Pastor John Miller continues our study through the book of Galatians with a message through Galatians 4:21-31 titled, “Who’s Your Mother?”
4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar-- 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-- 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband." 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Beginning in Galatians 4:21, Paul says, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid,” or slave woman, “the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written,” he’s quoting from Isaiah 54:1, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
I read the whole passage, as I commonly do, but I read it purposely tonight because I’m sure as we read that (and I know I’m reading from the King James translation which many of you think is quite archaic and, “Why do you do that?” The answer is because I’ve read it all my life and I know it, quote it, and it’s stuck in my brain; so I’m just staying with it, so pray for me) section, I’m sure you thought, What in the world is going on? This is one of the hardest sections to interpret and apply in many ways in the entire epistle to the Galatians. The reason is that you need an Old Testament knowledge—you need to understand the history of your Old Testament. Secondly, you need not only to know your Old Testament, you need to understand the two covenants: the old covenant and the new covenant. Without that background and knowledge, it’s going to be kind of a confusing passage and hard to understand.
We know that our Bible has two covenants because we have the Old Testament, right, which means covenant; and we have the New Testament, which is the new covenant. This is an interesting passage by which Paul is concluding the two chapters (chapters 3 and 4) on his doctrinal presentation that we are saved by grace, in faith alone, in Christ alone.
The reason Paul wrote Galatians, and this is one of those books that has one purpose and reason for which Paul wrote, is there were a group of churches in the area of Galatia, modern Turkey, that Paul had founded on his missionary journeys. After Paul left them, false teachers had come into these churches from Jerusalem, they were basically Jews that were not true believers, telling the Gentile Christians in this area of Galatia, “You’re not really saved.” You can imagine what a shock that must have been. “We came from Jerusalem. We came from the mother church, and we’re Jews. We want to inform you, Gentiles, that you’re not really saved unless…”
Be careful when people tell you you’re not saved unless you’ve been baptized or unless you have worn certain kinds of clothes or you follow dietary laws or worship on a certain day. Be careful when people add anything to simply faith in Christ alone. The Bible teaches by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They were adding to the gospel, which Paul says is no gospel, and teaching a false gospel and that they should be anathema, that is, cursed to the lowest hell. Paul took this very seriously. They were Jews telling Gentiles, “You’re not really saved unless you become Jews.” On the top of their list for them to become Jewish was the rite of circumcision and then the keeping of the Mosaic law with all of its dietary laws, rites, and rituals—you have to become Jewish in order to be saved. This was a very very important issue. As a matter of fact, in Acts 15, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem gathered to determine what the Gentiles’ relationship would be to the law of Moses. They determined that they are not under the law, that they should just abstain from things strangled and from sexual immorality; and if they do that, they do well. I don’t know why it was a problem in Galatia, but false teachers always dogged Paul’s path and were trying to undermine the preaching of the true gospel.
Listen to me very carefully. This hasn’t changed. There are still those today that say, “Faith in Jesus is not enough. You have to follow the laws and rules, dietary regulations, worship on special days, and do all of these rites and rituals. You have to work in order to be saved.” They preach a gospel that is no gospel at all. It’s basically you save yourself. It’s a combination of grace and works, which is not really the grace of God at all. The Bible makes it clear, and we get it tonight in our passage, it’s either all of grace or it’s all of works. Works can never save you. Paul is writing to them about salvation as a free gift of God’s grace.
Paul does this in three ways as he argues tonight. I want you to see it. First, he gives a historical or scriptural argument in verses 21-23, then gives an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures and the history that he give us in verses 24-27. Thirdly, he gives a personal application or you might say exhortation in verses 28-31. Let’s look together first of all at the historical argument of Paul in verses 21-23. He starts in verse 21 and says, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law,” this is exactly what the false teachers were doing, and they were promoting to the believers in Galatia, “You need to live under the law.” Paul says, “Tell me this,” and Paul was kind of demanding an answer from them. He was challenging them, “Those of you that desire to be under the law,” it says in the King James Bible. The word “the” is not in the Greek translation, so actually he’s just saying, “You’re wanting to be under law,” which indicates the general concept of legalism.
