Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the* two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 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."*Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 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. 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."* So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. (NKJV)
In Galatians 4: 21- 31, Scriptures speak of Abraham having two sons. they are symbolic of the 2 covenants: the Mosaic Law and Grace.
The first son, "Ishmael" represents the covenant of Law and all of those who chooses to embrace and adopt it as the way of being reconciled to God. The "effect" of the Law’s covenant was bondage. Here's the symbology: Realizing that Sarah had no desire for Ishmael to receive any inheritance, both Ishmael and his mother were treated with severity, and were ultimately cast out from Abraham's house and caravan and persecuted. The way they were treated and expulsed, this was a fair illustration of how after Jesus Christ, people who refused to accept Jesus as Messiah and live by the grace of God and chose to remain under the servitude of the laws of Moses were in the eyes of God in bondage under the Law. This is a fit representation of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Paul. According to the Apostle, all who live according to the Law are in bondage because they continued to live according to the Law and by their works and not by faith and under grace.
Ishmael was born “after the flesh” and to a bond- maid. Spiritually speaking, this represented a type of Jerusalem that was in bondage both to the Law and physically to the Romans, being oppressed by ordinances of Rome and the heavy curses they were subject to if they violated any of the Roman Laws. Paul told the Galatians the tragedy they caused themselves in departing from the grace of Christ and reverting back to trying to keep the Law. He compared it to Hagar as she left Canaan and traveled to a bleak place. Sad to say, a lot more people were affected than just the Galatians. The Jerusalem of that day was in bondage with her children because of practicing Judaism, not what the gospel taught or because of what the Christian church believed at Jerusalem. The church was enjoying a rapid increase in apostolic days, whereas Judaism was largely static and was even losing ground because of the witness of Jewish believers to their faith in Christ.
Isaac on the other hand, being the “child of promise” and born to a free-woman, Sarah represents the covenant of grace. Isaac is representative of all of us who live under the grace of God and accepted Salvation by grace. He represents all of us who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and who walk in the spirit of God. This means that the works that we do are not a means for salvation, rather, they are evangelistic in nature to compel others who haven’t accepted Jesus Christ to do so and “in a hurry!” The entire passage from verse 21 through 31 shows us the folly of anyone living under the Law rather than living by grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Even though both of these covenants are “grace” covenants, they represent two different dispensations. The Dispensation of Law came into being at Mt Sinai and brought with it a curse and bondage. This dispensation has long since passed. The Dispensation of Grace has been operational since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and has been in operation since and will be until the second coming of Jesus Christ. As Paul said, it is ludicrous for anyone to live under a covenant that has passed and brought nothing but bondage to anyone who attempted to live under it and by their works, rather than live in freedom that the covenant of grace offers to the believer because Jesus Christ set us free by the shedding of his blood on the cross.
V. “You Are Fallen From Grace”
Galatians 5: 4-6
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
The term “fallen from grace” in this verse applies to anyone who seeks salvation by their works and believes that they are justified under the Law. As it has been stated many times, the Law has no saving power, neither is there salvation in any of the works of man. The bible clearly teaches that man can’t be justified by his works. The Mosaic Law has been proven to be powerless where salvation is concerned. Ephesians 2: 8- 9 clarifies the lack of saving power of the works of man as far as salvation is concerned. Paul told the Ephesians that salvation is given to us by the grace of God and there was nothing we could do of our own accord to earn it or work for it.
It’s a free gift from God through Jesus Christ by the shedding his innocent blood on the cross at Golgotha Hill for us. All we have to do is simply accept Jesus Christ into our lives and believe that he is the true messiah that came from God. By doing this, we are embracing the work of Jesus on the cross as the only means by which anyone can be saved. The bible said that without the” shedding” of blood, there can be no remission of sin. The shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood on the cross brought remission for our sins and his crucifixion was the only way God wanted it to be done. If this was not the case, then in Matthew 26:38-41 where Jesus made the request for the Father to “let this cup (the cup of suffering and crucifixion) pass, yet yielding to God’s will ( the decision already in place for crucifixion, suffering, and the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God (Jesus)) God surely would have let this “cup” pass from his only begotten son, and God would have redeemed us another way. But the truth is, God didn't change the redemption plan!
So the question is: How can a believer 'fall" from grace?
Anybody who attempts to live according to the law have fallen from grace in this respect: Because of this fall from the grace of God, anybody who seek salvation by their personal works and by trying to keep the Law is saying that they don’t believe that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is not enough or is not good enough to save them. This is blasphemy! any person guilty of living this way foolishly believe that it takes more than Jesus Christ to be saved. This person dares to believe that they can work out their own soul salvation without Jesus Christ; that it can be done through their own efforts and good works.
