Heirs of the Promise

Monday, January 16, 2017, 9:42 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Very Best Friend.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 3:26-4:7 (NASB).

Through Faith (3:26-27)

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, because not one of us can keep the law perfectly. The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith, but no one is saved by observance of the law – not under the Old Covenant or under the New Covenant. Only through faith in God and in his Son Jesus (God the Son) can anyone be saved from their sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good works will never outweigh our bad. We can go to an institutional church every week, serve in various areas of ministry, give to the poor, help the weak, and even teach the word of God or even be a preacher/pastor, and still be lost in our sins, without God, and without the hope of heaven when we die.

All throughout scripture God chided those who professed faith in him for giving sacrifice to him while having hearts which were far from him. God has always made a distinction between just “doing” for God and obeying him, i.e. submitting to him and to his will for our lives, which is faith. Faith is not just some words we repeat after others, nor is it just an emotional experience at a church altar, nor is it a mere confession of Christ as Savior of our lives. Faith is obedience. It is submission. It is surrender. Through faith we give our lives to Christ to follow him in obedience, and we leave our lives of sin behind us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20).

Yet, faith does not equate sinless perfection. We don’t immediately become perfect just because we believe in Jesus, but we are transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind away from living for sin and self to walking in obedience and surrender to God – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God who now lives within us. Faith in Jesus Christ does mean that we die with Christ to sin and we live with Christ to righteousness, but it is only by the Spirit that daily we are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh and surrender our lives to God. If we do sin, we are still saved, because we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, yet if we continue living in sin after we profess to have fellowship with God, the Bible says we are liars, and it also says we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

You see, being baptized into Christ is a spiritual baptism, and it involves dying with Christ to sin and being resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). And, putting on Christ, or being clothed with Christ is not a mere formality, but it is life changing; life altering. We were once dead in our sins, but now we are alive in Christ Jesus. The old has gone. The new has come. We no longer live to please ourselves, but we live to please God. We no longer conduct our lives according to the flesh, but we now live our lives according to the Spirit, and in the power and working of the Spirit within us (Ro. 8:1-14).

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

Children of Promise (3:28-29)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

There are many Christians today who try to separate Jew from Gentile, and who still hold to the Jews (as a nation) being God’s chosen people and the children of promise, because those who believe this are following the Old Testament teaching and not the New Testament teaching. When Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins, he destroyed the barrier that stood between Jew and Gentile and he made us one through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:14-18). It is “not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Ro. 9:6b-8). And, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ MEANING ONE PERSON, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). If we belong to Christ, by faith, then we are Abraham’s offspring and heirs according to the promise, i.e. only those who believe in Jesus are the children of promise.

“Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother… Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. IT IS THE SAME NOW. But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Gal. 4:25-26, 28-31).

What this is saying is that anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of his or her life is of the slave woman, Hagar, because they are still in slavery to sin – whether Jew or Gentile by birth. So, basically, all Jews who reject Jesus Christ as Savior are no different than Arabs who don’t believe in Jesus. They are both of Hagar. The city of Jerusalem is NOT the Holy City. The Holy City is now the body of Christ, his church, the Jerusalem from above (heavenly Jerusalem). We are of the free woman! The physical city of Jerusalem is of Hagar, the slave woman.

We who believe in Jesus are the children of promise, not those who were born Jews, unless they, too, believe in Jesus Christ. So, when this speaks of the son born in the ordinary way persecuting the son born by the power of the Spirit, this is NOT referring to the persecution of the Jews today by the Arabs, but it is referring to non-Christians (including Jews) persecuting Christians, i.e. the children of promise. And, this was said because there were Jews who were trying to persuade Christians that they had to follow Jewish laws, traditions, ceremonies and celebrations in order to be saved. So, this was written to urge the Christians to not come back under slavery, i.e. to reject what the Judaizers were trying to tell them, because we are only saved by faith in Jesus Christ. We only are the heirs of the promise.

Adoption as Children (4:1-7)

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

When we are born into this world, we are born into sin, in the image of Adam (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). We come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). So, God sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died he put our sins to death, so that when we believe in him, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23). Through Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins we were bought back for God (redeemed), so that we can now live to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He also died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14).

Before Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross for our sins, and resurrected back to life from the dead, victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, God’s people were under slavery to the law, not that keeping the law ever saved them, but they were required to follow a long list of rules and regulations which were very strict, most of which we don’t have to follow today. We still have to obey Christ’s commandments, though, because faith in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us on a cross, by its very nature transforms our hearts away from living in sin to walking in obedience to our Lord Jesus. But, we aren’t just following a set of rules, but we are living in Christ and we are walking in his Spirit, so that we no longer live to gratify the sinful desires of our flesh. We now walk in freedom from slavery to sin because of God’s grace to us and Jesus’ sacrifice on a cross for our sins. Amen!

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are not only delivered from slavery to sin, and not only do we become servants of his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23), but we now become God’s children and heirs of the promise – “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Ro. 8:17). His Spirit comes to live within us, and he comforts, leads, encourages, convicts, inspires, counsels, and teaches us the way in which we should go. He is always there with us, giving us hope and courage, listening to our prayers, and speaking his words tenderly to our hearts. Jesus Christ is not only our Lord and Savior, but he is our brother, and he is our very best friend.

My Very Best Friend
Ron Hamilton – Patch the Pirate

Jesus is closer than a brother.
Every moment he is near.
I know he never will forsake me.
He has conquered all my fear.
Jesus is closer than a brother.
On his love I can depend.
King of kings, Lord of lords,
Conquering Son, oh, all of these,
He’s my very best friend.

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