Galatians 4 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin
If I could sum up the entire epistle to the Galatians using only one word, I would use the word “freedom.” Here, Paul is not referring to a freedom from sin, but, rather, a freedom from the condemnation of the law because of sin. As Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is a profound freedom of the gospel of Christ that the law is no longer seen by us as our taskmaster or as our enemy, but merely as guide for wisdom and a gracious rule of life.
Prior to our faith in Christ Jesus, the law’s sole use was to restrain us from wickedness through fear of condemnation, and also to imprison us in order to drive us to Christ. But now that we have trusted in Christ, we have been freed from our imprisonment and through Christ’s propitiation of God’s wrath due to us for our sins, we no longer stand condemned before the law but can enjoy the newfound freedom that we have in Christ to be at peace with God’s law and to actually delight in it, in the same way that David did in Psalm 119.
When Christ was raised from the dead on the third day, he ushered in a new order through a new and better covenant, a covenant that touted much more freedom than the Old covenant, one not built upon a great minutia of rules but one based on an intimate fellowship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. Now that the law is written upon the heart of the believer, he or she is free to enjoy it, free to walk in it, even free to fall short of it without condemnation through the promises of God who has granted salvation to all who trust in Jesus.
The biggest difference between a Christian and non-Christian is in how they see the law of God. Without Christ, an unbeliever will see their duty as both a burden and a bondage and their good works will end only in disappointment and doubt. But with the believer, those same laws become their desire and their delight, and their comfort and assurance will come from heaven rather than from any of their pitiful attempts at good works.
So, here lies the problem. Paul already spoke back in chapter two, verse four of some false brothers who had slipped into the churches of Galatia to “spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery.” These men, who would come to be known as the circumcision party, desired that all Gentiles be circumcised and agree to abide by all the Old Testament laws, including the ceremonial ones, and sought to ensure that all Jewish Christians continue to act like Jews. But we’ll see in the next chapter that the Lord has called both peoples to freedom from the heavy burden and condemnation of the law through the cross of Christ so that they might enjoy this marvelous aspect of the new covenant in which they can clearly rest upon the finished work of Christ rather than trusting in their own works.
What does this mean for us today? It means that when I read the law of God, it convicts me but doesn’t condemn me, it shows me my flaws but doesn’t force me into despair, it points out my sin but it doesn’t plague me with condemnation. In Christ, I now see just how good and wise, and profitable and perfect are God’s holy precepts, and the Spirit within me encourages me to look to them for life, to meditate on them for sustenance and to walk in them in order to grow up in my faith. As long as I keep my eyes on Christ and his gospel, I am free from the oppressive torment of the law.