Identifying as Sons, Not Slaves
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
4 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
This section is a continuation of Paul accounting for the differences in life for those who follow Jesus and trust in Him to establish their identity with God. “In Israel- an Israelite.” “In Christ—A follower of “the Way”—a Christian”
And this identity is more than a label, it is a reality of life. If you don’t have the reality, the label doesn’t matter. And obviously with 1/3 of the world’s population claiming the name of Christ, but not pursuing the character of Christ, we have an identification problem!!!
Paul in this passage is contrasting being Sons vs. Slaves let’s begin by looking at what Paul means by slavery:
- What Paul Means by Slavery
We are adopted sons, not slaves, what does this metaphor mean?
- As it relates to what we “have to” do
Keeping the law to be right with God!
- Keeping the law “or else”
- Regular reminder of our brokenness
No peace, confidence, or joy. Lots of insecurity and uncertainty.
- Fear and punishment based obedience
Fear works as a short term motivator, but it diminishes with success. Love works as a long term motivator and it builds over time with success! Sons, not slaves.
- As it applies to relationship with God
Adoption is at the will of the parent—so is slavery
Adoption is not an accident!—neither is slavery
Adoption means there are things to learn—so does slavery
Adoption means that you are guaranteed relationship honor
Adoption means you share the family name
Adoption means that you share the family fortune!
- As it relates to freedom from sin
As you seek to establish your own righteousness, you recognize your slavery to sin!
Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
John 8: 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
It is amazing that this offended them. Jesus called them blind guides correctly! Poor in Spirit is the first foundational attitude of blessing.
Romans 6: 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
- What Paul Means by Being In Christ
- Trusting in Christ’s death for forgiveness for my sin
Christ gives life to our past
We are purchased by the death of Christ for God—Revelation language is the language of slavery. Prodigal son’s attitude is the language of slavery. “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” And the father has none of it! The older brother is good with it, but not God! The prodigal son is a parable about the older brother! The Jewish people of Jesus’ day are not interested in God’s offer of mercy because they do not see their own need of it.
- Trusting in Christ’s teaching for my livelihood
Christ gives life to our present
Christ gives life to our future in this life.
We make investments in the present that bear fruit in this life.
- Trusting in Christ’s inheritance for my future
Christ gives life to my future
It seems almost an insult to heaven to call it life. It seems we need a different word!
When this life is over, we gain an inheritance that we have no idea how good it is. We won’t believe it because we don’t deserve it. But here is what it is. What does Jesus deserve as the unique Son of God? What would you expect His inheritance to be? That is our inheritance.
III. There is a Real Difference in Approach to Life
- Formerly you did not know God
Treating God like magic
Working to deserve
Pursuing life in pride, greed and sensual pleasure
- In salvation you have received the Holy Spirit
As the Scriptures say:
“Rivers of living water that come from within!” John 7
The fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5.
- You have a real stake in the family business
There is a stake in the kingdom
There is a reward in the kingdom
There is an identification with the king!