Summary: Exposition of Galatians 4:8-11 about the worrying of Paul about the Galatians returning to the law and idolatry and demonstrating their false conversion
Text: Galatians 4:8-11, Title: No More Christmas and Easter, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/35/07, PM
Opening illustration: “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O, ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” –Ben Franklin, Christmas was not celebrated during the 1st 2 centuries after Christ’s life on earth. In AD 245, when a group of scholars attempted to pinpoint the exact date of Christ’s birth, a church council denounced the endeavor, declaring it wrong to celebrate the birthday of Christ "as though he were a King Pharaoh.…In 17th century England, puritans objected to Christian celebrations because they had no clear biblical basis. As a result, in 1643, the parliament outlawed Christmas, Easter, and other Christian holidays. However, December 25th was so popular as a festive day, that by 1660, the citizens reclaimed it. Their neglect of the religious aspects of December 25th resulted in a growing secularization of the holiday.
A. Background to passage: After Paul’s comment about being a son, not a slave, in v. 7, he jumps back to their former way of life again. And he wants to know why they are wanting to turn back again to that way. He wants to know why they want to turn from strength and maturity back to weakness and childhood, from freedom back to bondage.
B. Main thought: In our text we see Paul make three interesting statements about the situation there in Galatia.
A. The Nature of Idolatry (v. 8)
1. Paul first speaks about a time when they did not know God. Note the strong adversative. The verb he uses in not the regular word for know, but speaks of a fullness of knowledge coupled with adoration. This tells us a lot about salvation. He says that before that time (salvation), you served things that were not really gods. Whether they were being legalistic with the law or laws, or whether they were following pagan ritual with the Greco-Roman gods, Paul says that were living in idolatry. The very nature of idolatry is to replace the One true God with anything of your own design to worship. And the view that there is a god out there that grants people salvation and righteousness based on their performance is idolatry, because that god does not exist. There is discussion among the scholarly world as to whether Paul held an atheistic view of idols, or a demonistic view of them. Explain. And the answer is probably “yes.” Paul is teaching that all of these things are not gods, but they may be demons.
2. Eph 6:12, 1 Cor 8:5, 10:20
3. Illustration: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that ought to be worshiped.” -Augustine. “Hypocritically, professing belief, performing rote rituals, calling oneself a member of a religion without attempting to follow holy prescriptions, participating in church … with a “social” country-club fervor – these can all be an evasion of holy duty, yet another form of idolatry, as practicing the “religion” becomes its own end point.” -Schlesinger, replaced Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God with a truncated God in the hands of angry sinners. one commentator mentioned that sometimes we strive so hard not to be charismatic, that we knock ourselves out of the spiritual battle going on by ignoring it. And maybe it’s not an all consuming desire at the moment – but I’m aware and I have been aware for some time that my relationship with food (if you can call it that!) is unhealthy. I have felt for some time that I am not in control of my eating – examples – can’t walk past a bakery, dreaming about food – and yet it seems normal – food is something I love – something that makes me feel good – when I’m down I eat – in fact when I’m ‘up’ I eat. I eat most of the time – when I’m not eating I’m thinking about when I will be eating – my favorite words are ‘all you can eat’ – I tend to take them quite literally. I just love to eat – I don’t eat because I’m hungry – I eat because I enjoy the sensual pleasure of taste. Eating makes me feel good and some foods make me feel better than others. I rarely get stuck on cabbage or wheat cracker, but I can put away some cheesecake and some pizza.
4. Genuine salvation is fully knowing and fully adoring Christ. Mental assent is not enough. Association is not enough. Knowledge in not enough. Genuine salvation involves completely breaking with idolatrous religion and pagan culture. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In Paul’s day unbelievers were still substituting all sorts of things for God. Do you have your own created gods? They could be self, pornography, food, baseball, deer hunting, boats, religious activity, computers, motorcycles, or people. Do you constantly use phrases like “my Jesus would never…” Do you value anything more than Him in practice? What overrides your passion for God? What draws you away from God? When you live your life to serve other things rather than God, you are an idolater, under the control of that which is not God, and enslaved to demonic influence. In fact, if you live your life under a list of rules and regulations of what to do, and how to live, you are under demonic influence. You are trusting in your own strength to earn God’s favor, and worshipping a God of your own design.