Summary: If we come to salvation by faith alone then it follows that we grow in Christ by faith also….not by works. I don’t grow in my faith by being good, I grow in my faith by being faithful.
When you think of a solid mature Christian, what kind of a person do you think of? When you think of a solid mature Christian, what kind of a person do you think of?
Let’ take a poll. If your answer is one way or another is, “A solid mature Christian is a good person” please, raise your hand. Ok, thank you.
Let’s think about this a moment. Don’t you know good people who are not Christians? I do. I know plenty of folks who are very good people who are not Christians. Many times they are better people than some Christians I know. So, if that is true, if I can be a good person without being a Christian, then, why do we equate a solid Christian with a good person?
If the goal of being Christian to be a good person, why not just be a good person…. without being a Christian?
In other words, is being a good man or woman my ultimate goal in my Christian walk? If that is true, how is that different than becoming a good person day by day without Christianity?
Is Jesus Christ calling you to be a good person? Is being a good person really what it is all about?
Let’s see what Paul says in our Scripture today.
Paul presents two women before us this morning, Sarah and Hagar and he asks us to make a choice in our spiritual life– Live as the child of a slave woman, or live as a child of a free woman. Are you free, or are you enslaved? To be free, is to be spiritually free, to be enslaved is to be spiritually enslaved.
Looking at verse 22, we see that Abraham had two sons, one son that was free and one son that was a slave. According to the Code of Hammurabi, that would have been followed in the time of Abraham, the Code stated that a son of a slave woman, was a slave, even if his father was free. Because his mother was a slave, he was destined to be a slave. So even though he was Abraham’s son, he was a slave. This is the son of Hagar, Ishmael, born of a slave, destined to be a slave. But the other son, Isaac, was born of a free woman, Sarah, so he was destined to be free.
Now Paul states that this is to be taken figuratively. By saying this he is not saying that this historical event was an allegory, that it is just some story, no, he is saying that he is applying this event as an illustration of how spiritual enslavement works.
As you may remember Abraham and Sarah were promised a child by God, but since they were way, way….way past the age of the possibility of having children, they decided to do the culturally acceptable thing and use a slave as a way of producing a son. So through Abraham, the slave woman Hagar had a son, Ishmael. He was a child and a little child is a wonderful, and delightful thing – but spiritually Paul explains to us, Ishmael was not a child of the promise. Now it doesn’t matter how good, or how wonderful, or even how precious this Ishmael was, spiritually speaking, Paul tells us that Ishmael represents being born the ordinary way, and his way is not spiritually what God desires for us. Why? You and I are not born naturally, we are born spiritually. We who have committed our life to Jesus, have been born again, which means that we have been born spiritually.
Isaac by contrast, was born out of impossibility, there was no possible way this boy should have been born, clearly there was spiritual intervention by the hand of God to bring about the birth of this boy. This child, was a child of the promise, a promise made to his father Abraham, and who is the promise, Jesus Christ. For as time passed, generation after generation, the time would come when Jesus, the promise, would be born through the lineage of this child Isaac. Remember, we come to faith through the promise, we come to faith through a spiritual birth as in Isaac, not a natural birth as in Ishmael.
We, are to put away the slave in us, for the slave which is naturally born in us will never inherit what is spiritually born in us.
Understand that when Paul speaks of us being enslaved, he is speaking of us being enslaved spiritually. This is at a deeper level than any habits or addictions we may have, and this is beyond anything to do with physical slavery and this is beyond any psychological things we may be dealings with in our lives. In verse 9, what is translated as, “weak and miserable principles” in the original Greek directly refers to spiritual beings on one level and on another level, it refers to the rules, regulations, or life concepts that we as humans place ourselves under. This slavery is, perhaps at a level in our lives where we may be completely unaware of it consequences. We may be completely unaware of even the possibility to be enslaved spiritually.