Slavery is a life of no options. Self-life is slavery. Before the cross all you knew was selfish with a healthy dose of Sin input. Anything was OK for us. We had a conscience as a product of wrong fruit ingestion but it didn’t matter. The thought of being without something was much more powerful than any noble, good-intentioned effort. Maybe when things were going well in our lives we could be generous and kind but I bet you changed your tune at the first indication of southbound redirection. Our self-nature powered and informed by Sin (the enemy) was our master. We were bound by our desire to survive and protect while deceived and condemned by the enemy. Not to mention we had no relationship with God and the enemy conned us into believing it was God’s fault. We had no life at all in slavery. We had no hope of ever making ourselves good enough to be with God and in His family. Now apply some law-based improvement program and you have a recipe for disaster. Some call it coming to the end of yourself. God says it is why He gave us the law. The law was a way for God to show us how much we needed Him. We just couldn’t get it done on our own.
Here is something that may shock you. On this side of the cross you still can’t get it done on your own but religion says you can. Religion says you must. Religion says “you better or else.” Sounds like slavery all over again doesn’t it? God actually has a lot to say about this. There are many claiming that “sin management” isn’t being preached and we are in big trouble. Galatians is very clear on the issue. When we want to return to the law the enemy is sowing the deception-seed of self-effort. Remember we are free from the law. To live from the law is to fall from Grace.
Gal 5:4 If you seek to be justified and declared righteous and to be given a right standing with God through the Law, you are brought to nothing and so separated (severed) from Christ. You have fallen away from grace (from God’s gracious favor and unmerited blessing). (AMP)
Still there is the “wisdom of man” that says we need to get this sin thing under control. That kind of talk is an insult to the finished work of Jesus. To make claims that we need to manage sin is to say God didn’t do enough and has no power to deliver us from sin. Living from self-effort, from your willpower alone is no power at all. Let me see if I can explain.
Grace brings freedom. Jesus made us free. Freedom brings choices.
John 8:36 So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free. (AMP)
Freedom is so important because it gets us to look up instead of in. Looking up gives us options. Looking up makes the impossible practical. Our outcome is no longer limited by our strength but supernaturally empowered by His strength. If we rely on ourselves our weakness will result in failure. We are in Romans 7 over and over and over again.
Check out this verse:
Gal 5:21 being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behavior. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom-realm of God! (Passion Translation)
This verse has actually been used by the religious to threaten people “to be good.” Here is the amazing thing. This verse actually supports the argument that self-effort is powerless and is characterized by bad behavior.
The key word is inherit. In our society inherit means to get something from another person when they die. The religious will say that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is something that we would receive when WE die. That is backwards, isn’t it? The Kingdom is God’s realm and it is where He is and He is in us so it is in us… So what does the inherit word mean in context? The Greek word used here is a combination of words and means “shall be enjoying the allotment of or to receive something of considerable value which has not been earned.”
So now we need to understand how it applies to us.
First as heirs we are His children of promise and are free from the self-effort elementary principles of the world.
Gal 4:3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (ESV)
As His children we get to know Him and we realize that we are indeed free and shouldn’t go back to our self-effort, law-keeping behavior.
Gal 4:9 Now, however, that you have come to be acquainted with and understand and know [the true] God, or rather to be understood and known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly and worthless elementary things [of all religions before Christ came], whose slaves you once more want to become? (AMP)
Now we connect the dots with Paul’s definitions. Flesh is slavery to self and sonship is freedom in His promises.
Gal 4:23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise (ESV)
Now we see what the “Kingdom of Heaven” includes.
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (ESV)
Note it is His righteousness that we receive in faith (understanding and trusting in the goodness of God). The Kingdom is found in our revelation of our righteousness that Jesus died to give us. Next notice that the Kingdom includes POWER!
1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (ESV)
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV)
Faith in God and His power to work in your life gives you options…IT GIVES YOU HOPE!
Rom 15:13 May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. (AMP)
Options with power and favor and hope is GRACE. It is Jesus. He never leaves us hanging. He saved us and continues to saves us.
2 Cor 12:9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (AMP)
So Paul’s discussion in Galatians is all about self-effort versus God’s promises. Abraham had good intentions and the result of his effort was Ishmael, slavery, law. God’s promise and His effort was Isaac, freedom, Grace. This example is 490 years before the law. That means this is a rule that is outside of the Law of Moses. The Law was a result of man living from self effort and claiming they could get it done.
When will we finally learn? I know it is too good to be true but that is God. He is too good to be true or at least for our simple human brains. So let’s stop trying to do it, reason it, figure it, take ownership of it and all that in our own effort. His options are way better than my efforts!