Galatians 4:8-11 Freedom from fear and self-centred desires ensures continual blessings

Galatians 4:8-11 Freedom from fear and self-centred desires ensures continual blessings

8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

Background

The Galatian believers, having been liberated from slavery to fear and paganism is about to be enslaved to the elemental things through the Mosaic law. Although paganism and the Mosaic law have different origins, both result in the loss of sonship and inheritance in Christ. Paul makes the connection between fleshly desires and the Mosaic law in 5:18-19. While fear is expressed through paganism, self-centred desires is expressed through the Mosaic law. As believers are made sons, heirs and masters of the world through Christ, they must not be enslaved again by fear or self-centred desires… but to master them to serve God. Today’s devotion teaches: Freedom from fear and self-centred desires ensures continual blessings.

Observation

However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.

Having established the Galatian believers on their new found stature and identity as sons and heirs of God, Paul addresses them directly by reminding them of what they were formerly. Indeed, they were formerly estranged from God, being enslaved to what the pagans think to be gods but are in reality inferior demonic entities (by nature are no gods).

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…

Here, “to know God” means to come “to experience God”, to acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour. And subsequently, to be adopted as sons of God (known by God) having received His Spirit. Paul poses a question: having established with God a Father-Son relationship and in becoming an heir of His kingdom, how is it possible for them to return to slavery. Paul meant “the weak and worthless elemental things” as the fundamental principles or rudimentary teachings of such earthly subjects as music, physics, biology, economics, sociology etc. Such are basic principles that govern the physical world and are considered sacrosanct. A more comprehensive treatment of the “the elemental things of the world” is found in the previous article (Galatians 4:1-7). Paul, in calling “the elemental things of the world” also has the Mosaic law in mind (4:3-4). And Paul makes the connection between the deeds of the flesh and the law in 5:18-19a, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality…”

Although the pre-Christian beliefs of Jews and Gentiles were technically different, Paul unequivocally refers to all as being enslaved. By committing to the Mosaic law observance, the Galatian Christians would be reverting to a pre-Christian state comparable to pagan worship (all over again). Although paganism and the Mosaic law have different origins, both result in the loss of their sonship and inheritance in Christ.

The Galatian Christians believe by observing the Mosaic law will guarantee them a path to perfection and blessedness without the rigours of sanctification. But such a move will only enslave them to sin and fleshly desires. For what the Galatians supposed as a step forward through Mosaic law is effectively a step backwards into the days of pagan worship and slavery. While fear is expressed through paganism, self-centred desires is expressed through the Mosaic law.

You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

“Days and months and seasons and years” refers to all kinds of celebrations of days and months observed by the Jews. Apparently, the Galatians have started observing the Mosaic law but short of committing to circumcision. Paul’s fear is rooted in the possibility of the Galatian believers descending into complacency and self-centred desires. Here, Paul makes known his deepest fears while hoping to see the Galatian believers continue on the path of salvation.

Truth

Freedom from fear and self-centred desires ensures continual blessings

The Galatians were former pagans driven by fear to submit to inferior demonic entities. Their faith in Christ brought them freedom as they rise above the elemental things of the world. Ever since their conversion, the Galatian believers have experienced miracles through the Spirit and the good life so much so Paul became utterly perplexed at their sudden departure from faith. Apparently, the good life that came through faith in Christ did not cause them to continue in it. They regressed into the practice of Mosaic law to be enslaved once again. This time, not by fear, but by self-centred desires.

The Galatian believers’ behaviour was caused in part by the influence of Judaizers who use scripture to their advantage. The Galatians were enticed by the path to blessedness that frees them to pursue their self-centred desires. Indeed, it is easier to follow rituals than to love God and serve others. Faith breeds love towards God and service towards others, but Mosaic law breeds self-centred desires.

By observation, most believers come to Christ because of unmet needs and the fear of retribution. But once, they experience divine peace and a radical improvement in the quality of life, they quickly regress into self-centredness… evident by the likes of King Solomon and the cycles of moral revival and decline in the book of Judges not to mention the kings of Israel. A new found relationship, a new job, a sudden financial windfall can either cause the believer to pursue Christ with greater fervour or to become self-serving. Many lost their passion for the things of God as the desire to build wealth, and personal significance becomes dominant.

Regrettably, what God meant as a blessing has become a curse! They were slaves of poverty, but having experienced prosperity, they were again enslaved by the very thing that made them rich. As we are made sons, heirs and masters of the world through Christ, we must not be enslaved again by fear or self-centred desires… but to master over them to serve God and God alone.

As long as believers maintain their supreme love for God, being careful not to be enslaved by anyone or any created thing, nothing can take away our blessing.

Application

Believers, as sons of God, heirs of the kingdom must never be enslaved to fear that detracts us from doing God’s will. Fear comes from the threat of imminent danger and our inability to subdue it. Therefore, we must master our fear of…

  • lack and poverty
  • oppression of men
  • the inability to perform
  • being abandoned
  • sickness
  • sudden disaster coming upon us and our loved ones
  • failure and oblivion
  • uncertainty

By virtue of the believers’ stature as sons and heirs of God, we have authority over the weak elemental things; the earthly paradigms of nature, biology, economics, and the demonic entities. Through the authority of Christ, we can subdue the negative forces and the earthly elements.

We, as sons must master our fleshly desires by loving God supremely. The fleshly desires as detailed in 1 John 2:15-16 are:

  • Lust of the flesh (alcohol, nicotine, pornography, fleshly entertainment etc)
  • Lust of the eyes, which is the desire to amass material wealth.
  • Pride of life, which is the desire to dominate others.

Resist their temptations by rebuking the spirits that work behind these vices in Jesus’s name.

Dear Lord, I thank you for liberating me from all kinds of fears and slavery to the elemental things of the world. I submit myself under your Lordship to love you and to serve others. As I subdue my desires under your Spirit, cause me to be transformed continually into your likeness. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


Comments

  1. Pastor, thank you for this excellent article. Praise God for enlightenment!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: