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Current series in Galatians:

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:8-11

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Galatians 4:8 describe the Gentiles’ unconverted condition? Whom did they serve at that time? In what two ways does Galatians 4:9 describe their converted condition? To what have they turned again (cf. Galatians 4:3-4)? What does verse 9 say they are desiring to be in? What does the apostle call “weak and beggarly elements” from the Mosaic era (Galatians 4:10, cf. verses 3-4)? How does the apostle feel toward them (Galatians 4:11)? What is he concerned might be their actual condition?
Why would anyone who had been freed from slavery want to become a slave again? That’s the question of the second half of Galatians 4:9.

Firstly, they knew how bad slavery is. The apostle says, “you served those which by nature are not gods.” In 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 he writes, “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God.” The point of Galatians 4:8 is that as former servants of demons, they know just how bad false religion can be.

Secondly, they know how good sonship is. What a beautiful summary Galatians 4:9 gives us of the converted state! Galatians 4:8 describes their life before conversion as “when you did not know God.” Verse 9 describes their life as believers as “knowing God [because they have been] known by God. God has set His love upon them from before the foundation of the world! And when God brings them to faith, He grants unto them to know Him in such a way that their very hearts cry out, Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6)! Here is the profound sweetness of true conversion: knowing the living God as our own dear Father who has bent His affection upon us from before the world began.

So, why would they trade that genuine spiritual reality for the outward earthly things that had belonged to the “slave” era of Israel waiting for Christ to come (cf. Galatians 4:3)? The coming of Jesus had left them with just one day, the Lord’s Day. Now they are going to start observing the entire Mosaic ceremonial calendar? God Himself had invented that calendar, and the Holy Spirit still calls observing it a return to bondage.

Observing the calendar denied that Christ is enough. Observing the calendar put man in the place of God. Observing the calendar implied that others who didn’t were doing less to please God than those who did. Observing the calendar denied the sufficiency of the means that Christ had given by which to walk with Him.

But this is what the Galatians were doing, and it made Paul wonder if they had actually ever been truly converted. “I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain”! 
What are some manmade rules or religious ceremonies or days that Christians might add to what Jesus gives us in the Bible? What does this passage call such practices? What does this passage say that being devoted to those practices calls into question?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

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