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Sons of God February 20, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Galatians 3:26-4:7.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Galatians that they are God’s children through their faith in Jesus Christ. This stems from the fact that when they are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they put on Christ and His righteousness. Now the following categories are nothing in Christ:

  • the law
  • the wisdom and righteousness of the Gentiles
  • servants
  • masters
  • men who govern their families
  • women who look after their households

since in Christ there is neither law nor difference of persons. It follows that those who:

  • have faith in Jesus Christ
  • are baptized in the Holy Spirit

are the children of Abraham and have the eternal inheritance from the promise that God gave to him.

Paul then reminds the Galatians of the following analogy: before an heir comes to maturity, his guardians make him subject to them. Now before the incarnation of Christ, the law of God made the Galatians subject to it. Yet at the incarnation of Christ, God sent Him, who was:

  • born of a virgin
  • subject to the law

in order to set them free from the law of God, that they might receive the inheritance of everlasting life. Now since they are the children of God, He has given them the Holy Spirit – who constantly reminds them of their new Father – to dwell in them. Paul concludes by asserting that since the Galatians are no longer subject to the tyranny of God’s law, they have been adopted by Him; moreover, since they have been adopted by God, He gives them eternal gifts including righteousness and everlasting life.

Thoughts: Verses 4 and 5 show that God sent His Son, who was born under the law, to free mankind, since men were enslaved to the law. Luther offers some insights in his commentary:

Thus Paul speaks everywhere of this marvelous combat between Christ and the law; and to make matters clearer, he describes the law as being like a mighty person who had condemned and killed Christ, and whom Christ, overcoming death, had conquered, condemned, and killed.

This quote indicates that Christ engaged in a struggle with the law that had eternal consequences, with the lives of all men hanging in the balance. Now one could find fault with Luther’s commentary by reasoning as follows: if Christ is truly God in the flesh, then He cannot sin. In that case, was Christ truly struggling with the law, since it would have been impossible for Him to lose that contest? It would seem that for a genuine struggle, there should be a non-zero probability of Christ’s defeat. Ravi Zacharias has spoken on the related topic of Christ’s temptation by Satan in the desert. He argues that since Christ cannot sin, His temptation was really for our benefit in that it furnishes us with strategies for winning a struggle where we have a non-zero probability of losing. So perhaps the “combat between Christ and the law” is really for our benefit; it encourages us in our “combat” with the law. As long as we trust in Christ, we will eventually be victorious.

Verses 6 and 7 show that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who have faith in Jesus Christ as the One who is referenced in His promise to Abraham. Luther offers some interesting thoughts in his commentary on verse 6:

Thus the mind is raised up in times of terror; it looks to its Saviour and bishop, Jesus Christ; it overcomes the weakness of the flesh; it is comforted again and says, “Abba, Father.” Paul calls this groaning the crying of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit stirs it up in our hearts when we are weak and oppressed with fear and temptation.

This reminds me of my post on Mother Teresa and her “crisis of faith” at the end of her life. Was Mother Teresa “weak and oppressed with fear and temptation” during that time? If so, how did the Holy Spirit in her not cry out to God the Father – reassuring her of her right standing before Him? Was her professed faith in Jesus Christ actually a fabrication? Perhaps Luther is oversimplifying matters in this case; in certain situations, God may choose to conceal Himself from us even “when we are weak and oppressed with fear and temptation” in order to test us. Perhaps Mother Teresa served the Lord so faithfully that He gave her an extraordinary test of her faith, wanting to see if she would still hold to Him. We can only hope that in the end, she passed this test and held to God as her Lord and Savior even though she did not feel His presence in her life.

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