November 23, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

             

Chapter III.C.2: An Appeal from Allegory (4:21-31)

 

Galatians 4.21-31 (KJV)

 

The Historical Facts

21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

Perhaps the best way to understand this historical account is to go over briefly the biblical narrative of Abrahams experiences recorded in Genesis 12-21. We will trace the events which Paul is using as the basis for his argument for Christian liberty using his age as our point of reference.

Age 75—Abram is called by God and told to go to Canaan, and God makes him several promises, including the assurance that he will have many descendents (Ge. 12.1-9). Abraham’s wife Sarah is barren, but she and Abraham have been hoping and praying for children. Childlessness, particularly the failure to bear sons was a disgrace that caused sorrow in the home. God had not answered their prayers, because He was waiting until both of them were “as good as dead;” then he would perform the miracle of sending them a son (Rom. 4.16-25).

Age 85—Sarah seems to have given up hope, because the son God promised them had not yet arrived, and she was far past the age of for bearing children. Now this is shocking to us, she asks Abraham to marry her handmaid, Hagar, and to have a son by her; she would regret this later. This was a legal act in that ancient society; but it was not acceptable in God’s eyes. But Abraham did as she asked and married Hagar (Ge. 16.1-3).

Age 86—Hagar is soon pregnant, and, of course, Sarah becomes Jealous! There is friction and discontent within the household, which results in Sarah throwing Hagar out of the home. But the Lord intercedes on behalf of Hagar; He sends her back, and promises to take care of her and her son. The new son is born when Abraham is 86 and he calls him Ishmael (Ge 16.4-16).

Age 99—Once again the Lord speaks to Abraham and promises him that he will have a son by Sarah, and tells him to name the child Isaac. Later Got appears to Sarah and He reaffirms the promise He made to her as well (Ge. 17-18).

Age 100—The son of promise is born, and they name him Isaac (“laughter”), just as God had commanded. But, everything is not all happiness and joy in the home, because the arrival of the new child creates a new problem for this family—Ishmael has a rival. For fourteen years Ishmael had been the Abraham’s only son and Abraham loved and spoiled him. Ishmael views Isaac as a rival and his reaction to the new son threatens to split the home. The extraordinary thing in this Genesis story is that Sarah was over ninety years old when Isaac was born. 

Age 103—It was customary for the Jews to wean their children when they were around three years old, and they made it a big occasion. At the least, Ishmael begins to ridicule Isaac (Ge. 21.8), and to make trouble in the home. There is only one solution to the problem, and it’s one that will be painful for all concerned; Hagar and Ishmael must go. Abraham sends them away, because that is what the Lord tells him to do; but it breaks his heart (Ge. 21.9-14).

On the surface, this narrative seems to simply picture a family with a problem, which is nothing unusual for any age. But when you scratch the surface you can see what lies just below the surface; implications that carry tremendous spiritual power. Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael represent spiritual realities; and their relationships teach us some important lessons.

The story of Abraham and Hagar, and the birth of Ishmael after the flesh is not a mere incident in the history of Abraham, but is recorded to teach a far deeper, more profound lesson. It is this—Ishmael was born of the will of the flesh, and revealed Abraham’s terrible failure and weakness in trying to help God fulfil His promise to give him a son. Abraham had given up hope that Sarah would give birth to a seed. But God had promised to give Abraham a seed, and so Abraham seeks to help God keep his promise by producing a seed through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar—symbol of bondage, failure and doubt. This act of Abraham, says Paul, is illustrative of Man’s attempt to please God by the works of the Law. Hagar corresponds to the Law. Ishmael is representative of the works of the flesh.

The Galatian converts defined themselves as children of Abraham; but Paul reminds them that Abraham had two kinds of children, one by a handmaid (Hagar), and one by a freewoman (Sarah). Those who desire to live under the Law, says Paul, are children of Hagar, while those who live in Christ are children of Sarah. Hagar’s children go back to Sinai, while Sarah’s belong to the new covenant. These two women illustrate for him the old and new covenant. Even Abraham’s relationship with Sarah was different from his relationship with Hagar; therefore, only the children of the new covenant will be full heirs of their father Abraham. It would be shear tragedy for the Galatian believers to go back to Hagar and surrender to the Sinai covenant.

