In this letter to the Galatians, it seems like Paul is going back and forth, back and forth between identifying the way these young Galatian believers are turning away from the true gospel to declaring this true gospel again. Like a seesaw, up and down, exposing one way of erroneous thinking or living and revealing again the great truth of the gospel of grace.
You might remember he started this letter not with words of praise and affirmation as he does in others of his letters, but straightaway he began to deal with these issues at hand.
Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,”
Galatians 1:7 “… there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Paul goes on and in 3:1 asks, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…?”
As we’ve seen, Paul discusses false teachers, circumcision and law, and contrasts them with justification by faith. We are saved not by works, but by grace, a gift of God.
Each time Paul gives one of the issues at hand, he brings it back to the gospel of truth, this simple message, and Jesus who frees us from all of these many kinds of bondage.
Today in Chapter 4, verses 8-11, Paul tells the Galatians that when they did not know God, they served those who by nature were not gods (verse 8). It seems to indicate that we are worshipers. We will always worship and serve something, either the true God, or things that are not gods. We’ve seen that from the Old Testament idol worship up to today where many are worshipers of things like self and materialism. Who are we serving and worshiping?
Paul goes on in today’s passage to ask them, now that they have known God – or rather were known by God (indicating it is God who first knows us, before we can even know Him!) – how is it that they turn again to the weak and beggarly elements to which they desire again to be in bondage (verse 9-10). He tells them they observe days and months and seasons and years, and Paul is afraid for them, that he has labored in vain (verse 11). It’s possible to observe religious holidays, Sabbaths, special feasts, and totally miss true worship of the risen Christ. These observances can have the appearance of worship, but lack the heart of true worship.
If they truly knew God, how can they return to lesser things, the things that bring them into bondage? And what about us? How do we do that as well? Do we observe days and seasons but miss meeting our almighty God and having true worship of Him?
And what is our remedy for this? A turning back again and again to the gospel of Christ, the true gospel that tells us who we are and who He is. We receive forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ, a cleansing from our sins and unrighteousness, if we confess those sins (1 John 1:9). Just like Paul bringing these believers again and again back to truth, we need this as well. We need to know and obey God’s Word and be led by His Spirit into truth.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, that you are worthy of worship. Thank you that in you, we find full satisfaction. Forgive us for turning aside to other things, lesser things, for returning again to bondage when you have set us free. May we know you in such a way that these other things no longer are desirable, but you are our heart’s longing and affection. May we worship you and walk in your ways now and always. Bring us back again to your amazing gospel of grace that frees of from sin and law/works to know and love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.