God doesn’t want us under legalism. He doesn’t want us to live in license. He wants us to walk in liberty, Galatians 5:1, where Christ has made us free. Paul is challenging the false teachers, and he’s challenging those, notice it, “…that desire to be,” the Gentiles believers who were beginning to be influenced, like, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe these Judaizers are right. Maybe Jesus isn’t enough.” Paul knew that the gospel was at stake, and so he says, “You’re desiring…,” he calls them brothers several places in this passage and in other parts of the book, so they were saved. These Gentile believers were saved, but they were in danger of going back to legalism, verse 21. Then, Paul says to them, “do ye not hear the law?” He says, “You that desire to be under law,” in a general concept of legalism, “do ye not hear,” this time he uses the word “the law.”
When Paul uses that term “the law,” he is specifically speaking of the first five books of the Bible. It’s called the Pentateuch. All five books were written by Moses, so they were classified as “the law.” There are references to the entire Old Testament as being called the law, but generally it was split up as the law and the prophets. We’re going to be drawing in our history section here, verses 21-23, from the book of Genesis and primarily from Genesis 16 and 21. I don’t want you to turn there right now, I’m just going to relate it from the text in Galatians. If you want to make a note there, Genesis 16 and 21. As a matter of fact, you can back up to Genesis 13 and read all the way to Genesis 22 and get the whole story so that you understand the background to what we’re reading here tonight.
Basically, what Paul is doing in verse 21 is challenging them. Paul meets them on their own ground, “I’m going to beat you at your own game. You want to be under the law, then listen to what the law has to say.” He’s going to use the law to show them they should not be under the law. This is pretty cool. He uses the law, which they were promoting, to say, “You shouldn’t be under the law, that the law should be cast out.” He meets them on their own grounds.
Paul’s argument starts in verse 22. He says, “For it is written,” he’s quoting from the Old Testament, Genesis 16 and 21. It may not be a specific verse, but there are two places in those chapters that he’s drawing this concept. He’s says, “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.” Why would he go back to Abraham? And, the answer is, for the Judaizers, who could be more important than Abraham? The minute Paul mentions Abraham, he gets their attention. He’s going to use the law to show them we’re not under the law, that the old covenant is to be fading out and the new covenant is being established by God, so he goes back to Abraham.
Now, the Jews believed that because they were physically, literally Abraham’s lineage, they were going to heaven. Do you know what the Jews basically believe? They believe that Abraham stood at the gate of heaven and turned away Gentiles and welcomed in Jews. The Jews actually believe that the only reason Gentiles were even created is that they were going to be fuel for the fires of hell—isn’t that awesome. So, “God only made you to keep hell burning,” if you’re a Gentile, that is. The rift between Jew and Gentile was extremely great in those days, so you can see why they had a hard time believing that these Gentiles could be saved without becoming Jews.
It’s interesting. When John the Baptist was preaching and the religious leaders came down to hear him preach, he called them a generation of vipers and told them to repent. He said to them, “Don’t say you have Abraham as your father, for God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones,” I love that! Even Jesus actually challenged the Jews that thought, We be Abraham’s seed. We’re never in bondage to any man, and He challenged them, “If you were Abraham’s seed, then you would hear My Words and keep My commands.” The Jews thought that just by being Jewish by their lineage, by their race, that they would go to heaven.
Paul points out that Abraham had two sons. Now, Abraham had two sons by two different women: one, his wife Sarah, and the other by his slave maid, Hagar. That’s the reference there, “…by a bondmaid,” is a reference to Hagar, and “the other by a freewoman,” was his wife, Sarah, which means princess. God promised Abraham a child, and the child came eventually by promise to Sarah, who would be Isaac. The two sons, if you’re taking notes, are Ishmael, who was born first; and then was born Isaac, probably about 13-14 years after Ishmael was born then Isaac came on the scene.