The Galatians had been talking about the Ten Commandments or some other legal system, but Paul said to them, “Tell me, you who want to be under the Law, are you not aware of what the law says?” They don’t know about the penalty imposed by the Law. They don’t present the Law in the full scope of its ministry of condemnation. If he were around today, he might have said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” It is true, the Galatians had not actually heard the Law. The giving of the Law was not cozy and beautiful, but terrifying. Notice what happened when God called Moses to Mount Sinai to give the Law: “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish” (Ex. 19.16-21).

God told the people to stand back, actually to stand afar off, when He gave Moses the Law. Exodus 20.18-19 says, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

We cannot conceive of how holy God is. God is high and holy and lifted up, and He dwells in glory. You and I are down here making mud pies in the world, because physically we are made out of mud. We creatures walk about here on earth and have the audacity to walk contrary to the will of God! The carnal mind is enmity against God. That is man’s position in the world.

Paul says, “Listen to the Law. You haven’t even heard it yet.” It was true. The Galatians had not actually heard the Law. The giving of the Law was not beautiful and cozy, but terrifying. The Galatians were wanting to be under the Law so Paul was going to let them hear it.

The Galatians had not yet submitted to the bondage of the Law but they desired to. Paul desperately wanted to stop them and turn them back to a life under grace.

 

The Spiritual Truths

24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

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

27 For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."

28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

Paul now explains the meanings that lie behind these historical events, but perhaps it would be best to begin with this chart which covers some wonderful spiritual truths about your salvation.

The Old Covenant

The New Covenant

Law

Grace

Hagar the slave

Sarah the freewoman

Ishmael conceived after the flesh

Isaac conceived miraculously

Earthly Jerusalem

Heavenly Jerusalem

In bondage

In freedom

Temporary

Permanent

When Paul says, “These things may be taken figuratively”, he doesn’t mean that the Genesis story is unhistorical myth, but he sees in it a religious meaning that ranges far beyond the literal history. The name given to this belief is “allegorical interpretation.” It is the belief that in addition to literal meaning of scripture, certain parts of it has a special “spiritual” significance besides its literal meaning. The theory is that the God who dictated it meant more than rests on the surface, and that while He said one thing, He also meant something else besides the literal sense. The Apostle Paul is using allegory in this passage by using the biblical history of this family to illustrate his point—that you cannot mix Law and grace.

Paul begins with the two sons, Ishmael and Isaac (vv. 22, 23) and he explains how they illustrate our two births; the physical birth whereby we are made sinners, and our spiritual birth that makes us children of God. I suggest that you think about this as you read Genesis 21.1-12).

Isaac illustrates the believer in several ways:

He was born by God’s power

God waited twenty-five years before he gave Abraham and Sarah the son He promised them. Isaac was “born after the Spirit” (Gal. 4.29), and, of course, the Christian is born “of the Spirit (John 3.1-7[i]). Isaac was born through Abraham (who represents faith, Gal. 3.9[ii]) and Sarah (who represents grace); so that he was born “by grace . . . through faith,” which is true of every Christian (Eph. 2.8, 9[iii]).

He brought joy.

His name means “laughter”, and he certainly brought joy to his aging parents. Salvation is a joyous experience, not only for the believer, but also for those around him.

He grew and was weaned (Ge. 21.8).

Salvation is the beginning, not the ending. After we are born (and after we are born again) we must grow (1 Pe. 2.2[iv]; 2 Pe. 3.18[v]). Along with maturity comes weaning, when we must put away “childish things” (1 Cor. 13.11[vi]). It is so ease for us to hold on to the “toys” of our earlier Christian days and fail to take hold of the “tools” of the mature believer. For the child, being weaned is not an enjoyable experience, but unless it happens he can never become a man. (Read Ps. 132 at this point).

He is persecuted (Ge. 21.9).

Ishmael caused problems for Isaac, just as our old nature causes problems for us. (Paul will discuss this in detail in Gal. 5.16.) Ishmael did not begin to cause problems in the home until Isaac was born, just as the old nature does not cause us problems until we take Jesus as our Savior and receive our new nature. We see the same conflicts in Abraham’s home that we see in our homes today:

Hagar verses Sarah

Law verses grace

Ishmael verses Isaac

Flesh verses Spirit

The animosity between Ishmael and Isaac has been perpetuated in the two peoples which descended from the two sons of Abraham and is seen in the current Arab-Israel tensions.

We must recognize that it is not possible to separate these four features. The Judaizers taught that that the Law made the believer more spiritual, but Paul makes it clear that what the Law actually does is release the opposition of the flesh, which creates conflict within the believer (Rom. 7.19[vii]). There was no law strong enough to either change or control Ishmael, but Isaac never needed any law. Someone said, I don’t know who, “The old nature knows no law and the new nature needs no law.”

