REDEEMED, ADOPTED AND FREE! Our Amazing New Identity In Christ

When I was in a rock band in college, one of the songs we played was called “Free” by Chicago. We would sing “I just want to be free.” There were lots of songs in the 60s and 70s about being free. We wanted to be free from war, free from rules, free from authority, free from anybody telling us how to live our lives. But you know what? I wasn’t free. I was a slave. I was a slave to sin. I was a slave to the rules of the church I grew up in. I was a slave to a guilty conscience. Until Jesus saved me, and then, little by little I learned that in Jesus I was really and truly free.

In Galatians 4, Paul addressed the church on their freedom in Christ…

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 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? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. GA 4:1-11

The main point Paul makes in this passage is that believers have a new identity in Christ. We are no longer slaves but are redeemed, adopted, filled with the Spirit, and heirs with Christ. We have come to know God, and are known by God as his children.

OUR STATE BEFORE CHRIST – ENSLAVED (1-3)

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. Galatians 4:1-3

Paul says that in the world, a child may be the heir of a family fortune, but while he is a child, his life is really no different than a slave, even though “he is the owner of everything” – the whole family fortune may really be his, but “he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.” In other words, he is not free. He is under guardians and managers. He has to do whatever they tell him. Paul says In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

Before Christ we were like children under guardians and managers, we were enslaved to what he calls the elementary principles of the world. What are these? 

For Jewish Christians the elementary principles were the Old Testament laws and man-made laws which they had created. For Greeks the elementary principles are “human systems of religion”. Greek religion had all kinds of rituals and sacrifices which they were required to do..

The “elementary principles” which the Jews and Gentiles had were kind of like the ABC’s. It would be like if all you ever did was keep going over the ABCs and never really learned to read or discover the joys of books but your whole life was just going over the ABCs. Before Jesus, though Jews and Greeks practiced religion, they were slaves.

A really good passage to help us understand this is CO 2:20-23:

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23

All the man made religion in the world just enslaves and has “NO VALUE in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Paul encouraged the Galatians, that as those whom God set free, they should not turn back to slavery again:

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? You observe days and months and seasons and years! GA 4.9-10

I was raised Roman Catholic. As a Catholic I had to observe a lot of man-made rules and regulations. For example, I had to go to Mass every Sunday. If a Catholic missed it was a mortal sin – a sin that killed all grace in your soul. I was taught that if you skipped Mass and didn’t go to confession and you died you would go to hell. There were many other rules, like you could eat no meat on Fridays during Lent. You had to go to confession at least once a year. You had to marry a Catholic – if you didn’t the non-Catholic had to promise to raise the children as Catholics. 

All these rules and regulations seem spiritual – but they had no value in stopping me from indulging my flesh. And they enslaved me.

WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6

God sent Jesus to rescue us

God redeemed us 

God adopted us 

God freed us

God made us fellow-heirs with Christ

God assures us

Let’s look at what God has done for us in more detail:

God sent Jesus to rescue us

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law (4)

What a sacrifice God made to redeem us! He sent forth his one and only Son! He gave up his Son so that he could rescue us who had rejected him and hated him, and disobeyed him, and shook our fists in his face, and make us his own children. Jesus, the one who created all things, the one who sustains all things by his word, was “born of woman” – he became a human being. The mighty creator, the God of all power,  was born a baby – weak, helpless, totally dependent on his parents. He couldn’t feed himself or dress himself. He was subject to hunger and thirst and pain. He was “born under the law.” He knew what it was like to have to keep the Jewish law and observe days and feasts and offer sacrifices and to not eat certain foods. In a sense, he experienced the bondage that we all do under the law, except that he kept it perfectly, flawlessly. He never once failed to keep the smallest commandment of the law.