Verse 23, “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh,” that is, Ishmael with Hagar, “but he of the freewoman,” that child, that is, Isaac, “was by promise.” Just to relate the story real quickly, you know that God called Abraham from a pagan area called Ur of the Chaldees, which is in the Mesopotamian valley there where Babylon would be. Actually, there wasn’t an officially Jewish race at that time. Abraham was the first Jew. Think about the grace of God coming to Abraham when he was living in a place where they worshiped the sun, the moon, the stars, and all these pagan gods, and God actually revealed Himself to Abraham and called Abraham to leave his father, his mother, and his family, and to journey into a land that God would show him. By faith, Abraham followed God’s leading and comes to the promised land, to make a long story short. After being there for quite some time, Abraham is getting discouraged because Sarah is still barren, they’re getting up in years, and he has no children to give his inheritance to. “God, You give me all this territory, but who do I give it to? I have no child.”
Remember, God actually told Abraham, “You’re going to have a son, and your seed will be as many as the stars in the heavens and the sand upon the seashores.” That’s where Abraham believed God, and God imputed to Abraham righteousness. But he waited and waited and waited. When Abraham was actually 75 years old, God had not given Abraham a child. Abraham waited another ten years, and Sarah finally got impatient and said, “Look, this just ain’t gonna happen.” Abraham was ten years older than Sarah. So it started when Abraham was 75, and Sarah was 65, I’m getting tired already thinking about it, and, “You’re going to have all these kids,” and God hadn’t done it yet, so Sarah told Abraham, “Take my handmaiden,” this was kind of a custom. It wasn’t God’s purpose or design for marriage, it wasn’t a marriage, but if you had no one to leave your lineage with, then sometimes you could take a handmaid—the wife could give another woman to her husband to raise up seed for the family and the child would actually become the wife’s child. Sarah said, “Take my handmaid, Hagar, and have a child by her.” This wasn’t God’s will. It wasn’t God’s plan. It wasn’t God’s purpose. It really caused some problems and still does to this day.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the child born to Hagar, Ishmael, became the father of the Arab nations, the Arab people. Just recently in Israel, with the fighting between the Palestinian Arabs and what’s going on, Abraham shouldn’t have been impatient. He shouldn’t have done what his wife told him to do. Now, you can interpret that however you want to. Some time lapsed again, and the angels showed up at Abraham’s tent and told Abraham that at about age 85 or 86 that Sarah is going to have a baby. By that time, Ishmael was born, and Sarah was jealous of the handmaiden and her child, so basically it was just like, “I have a hard time believing that because it’s just not going to happen.” When Abraham was somewhere between 99 and 100 years of age, Sarah becomes pregnant and has the birth of Isaac. Can you imagine? You’re 100 years old, your wife is 90, and “We’re going to have a baby!” Can you imagine what their family thought when they sent out the birth announcements? They thought, Oh my goodness!
Ishmael was a teenager, and Abraham, when Ishmael was born just gave up and abandoned all hope that Sarah would have a child who would be the promised seed. He even said, “Lord, that Ishmael might live before You forever.” God said, “No, no, no, that’s not the promised seed.” Even before Sarah became pregnant and she heard the promise once again to Abraham that she was going to have a child, she started laughing. The angel said, “Why are you laughing?” She said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh, I didn’t laugh.” “No, you laughed, and because of that, you’re going to have a son and you’re going to name him ‘Laughter,’” which is what Isaac means. It means laughter. Can you imagine going to kindergarten on your first day of school and your name tag says, “Laughter,” and people laugh every time they see your name? But it would be a promised miracle child. Get in your mind…and this text is a challenge because there are so many implications and variations of angles you could study it from, but the idea is that Ishmael was the work of the flesh, the product of human effort. He was a natural birth. Isaac was a supernatural birth. He was the fulfillment of a promise that was believed by faith, and he was a miracle child through whom the Messiah would ultimately come and through whom the Jewish people would grow from. God finally fulfilled His promise to Abraham. There’s one father, two women, and two sons.
We’re going to see, as you go into the interpretative section, verses 24-27, that this whole story, this whole episode, forms a spiritual allegory. There’s an application behind this story that is going on in this amazing passage here. They are different mothers, Ishmael and Isaac, and different ways in which they were born. One was born through the natural means, Abraham’s relationship to Hagar; but Isaac was born of a supernatural means, he was a miracle child. It’s an interesting contrast. (I have a chart to put up on the screen in just a moment, not quite yet, that I want you to see.)
