Children of Promise - Galatians 4:21-31

Being a Child of Promise

What would you do if you were promised to have a child that through him, would be the gate to amazing things that could change the world? How long would you wait for this promise to take place, even knowing that you are barren and unable to have children? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? 

Just imagine waiting for the promised child for 25 years. The patience and faith in God must have been difficult…and it was for Sarah and Abraham while waiting for Isaac to be born. 

Galatians 4:21-31
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. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Paul paints a picture of salvation and the separation between being led by the spirit and being led by the flesh. Those who are under the law or those who are under God’s grace. 

Which child of Abraham are we? Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. One was born of the flesh and one was born by blessing and promise. Paul tries to relate the legalism within the Galatian church through another illustration. Hagar was a slave, or servant, who Abraham married and had a son, Ishmael. Abraham did not trust and wanted to force the will of God by acting in the flesh. Abraham heard the will of God, but Sarah was impatient and they tried to force the will of God. 

Sarah on the otherhand was free. Paul states that the law is the flesh and the slave, and pleads his case for us to not be children of the flesh. When things aren’t going our way, we can’t compromise with the will of God so that we have a better outcome. Sarah was barren inter her elderly age. It wasn’t Abraham who allowed her to bear a child again. God allowed it to happen because it was part of His will for them. It was part of the promise given to Abraham and Sarah. 

Paul is trying to emphasize and hit home the point of grace. The Galatian church is backsliding and trying to compromise with the ways of the. It is much simpler than we try to make it. Paul says that we need to cast out the persecution, the mother and son. Ishmael persecuted Isaac, the promised child, while they were growing up. By the time Sarah had Isaac, Ishmael had been around for about 14 years. Paul says that Isaac was born according to the Spirit and was persecuted for this. The only way to get rid of the legalism and flesh in our lives is to toss it out and get rid of it. Turn from our fleshly ways and put sin behind us. Because we are children of the promise and born into liberty. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us, if we let Him have room to work. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, the more discipline we obtain. We are no longer living according to our fleshly will but according to the divine will of God. Why does it matter? Because we ARE the promised children of God. We are His sons and daughter to are able to inherit the kingdom of heaven through God’s grace, and it is by His grace alone.

There is so much more than rules, rituals, and requirements set by man. We are children of God and He makes salvation so much simpler than we try to make it. Paul uses the reference of Hagar and Ishmael to point out that they are of the flesh and we can’t let the fleshly desires creep back into our hearts. The more we allow, the more the gates open. So, let us guard our hearts and remain faithful to the true grace of God.
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