Wednesday, 20 April 2016
But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? Galatians 4:9
In response to his previous statement, Paul now directly questions the Galatians. The word, “But” implies a contrast. They did not know God, and at that time they “served those which by nature are not gods.” In contrast to this state, he says, “But now after you have known God…” The word for “known” is not the same as in the previous verse. Instead of ignorance, they have now obtained knowledge concerning God.
And yet, to qualify the thought, he says, “…or rather are known by God.” God has testified that He knows those who are His. This sentiment is exactingly described by Paul later in his second letter to Timothy –
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'” 2 Timothy 2:19
Paul’s qualification of his first words are because it is God who “has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into” their hearts. God has known them and testified to the fact that they are His by the giving of the Spirit. Because of this, they have moved from bondage to freedom. Now, to show the utterly absurd nature of what they are doing by accepting the premise of the Judaizers and inserting the law into their lives, he asks, “How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements…?”
Paul is incredulous that they would give up on the marvel of being reconciled to God through the grace of Jesus Christ and turn back to the law. The law couldn’t save a single Jew in all of their history. It only showed them how sinful their sin was and that they needed something else. Paul spoke of the dilemma of being under the law in Romans 7 –
“For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
It is this type of dilemma that caused Paul to call the law and its accompanying precepts “weak and beggarly elements.” It was ineffective in bringing salvation. In fact, even if someone delighted in the law, all it could do was make them miserable. Further, the more they delighted in it, the more misery it would produce! But, Paul notes to them that by turning to the law, it appeared that they “desire again to be in bondage?”
Wasn’t freedom in Christ enough? Wasn’t the reception of the Spirit sufficient? Did you find bondage that wonderful? Paul is stunned at the situation! If he were alive today, he would continue to be stunned. This pernicious infection is still seen in God’s people in one form or another 2000 years later. Countless souls have said, “Christ’s work isn’t enough!” In so doing, they disgrace that great and exalted Name.
Life application: The law is annulled; Christ has come and fulfilled it. Trust in Christ, and in Christ alone for your salvation.
Today is the day that You have ordained for us. Whatever happens, O God, help us to consider that You placed us here at this moment in time for Your own sovereign reasons. No matter what happens, help us to remember this and to accept everything that comes our way as a gift from You. Even if difficulty or sadness arises, help us to see Your hand of instruction in it. Nothing happens apart from Your will and so surely we can trust that the day will come out exactly as it should. Thank You for this wonderful assurance! Amen.