Verse 23, “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh,” when he says “after the flesh,” it means by the course of nature. It was a natural birth. It was according to nature. “…but he of the freewoman,” being Sarah, “was by promise,” which involved faith—God makes a promise, and we put our faith in that promise that God is going to keep His Word—and it’s a miracle child.
The second section is the allegorical or interpretation of the historical section, verse 24. “Which things,” what things? Verses 22-23, the whole story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac, “are an allegory: for these are the two covenants,” stop right there for just a moment. He says, “These things are an allegory.” You need to understand something that’s very important in interpreting Scripture. There are some people that like to take Old Testament stories and either allegorize them or say that they are a myth and non-historical. They take all these Old Testament stories and say, “You know, there really was never an Adam and Eve, and there really wasn’t an Abraham. There really wasn’t a David,” yet they’re stories that are Hebrew poetry or stories in the Bible and have spiritual meaning and application to them. They either spiritually allegorize them or say that they’re kind of just myths and not real or authentic history. That’s a very, very dangerous position and way to interpret the Scriptures. The Bible should be interpreted literally, and you should never interpret it allegorically unless there is a reason, in the Scriptures themselves, to warrant an allegorical interpretation. That’s so important. I can’t tell you how important that is.
In the Old Testament, many of the things that took place, though they were historic events, had a picture in them. They were what’s called a type of a fulfillment that was in the New Testament. When you had the priests in the Old Testament, they are a picture of Jesus. When you had the lambs, they’re a picture of Jesus. You have what’s called typology. But here’s a very important principle in interpreting Scripture, and then we’ll go back to the text and move along: Never interpret a historical narrative allegorically or spiritually make it a type unless the New Testament designates it as such. There are a lot of fanciful books written today. I don’t know why, but again this past week I was peeking at TBN on tv. Some guy’s got this new book about mysteries of Messiah, and he was talking about all the mysteries of Messiah. He was making it up. Now, a lot of things he was saying were very interesting, but they weren’t from the Bible. Everybody is just, “Look at this. This means this, this means that.” When you interpret a passage as a type or an allegory without the Bible saying it is, you become the authority, and you don’t want to do that. You have to have biblical authority in saying that a type is a type or a story is allegorical.
There was a real Abraham. There was a real Sarah. There was a real Hagar. We know that there is a real Ishmael. There’s a real Isaac. This is not allegory. This is not myth, it’s true. The Spirit of God, Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, actually makes it allegorical; and it’s just amazing. It’s so profound that God could open Paul’s understanding and give him this insight, and we have the authority from God’s Word here in Galatians that these represent two covenants, verse 24. Now, the one is related to or tied into Mount Sinai, which is the mountain where Moses got the law, so it’s referring to the law of God and the Ten Commandments and the old covenant, “…which gendereth,” or is that which corresponds, “to bondage, which is Agar.” These are all things that identify with Hagar and Ishmael—Mount Sinai, the law of God. Remember when Moses got the law, there was lightening and thundering and it was a very awesome austere experience. No one wanted to get near the mountain, so it was a very frightful thing. The Bible says that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. This Hagar represents Mount Sinai, “which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” This is outside the land of promise. This is representing the old covenant, representing the law.
Verse 25, “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia,” which is where Ishmael’s family went to, the Arabs came from Ishmael, and it was outside the promised land. The phrase in my King James Bible “answereth” means corresponds, “to Jerusalem,” but notice the phrase, “which now is.” When Paul was writing this, the Jerusalem of his time and his day, which was basically without Christ, without Messiah, is an empty religion of formalism. Judaism without Christ is an empty formalistic religion—I know it sounds a little stern, but I believe it’s true, it’s a false religious system without Christ. You can’t go to heaven because you’re a Jew. You can’t go to heaven because you keep the law. You can’t go to heaven because you celebrate Jewish festivals and holidays and those things. That religion will not get you to heaven.
