God’s Thoughts to Me
A promise from God is not a challenge to man to assist God in bringing the promise to pass, despite the abominable religious cliches that say, “God helps those who help themselves; “Do your best and God will do the rest (James Fowler, The Galatians Series).
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and DO NOT let yourself be burdened again in a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1, NIV).
The Spirit of Freedom
I used to be a master in the art of persuasion. In fact, I did the daughters of Eve proud! The saying goes that practice makes perfect.
So, through practice and practice and some more practice, I perfected my skill in trying to convince my husband to do things my way, or why he needed to buy me another necessary trinket I did not need.
Using my womanly wiles was, after all, an integral part of my spirited womanhood. My husband though, called it manipulation and nagging.
Why do men always get it wrong? I nearly caused my dear husband to become an attic dweller.
I used to be just as bad as the Judaizers who caused the poor Paul premature grey hair when they manipulated the foolish Galatians by perverting the sweet gospel of grace.
They were shearing the sheep for their own gain, dampening the beautiful Spirit of freedom the Galatian Christians enjoyed in our Lord Jesus.
They came like a thief in the night after Paul left, convincing them that Paul’s gospel was true and right, but they also needed to keep the old Judaic religious laws. These Mosaic law-abiding Jews drooled over circumcision.
Paul was not friendly in his attack on these guys and suggested they rather go and castrate themselves, if they were so obsessed with a foreskin, and leave the Galatian Christians alone.
He didn’t mince words when he showed them the futility of reverting back to the spirit of law by building a religious house of cards.
In his letter he once and for all demolished the misconception that grace and law were bedfellows.
He made it crystal clear that their fence-sitting caused them to be cut off from Christ, cut of from grace. They had to choose!
Studying the letter to the Galatians , I was surprised by a very interesting point. I was taught that the Arab nations, especially the Muslims, were the descendants of Ishmael and the Jews were the descendants of Isaac.
i have found this to be untrue! Paul told the Galatians that holding on to their Judaic religion, and all religion through the ages, caused them to be children, descendants, of Hagar the bondswoman.
On the other hand; all the people who trust our Pappa God alone to save them through His grace, are the children, descendants, of Sarah, the free woman, the woman who never went into labour. Allow me to explain.
Looking at the human race, we see that even Abraham had the tendency to help our Pappa fulfilling His promises.
When the infertile Sarah nagged him to have a child by her Egyptian maid, Hagar, the poor man capitulated! I suppose Bedouin tents did not have attics!
It was quite an acceptable and moral practise in their culture. Ishmael was born as a result and we found Abraham pleading with his Father to accept Ishmael as his promised heir. All, of course, to no avail.
When we look at the two women and their sons, we see that they represent the two covenants. Hagar and Ishmael represent the covenant of Law, mans effort to fulfill God’s promises.
Sarah and Isaac stand for the covenant of grace, God doing what He does well, fulfilling His promises without human interference.
Paul explained that the Covenant of the Mosaic Law, “… came from Mount Sinai, bearing children who are slaves; she is Hagar (Galatians 4:24)”.
Yet, the Judaizers were convinced they were the descendants of Sarah. Actually they boasted in their heritage of being descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through their genealogical heritage and law-observance.
But Paul turned their whole theory upside down and with a little huffing and puffing, blew their religious house of cards away.
Paul also dropped a bomb in my religious belief system, for I was convinced that trying to do my best in assisting my Pappa to redeem me from my captivity to the kingdom of darkness, made me the proud owner of the honorary title “Descendant of Abraham”.
Not so! All my trying, striving and coniving helping our Pappa to save His world and myself, only resulted in me being captured by the spirit of bondage.
I was a slave, a descendant of Hagar and Ishmael, wallowing in the mud of self.
Only by entering through the narrow gate, our Lord Jesus, into the freedom of His resurrected life, do we become heirs of the promises our heavenly Father made to Abraham and His descendant, our Lord Jesus, who lives in us through His Spirit (Galatians 3:16).
Dear Ones, let us search our hearts, asking our Pappa to eradicate any traces of the spirit of Hagar and Ishmael still lurking in the recesses of our minds and the murky corners of our hearts!
Let us ask Him to lead us out of the bondage to law-observance and self-effort into the freedom of His grace.. His forgiveness … His love … His mercy. Come, let us allow Him to usher us into His Kingdom of Light … into the joy of His Loving Embrace.
Much love XX