Paul now moves from explaining the significance of the two sons to an explanation of the two wives, Sarah and Hagar. He is using these two women to illustrate the differences between Law and grace and to prove that the believer is not under Law but is under the loving freedom that comes from God’s grace. Paul will present some facts about Hagar that prove that the Law no longer has power over the Christian.

Hagar was Abraham’s second wife.

God began with Sarah, not Hagar.

As far as God’s dealings with men are concerned, He began with grace. In Eden, God provided for Adam and Eve by grace. After they sinned, He still dealt with them in grace by providing them with coats made from animal skins (Ge. 3.21[viii]). He did not give them rules and regulations to obey; instead He gave them a gracious promise to believe; the promise of a victorious Redeemer who would “crush” the head of Satan (Ge. 3.15[ix])

In his dealings with the nation of Israel, God also first dealt with them in grace, not Law. The covenant He made with Abraham was also an act of grace, since Abraham was in a deep sleep when the covenant was instituted. When God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage it was all of grace, because the Law was not given until later on. The Law was “added,” (Gal. 3.19[x]) like Hagar, Abraham’s second wife. Hagar performed a function temporarily, and then she moved off the scene, just like the Law was taken away after it served its purpose (Gal. 3.24, 25[xi]).

Hagar was a slave.

Hagar is called “bondmaid” or “bondwoman” five times in this section (Gal. 4.22, 23, 30, 31). Sarah was a freewoman, and therefore she enjoyed the blessing of liberty; but Hagar was still a servant, even though she was Abraham’s wife. Likewise the Law was given to be a servant (Gal. 3.19X). It was a mirror to reveal men’s sins (Rom. 3.20[xii]) and as a monitor to control men and finally to lead them to faith in Christ (Gal 3.23-25XI); but the Law was never meant to be a mother.

Hagar was not meant to bear a child.

God did not approve Abraham’s marriage to Hagar; it resulted from Abraham’s and Sarah’s unbelief. Hagar was trying to do what only Sarah could do, and it failed. The Law cannot give life (Gal. 3.21[xiii]), or the gift of the Spirit (Gal. 3.2[xiv]), or a special inheritance (Gal. 3.18[xv]). The Judaizers were trying to make Hagar a mother again, while Paul was struggling to show his converts that they ought to be more like Christ. No amount of religion or no number of rules and regulations can give a dead sinner life. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that through the Gospel.

Hagar gave birth to a slave.

Ishmael was a “wild man” (Ge. 16.12[xvi]), and even though he was a slave nobody could control him, not even his mother or his father Abraham. Like Ishmael, the old nature (the flesh) is at war with God, and the Law cannot change or control it. Galatians 5.17 tells us that by nature, the Spirit and the flesh are “contrary one to the other,” and no amount of religion is going to change that. Whoever chooses Hagar (Law) for his mother is going to experience bondage (Gal. 4.8-11, 22-25, 30, 31; 5.1). But whoever chooses Sarah (grace) for his mother is going to enjoy liberty in Christ. God wants His children to be free (Gal. 5.1[xvii]).

Hagar was cast out.

It was Sarah who gave the order: "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac" (Ge. 21.9, 10), and God subsequently approved it (Ge. 21.12[xviii]). Ishmael had been in the home for at least seventeen years, but his stay was not meant to be permanent, and eventually he had to be “cast out.” There was not room in the home for Hagar and Ishmael and Sarah and Isaac; someone had to go.

It is impossible for Law and Grace, the flesh and the Spirit, to compromise and live together under the same roof. God did not allow Hagar and Ishmael to make occasional visits to the home, because the break was permanent. The Judaizers in Paul’s day—and in our day as well—are trying to reconcile Sarah and Hagar, and Isaac and Ishmael; however, such a reconciliation is contrary to the Word of God. It is impossible to mix Law with grace, and works with faith, and God’s gift of righteousness with man’s attempts to earn righteousness.

Hagar was not married again.

