Transformed by Faith - Galatians 4:8-20

Transformed by Faith

While growing up, my family had certain traditions at Christmas. These were consistent almost every year. I got comfortable with them, and after I met my wife, we started our own Christmas traditions. These were influenced by our prior traditions with our own families. Now that we have kids, our traditions have transformed into something new.

This vignette may not ultimately tie into this section of Scripture, but the point is that we have traditions that we are exposed to growing up. Sometimes traditions can get in the way of the truth. But what happens when we are given something free and full of grace, and then we revert to our old ways of legalism? Knowing how great our God is, why would anyone want to return to the bondage of sin?

Galatians 4:8-20
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Why would anyone, who is already transformed by faith in Christ, revert to their sinful ways? We know the truth and know that Christ is what sets us free. The Galatians knew that Christ freed them from bondage, but Paul states that they have returned to the ‘elementary’ ways of the world. We are human and sinful by nature. It is easy to get distracted by the pleasures of the world. Paul says that these are worthless. In the grand scheme of things, everything is temporary except the love and grace of Christ.

Many different churches get caught up in the legalism of Christianity. There are added requirements that take away from the simple truth about Christ. There should be no legalism because the only requirement is faith and submission.
Next, Paul points out how we should accept other Christians. During Pauls's first missionary journey to the churches in South Galatia, he had some affliction, illness, or ailment that may have made his physical appearance repulsive. There is some speculation on what that is. However, the purpose is that Paul commends the Galatians for receiving him in his condition. He says that they would have plucked out their eyes for him. Would we do this for someone else?

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Christ tells us to come as we are. Christ receives us in whatever damaged condition that we present to him as. Christ commands us to love one another as we love ourselves, so we are to love others and receive them no matter what condition they are in. Everyone goes through different trials and experiences. We are all sinners, but we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

So, keep focused on what God is presenting to you in your hearts. Don’t revert to the old ways of sin. We know better, and the Holy Spirit guides our hearts toward God's will. We are transformed by faith in Christ. There are no legalistic requirements that provide us salvation. We need to be vigilant and remain faithful to the sound doctrine of the Gospel. Some false teachers may try to pluck us up through their ‘cloak of love.’ Their message may sound good and make us feel good, but we must be aware. The only way to know for sure is to ensure we dig further into God’s Word. That is where we find the truth. We are redeemed by faith.

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