Scripture: Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:8-9 ESV
Observation: In chapter 3, Paul earnestly continues his plea to the Galatian church to make a course correction, turning aside works-righteousness and its shackles of self-condemnation and staying on course as living heirs of God the Father. And as heirs, his Spirit draws us into an intimate relationship with our Lord, where our hearts are overwhelmed and cry, “Abba! Father! (verse 6)” In chapter 4, utilizing the imagery of slavery, Paul reminds the Galatians of the life they possessed before receiving the Gospel of Christ. This self-indulgent behavior equally held them in bondage, for they followed worthless worldly principles that weakened their ability to resist the power of sin.
Takeaway: Adding and subtracting equals zero. Whether we add to Christ’s Gospel of grace through seeking salvation through the law (works-righteousness) or subtract through licentious living, we will bow the knee to a human-made religion that will disappoint us and eventually master us. The net outcome is zero hope for the future. The correct equation? Come to know God (verse 9 above), who first knew us. How does that happen? Paul puts flesh on it in the next chapter: For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:5-6 ESV
The Holy Spirit, who is in us, strengthens the hope of our salvation which is the gift of grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8). The Spirit then deepens our knowledge of grace and sets us free in Christ to do the good works that the Father has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). In this order, the equation works: As we come to know our loving Father and his Son, we grow in our faith and love for them through the expression of good works that lovingly flow through us to others.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for reaching out and loving us first. Would you please deepen our knowledge of you and your Son and your love for us, that we might strengthen the hope of our salvation in Christ and express this faith through love toward you and others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling