Sunday, August 27, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "So You Are No Longer a Slave"

“So You Are No Longer a Slave”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
August 27, 2017 :: Galatians 4:1-11

Galatians is chock-ful of glorious gospel truth. Today, when we get to verses 4, 5, and 6, we are going to read one of the most glorious descriptions of the gospel of Jesus Christ there ever was.

But the problem was that the Christians in the region of Galatia were being tempted to believe a false-gospel, an alternative gospel, a gospel that is really no gospel at all.

Paul has fired up the alarm with this letter and is warning and admonishing the Galatians to not give in to the destructive false teaching that has been spreading like gangrene in their midst.

And here’s what they are being told...that faith in Jesus Christ is not enough.

They are being told that believing in Jesus is fine, but to be truly justified and to stay justified, to be right with God, to be righteous in God’s sight forever, a believer must also do the works of the Law of Moses: circumcision, the Ten Commandments, the dietary restrictions, and the sacred Jewish calendar of days, months, seasons, and years.

It’s not enough to just believe in Christ alone.

You’ve got to also keep the Law.

And we’ve had 3 whole chapters of Paul dismantling that idea.

And there’s a lot more to come.

Last time, Paul took us on quick tour of the whole Old Testament.

And he showed us why justification by faith in God’s promises (like Father Abraham) was so much better than trying to be justified by the law.

I’m not going to go over all of it again, but simply put, the Promise was older than the Law, the Law was only added because of transgression, the Law was only temporary, the Law couldn’t save, the Law had us locked up like a big bad babysitter, and it has it has effectively done its job.

Therefore, we shouldn’t go back to it.

And faith?

Faith has made us sons of God in Christ Jesus!

Do you remember the 3 words that we emphasized at the end of chapter 3?

Sons, One, Heirs.

That’s the results of faith in Jesus Christ!

Those ideas are going to be really key again today as well.

Because really, we stopped in the middle of Paul’s thought. Verse 1 of chapter is Paul still explaining what he just said.

When you read this passage, you can just feel how concerned Paul is about these people, can’t you?

He knows that they are in terrible danger, and it’s tearing him up.

And he’s doing everything he can, guided by the Spirit, to persuade them not to turn to this alternative gospel. He’s used really strong language...and the strongest language is still to come.

He’s doing everything he can to persuade them to not turn to this alternative gospel.

And in these verses for today, he’s doing it by showing them that, in Christ, they are now no longer slaves.

Here’s our sermon title for today. It’s from the first phrase of verse 7.

“So You Are No Longer a Slave...”

Say that to the person next to you.

“So You Are No Longer a Slave...”

That’s a glorious truth with far-reaching implications for our lives today.

“So you are no longer a slave...”

But that means that at one time, you were a slave. At least in some sense.

That’s what he says in verse 1.

“What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.”

Paul is making an analogy from the Greco-Roman world in which he lived.

He says imagine a child who is the rich heir-apparent of a big estate. But he is still a minor, still a child, unable to exercise the rights over that big estate.

In fact, he’s subject to babysitters and bossy bodyguards.

Even though some day, he’s going to own everything, right now, he’s no better than a slave. He has to obey.

He is “under.”

The word “under” keeps cropping up in this letter.

Practically speaking, this child is functionally a slave until the date of his graduation from being a minor.

Every student who is being bundled off back to school this week knows the feeling!

“I have to go school. This is a form of slavery!”

“I can’t wait until I graduate and I can do whatever I want.”

Amen, students, amen?

Well, Paul says that take that idea and apply it to our spiritual condition. V.3

“So also, when we were children [I think that’s the time that the Law of Moses was in effect, when we were children], we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.”

Paul says, “We were as good as slaves, too!”

Now, I’m not exactly sure how this works. I’m not exactly sure what the “basic principles of the world” are. There are three main interpretations, and they all give a different perspective on it, but all have different strengths and weaknesses, too.

The word for “basic principles” can be like the ABC’s of something. Like the basic stuff you learn in school, reading, writing, and arithmetic. ABC, 123.

And that might mean the Jews who were trying to be justified by the Law were enslaved by the basics of doing the Law. ABC, 123, DO-DO-DO.

But the word for “basic principles” was also used for the basic elements in the ancient world, like “earth, wind, fire” that sort of thing.

So that would be saying that they were focusing on earthly, physical things like circumcision, feasting and fasting, sacrifices–really earthy-things, missing the higher, spiritual, substantive point.

And the third view is that the “basic principles of the world” are spiritual forces of evil. Demons. Unclean spirits. The principalities and powers that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6.

And that one makes the most sense to me when this verse is connected to verse 8.

But I’m not really sure how the logic works here in verse 3.

But the big point is clear. We used to be slaves...AND NOT TO GOD.

This isn’t talking about being a slave of God. That’s a good thing!

That’s not something you want freed from!

But Paul says that we used to be in slavery “UNDER the basic principles of the world.”

And that’s NOT good.

But it’s all changed. Because Jesus came. V.4

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”


Isn’t that awesome?

That’s one of the most glorious statements of the truth of gospel, ever.

“But when the time had fully come...”

God’s timing is perfect.

God had a plan from the beginning, and when the time was ripe, He put it into action.

When the Law had reigned for 1400 years or so, God sent His Son.

I have a friend who says that God is seldom early but never late.

He knows exactly when to do something.

And He knew when to send to Jesus.

“God sent his Son.” That’s interesting, too, because it means that the Son of God was pre-existent. He was eternally God the Son. And God the Father sent His own eternal Son into the world.

This points to His divinity.

And the next phrase points to His humanity–“born of a woman.”

That’s as human as you can get.

Jesus came from out of Mary’s womb.

And she was a virgin!

Jesus is fully God and fully human in one Person, sent by God the Father.

“Born of a woman, born UNDER law.”

Oh! Even Jesus was born under the rule of the Mosaic Law.

But here’s the thing: He fulfilled it! Jesus lived under the Law perfectly and fulfilled it perfectly!

And so when He took our place on the Cross, when He took on the curse of the Law, He didn’t deserve it, so that He could (v.5) “redeem those under law.”

Isn’t that glorious?

It’s it wonderful how God planned it, how God saved us?

John Stott put it this way:

“So the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and the righteousness of Christ uniquely qualified him to be man's redeemer. If He had not been man, He could not have redeemed men. If He had not been a righteous man, He could not have redeemed unrighteous men. And if He had not been God's Son, He could not have redeemed men for God or made them the sons of God.”

“He was born under law to redeem those under law.”

How many of us have thanked Jesus recently for being born under law?

Because this is what we get! V.5

“That we might receive the full rights of sons.”

The adoption of sons.

J.I. Packer has called adoption “the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification.”

Justification is wonderful, but it’s leads to something else. It leads to adoption.

Having the full rights of being a Son of God.

And here’s where the Third Person of the Trinity gets in there. V.6

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

By virtue of your spiritual adoption, you have the Spirit of God’s Son in your heart and He calls out, He cries out, “Abba! Father!”

Isn’t that amazing?

Remember Romans 8:16? “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.”

He’s inside of you saying, “Abba! Father!”

Jesus’ own special name for God is now is something that you can say about God through the Spirit that lives in you.

“God is my Abba!”
“God is my Father!”


“So you are no longer a slave, but a son;”

Let’s make that big point number one.

#1. SON.

So because of Jesus you are no longer a slave, what does that make you?


You are a son in the Son.

This is a restatement and reemphasis of what we saw last time.

Think about what that means.

You are not an orphan.

If you are in Christ, you are not an orphan.

You are not alone in this world.

Do you feel alone in this world?

Does this world scare you?

It’s a scary world.

I get scared of all kinds of things.

I worry about all kinds of things.

There are all kinds of things that bother me.

But not when this thought is what is controlling my mind.

“I am not a slave. And I am not an orphan.”

I am a son.

I am a son in the Son.

What do I have to worry about?

I mean, really?

This is why we can pray, you know?

Do you pray?

Do you pray with confidence?

Do you pray to God as your Father?

You’ve got the Spirit of the Son of God living in you crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Do you think God is going to listen to you?

You bet He is.

Verses 4 through 6 should give us great confidence in approaching God in prayer and walking through the minefield that is this world.

“So you are no longer a slave, but a son.”

That’s who you are.

Because Jesus is a Chainbreaker!

You are no longer a slave, but a son.

And that’s not all. V.7

“...and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

#2. HEIR.

That big old estate is yours to enjoy.

You are fabulously rich as an heir of God.

We talked about this last time.

All of the promises are ours. We are heirs! They are coming to us.

Because we are sons in the Son.

Every promise in the book is mine
Every chapter, every verse and every line
All are blessings of His love divine
Every promise in the book is mine.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

This afternoon, read Ephesians chapter 1 to remind yourself of the blessings you have in Christ Jesus.

Not only are you not an orphan but you are one rich kid in Christ!


What more do you want?

That inheritance is all ours.

In part now and still fully to come.

That gives us hope, doesn’t it?

Do you have hope?

So many people live without hope these days.

But we have every good thing to anticipate.

Because we are standing on the promises.

Because “you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

And that’s not all!

You are also known. V.8

#3. KNOWN.

“Formerly, when you [Gentile Galatians] did not know God, you were slaves [there’s that word again] to those who by nature are not gods. [Idols, pagan gods who are not really gods but are empowered by false gods, demons]. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles [same word as v.3]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”

Stop there. And don’t miss those great big words in verse 9.

“You are known by God.”

Paul can’t get over that.

Because not only are we no longer slaves to false gods, but we KNOW GOD and ARE KNOWN BY GOD.

That’s relationship language there.

This being a Son is more than just rights and riches.

It’s relationship.

You know God now, and Paul says, “And it wasn’t from you. It wasn’t from your obedience to God that made you a Son. It’s because God came after you.

You are KNOWN BY GOD.”

That’s the language of relationship.

It’s not just knowing about someone. It’s knowing someone.

Because of what Jesus did, you know and are known by God.

I have a friend who’s been going through a really tough time in his life recently, and this week, he just about got to the end of his rope, he hit the absolute rock bottom.

But you know what he found there?

He found Jesus was already there.

And found forgiveness and peace and joy.

And hope.

And the ability to go on. And not just go on but to make big strides.

Because He knows God and is known by God.

It’s wonderful.

And that’s why it’s so crazy that these people wanted to go back.

Wanted to go back to slavery.

Do you see where Paul is going with this?

You are known by God (v.9) “how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”

Raise your hand if you’d rather be a slave.

I didn’t think so!

But that’s what you are doing if you add lawkeeping to the gospel of grace. V.10

“You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!”

Like it’s the Law or something.

Like you have to do that to please God.

Like you are earning your justification by obeying the Law of Moses. Sabbath, New Moon, Feast of Tabernacles, Day of Atonement.

That’s going backwards.

And in fact, it’s the same thing as paganism.

That’s a shocking thing for Paul to say.

Because those things are not bad and were gifts of God to the Jewish people.

But if they were being placed on the Galatians as a stipulation of their justification, Paul says, that’s basically the same thing as being a slave to a false god.

It’s just another kind of idolatry.

Don’t turn back!

Don’t go back to slavery. V.11

“I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”

What a scary thing for him to say.

And he’s got a lot more to say. We’ll pick it up here next week.

But do you get it?

If you are in Christ Jesus and trusting in Christ alone then you are no longer a slave, you’re a son, you’re an heir, you are known.

So why would you want to go back?

Don’t go there.

Relish what you have in adoption, inheritance, and your relationship with God.

Because that’s enough live on from here to eternity.

Don’t add anything else. Don’t go back to slavery.

Live out of sonship, live out of your inheritance, live out of your own personal relationship with God.

Because you are no longer a slave.


Messages in this Series:
01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy
04. So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You
05. Acting in Line with the Truth of the Gospel
06. I Live By Faith in the Son of God
07. You Foolish Galatians!
08. You Are All Sons of God Through Faith in Christ Jesus