These two women, these two sons, not only represent two covenants, but two religions: Judaism and Christianity. Paul basically says here, “and answereth to Jerusalem which now is,” which is empty Judaism, “and is in bondage with her children.” That old covenant of law leads to nothing but pure bondage. Now, here’s the contrast, verse 26, “But Jerusalem which is above is free,” there’s Jerusalem which is now, verse 25, and “Jerusalem which is above,” which is a reference, I believe, to the New Jerusalem, we’re going to get it in Revelation 21, that comes down from heaven like a bride adorned for her bridegroom. Remember last Sunday we talked about the destruction of commercial Babylon in Revelation 18, and I talked about two cities, Babylon or the New Jerusalem. This is a reference to the old earthly Jerusalem, which was in bondage under the old covenant, and the New Jerusalem, which is heavenly.
Remember, the Bible says that Abraham looked for a city whose maker and builder was God. This is talking about our heavenly home. Paul said in Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven, so the “Jerusalem which is above is free.” This is why Jesus told a very religious Jewish man named Nicodemus in John 3, “Nic, you must be born again. You need to be tied into the Jerusalem which is from above.”
Paul says this “Jerusalem which is above is free,” in contrast to “Jerusalem which is now,” which is bondage, “…which is the mother of us all.” By the way, I didn’t tell you the title of my message tonight is, “Who’s Your Mother?” Not, “Who’s Your Father?” but “Who’s Your Mother?” Everyone, “Oh, we’re Abraham’s seed,” but who’s your mother? Is it Jerusalem from above, which is tied into Sarah, or is it Hagar, which is the Jerusalem that is now, or below, which is the old covenant which leads to bondage? It says, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” I love that.
Now, verse 27, Paul says, “For it is written,” he’s quoting here from Isaiah 54:1, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.” This is a reference to the children of Israel under the bondage in Babylon, the coming out of Babylon, and all the trouble, trials, and problems they went through, how that they would come back to the land, the women would have their children, they would multiply and increase. He’s saying that Sarah brings joy, and the new covenant brings joy so shout, “…thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.”
Now, I want you to see these two categories from this allegory that we just read. On the left is the “Law” and on the right is “Grace.” On the left is, “Hagar, the bondwoman;” on the right is, “Sarah, the free woman.” On the left is, “Ishmael born ‘according to the flesh;’” over on the right, (under Grace) is, “Isaac born ‘according to the Spirit.’” Under “Law,” “Old covenant of law given by Moses at Mount Sinai;” and under “Grace,” the “New covenant of grace given by Christ”—grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Then, “Earthly Jerusalem,” and the contrast, “Heavenly Jerusalem;” “Slavery to the Law,” sin, leads to bondage, and “Freedom in Christ.” That’s why I pointed out Galatians 5:1 is the end of this important section. Lastly, two religions, “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Hagar represents Judaism, and Christianity is represented in Sarah, the mother who brings the freedom of the Promised Seed.
In this section, Paul gives this allegory. We want to move, thirdly and lastly, verses 28-31, to the application. This is where he puts it in shoe leather and gives us a practical application. He’s not only just applying this section, but he’s applying the whole chapters of 3 and 4. He says, “Now we, brethren,” notice he acknowledges that they are brethren. He’s writing to the Gentile Christians in Galatia, he’s not addressing the false teachers themselves, and says, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” We’re on the promise side, the grace side, of the heavenly Jerusalem, we’re free. We have the fulfillment in Isaac. We’re like Isaac.
What does it mean to be like Isaac? “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” The first thing we see that being of Isaac and not Ishmael, and being of the grace of God and not of the old law and of the old covenant, is that we’re going to be persecuted. This is taken from the story of Genesis 21:9 when Isaac was being weaned at the age of three. Ishmael was about 13 and was mocking his little half brother. He was mocking him, laughing at him, and Sarah got really upset with this and bothered by it. Sarah actually told Abraham, “You need to get rid of this woman and her son.” Abraham resisted Sarah’s suggestion. He had blown it by listening to Sarah, so now he says, “No, no, no. I’m not going to do that.” It must’ve torn at his heart, but the Lord then spoke to Abraham and said, this is the famous passage where he says, “Listen to your wife and do what she tells you to do.” This is the one the women like to quote. This is their favorite story. “Listen to your wife, and do what she says.”
