Please read Galatians 4:8 to 5:12
Galatians was written in the late 40’s, probably 48-49 A.D. The gospels had not been written yet, nor any of the other Pauline letters. It is a defense of the gospel. As we have clearly seen, Paul was trying to show that salvation and eternal life cannot be earned in any way; it is free to those who discover they have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can keep all the laws of the Old Testament, or even the Ten Commandments which Jesus applied to our hearts and thoughts. Paul showed how futile it was to expect any act or ritual to be complete or good enough to earn us the right to be in a relationship with God. He used both their experiences as pagans, (worshiping the gods of their imagination and participating in astrology), and the biblical example of the Old Testament laws to show the futility of ritual or rules providing salvation. This letter is a defense of the good news that God has all along had a purpose and plan for our salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection and what these accomplished. He wanted them to stand firmly on this promise and hope.
To make sure they understood this, he used the Old Testament story of Abraham’s extra-marital sex with Hagar, an Egyptian slave Sarah. Sarah was old and barren. God had promised her a child, but after years of waiting, she decided she’d better add something to that promise. She urged her husband to have an affair with Hagar. A child was born who ended up being thrown out of the family and sent out into the Sinai desert. Paul used this story as an allegory to show that if Sarah had stood firmly on the promises made to her and Abraham this tragedy need not have occurred. Sarah, like us, was free to trust in the promises. He urged them to remember this story which showed the consequences of not trusting in God’s grace. Resentment led to persecution which led to Hagar’s exile and later international strife. If only Sarah had just kept on believing in God’s promise to her. Paul was so worried about the consequences to them if they thought circumcisim should be added to their faith that he got quite emotional. “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” he said (Gal. 5:12). For their own good, he wanted the people in this church to stand firmly on the promise of salvation through faith alone.
“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
…For you were called to freedom, brothers” (Galatians 4:31-5:1; 5:13).
There was an old hymn we sang when I was a child. It had a catchy tune so I loved pounding it out on the piano. The words might stir up your heart to love these promises of life, righteousness, freedom, grace, and hope. It is easier to stand firmly when there is a song in your heart.
“Standing on the promises of Christ my King, Thro’ eternal ages let His praises ring;Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promies of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s Sword, Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I cannot fall, Listening every moment to the spirit’s call,
Resting in my Saviour as my all in all, Standing on the promises of God.” (R. Kelso Carter, 1849-1928)