Once Free Don’t Become Enslaved Again

Galatians 4:1-15

Jerry A Collins




v     What is the difference between a son and an heir?

v     What are the worthless elemental things to avoid?

v     What is the meaning of calling God ‘Abba’?


There are two reasons for keeping legal laws. (1) They are good for people. Don’t drink and drive, pay your taxes, build according to codes are good for everyone. (2) I am afraid of the consequences of getting caught. This is where legal law-keeping breaks down. If I do not think it’s a good law for me or think I won’t get caught I may break it. Yet, there are moral laws too like don’t cheat, love your enemy and only reason for keeping these is the fear of God. Anyone may have awe or reverence for higher, stronger power than self. For xian it is fear of God of Bible. A reason why xians violate God’s standards is because they see them legally instead of morally. (1) Think they are better off violating it-looking out for their best interest (2) don’t believe will be punished for violation. But if we saw God’s standards morally instead of legally then we would be asking ‘will I offend God’s righteousness’ or ‘what is really closest to the heart of God?’ and then do that! Problem is like Pharisees in Jesus’ day, Judaizers in Paul’s day and legalists in our day—making up more & more laws and with so many of them we are trained to respond legally to God’s moral laws. So loving my enemy, gossip, divorce, cheating and adultery treated legally, pragmatically rather than what God plainly says we do. These Galatian law-keeping Jews believed that gentiles xians should follow mosaic law, Jewish customs and traditions. These came from within the church and believed that Israel was still supreme in God’s plan so gentles must join them—Jews could never join Gentiles. That meant keeping it’s laws, traditions and codes. The gospel has set us free from all of that and so must not be enslaved.


Illustrating spiritual immaturity of those living under law, is the picture of a young child contrasted with that of a mature son.

Child too young for responsibility 1 Here is a small child an heir of the whole estate but still under survelliance and submission like a slave who enjoys no freedom and no decision making. This child is too young to take any responsibility for the management of the assets. Even tho wealthy he is no better off than a slave.

No access to inheritance 2 Guardians, managers and trustees watch over and protect his estate for him until appropriate time when he comes of age.

We were children 3 So too we were spiritually in bondage. In our case it was enslavement to elementary stages of religious experiences and systems the world offers.

Christ redeemed us from this 4-5 At the appropriate time—just like there would be for the child who became an heir—God sent out His Son. When was that? 1. When Roman civilization brot peace to realm. 2. When Rome built road system facilitating travel. 3. When Greek civilization provided universal language of the empire. 4. When Jews had proclaimed messianic hope in their synagogues. It was then that God sent out His Son (1) born of a woman. He was fully human with human nature. So His mission—being sent out—included entering into humanity. (2) born under law—that is, as a Jew he kept the law completely and eventually would pay it’s full curse as well. So God’s Son was fully prepared to take on the responsibility of redemption! Everything was in place! God’s timetable was exact. The purpose was to ‘redeem’ us—that is pay the purchase price which was His blood. For the Jew enslaved to the Law and the Gentile to the elemental spiritual systems of the world. The reason--to make us sons with full rights of inheritance. Before the cross we were under strict guidance. After the cross now a son with freedom to make choices and decisions and know the heart of God. We can now enter into the good things of God for us.

An intimate relationship 6 God not only sent His Son, He also sent the HS. This is because we enter into a different relationship with God than anyone has before. HS’s presence gives us intimacy with the Father ‘abba’ means daddy replacing formalism of legalism. We are now part of the family circle. So many advantages we have now that noone else has ever had. If these kind of distinctions exist now making it possible to be more intimate with God and know His heart much better than believers before or after—then these distinctions remain forever. So Jesus elevated us to level of sons so we can inherit all we have in Christ. So, too,  the Spirit empowers us to exercise our freedom in Christ. Sonship to hiership 7 The conclusion is that in God’s family sonship carries with it heir to an inheritance. ..and if children also heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ Rom 8:17. Think about this.


Don’t return to past 8-11 Before salvation—when you did not know God—your ignorance misled and deceived you into slavery of false worship. So much of that still going on today. Now knowing God (salvation from our perspective) or known by God (salvation from God’s perspective) vs 8 what is the attraction of a system that could not redeem or justify you before God or one that was powerless for godly living? Its both weak and worthless in either case! That is problem with legalism in nutshell. You become enslaved all over again. Here they were doing it by observing Mosaic calendar. Special days like weekly Sabbaths, months like new moons, seasons like seasonal festivals Passover, Pentecost and years like sabbatical and jubilee years. Paul spent so much time and energy and nearly the loss of his life for these people vs 11 now it seems in vain if they stay attached to these legalistic practices believing they earn God’s favor this way. We are prone to return to the past. 1 Pt 2:25 continually straying like sheep. To return to the past is like turning away from potential growth and maturity. Newness is pathway to maturity.

Move forward not backward 12-15 So a personal appeal vs 12. I have come to you without the Law—only the gospel and freedom—so you too. So far so good between them. In spite of repulsive illness of some kind he had made his way to Galatia preaching the gospel to them the first time 13. He had labored under handicap 14. His physical condition was a hardship upon them but they did not despise him or his gospel message because of it but welcomed him as an angel of God—as Christ Himself. They did not treat him with scorn as some weak messenger. We have no idea what this illness was. They could have ignored him but willing to put up with him instead. So remember that & move forward from there. Growth is always about moving forward. Building upon what you have learned. Going back to law-keeping that is powerless to help you is bondage not freedom. Like a friend who each time he failed returned home to mom. Or like returning back college for a bachelors degree you already earned. Useless. Worthless. Backward. We do that spiritually when we use rule keeping, legalism to guide us in our walk with God. It is useless, powerless, worthless to do so.

1. The privilege of liberty always leads to responsibility. Given a new start, like a newly released prisoner, take the opportunity to move forward. To make something of yourself in Christ.

2. Do that not by performing the law but by applying it. What do the directives of the law tell you about the heart of God. Pursue God’s heart then revealed in the law. Today that is Christ’s commands.

3. The law is only for bad guys not good guys. The deeds of the flesh need laws. But the fruit of the Spirit never comes about by law-keeping. Fruit comes when living by faith applying Christ’s commands to our lives.