October 22, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Galatians 4)

Submitted by Lem M. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Galatians 4:1-11 (ESV)

  • Notice the words “slave” and “enslaved” (vv. 1, 3, 7, 8, 9).  What words are used to contrast with “slave” and “enslaved” to show the Galatians what God has done through Christ?
v.1 slave v.1 the heir…owner of everything
v.3 were enslaved v.5 adoption as sons
v.7 no longer a slave v.6 you are sons
v.8 you were enslaved v.7 but a son…an heir through God
v.9 whose slaves you want to be once more  

Paul uses a striking contrast to show the Galatians what God had done through Christ.  Before coming to know Christ the Galatians were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  They were in bondage to the legalism of the Mosaic law and for the Gentiles it would be the concept of their pagan religions.  Being a slave is the cruelest form of human interaction.  As a slave you are basically property to be traded and bought.  As a slave there is no hope in freedom of chance at a better life.  One is simply resigned to the fact that someone owns them and they must obey the whims of the master even if that master is the letter of the law.  However, in Christ we become sons and heirs.  The picture of this relationship is completely opposite to slavery.  As sons we experience unconditional love and acceptance that is not earned but is a natural part of a son and father relationship.  We receive an inheritance because of our identity as people loved by a generous Heavenly Father.  This stark contrast between the old reality of slavery and the new reality of son-ship is to depict the new life we experience in Christ.  To be honest, this is the part of the Gospel message I have to continually rub into my soul because it’s hard for me to embrace my identity as a son due to my broken upbringing.  However, in Christ, I must embrace this new identity as a son, and a beloved son at that, who is an heir to the Heavenly kingdom simply because God is my “Abba! Father!”  It is this reality that makes me wonder how I can turn back again to the weak and worthless principles of the world and to be its slave one more? (4:9)

  • What enslaves people apart from Christ?

What enslaves a person apart from Christ are the elementary principles of the world.  The commentary notes that this would mean the Mosaic laws for the Jews and the concept of the pagan religions for a Gentile.  In short the elementary principle of this world is to earn favor among the gods.  In other words a person has to earn their love.  Those who practiced the Mosaic law earned love by sticking to the letter of the law.  The Gentiles did whatever it took in their pagan religion to be accepted by their Gods.  There is a finite amount of love in our broken world and so people go to great lengths to get some attention and to receive a little bit of love.  Earning love becomes a deeply engrained pattern and approach to life. Don’t I have to jump through hoops and do something impressive to gain your love?   This thinking enslaves a person and it’s hard for such a person to experience unconditional love. This is something I have definitely experienced in my life.  All my life I felt that I had to earn love.  Perhaps it was because I found out my dad was not my biological father and that everyone in my family had been lying to me until I reached the age of ten.  I don’t know but at an early age I remember consciously thinking that I had to earn the love of people around me. I imported this elementary principle of the world into my relationship with God.  Although I intellectually knew that I could never earn my salvation there was a part of me that still wanted to prove that I was worth loving.  My mind was enslaved to this basic principle of this world and only through regular prayer and meditation on Christ did I experience freedom.  I don’t have to live this tiring life of trying to earn love and out do others so I can get just a bit more love than the next person.  Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection were personally for me.  That truth fills me and I am able to experience a freedom in my identity as a beloved son of my Heavenly Father.

  • Reflect on the meaning of the word “heir” and the fact that through Jesus we have become sons, and therefore, heirs of God.  What would it look like for me to deeply embrace this truth and live out its implications?

An “heir” is primarily defined as one who is entitled to a person’s property or estate upon that person’s death.  The secondary definition of an heir is a person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor.  Through Jesus I have been adopted into a royal family and will receive the blessings of an eternal relationship with God.  An illustration of this is that of a beggar boy adopted into a royal family to describe our salvation reality.  At first it might be hard for the beggar boy to embrace his new role.  He may still steal food or keep a wary eye on those in the family because he is not sure if he is truly accepted as a son.  However, over time the beggar boy will begin to embrace his role as part of the royal family and will take his place as distinguished heir to the father’s throne.  The beggar boy knows he doesn’t deserve this new identity but in grace and mercy he embraces his son-ship.  The interest of the father becomes his own and the concerns of the father’s heart become his concern.  Similarly, in order for me to embrace this truth and to live out its implications means that I have to battle my insecurity and drive to prove myself.  I simply have to recognize that I am part of this royal family and am fully accepted and loved.  Now, I can give myself to the family business at hand, which is the salvation of souls.  I will spend the remainder of my days looking for lost beggar boys like myself and telling them about the incredible generosity and love of the Savior King.  Going back to the secondary definition of heir, I will recognize that I have inherited and must continue the legacy of Jesus.  I must now live a life of self-sacrifice and generous love that was so characteristic of Jesus’ ministry.

  • Reflect on the words in v. 9: “you have come … to be known by God.”  What impact does this truth have on my life? 

