Summary: Paul explains that returning to the Law is not a step toward maturity, but a step backwards to childhood.


A. Children love to answer the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

1. I read an online article where the writer asked a 2010, a preschool class the question about what they wanted to be when they grew up and here are some of their answers: “When I grow up, I want to be: a ballerina, a New York Rangers hockey player, the owner of a pizza store, a cab driver, a spy, a cowgirl, a rock star, a pirate, a knight, and a guy that goes into outer space.”

2. Don’t some of those answers make you smile? Don’t they bring you back to your youth, to an unsullied and easy time when no hope or dream was too silly or far-fetched?

3. The same writer then conducted a Twitter poll and asked the same question to a bunch of tech-savvy adults and here are some of their answers: “When I grow up, I want to be: happy, happy and confident, secure, at peace with who and what I am, and don’t forget loved, I definitely want to be loved when I grow up.”

4. The adult answers are a bit different, wouldn’t you say?

B. The late comedian Lenny Bruce used to say: I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I'm going to be if I grow up.

1. The writer Maya Angelou wrote: “Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”

2. The truth of the matter is that neither growing old, nor growing up are guaranteed in life.

3. And even if we age, or grow old, that is no guarantee that we have grown up or matured.

4. All of that is true physically and is also true spiritually.

C. Today, as we return to our study of Galatians, we come to a section where Paul challenges the Galatians to grow up in their faith and in their relationship with God.

1. One of the tragedies of legalism is that it gives the appearance of spiritual maturity when, in reality, it leads the believer back into a “second childhood” of Christian experience.

2. The Galatian Christians, like most believers, wanted to grow and go forward for Christ, but they were going about it in the wrong way.

3. The Judaizers had bewitched them into thinking that the Law would make them better Christians.

4. They thought they were going forward and growing up, but in reality they were regressing.

5. Paul took three approaches in this section as he sought to convince the Galatians that they didn’t need the Law and legalism in order to grow up in the Christian life.

I. The first approach Paul took was to Explain Their Adoption (4:1-7)

A. Galatians 4 begins: I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (4:1-7)

1. As we work through these verses, we notice that Paul explains three things:

a. What we were – we were children in bondage.

b. What God did – He redeemed us and adopted us.

c. What we are – we are sons and heirs.

B. First, let’s understand what we were – children in bondage.

1. Here Paul used a cultural illustration of how children were under guardians and managers until they came of age.

2. In the Roman world, the children of wealthy people were cared for by slaves who were their guardians.

3. And no matter who his father was, the child was still a child who was under the supervision of a servant.

4. In fact, the child himself was not much different from the servant who guarded him, in the sense that he had no power, authority or access to the money in his inheritance.

5. This was the spiritual condition of the Jews under the age of the Law.

6. The Law, as you recall, was the “guardian” that disciplined the nation and prepared the people for the coming of Christ (Gal. 3:23-25).

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