God redeemed us

 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,  (4-5)

To “redeem” means to pay a price to purchase someone.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—GA 3.13

The curse of the law was that if you broke the law you would be cursed by God. You would die. You would have to suffer the everlasting wrath of God. Jesus became a curse for us when he hung on the cross. He was cursed by God. He bore the wrath of God against all our sins. Not only did Jesus suffer the physical pain of being crucified, but he suffered the curse of being cut off from God. He had enjoyed perfect fellowship with God the Father from all eternity. But when Jesus hung on the cross, he had no experience of that fellowship. He hung in total darkness and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

God “purchased us” with the blood of his Son. What a price he paid to make us his sons and daughters.

God adopted us 

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (5)

God has made us his very children. He has given us the same status as Jesus the Son – we aren’t God, but we are sons in the sense that Jesus is the Son. God is our Father.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3.2

We are God’s very children! Even the angels who never sinned can’t make the claim to be children of God. God has exalted us above the angels! It is important to remember that not all human beings are God’s children.

God made all humans, and he loves all humans, but until he saves us, until we believe in Jesus Christ and call upon him to be our Lord, we are not his children.

And think about this – we weren’t seeking to be adopted. Just like most of the time in human adoptions it is parents who seek a child. Especially when parents adopt an infant. That child wasn’t seeking to be adopted – the parents seek the baby and adopt him or her.

We weren’t praying “Lord, please adopt me as your son or daughter.” No! We weren’t seeking God. The Bible says no one seeks for God. But God sought us out, when he sent Jesus. Jesus said he came to seek and save that which was lost. God sought us out to adopt us. And just as a human child who is adopted has nothing to offer the parents, we had nothing to offer God. But he sought us, saved us, adopted us and gives his riches to us.

God freed us

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (7)

YOU ARE NO LONGER A SLAVE! You are no longer a slave to man-made religion and rules and rituals. You are no longer a slave of sin. I don’t care if you FEEL like a slave, you are NOT A SLAVE.

 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6.6-7

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6.12-14

We are no longer slaves of sin! No longer does sin have dominion over us. This is the truth! You may feel like you are enslaved to sin, especially if you have been giving in to it. But you are no longer enslaved to sin. Our feelings are not always the truth. But God’s word is the truth. Sin has no dominion over you. If you believe in Jesus, then you are free from the dominion or rule of sin. Now, the Holy Spirit gives you power to overcome sin. Pray! Ask God for help! And thank him that sin will have no dominion over you.

God made us fellow heirs with Christ

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (7)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (16-17)

We “will share in the inheritance of Jesus. What belongs to Jesus will also belong to us. Christ gives us His glory (John 17:22), His riches (2 Corinthians 8:9), and all things (Hebrews 1:2). We are as welcome in God’s family as Jesus is; we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV). All that belongs to Jesus Christ will belong to us, the co-heirs, as well.” GotQuestions.org

It would have been amazing and incredible if the only thing God did for us was to forgive us and bring us to heaven. But he makes us joint-heirs with Christ. We will share in Christ’s rewards! I can’t even fathom what that will be like! How incredibly generous is our God!

God assures us

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (6)

When we believe in Jesus, God not only forgives and washes away our sins, but he sends his Holy Spirit, God the Holy Spirit, into our hearts. And the Holy Spirit assures us that we are adopted. From within us, the Holy Spirit cries out “Abba! Father!” He assures us that God is our Father. We know God is our Father not only because God’s word tells us, but God the Holy Spirit assures us from within. 

The word Abba is an Aramaic word that was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.” (GotQuestions.org)

When God saves us he brings us into a close, intimate relationship of a father to his child.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

Our heavenly Father CARES FOR US! He’s not far off, he’s not too busy running the universe, he is right here, full of care and compassion.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5.6-7

So we can cry out, “Abba! Father” and know he is right there. He is closer than the air we breathe. He has brought us into a close, intimate relationship with our Father.

We who believe in Jesus are redeemed, adopted and free!

We are no longer slaves of sin! We have a new identity in Christ. We may feel like we’re slaves, but we no longer slaves. We are children of God, joint-heirs with Christ, and truly free! We have reason to rejoice and give thanks every moment of every day!

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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