Read Galatians 4:1-11
1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But 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? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (NIV)
Paul continues his argument about the law and grace. Here he moves to the example of a child. In Jewish, when a child reached the age of 12, there was a ceremony at the synagogue/temple where the child and father were brought forth for a ceremony marking this transition in the life of the child. From that that point forward, the child was no longer treated as a child, but an adult. In the Greek culture, this definitive transition from child to adult happened between the ages of 18 and 20. Up to the age of 18, the child was the responsibility of the father. At 18, the child entered into one of the training of one of the 10 “phratriai” or clans the Greeks were divided into. This was a period of serving the government for two years. At the end of the two years, child was now treated as an adult. The Romans had a ceremony that happened between the age of 14 and 17. At this ceremony, the boys offered a ball and the girls offered their doll. They were then treated as adults.
Paul used this very known tradition to make his point about the law and grace. Paul uses the time of demarcation as the birth of Christ. He notes this parent condition because in our hearts, we cry out to God as “Abba, Father.” When Christ came, we transitioned from slave to son and daughter. It was at this point that we stopped being under the law and are now under grace. Being able to transition from living unto the law and living under grace is seen as the maturing of the believer into an adult believer as opposed to a child believer.
In verse 8, Paul continues his argument that following the law is part of the elementary phase of life. It is all a child knows. His argument is that before they had heard of Christ, they were subject to the rules of the so called Greek gods. Some believe that Paul is reference that the Greeks believed that what star you were born under dictated your life and those born under the wrong star sign were always under fear of what would happen to them. He asks, why are you turning back to this fear and enslavement you have escaped from in Christ.
This is a big point for us today. How do we live in Grace? What does it look like to live in God’s grace? Are we still trying to prove our worth to God so that he will love us? Too many people are suffering today because they simply will not accept God’s total unconditional love. That love can be overwhelming, but it is available to you every day. Yes, we plan and worry at a certain level because it is prudent to think about the reality of the world. But we do not allow that worry about tomorrow to consume out today. God wants you to live freely and abundantly. We are constrained by the fallenness of the world. But in Christ, we can have the best life possible.
Where do you see this making a difference in your life? Does Christ love help you get through this life on firmer ground?