Summary: Do you realize how much God really loves you? The answer to that question has to be, "No." Because you can never comprehend the height, the breadth, and the depth of God's love for you.
Unless you’re an only child, you grew up with siblings—brothers and sisters. I have an older sister and a younger brother. I’m a middle child, that’s why I’m so well adjusted. If you’re a middle child you know what I mean: In the petty fights that siblings have, the middle child sometimes has to be a mediator. When we were kids we might not have always gotten along with our siblings. You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.
A Sunday School teacher was speaking to a group of children about the things money can’t buy. The teacher said, “Money can’t buy laughter and money can’t buy love.” To drive this point home the teacher asked the children, “What would you do if I offered you $1,000 not to love your mother and father?” There was silence for a moment, and one little boy raised his hand and asked, “How much would you pay me not to love my big sister?”
You might have grown up in a small family, or a large family. You might have come from a blended family or a broken family, but we all understand the meaning of the word, “family.” The beautiful truth that we’re going to examine today from God’s Word reveals we were once slaves to sin, but now we’re siblings—we are brothers and sisters in Christ. You and I are spiritual siblings because we have the same Father.
The chapter and verse divisions we have in our English Bible were added centuries after the Bible was written, and sometimes there are chapter breaks where there shouldn’t be. There shouldn’t be a break between the last thought in Galatians 3 and the beginning of chapter 4. So let’s start reading in Galatians 3:29.
Galatians 3:29–4:7. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights [adoption] of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son [that’s why I’ve titled this message “From Slaves to Siblings”]; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
There are many ways to share your faith. I still pass out copies of the Campus Crusade tract, “The Four Spiritual Laws.” Billy Graham’s organization has distributed millions of “How to have peace with God.” These are both good, but they can be a little impersonal. The very best witnessing tool is your personal testimony because it’s, well, personal. It’s your story.
Through the years I’ve led many classes and seminars about writing your testimony. There are three basic parts to every testimony. First, you talk about your life before Christ; then you talk about how you came to know Christ; and then you talk about how your life is different since Jesus came into your heart. In these verses Paul is reviewing the spiritual biography of every believer. He describes all three parts of our testimony. First, he points out we were slaves to the law of sin before Christ. Next, he reveals what God did to bring us to salvation. And finally, we learn how our life is different once we are part of the family of God. So let’s dig a little deeper into our spiritual biography of how God changed us from slaves to siblings.
1. WHAT I WAS WITHOUT CHRIST: A slave to this world’s system
“When we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.” Paul gives an example of a child who may be an heir to a huge inheritance. Until that child reaches the age of maturity, his or her inheritance is under the control of trustees or guardians. In that case, the child is no different than a slave, his or her life is under someone else’s control. He took that legal fact and turned it into a spiritual truth. We were once slaves to the basic principles of the world. He isn’t talking about the world as planet Earth; the world is a mindset that is opposed to God’s Word. So, what are the basic principles of the world? They haven’t changed over the past 2,000 years. Just listen to what you hear people say: “It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” To put it another way, “Look out for #1.” The world’s system says, “Only the strong survive.”