Summary: One of the greatest truths of Scripture is that we can choose to do things our way and die, or we can choose to do things God's way and live.
Make Up Your Mind
Text: Gal. 4:21-31
1. Illustration: I have no idea who said this, but its truth is unmistakable,
"Angels are pure spirits, but it was God's intention to raise human beings, who are lower than the angels, to divine status, to union with the Trinity. An ancient tradition tells us that this was the cause of Lucifer's rebellion, jealousy over one day being ruled by a mere human. The great army of Michael got it right–-God's will is best, and serving God's will is the highest happiness, even if it causes us some inconvenience."
2. Proposition: One of the greatest truths of Scripture is that we can choose to do things our way and die, or we can choose to do things God's way and live.
3. In our text this morning we discover...
a. You Can Do Things Our Way
b. Your Way Leads to Slavery
c. God's Way Leads to Life
4. Let's stand together as we read Gal. 4:21-31.
Transition: First, we learn...
I. You Can Do Things Your Way (21-23).
A. Human Attempt
1. From Genesis to Revelation we find human beings who think that their way is better than God's way.
a. God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they didn't listen.
b. The children of Israel in the wilderness thought they should do their thing instead of listening to God.
c. The nation of Israel thought it would be better to have an earthly king rather than let God be their king.
d. And the story goes on and on.
2. Another classic example of humans thinking they know better than God is that of Abraham and Sarah. So Paul uses them as an illustration to the Galatians who thought they knew better than God.
3. Paul asks them, "Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?"
a. Under the influence of the false teachers (the Judaizers), the Galatians wanted to live under the law. Paul wanted to turn them back to accepting salvation by grace alone.
b. He confronted them directly by saying, “Do you know what the law really says?”
c. The Galatian believers, most of them not from a Jewish background and thus with little more than an elementary understanding of the Jewish law, may have answered an indignant “yes.”
d. Hopefully they would have halted long enough to realize the impossible standards under which they were placing themselves (Barton B. Bruce et al., Life Application New Testament Commentary, 784).
e. Like the rest of us, they thought their way was better than God's.
4. So Paul reminds them of what the Scripture teaches. He says, "The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave-wife and one from his freeborn wife."
a. Paul alludes here to texts in Genesis 16, 21, and 25. There we learn that Sarah's frustration over not having children led her to encourage Abraham to have children through her servant, Hagar, a custom that was apparently acceptable at that time.
b. She had a son named Ishmael, but Hagar herself became disrespectful of Sarah; so, Sarah punished her.
c. Hagar fled Sarah's anger, though she eventually returned. Ishmael, as promised by God, was disliked by the descendants of Sarah, departed from living with them, lived in the wilderness of Beersheba and Pharan, and eventually became the head of the Arabs (McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary – Galatians,230).
d. Throughout the analogy, all distinctions between the two sons are based on the fact that they had two different mothers, not on the fact that they had a common father, Abraham.
e. The heritage of the line through one mother is lostness and bondage, and the heritage of the line through the other mother is salvation and freedom (MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, 124).
f. Hmm...Our way brings bondage and God's way brings freedom. Remember that one!
5. Paul continues his argument by saying, "The son of the slave-wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise."
a. The birth of that son, whose name was Ishmael, was by human attempt, not because it was physical but because the scheme for his conception, devised by Sarah and carried out by Abraham, was motivated by purely selfish desires and fulfilled by purely human means.
b. The birth of Isaac, however, the son by the freeborn wife Sarah, was through the promise.
c. His conception was supernatural, not in the sense that he was conceived directly by the Holy Spirit, as Jesus was, but that the Holy Spirit miraculously enabled Abraham and Sarah to produce a child after she was far past normal childbearing age and had been barren all her life (MacArthur, 124).