God never gave the Law to any other nation other than Israel, nor did He give it to His church. By attempting to impose the Law on the Galatian Christians, the Judaizers were opposing the very plan of God. In Paul’s day, the nation of Israel was under the Law, while the church was enjoying liberty under the gracious rule of the “Jerusalem which is above” (v. 26). Once Jerusalem was the proud capital of Palestine, the seat of the mighty king David the envy of the world in the days of Solomon! The Jerusalem of Paul’s day was a very unholy “Holy City.” It was full of injustice, violence, and murder, and subject to the cruel and wicked rulers imposed upon them by the Roman Empire. But over against this Jerusalem of slavery lay an ideal celestial city, which though unseen at present is destined to supersede it. Paul called it the “Jerusalem which is above”; the New Jerusalem which is presented to us in the twentieth chapter of Revelation as it comes down from God out of heaven. Paul speaks of Jerusalem above, because this new city already exists in heaven where Christ is, where the souls of those who have died in Christ abide. Its constitution is the new covenant, and its citizens are the men of faith in Christ, a new kind of freemen, who can trace their spiritual ancestry through the line of Isaac and his mother Sarah as heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. Just as old Jerusalem is the mother city of those under the Law, so the New Jerusalem is the mother city of the believer under grace. The believer neither then nor thereafter has any connection with legalism. The Judaizers wanted to wed Mt. Sinai and the heavenly Mt. Zion (Heb. 12.22[xix]), but doing this would have the effect of denying what Jesus did on Mt. Calvary (Gal. 2.21[xx]). Hagar was not to be married again.

From the human point of view it might seem cruel for God to command Abraham to send his son Ishmael away permanently, when he loved him so much. But it had to be done, because there was no way the “wild man” could live in close proximity to the “child of promise;” it was the only solution to the problem. But consider this: How much did it cost God to give His only begotten Son to bear the curse of the Law to set us free. Abraham’s broken heart meant Isaac’s liberty; God’s giving His Son meant our liberty in Christ.

 

The Practical Blessing

30 But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

We Christians are like Isaac in that we are children of the promise by grace. The covenant of grace, represented by Sarah is our spiritual mother. The Law and the old nature (represented by Hagar and Ishmael) want to persecute and put us into bondage. How are we going to solve this problem?

We can try to change them.

This is sure to fail, because we cannot change either the Law or the old nature. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3.6), and we might add, it will always be flesh. God did not try to change Hagar and Ishmael either by force or education; neither can you and I change the old nature or the Law.

We can try to compromise with them.

This did not work in Abraham’s home, and neither will it work in our lives. The Galatians were trying to create such a compromise, but their efforts were only gradually leading them deeper into bondage. False teachers tell us, “Don’t abandon Christ; simply move into a deeper Christian life by practicing the Law along with your faith in Christ.” Invite Hagar and Ishmael back home again. But this is a path back into slavery: “But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Gal. 4.9)

We can cast them out.

This is what we are supposed to do. First Paul applies this to the nation of Israel (Gal. 4.25-27); then he applies it to the individual Christian. The nation of Israel had been in bondage under the Law, but this was a temporary thing (at least it was meant to be), preparing them for the coming of Christ. Now that Christ had come, Law had to go. Jesus Christ, like Isaac, was a child of promise, born by the miraculous power of God. Once He had come and died for the people, the Law had to go.

Paul quotes Isaiah 54.1, applying it to Sarah, who was barren before the birth of Isaac; but he also applies it to the church (v. 27). Note the contrasts.

Israel

The Church

Earthly Jerusalem

Heavenly Jerusalem

Bondage

Freedom

Barren legalism

Fruitful grace

Sarah had been barren, and she tried to become fruitful by having Hagar marry Abraham. This failed and brought only trouble to the household. The Law cannot give life or fruitfulness; legalism is barren. For the early church to go back into bondage would mean barrenness and disobedience to the Word of God. Because it held fast to grace, the church spread across the world in fruitfulness.

But individual churches can make the same mistake the Galatians were making; they can fail to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Legalism is one of the main problems among Christians today. We must keep in mind that legalism does not mean the setting of spiritual standards; it means worshipping these standards and thinking we are spiritual because we obey them. It also means judging other believers on the basis of these standards. A person can refrain from smoking, drinking, and attending theatres, for example, and still not be spiritual. The Pharisees had exceptionally high standards, yet they crucified Jesus.

The church of the new covenant was despised as an upstart religion, rejected by those who preferred the old covenant as time-tested and safe, and belittled because it had few members, in comparison with other religions. The Judaizers claimed that Abraham had obeyed the Law of Moses by anticipation, and that God’s promise was his reward. Consequently the descendents of Isaac were children of promise only if they followed Abraham’s example of obeying the Law. Paul turned it around; the promise must be taken on faith, not as credit for being obedient.

