Paul Talks About Sonship and Legalism in Galatians 4

Sonship and freedom in Christ

This 4-day devotional study on Galatians 4 looks into Sons versus slaves and tackles the issue of legalism.

Day 1
Devotional Reading: Galatians 4:1-7
Marked: vs.4-5
Notes /Impressions:
  • Paul again uses another illustration that of an heir who, because of guardianship under a disciplinarian, would seem like he was a slave. That is what we were before salvation, slaves to the law or the teachings that we were following.
  • Christ was sent to end the time when people had to look forward to the Messiah in hope for salvation. What the believers before looked forward to has now come to be realized.
  • Christ came at the right time, ending an era…
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • As Christ’s coming ended the age of bondage. So does our salvation through Him end our bondage to former beliefs & teachings that have condemned us (vs.3-4).
  • God’s adoption of us gives us full rights as sons (just as an adopted child has full legal right as a biological son). The blessings of His love, His fellowship, His care & protection, and the privilege of heirship (vs.5).
  • Our relationship with God is confirmed and affirmed by the Holy Spirit’s presence (Rom.8:9) and established more into intimacy (Abba = Daddy) by the Holy Spirit’s help (vs.6).  

Day 2
Devotional Reading: Galatians 4:8-11
Marked: vs. 9
Notes /Impressions:
  • These Jewish and Gentile Christians had their respective religious traditions and beliefs before they got saved. Somehow, some of them were beginning to believe again the things they were already released from. 

Lesson(s) Learned:
  • For lack of knowledge and the lack of desire to learn more about God, some Christians easily slide back to their old traditions and beliefs. Their lack of seriousness for the things of God can be easily overwhelmed by what has been ingrained in them in their years of enslavement.
  • We should watch ourselves lest we begin to place our trust on counterfeit things - things we begin to depend on apart from God.

Day 3
Devotional Reading: Galatians 4:12-20
Marked: vs.16, 19-20
Notes /Impressions:
  • As Paul lovingly rebukes them, he establishes the loving and caring relationship he had with them, and how important they were to him.
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • Telling the truth can cause relational rifts (vs.15-16). Nevertheless, the truth has to be told no matter what, no matter how painful or offensive it may be.
  • A good rebuke can be well received when founded on a good relationship.  In a good relationship, even the strongest correction can be heard as a helpful advice; and at times, it can happen after an initial adamance.
  • It takes sincere concern to put up with the difficulties and pains of helping others live transformed lives.

Day 4
Devotional Reading: Galatians 4:21-31
Marked: vs.23-24a, 28, 30-31
Notes /Impressions:
  • Since some Jewish Christians kept emphasizing the unnecessary requirement of “becoming a Jew” or “becoming Abraham’s son” in order to be in Christ, Paul used for analogy the story of Isaac & Ishmael.
  • In this analogy, distinction is made between Legalism (Ishmael) and Liberty in Christ (Isaac).
  • Liberty in Christ is becoming acceptable to God (saved) by grace thru faith.
  • Legalism is the belief that we become acceptable to God through our good works and our observance of certain rules & regulations that are either man-made or misapplications of biblical laws.
Lesson(s) Learned:    
  • Both faith and works cannot be the basis of one’s salvation (Rom.11:6). Works only prove the genuineness of one’s faith (James 2), not add to it to become acceptable to God.
  • Rules, regulations, and traditions that are either man-made or misapplications of biblical laws & beliefs are what Legalists use to impose unnecessary requirements (not necessarily referring to salvation) upon Christians.
  • No amount of following rules, regulations, and traditions that are either man-made or misapplications of Christian beliefs, can ever earn us God’s favor.
  • It is always good to reexamine the biblical basis (or the lack of it) for our practices & beliefs, lest we be found unnecessarily burdened.
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