Summary: We like to do things our own way. God often times is much too slow for our schedule ? or He doesn?t do things the way we would ? so we short circuit His work by coming up with our own, much better plan - but that can mean giving up on grace.
Do you ever read The Family Circus? I always like the ones where the Mom and Dad tell their oldest son to go get the mail or something - and instead of walking out the door and down the driveway and back - he goes out his window, around back, through the garden, plays with the dog, jumps the fence, crosses a creek, takes a bus to Denver - and finally arrives back with the mail in hand.
In Leviticus 11:45 God says: "Be holy, because I am holy." Becoming whole - pure - right - that’s what this is all about. There are two ways to get there - one is to allow the Spirit of God to work righteousness in you - starting with being cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. The other is to make yourself righteous by hard work and discipline.
If you are like the boy in Family Circus - you try your own way - and it will lead you around and around and never ever get you to the goal - though it will seem like you are "doing" a lot of stuff.
Face it: we like to do things our own way. God often times is much too slow for our schedule - or He doesn’t do things the way we would - so we short circuit His work by coming up with our own, much better plan. That’s a little how the Galatians who had been fooled by the Judaizers felt when it came to the Jewish Law. Paul straightens them out with an example from the patriarch Abraham.
Verses 21 - 23
Genesis 15 - God promised a son from Abraham’s body
Genesis 16 - Sarah got impatient and gave Hagar to Abraham to fulfill God’s promise
It’s always dangerous to fulfill God’s promise through our own efforts - Hagar gave birth to the Arabic people who have been a thorn to the Jews ever since - and recently even to us
"ordinary way" we have free will and we can do things - we can monkey with genetics, but we aren’t creating life, only moving the blocks around. We can do things and claim that God was really doing them - when He is not.
Do you ever get impatient with God and just do something because God is taking too long? Don’t be surprised when it comes back to bite you.
Paul is making an allegory - a story where the characters have spiritual counterparts.
Verses 24 - 27
Mount Sinai, of course, represents the Law of Moses - which enslaved the people to an obedience they could never attain - and a Law that should have had them on their knees before God praying for the coming Messiah. Jerusalem was the present day HQ of the Jews and the religion born of the Law (but messed up by humans)
Christians are not born of the law, but of the promise given to Abraham - not something done in human effort or in the "ordinary way" but in a supernatural, very extraordinary way of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to win our release as slaves to be free from the Law of sin and death.
Verse 27: The fruit of the promise is so much more than the fruit of the Law. The Law can only bring condemnation and point us to Christ - it cannot make us righteous - but the thing that we could not do - save ourselves - has been accomplished for us - what fruit that brings!
Now Paul switches the view to the offspring of the two women and allegory to the two religions - the old way of the Jewish religion, and the new way of Christianity - and the enmity that exists between the two - which is the center of the controversy boiling in Galatia.
Verses 28 - 31
Being born again is a miracle born of God’s promise
Ishmael persecuted the young Isaac and the results were that Sarah asked that Abraham banish Hagar and Ishmael. (Genesis 21)
Christianity and Judaism can’t co-exist as two ways to God - only one truth remains - Jesus.
Application: You can’t please God through your own efforts and please Him by living in the Spirit. Let go of control!
Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Its not asceticism (the denial of self) but the denial of self rule in favor or Christ rule (it’s not our cross - its His)
We die to live - why should we be slaves again?
Chapter 5, Verse 1
Another way to translate this is: "Christ has set us free so that we can live as free people."