law only produces slaves – it is God's grace through Christ which makes people free?’ He begged them not to go back to the slavery of legalistic religion which could never earn them the freedom which God gives to His children. He wanted them to stay firm in God’s grace, trusting that Jesus has done all that is needed for people to be accepted by Father God, and then living in the power of the Spirit.
Whenever we step away from the grace of God through Christ, we move from relationship to rules, from freedom to frustration. Yet the pressure is strong to do so. Our fleshly nature wants to satisfy our desire to be in control, but we only succeed in becoming a slave. Religion offers a route to pleasing God by our own efforts, but the concept is flawed. We can never please ourselves or God by what we do; we need to receive His grace. Then having received freely we are to give freely to others in a way which honours the Lord, blesses others and gives us great joy.

Dear Lord. Thank You for saving me by Your grace. I am sorry for the times when I fall back into slavery, trying to earn Your love rather than receiving it. Please help me to keep remembering that Your love is free and the sacrifice of Christ is big enough to cover all my sin. And help me to be bold to tell this good news to others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams