STANDING IN GRACE
I think we all understand that Paul is not condemning the law, but those that look to the law for salvation.
The law is a wonderful thing in that it brings us to realization that we are sinners and makes us aware of our need for a Savior.
The law is an essential but elementary part of our salvation – not that the law can save but it makes us aware of our condition.
Until one knows that they are sinners they will never have a desire to be saved.
Paul said in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’”
We must also remember that these people in Galatia were Paul’s spiritual children.
He, through many hardships and dangers brought the Gospel to them and it was breaking his heart to realize that they were being led astray by false teachers..
One episode is recorded in Acts 14:2-3, 19.
Now they are breaking Paul’s heart because of their listening to the false teachers.
I. CONSIDER WHAT YOU USED TO BE. 8
“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”
When Paul first went to Galatia they were steeped into paganism – they were enslaved to idol worship.
Paul came with the living Gospel of Christ and preached unto them Jesus Christ and Him crucified and they got saved.
The Gospel had set them free! Now they could worship the true and living God!
They have seen the light! – They have walked in the light!
Now, because of false teachers they are placing themselves back under bondage – not to paganism, but to the law. You can muster up a certain amount of sympathy for people who live in ignorance, but when they are shown the light you sort of expect them to live in the light.
That’s what Paul is trying to get these Galatians to see.
He says, “Remember from where you came. Why would you want to be in bondage again!”
Paul is not telling them that they are about to lose their salvation.
(Look at verse 9 – Wuest says that phrase “known by God” means “God knowing the Galatians in a saving way.”)
But to place oneself under a legalistic system chokes the joy out of your relationship with Jesus.
People still do that today and it’s so subtle that you can be caught up in it without realizing it.
If our service to God is done out of duty and not love then we have fallen into the trap of legalism and bondage.
II. CONSIDER WHAT YOU ARE NOW. 9
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
The word “known” means more than just to be aware or to have some knowledge of, but it carries the idea of a intimate knowledge of, such as in Gen 4:1 where it says, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain ”
It means to know by experience, and in this case “to know by an experiential knowledge through Jesus Christ.”
So Paul asks them, Since you have e known God in such an intimate way, “how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
“weak and beggarly elements” speak of the ABC’s; the Kindergarten; the immature stage.
The NIVBC says it literally means, “powerless and bankrupt”
Putting ourselves under the bondage of the law, or under the law of legalism satisfies the flesh because the flesh loves to boast “Look at what I have done.”
Look once more at that phrase, “after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God.”
The NIVBC comments: “The truth of the matter is that God comes to know us. We come to know him only because we are first “known by God”–i.e., through Christ a Christian has become an object of God’s personal recognition and favor.”
Paul is explaining to them that what they now have in Christ can be found in nothing else.
The law or anything else is weak and beggarly because the do not have the power to set you free.
You work and work and never know if you have worked enough. That’s bondage!
You may think you are keeping the law is one area, but what can you do about all the area’s in which you know you have been disobedient? That’s bondage!
III. CONSIDER WHAT YOU ARE LOSING. 10-11
“Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
1. You are losing Faith.
When one is striving to be obedient to a law their faith is diverted from Christ to themselves.
You cease depending on Christ to keep you saved and depend on your ability to observe and do all that is commanded for you to do.
2. You are losing Fellowship.
Fellowship, like faith is built upon trust.
You attention is withdrawn from Christ and placed in works.
Who do you think can have the most fellowship with the Father – the son or the slave?
3. You are losing your Joy.
Who can have and experience the most Joy?
The one struggling to gain something in Christ, or the one who knows that he already has everything in Christ?
William Barclay shares a poem with us:
“How Thou canst think so well of us,
And be the God Thou art,
Is darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.””