To come to know God and to be known by God implies that I have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father.  He knows my inmost thought and that fact that he knows me means I have assurance that on the day of Judgment I can cry out to God in the name of Jesus and God’s grace will cover me.  In Matthew 7:22, there is a group of people that cry out “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and cast out demons in your name?”  Jesus’ chilling response is “I never knew you…”.  So, the fact that I have come to be known by God is such a great blessing.  Therefore how can I ever turn back toward the world again?  There are times people tell me that they struggle with desires for their old life.  They have such revisionist memory of their life before meeting Christ.  I look back on my life before Jesus and I never want to return to that state of hopelessness, guilt and despair.  That is crazy!  The fact that God knows me is the joy of my salvation.  Because of this truth I renounce my past and being enslaved to my sin and strive toward a life of honoring God.  I want to honor God through my life.  The more I live my Christian life; I recognize my sinfulness in deeper ways.  I marvel at the thought that a Holy and Righteous God has no qualms about associating His great name with a sinner like me.  God says that I am one of His children and that He knows me.  Therefore, my only response has to be to live a life of honesty and truth that I may continually be known and love by Him.

Submitted by Karen M. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Galatians 4:1-11

  • Notice the words “slave” and “enslaved” (vv. 1, 3, 7, 8, 9).  What words are used to contrast with “slave” and “enslaved” to show the Galatians what God has done through Christ?

vv. 1, 7 Heir

vv. 5, 6, 7 son

  • What enslaves people apart from Christ?

According to v. 3, we are enslaved by the elementary principles of the world. V.8 says we were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

Apart from Christ, I see how this verse is so true. Without understanding that because of Christ, we have security in our identity as God’s children, we end up following whatever the world tells us to do. We obey the “elementary principles” that our cravings can be met by so many other things that “by nature are not gods” and can do nothing for us and in turn enslave us–to our desire for significance, respect, applause and praise from others because we want to be someone. I see so many people who are enslaved to people pleasing and trying to make others happy with them and they get so tired from trying to keep it up all the time. I know for myself, trying to feel significant from what I can do causes constant insecurity and I’m enslaved to the opinions of others. Because of our desire for love, the world tells us that this comes from romance, from giving into our lustful desires, from hoping for that perfect someone that will fill the cravings of our heart that only God can fill. We are enslaved to success, money, hoping that making a lot we can buy our happiness. People are enslaved to keeping up with trends, image-keeping, looking good, acquiring possessions, taking care of their goods, and wanting more things, surfing the internet, gaming along with all sorts of media that hours and days get poured into. The list goes on and they are all things that can never replace God.

  • Reflect on the meaning of the word “heir” and the fact that through Jesus we have become sons, and therefore, heirs of God.  What would it look like for me to deeply embrace this truth and live out its implications?

An heir is someone who inherits all the belongings and standing of the one of whom he is the heir of. Someone that is an heir of someone wealthy or of high standing knows with confidence that one day all that will be theirs and essentially is theirs now. So the heir to the throne of a king is secure, doesn’t need to prove himself.  He has dignity and he carries himself with certainty because he knows that his Father the king has power and dominion over the kingdom and that his future is set and secure because of that. The fact that through Jesus I am the heir of God means that all that belongs to God is mine and the standing that Jesus has as the Son of God is mine as well. It is incredible that someone who was once rebellious and wanted to live life without regard to God is now given full privilege, honor, and standing as not just a child of God, but his heir. I might not feel worthy, but this is what the Bible has declared to be true. This is my current standing as a Christian, not something God will bestow to me in the future. When God looks upon me, he sees his heir and there is love and pleasure when he sees me.

I need to let this awesome truth sink in and undo all the insecurity and performance driven tendencies that I still have. It’s because I don’t deeply embrace this truth and there is still unbelief that I think that I still need to earn my “wages” and perform well in order for God and others to be pleased with me. And when I don’t perform well and I think I didn’t do enough, whatever that means, I feel down about myself and my self-worth and sense of significance plummets. But my self-worth and significance has nothing to do with my performance because I am already an heir of God. I can be free before others and be honest, not needing to hide my failures or short-comings, or feel insecure about things I’m not so good at, because it doesn’t matter. My identity as an heir is not something that changes or I can lose. To fully embrace this truth also brings excitement and eagerness to share this with others, that they can have this wonderful inheritance too and escape their impoverished life, enslaved to earning their standing in the world.

  • Reflect on the words in v. 9: “you have come … to be known by God.”  What impact does this truth have on my life? 

The “knowing” that this verse refers to is more than the superficial  knowledge of an acquaintance, but the knowing that close friends have of each other after years of building trust and sharing vulnerably and honestly with each other. After becoming a Christian, and struggling with uncovering the darkest part of my heart and laying it bare before God, I have come to be known by him. Not that he didn’t know what was there before, but the closeness that comes from being in a relationship where I myself know that he knows me, because I’ve brought to him my longings, the pains of my heart, the things that I have struggled over, I know that God knows me. He knows me more intimately than I know myself.

