Here’s a big lesson in a short breath. Galations 4 describes two types of people as portrayed by two sons of Abraham. One was Ishmael, born from Hagar whose name represents Sinai, the mountain where God gave Moses the law. Sinai represents sin. This is because the law came to amplify sin, to prove to man that he couldn’t not earn righteousness through his own efforts. So Ishmael represents those who are trying to do enough good to be blameless before God. The second son of Abraham was Isaac, born from Sarah as the result of God’s promise. This son was given the inheritance, not because he was a better son, but because he was born of promise. He represents those who receive the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Now the church in Galatia had been living under the law again, that is, trying to be good enough to have a relationship with God and receive blessing of God. But Jesus paid the price in full. So are we more like the son of the slave or of the promise? Am I truly free by the grace of God, or in my mind am I still trying to be good enough before I approach God? This is a question we all must ask ourselves, and often. When we live under legalism or by the law, then we make Christ of no effect (Galations 5:4). How do I know which one I’m most acting like? The answer is right here in Galatians 4:29 “At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.” I love that it says “It is the same now.” This is an ongoing persecution that will continue as long as this earth endures. One of the symptoms that I’m acting under the law, that is, in the footsteps of Ishmael and not under grace is this: I persecute other believers. When I throw stones at other Christians I’m acting under the law, a persecuter. If you read in Genesis 16 you will find that this type of believer “will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Notice that they are “brothers”, indicating they are fellow believers in Christ.
The Galatians were believers but were beginning to add back in justification through works. The path of self-righteousness always includes looking at others in contempt, wondering why they aren’t as good at not sinning. This brings about the stone throwing. We should not throw stones at other believers, it only causes division and imprisons those who are divided from the body. Ishmael in Genesis 21:9 is mocking Isaac. Still this happens today. Believers mocking believers. So which side of persecution I stand on will determine God’s commendation for my life. I am commended and blessed when I am persecuted. That is God’s protection for the persecuted, so that those who are persecuted need not defend themselves or return insult for insult. Receive your blessing with a smile. But I am making Christ of no effect when I’m the persecuter. Now I don’t do it on purpose, and like the entire church of Galatia, it’s easy to fall into. As believers and family let’s walk in grace for each other, no stone throwing at other believers, but instead when you come across anothers weakness or failure whether perceived or real, let your reaction be to pray for, encourage, and build one another up. Be children of the promise, and never forget where you would be if it were not for the work of Christ.
www.livingwordonline.com The Living Word Bible Church