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Summary: There are many church, synagogue & mosque members today devoted to rituals & rule-keeping. They are living in religious bondage. They need to hear that spiritual freedom is possible only through the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

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GALATIANS 4:8-20

AN APPEAL OF LOVE

The conclusion reached in verse 7 is that those who have received the Spirit are now sons and heirs of God. Paul now tells the Galatians they are not acting like heirs of God! So he asks them if they prefer slavery or freedom, legalism or the Spirit? Did they want to forsake their privileges as sons and return to the observance of rituals and rules?

The Galatian church and Paul had enjoyed a happy relationship, but the false teachers wanted the Galatians under their influence and guidance so they lead them into the yoke of bondage. The happy relationship with gospel truth and Paul the proclaimer of truth ended. Paul wanted them restored and once again eternally effective in ministry so he continues to discuss uncomfortable truth towith them.

There are many church, synagogue, and mosque members today devoted to rituals and rule-keeping. They are living in religious bondage. They need to hear that spiritual freedom is possible only through the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

I. RELAPSING INTO BONDAGE, 8-11.

II. REAL RELATIONSHIP, 12-16.

III. REAL RELIGION, 17-20.

Verse 8 indicates there is no right and wrong religious bondage. However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.

Prior to conversion the Galatians, in their ignorance of the one true God, were in bondage to false gods such as Zeus and Hermes (Acts 14:11-13). Though Judaism is superior to paganism (Rom. 3:1-2; 9:4-5) as a religion both are here linked to religious bondage. [MacGorman, Broadman, 1971, 108]

Verse 9 emphasizes the fickleness of Christians. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

A great change took place when they came to know God (salvation from the perspective of man), or to be known by God (salvation from God’s perspective). Yet having come to know (gnontes, from ginsk, "to know intimately and on a personal level") the true God, the Galatians were turning back. Paul was amazed and dismayed. Did they understand that they would be going back to a state of religious slavery? Was this their desire? If so, why would they be attracted to a system that was weak (it could not justify or energize for godly living) and miserable (it could not provide an inheritance). The principles (stoicheia) of that system are "of the world," as already stated in verse 3. [Walvoord, John; Zuck, Roy; The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 602] Having known the freedom which God in Christ gives, they still turned again to the sterile principles of legalism. Don’t let legalistic religion rob you of what you have in the Spirit of Christ.

Moderate EXERCISE is good for you, right? Not necessarily. One study suggests that exercise may do more harm than good if you are being forced to work out against your will.

According to Jon Van and Ron Kotulak in the Chicago Tribune, University of Colorado researcher Monika Fleshner focused an experiment on the effects of forced and unforced exercise on the immune system, that part of the body that fights off colds and infectious diseases.

Fleshner studied two groups of lab animals. One group was allowed to run on exercise wheels whenever they liked. The result was an improved response of their immune systems. A similar improvement in the human immune system’s response is seen after moderate exercise.

On the other hand, the other group of lab animals was forced to run, their immune systems responded negatively in several ways, including having reduced levels of antibodies. The negative effects likely resulted from the stress of being forced to exercise.

The negative effect of forced exercise is similar to the spiritual harm of legalism. When people are forced to follow a code instead of freely choosing to obey out of love, they stay immature rather than mature.

Verse 10 lists some Mosaic law observances. You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Under the influence of the Judaizers the Galatians had begun to observe the Mosaic calendar. They kept special days (weekly sabbaths), and months (new moons), and seasons (seasonal festivals such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), and years (sabbatical and jubilee years). (Col. 2:16.) They observed these special times, thinking that they would thereby gain additional merit before God. But Paul had already made it clear that works could not be added to faith as grounds for either justification or sanctification.

The warning closes in verse 11 with dreadful apprehension. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

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