Galatians 4:21-31: Two Ways to Live
May 22, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul is continuing with his argument that the Old Testament teaches the gospel of grace and peace that he has been preaching to the Galatians. He makes one consistent argument through this section, and it comes with a compelling exhortation.
The consistent argument is that the promise that God gave to Abraham is fulfilled through the son of promise, and therefore we who are children of Abraham are likewise children of promise (not of legalistic law). He makes this argument throughout this section. The argument matters because it is another way for us to see that God has always planned to save us through faith. God’s plan all along has been a salvation by grace, on the basis of his promise, which we receive through personal commitment to him. Have you made that commitment to Christ? Have you committed your life to God? The way to be saved is not through rituals and rules of a human religious kind, but through personal commitment to Christ. Have you made that personal commitment? If you do, you will receive God’s Spirit and have the power to follow him.
Now, on the basis of the consistent argument through this section, there is a compelling exhortation. And that compelling exhortation is to commit ourselves to God through faith. There was then, and is now, a conflict between the legalistic way of trying to be saved, and the true gospel way. Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector who try different methods of being acceptable to God illustrates Paul’s point here. On the one hand, you have the Pharisee who is trying to be saved by declaring to God all the good things he has done, and having a superior attitude towards everyone else. He is the definition of self-righteousness. But then, on the other hand, there is the tax collector, who simply and solely asks that God would have mercy on him a sinner. That second way—the way of the tax collector—is the only way to be saved. Eschew and avoid the religion of the Pharisee, what Paul here calls that of the spiritual slavery or legalism. Instead, ask God to have mercy on you, to forgive you, to rescue you, confessing your sin and committing your life to Christ.
Paul here is drawing a contrast: two mountains, two children, two ways of attempting to please God. Only one works. And that is trust in God’s promised rescue as revealed in Jesus Christ and his death for us on the cross.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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