Lent 4 (Galatians 4:21-31), March 26, 2017


21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise… 

26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother…

31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman….(Galatians 4)

What’s the difference between giving birth to a child and raising and forming children?

You were created a Christian, born a Christian, through a promise

23the son of the free woman was born through promise.

God promised You that You are His child in Baptism, that you who were by nature a slave to sin are in the house, in the family of God, that you who were condemned by your sin are justified by His grace, that you who have not answer the Law’s “Do this and live,” now believe the promise, “It is finished, now receive”, and that Word of promise gave new birth, new life to You.

That someone or those someone’s that preached, read, shared, and pray God’s Word to you, they’re a part of the Holy Christian Church.  This is why Paul can say that the 26Jerusalem above, the Holy Christian Church, that is His Christians and His pastors, is our mother.  God is our Father, the Church is our Mother.

A Christians was born, created.

But after being born again, we too often rebel against our Father and Mother and the Word of Promise and too often want something we have no idea about.  We want out of the house, out of the Family, we want to be back under the Law.  We want to be back justifying ourselves before God by the good works of our flesh.  In reality, we want to be back in slavery, but we don’t see it that way.

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 

There’s a real desire to be back under the Law.

The flesh gives birth.  The Law gives birth.  Our pride gives birth – but all to children of slavery.

The problem is that the flesh likes to hear about the flesh – you like to hear about how great you are!  What it seems that you can do.  And so many pastor like to preach about you.  What it seems you can do.

“Be less angry.  Be more forgiving.”  Yah, I can do that.

“Don’t be so jealous.  Be happy with what you got.”  Who wouldn’t be?

“Don’t be lazy at work.  Be a God-pleaser there and everywhere.”  Of course, I would!

“Love God.  Love neighbor.”  Just two commandments, really?  I can do this.


“God will do His part, I’ll do my part.  I’ll give Him all the glory and also get some credit, too.    I’ll start doing a little bit better.  I’ll start improving a little bit more.  I’ll get going on the right track. I’ll start feeling a little bit better about myself.

It’ll depend upon me.  I like when things depend on me.  I’m pretty reliable.

More reliable than they are.  I’m way ahead of them!”

There is a real desire for me to depend upon me and for me to get some credit and for me to compare myself with others. We too often think that if it’s about me, that is the freedom.

But this preaching bears children in slavery.  Notice also that the text says that the promise isn’t the only thing that gives birth:

23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh. 

Hearing only about you puts you back in bondage.

But you and I don’t have to be hearing this preaching from a pulpit, because our prideful flesh is constantly preaching about you to you and the devil and the world are saying, “Amen!  Preach it!”

“Ain’t that the truth.  Ain’t you the truth” And the devil and the world are saying, “Amen.”

We too often forget that we and our desires are often our own worst enemies.  And the desire of pride will always be our enemy and the enemy of true freedom from God.

If salvation depends upon you, then the Church seems to be shrinking because you have failed her – you would have failed your own mother!

If salvation depends upon you, then the only one left to rely on at your death is you.

If salvation depends upon you, then you have make peace with God – and  you can’t.  You have to fight back against the accusations of the devil – but he’s right.  You have to keep the whole law and get yourself out of being cursed by God –

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Galatians 3)

But salvation doesn’t depend upon you – the Church isn’t built with you as the foundation – peace with God and an answer to the devil’s accusations doesn’t depend upon your Word.

It did and does depend upon Jesus and His Word.

He became a curse for you on the cross because we broke the Law, for cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3), and that frees you to receive the blessings of His freedom again.  For not only are you born a Christian through that promise, but you are raised and formed and given strength to live as a Christian in that promise.

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 


Listen again to this freedom.  What Paul does in referencing back to Sarah and Hagar is free us.  When Sarah was promised at a very old age that she would have a child with Abraham, she knew that if that depended upon her, it would be impossible.

The only thing that she could cling to was the promise of God.

God’s promises are the only thing that gives birth to Christians.

God’s promises depend upon Him – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4).

God’s promises accomplish what they say – And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4).

God’s promises give birth to freedom from pride of self as well as despair of self because they take you out of yourself and into God and His Word which never passes away.  Anyone who sins is a slave to sin, but if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Stand firm in that freedom brothers.  Keep listening to your Father and your Mother – God’s Word and faithful pastors and Christians who hear it and love it.  Keep reading, sharing, and praying God’s Word to yourself and others.  It how new Christians are made.  It’s how Christians are raised and formed in true freedom.

O, Lord, keeping freeing me through Your promises.  Keep feeding me with Your Son’s freeing body and freeing blood in the Holy Christian Church, my mother, the Bride of Christ.  Keep me from using this freedom as a license to sin.  And keep creating, raising, and forming Christians through me and all in the Holy Christian Church.  Amen.


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