Summary: We must 1) Forsake our Former life, 2) Understand our Present Life and 3) Live for our Future Life
At year end tends to be a time of extremes. Some fall into one extreme of debauchery and falling back into a lifestyle that they were redeemed from. Or the other extreme, like that of the Galatians, of falling into a type of legalism of trying to earn their favour with God.
The Galatians has learned to call God “Father”. Yet they were in imminent danger of going from sonship right back into slavery. They were about to squander their spiritual inheritance by selling their birthright as sons and daughters of God.
Paul had reminded them of his own conversion by the Gospel (Gal. 1:11-2:21). He appealed to their experience of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:1-5). He showed them from Biblical examples and theology (Gal. 3:6-14). He used examples from everyday life (Gal. 3:15-4:7). Finally in the middle of chapter 4, Paul pleads with the Galatians on the basis of their personal relationship. Afraid that all his work has been in vain, he pours out his soul to them. (Philip Graham Ryken. Galatians: Reformed Expository Commentary. P&R Press. 2005. p. 169)
Do you have particular year end traditions? Do you make resolutions? Do you vow to exercise more or eat better? Do you promise to pray more, or read you Bible more faithfully?
Year end can be a helpful time of year of forsaking old habits and unproductive ways and embracing helpful spiritual disciplines. In this we must 1) Forsake our Former life, 2) Understand our Present Life and 3) Live for our Future Life
1) Forsaking the Former Life: Galatians 4:8
Galatians 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. (ESV).
Paul has already explained that in their former life, they were
Galatians 4:3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. (ESV)
• Before they came to know the one true God, the Galatians believed in other beings (gods such as Zeus and Hermes—(Paul’s experience in Lystra, a city in Galatia, in Acts 14:8–18) (Barton, B. B. (1994). Galatians. Life application Bible commentary (133). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House)
For the Jews that bondage lay in the belief that the law could make them righteous. For the Gentiles, the bondage was that of idolatry (1 Thes. 1:9).
To keep his beloved Galatians from slipping back into slavery, the apostle Paul tries to remind them how they had become the children of God in the first place. Paul shows from their former life them that they did not know God.”
Please turn to Romans 1
To know (gnontes, from ginōskō, lit., “to know intimately and on a personal level”) (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:602). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
• It speaks of relational knowledge. God initiates the “knowing”; we know him only because he first knew us.
• It is more than just factually or head knowledge.
• The unbeliever while he may have a head knowledge of God does not have fellowship or communion with the Almighty God.
Romans 1:19-23 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (ESV)
There was a time when the Galatians did not know God in a relational way. Most of them were Gentiles, and thus they were unacquainted with the God of the Bible. They worshiped pagan gods and goddesses. Some of them were into astrology and watched the signs of the zodiac. Others worshiped the deities of ancient Greece. All through Galatia, people belonged to the Roman imperial cult. None of these deities were really gods at all. They were mere idols. Yet because demonic influences were at work, bowing down to false gods brought real spiritual bondage (Philip Graham Ryken. Galatians: Reformed Expository Commentary. P&R Press. 2005. p. 170)
• The concept of the Roman imperial cult is not so far removed from what people look to today. Countless citizens are looking to Government for deliverance. From economic stimulus to bailout of industries, they put their hope in politicians for future happiness.
o There are times when a people stray from God, that He allows them, like what is described in Romans 1, to receive the just rewards for their actions. In essence, God says: “you look to government/the economy for happiness, then see just how well that will work out”