In the historical narrative, Abraham sends Hagar away. He sends her off. She’s visited by an angel who makes promises to her that you’ll be a great nation and so forth, and we have, as I’ve said, the Arab nations. But she had to be sent away during this time. There was the laughter and the mocking, that was the persecution. Here’s a principle. I wish I could be more eloquent in my commentary on it or explain it better; that is, the truly righteous individual, the true believer, saved by the grace of God, is always going to be persecuted by a religious person. Religion persecutes true Christianity.
Did you know the greatest opposition to biblical Christianity comes from the religious world, comes from the professing church? It’s not from the heathens or from the non-Christians, it’s from the religious individual. This is what happened to Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees, moved with envy, had Christ crucified. Paul the Apostle, everywhere he went preaching, read the book of Acts, was followed by these Judaizers; and they were trying to oppose everything Paul said and did. How about Stephen, the first martyr, was preaching to Jews and called them “…stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” He preached this amazing sermon in Acts 7, and what did they do? Say, “We’re sorry. Can we get along?” They picked up rocks and stoned him to death. The first Christian martyr was killed by the Jews. They were under the law. They were living in bondage.
We’re going to be persecuted. That’s the lot of the truly righteous man; and, as I pointed out in Revelation 17, two weeks ago, it started when Cain slew his brother Abel. Remember Abel brought the sacrificial animal sacrificed to God in faith and God accepted it, and Cain brought the fruit of the ground, the labor of his own hands? That’s these two categories—you save yourself, you do good works, or else you trust in God’s provision of the cross. Cain got angry and killed and murdered his own brother. The righteous man has been persecuted by the unrighteous religious community ever since then.
Notice in verse 30, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture?” He’s quoting from Genesis 21:9-10, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” That’s the story of send Hagar and Ishmael away. Notice, “Cast out the bondwoman.” Do you know what this is actually saying by way of application in the allegory? That you’re supposed to cast out the old covenant. Cast out the law. You’re not to live under that law. You’re not to live under the law for salvation; you’re not to live under the law for sanctification. When we say, “law,” we mean God’s ceremonial law and even God’s moral law we cannot keep because of the weakness of our flesh. We can never keep either one. We’re not saved by keeping God’s law, we’re not sanctified by keeping God’s law, and we’re not more spiritual by keeping God’s law.
The danger that I see so often today is that Christians think that they can become a little deeper in their Christianity, a little more spiritual, if they add a little Jewishness to it. I think I better stop right there. You don’t become more spiritual because you add outward rites and rituals. You don’t become more spiritual because you wear certain clothes that have certain colors and borders and put on a certain hat and wear a certain ring. I said I would stop, but now I’m not stopping. You don’t become spiritual because you light candles and you crawl upstairs on your knees or you don’t eat that or touch that or don’t do that—I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, I don’t hang out with those that do—and you have your little standard of righteousness.
The law is written on our hearts as believers under the new covenant. We’re going to see that. I’m so excited to get to chapters 5 and 6 because this is what we’re going to be talking about—how we live under grace, how we live in the liberty where Christ has set us free. Paul says, “Cast out the bondwoman,” cast out, not make an agreement to get along or not start an ecumenical movement, not join hands and, “Let’s all get together and love one another.” Cast out that old religious system. You can’t mix law and grace.
In conclusion, verse 31, “So then,” here’s the summary, “brethren, we are not,” by the way, this is emphatic in the Greek, “we are not children of the bondwoman,” Hagar, law, which says save yourself, “but of the free,” woman, which is Sarah and the child of Isaac. Look at Galatians 5:1 where Paul actually says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” You can’t inherit the blessings of Abraham by the law, you inherit them by faith. It’s faith alone, in Christ alone, by the grace of God alone. Amen?
Pastor John Miller continues our study through the book of Galatians with a message through Galatians 4:21-31 titled, “Who’s Your Mother?”