By taking this position, this person is in reality denying that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and trying to nullify his redemptive work on the cross. This person has become an “apostate”. Romans 3:20 says that “no flesh” shall be justified before God, therefore, no works of the flesh or a man keeping the Law is or ever will be good enough for a man to be saved. Now, a saved person can “falls from grace”, but this “falling” does not affect their salvation status with God. Paul told the church at Galatia that their falling from grace does not mean that they will lose their salvation at death. It meant that they have chosen rather to sin than to follow Christ, causing them to be in their backslidden condition. Anyone who chooses to do this will live their life in futility as far as their relationship with God is concerned until they acknowledge and repent of their transgression and reconcile themselves back to the grace of God. Read the following excerpt from Barnes Notes: (paraphrased) on this subject:
“If a man who has professed Christian becomes justified by conformity to the Law, and an adoption of this method of justification, it amounts to rejecting of the method of salvation by Christ, and renounces the plan of justification by grace. The adoption of the Law is, in fact, a rejection of salvation by Grace. This passage therefore cannot be adduced to prove that any true Christian has in fact fallen away from grace, unless, it proves also that man may be justified by the deeds of the Law, which is contrary to the repeated declarations of Paul himself. The word "grace" here, does not mean grace in the sense of personal religion, it means the "system" of salvation by grace, in contradistinction from that by merit or by works-the system of the gospel.
VI. The Law Of Love
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."* But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (NKJV)
The Bible speaks of the believer’s great law of love in Galatians 5: 13- 15. Now we are going to explore the Law behind God's love and discuss why love is necessary as we now walking in the liberty afforded us in God's expression of His Agape love toward us in Christ and make sure you cover liberty versus license.
First and foremost, love (agape) is necessary because “love” is the ultimate law of God. Love is the way God moves and operates in the affairs of the universe. Every law in the Mosaic Law contained in the Old Testament is governed by the “ultimate law” of love. When God gave Moses the Law, he gave it out of his love for his chosen people. When we show love toward God and toward others in all of our actions, we show ability to keep the “principles” of the laws (Mosaic) of God. Love is also essential to godliness. Through love and a loving sacrifice, Jesus Christ gave his life on our behalf by crucifixion at Calvary, redeeming us from the curse of the Law (Mosaic), while at the same time obligating us to live the law (Mosaic) out in our lives based upon His "LOVE" principles.
These principles are “standards” that God himself set forth for all believers. Through Christ living in any individual, he or she can truly show love (agape) towards their fellow man expressing love through all of their life’s actions. Because of our salvation, we were “liberated” from bondage. With this new liberty came the greater responsibility to bring our bodies under subjection and to refrain from using our new liberation to justify satisfying the flesh (old nature) instead of walking in the Spirit of God.
Paul reminded the Galatian church that Christians are free (liberated) from the bondage placed upon all who seek to keep the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law. That "bondage" Paul spoke of is on anyone who choses to keep living by their old, unregenerate nature and exemplify those things that permeate from this mindset. This 'carnal" mindset is not controlled by the Holy Ghost. Our “liberty” then is freedom from those things (words, attitudes, deeds, and thoughts) that grieves the Holy Ghost, but does not at the same time lay restraints on the flesh (old nature) itself. The gospel frees us from the ceremonial law, but it does not free us from morality inferred within the laws themselves, but actually holds us to it (the morality of the law) with a greater fervor.
The strife that was “seething” within the Galatian Church came in part because the Judaizers sought to push this church backwards toward keeping the ceremonial law again. Paul rebuked them and in response charged that this was futile and though they were free from the ceremony (letter), they were not free from living out the spirit or principles of the Mosaic Law.
Paul’s rebuttal to the Judaizers was this: that the best “countermeasure” for the “keeping of the law” (ceremony) was to show love (agape) to your fellow man and become willing servants for the “cause” of Jesus Christ, (evangelism and salvation) walking in the service (stewardship, and fellowship) of God by being a help to others. Paul offered another rebuttal to keeping the law: “If we “mortify” the flesh (bring our minds into submission) by walking in the spirit of God, we would not find ourselves back in bondage to a law (letter and ceremonial) that we could not keep anyway”! In walking in the love of Christ, we must exemplify the principles of love in 1 Corinthians 13. When we do so, we exemplify the “fruits of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5: 22) and these “fruits” will flow forth since we yield more to the Holy Spirit now and have mortified our flesh. This enables us to live lawfully in principle and not as a ritual or a ceremonial act.
When we show real love toward our fellow man, we also show real love toward God himself and Jesus Christ. In Matthew 25, concerning the future judgment of the Gentiles (nations), Jesus told the people at that time that whatever they did or fail to do in the way of helping others who needed help the time of great tribulation, they were in reality treating him the same way in their expressions of the love they professed to have for him. In the final analogy, love is and will be what’s needed to win souls for Christ and by showing “real” love (agape); we eliminate the “legalism” that constantly hinders the work of the church.
Dr. William Edward Boddie