This truth brings me security again and again, and great comfort as I once was someone that felt utterly lost and alone in the world. Even with my own family and parents, I felt like no one knew me and I felt lost to myself. However, as a Christian, I found the great joy of coming before a sovereign God who knew the deepest parts of me and understood. He knew in what ways sin had caused my thinking and the ways of my heart to be crooked and depraved, and he knew my longings and desires that I didn’t know how to express. Being known by God has made a huge impact on my life as I no longer need to be this fearful person, driven by my insecurities that tell me that I need to earn people’s love, where even after all the tiring efforts made to gain people’s approval or attention, I still feel like I am not known by them at all. Instead, I can rest knowing that even as I am fully known, I am loved still for who I am.

Personal Prayer

Abba Father, thank you for embracing me as your child. Thank you for rescuing me from all that I was enslaved by before I knew you. It is an incredible privilege to be called not only your child, but your heir. I have done nothing to earn such a position. Forgive me, as often I go back to the tiring game of trying to earn other people’s approval and to prove myself, thinking I need to earn my worth. As your heir, I already have all that was bestowed upon Christ, and I am loved and accepted fully as I am. Thank you for having mercy on one like me. Help me to trust and clutch on to my identity as a child of God, and to be at rest, knowing that I am fully known by you, my Heavenly Father. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Submitted by Philip C. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Galatians 4:1-11

  • Notice the words “slave” and “enslaved” (vv. 1, 3, 7, 8, 9).  What words are used to contrast with “slave” and “enslaved” to show the Galatians what God has done through Christ?

(v.1) heir in contrast to slave

(v.3) enslaved to elementary principles of this world in contrast to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons

(v.7-9) slave in contrast to son; When you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods in contrast to now that you have come to know God how can you turn back again to weak and worthless elementary principles of the world whose slaves you want to be once more.

  • What enslaves people apart from Christ?

What enslaves people apart from Christ are things like elementary principles of this world such as living for yourself, living for things such as money, materialism, comfort, romance, power, fame, etc.  When people live for these things and have no regard for God in their lives and when these things consume and that is the main focus of their lives then it enslaves them. When people live for these things and have no regard for God in their lives and when these things consume and that is the main focus of their lives then it enslaves them. Other things that enslave people apart from Christ are their desires like desire for recognition and approval or desires enslaved due to addictions such as pornography or to drinking. When people are not enslaved to God then they are going to be enslaved by something else.  Apart from Christ, there is nothing that can save people from their sins.

  • Reflect on the meaning of the word “heir” and the fact that through Jesus we have become sons, and therefore, heirs of God.  What would it look like for me to deeply embrace this truth and live out its implications?

The word heir means someone who inherits something from someone else.  Through Jesus we became sons of God and heirs of God.  This is an amazing truth because we are sinners who did not deserve anything from God.  Those who put their faith in Christ become sons and heirs of God.  This shows how great is the grace of God.  He treats us not as our sins deserve but instead gives so generously.  What it would look like for me to deeply embrace this truth and to live out its implications is to be free from seeking approval of man.  I would be so confident of God’s love for me through the truth that I am his beloved son and his promises that I am an heir of God.  This would free me from insecurity, fear of what others think of me.  I would be more confident as a minister and would really want others to hear the gospel and to actively share my faith with others.  I would be less passive. If I am a son and therefore an heir of God that means I don’t have to try to gain approval from people because I would be confident in God’s love for me a beloved son.

  • Reflect on the words in v. 9: “you have come … to be known by God.”  What impact does this truth have on my life? 

These words tell me that because I have come to know God or that God has come to know me, I should no longer go back and be enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  For me these principles of the world that I was once a slave to were things like desire for recognition, approval, and desires to be comfortable.  The impact that this truth has on my life is that it reminds me that God knows me and despite how he knows everything about me with all my sins, I am his beloved child.  Whenever I am tempted to go back to the things that once enslaved me such as wanting to look good, seeking approval of men and comfort I can go back to this truth of God’s love and his promises.  I am an heir. God will grant me greater things than anything that this world has to offer.  The truth of God’s love and my identity as an heir will make me want to live my life to please and to honor God.  This truth that I have come to be known by God through the gospel and through what Jesus has done for us it makes me grateful.  I can take this truth for granted and not express gratitude to God that he saved me and that I became a child and heir of God.  I feel convicted that I need to give thanks on a regular basis to God remember what I have received so that I would not be tempted to complain nor forge my identity.

Personal Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for speaking to me through your word.  Lord I thank you for saving me and for giving me the identity as your son and an heir.  Lord, I pray help me to come to embrace more deeply this truth and to live it out.  Forgive me for going back to the elementary principles of the world and the things that enslaved me like seeking approval from man or desires for comfort.  Lord, forgive me for not expressing gratitude to you on a regular basis and for taking for granted the salvation that you have given me.  Lord, I pray that the truth that I am your beloved child and that I am heir of God would really lead me to be no longer be enslaved by my sins but that in response to your grace, I would live my life to please and to honor you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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