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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 (Galatians 3:1-3).  They had made an idol out of their former religious habits.  Their pious ideals had become demanding idols which could never be satisfied.  Their efforts at being good had trapped them.  They had gone back to following false teachers and were becoming enslaved again.  

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 new Christians; through his teaching, people were converted and churches had been 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.  So, as they threw out Paul’s gospel (given by Jesus Christ), they also threw out their relatio

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 in which you only get what you achieve yourself.  He used the story of God’s promise to Abraham that he would have a son (Genesis 15:1-6).  The narrative goes like this: Abraham and Sarah could not have children.  Although God had promised that they would have a son, the couple agreed that Abraham would sleep with Sarah’s servant, Hagar, and the child could be brought up as his heir (Genesis 16:1-4).  However this brought great unhappiness to Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16:5-6).  But Abraham loved his son, Ishmael, and

Slavery Or Freedom

Galatians 4:24-26

The story of Sarah and Hagar is a picture of two totally different approaches to love and fulfilment, and how to trust God rather than relying on our own ideas and abilities.  God had promised Abraham that he would have a son, but his wife Sarah could not bear children.  Sarah, perhaps seeing her husband’s unhappiness, suggested that he should sleep with her slave, Hagar, and Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:1-4).  Although he grew up in Abraham’s household, Ishmael, would not be the heir (Genesis 17:15-19) because God had promised to give a son to Abraham and Sarah.  When God’s promise was fin

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 (Galatians 4:21-31) 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.  It was a wrong and faithless decision; Sarah did not trust that God would fulfil His promise as He was far more determined to continue Abraham’s line than she was!

The Need To Choose To Live By Faith Or Works

Galatians 4:29-31

The story of Abraham and Sarah in 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 struggle by their own efforts 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.  Even though Abraham wanted to keep both children (Genesis 17:18), it was not possible, and God told him to send Hagar and Ishmael away.  

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 some see it as the opportunity to fulfil their personal dreams.  Paul wrote about freedom in Christ, won by Jesus who freed us from our sins (Revelation 1:5).  The freedom is from the slavery of our sins, the guilt of our sins and the fear of punishment of our sins.  The freedom He gives us is the privilege of being able to enjoy the life God intended in relationship with Him, worshipping Him and serving Him for ever!

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.