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The Slavery Of Religious Habits

Galatians 4:8-10

Despite the power of the gospel message, and the joy of new life in Christ, the Galatian believers had been lured back into their old religious practices – the good things that they previously did when they tried to win God’s love. Of course there is nothing we can ever do to pay for our own sins or to attract God’s admiration, because salvation is a free gift and not an earned reward. And even when we try to be good, our best thoughts and actions are stained with selfish motives and ambitions.

Hating The Preacher

Galatians 4:11-16

Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians because the gospel he preached was being undermined by false teachers and false gospels (Galatians 1:6-9). He was not a stranger to the churches; through his teaching, people were converted and churches were established. They should have been grateful to him. But his place was soon taken by attractive preachers who brought the message of salvation by works – the more you can do for God, the more He will be impressed. That is not the true gospel.

Passion And Sincerity - Good Or Bad?

Galatians 4:17-20

We like to relate with people who seem sincere. We like to do business with people we think we can trust. But, sadly, people are not always the same as they appear. The false teachers who had invaded the Galatian churches did not look or sound bad. They seemed very confident and sincere. The believers thought that they were personally interested in them, and had their good at heart. Certainly they were sincerely confident; but they were sincerely wrong - and the believers were being led away from Christ.

Get For Yourself Or Receive What You Are Given

Galatians 4:21-23

Paul wrote to Christians who were being lured back into legalistic religion. He used the story of God’s promise to Abraham that he would have a son. Genesis, chapters 16, 19 & 21 show the difference between getting what you believe is God’s will, but in your own way, and receiving the gift which God has promised.

Slavery Or Freedom

Galatians 4:24-26

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.

The Joy Of Seeing God's Promise Fulfilled

Galatians 4:27-28

Paul wanted the Galatians to realise that his teaching about Hagar and Sarah was the same as the Old Testament prophets, as he quoted this verse from Isaiah 54:1. The barren and desolate woman was Sarah, the wife of Abraham, who wanted to give her husband a son and heir. Not being able to have children, she suggested that her husband should sleep with her maid Hagar to get a child.

The Need To Choose To Live By Faith Or Works

Galatians 4:29-31

The story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis chapters 16-21) was familiar to Paul’s readers as he applied it to their struggle. Could they simply believe in God’s promise of forgiveness and acceptance, or did they have to earn their place in heaven? One thing was certain: while Hagar and Ishmael lived together with Sarah and Isaac (Genesis 21:8-21) there could be no peace.

Freedom In Christ And Slavery Outside

Galatians 5:1

‘Freedom’ means different things to different people. For some it is political freedom to express their views, for others it is release from prison, and for some it is the opportunity to fulfil their personal dreams. Paul wrote about freedom in Christ: that meant that they should remove themselves from the burden of legalistic religion and enjoy the grace of Christ. God never wanted humanity to be trapped by their own sin from which they could never escape in this life or the next. Neither did He want people locked into a religious system which could never deliver freedom.

The Mark Of Faith

Galatians 5:2-6

Circumcision is very important to Jews. They see it as the mark of belonging to God, of fellowship with His family; a sign of being special to God and different from those who do not believe. There was pressure from the Jewish community for male Gentile believers to be circumcised if they were to be considered to be part of God’s family. But Paul said, No! If you think that circumcision is essential, then you also have to keep all of the Old Testament law as well. But that was impossible for anybody – even for the Jews who claimed that they were saved by observing the law.

Pushed Off The Track

Galatians 5:7-8

Athletic events were an important part of Greek and Roman cultural life. Field and track events were well known, and stadia were marked out to set the limits of the competition. So Paul used the illustration of a runner who had been doing well but was then pushed off the track by somebody else. The runner represented the Christian, the track was the Christian way of life following Jesus, and the aggressive competitor would have been a false teacher, probably someone who demanded that all Christians should be circumcised.