The old nature loves legalism, because it gives the old nature a chance to “look good.” It costs very little for Ishmael not to do certain things, or to do certain religious deeds, just so long as he can remain Ishmael. For seventeen years Ishmael did not cause any trouble in the home; and then Isaac came along, and there was conflict. Legalism caters to Ishmael. The Christian who claims to be spiritual simply because he doesn’t do something, is only fooling himself. It takes more than negations to make a positive, fruitful spiritual life.

No doubt the Judaizers were attractive people. They carried credentials from religious authorities (2 Cor 3.1[xxi]). They held high standards and were careful of what they ate and drank. They were successful at making converts and liked to advertise their accomplishments (Gal. 4.17, 18[xxii]; 6.12-14[xxiii]). They had rules and standards to cover every area of life, making it easy for their followers to tell who was “spiritual” and who was not. But the Judaizers were leading the people into bondage and defeat, not liberty and victory, and the people did not know the difference.

The legalist hates the gospel of the free grace of God. They will insist that I also have to do something or seek something from another source—from the Holy Spirit, for instance, or go through some ceremony to receive something that I did not get when I accepted Jesus Christ. My friend, to say that, is the same as cursing Christ. If you have to add anything to what He did for you, then His death on the cross was in vain. Christ was made a curse for us; but if you don’t accept what He did for you, you are saying that you are not guilty, but that He is guilty.

In the closing chapters of this letter, Paul will point out the greatest tragedy of legalism; it gives opportunity for the flesh to work. The old nature cannot be controlled by Law; eventually it has to break out—and when it does, watch out! This explains why legalistic religious groups often have fights and divisions (“Ye fight and devour one another, Gal. 5.15), and are often plagued with defiling sins of the flesh (Gal. 5.19[xxiv]). While every church has its share of these problems, it is especially prominent in those groups where there is an atmosphere of legalism. When you invite Hagar and Ishmael to live with Sarah and Isaac, you are inviting trouble.

Thank God the Christian is set free from the curse of the Law and the control of the Law. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” It may hurt us deeply, as it did Abraham; but it must be done. To attempt to mix Law and grace is to attempt to do the impossible. It makes for a frustrated, barren Christian life. But to live by grace, through faith, gives one a free and fulfilling Christian life.

What is the secret? The Holy Spirit. And it is this secret Paul will share in the closing “practical” chapters of the letter. Meanwhile, you and I must be on guard in case Ishmael and Hagar should attempt to find the way back into our lives. If that happens—“Cast them out.” God commanded the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael (Ge. 21.10). Today God is saying to you and to me, “Get rid of your legalism. Put all the emphasis on Jesus Christ.”

Abraham could not have both the son of Hagar and the son of Sarah. He had to make a choice. Paul is saying you can’t be saved by Law and grace. You have to make a choice. If you try to be saved by Christ and also by the Law you are not saved.

Let me ask you, have you really trusted Christ, or are you carrying around with you something extra, that is, do you feel you are doing something, or being something or trying to attain to something which adds to what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross? If you do, forget it and look to Christ alone; receive everything from Him. He is our Savior. He is to receive all praise and glory.

 

Summary

We conclude along with Paul that “no man is justified by the Law in the sight of God” (Gal. 3.11).

Failure to save is not the fault of the Law. The inability of the Law to justify a sinner is not a sign of the Law’s failure or weakness. The Law cannot, nor is it expected to save a sinner. That was not the purpose of the Law. God gave the Law to PROVE that man could not be saved by LAW WORKS, so that it might convince mankind of the need of the grace of God, and to get them ready to accept the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The Law is perfect; that is why imperfect man cannot keep it. The Law is holy; that is why sinners are condemned by it. The Law is just, and therefore cannot show mercy to the guilty, because that would be a violation of its justness and justice. The perfect Law can only show the nature of sin. The Law condemns and says, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3.10).

We serve God now, because we are under grace, and Paul says in Romans 12.1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”


Endnotes


[i] Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

[ii] So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

[iii] For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

[iv] Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

[v] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

[vi] When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

[vii] For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.

[viii] The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

[ix] And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

[x] What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

[xi] So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

[xii] A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

[xiii] Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

[xiv] I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

[xv] For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

[xvi] He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."

[xvii] It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

[xviii] But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

[xix] But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,

[xx] I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

[xxi] Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

[xxii] Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

[xxiii] Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

[xxiv] The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

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