“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow, I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the Gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,”

(Galatians 4:8–19 NIV11-GKE)

““Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5 NIV11-GKE) This Psalm, I believe, speaks about the Gospel, we know from 2 Cor. 4

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:5–6 NIV11-GKE)

It is the Gospel that Paul is defending in Galatians, and here in chapter 4, we see how he is hurt and perplex as to the extent of the influence of those who were preaching another Gospel. Paul is conflicted that the very people he served, preached, taught, and catechised with the Gospel truth are now turning to another Gospel that is no Gospel at all. Paul preached a Gospel that has the power to set people free, as saw last week. The power of the Gospel is that you enter and experience the Powerful Presence of God through being forgiven and lavished with Jesus’ grace.

Satan does not have sons and daughters. He has slaves.

There is no wonder that Paul said “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV11-GKE) The issue here is that the god of this age has blinded the eyes of believers!

I love the Narnia books, and last week I read Magician’s Nephew, which is the first book on the Narnia series, but it was not the first book written. There the Magician is called uncle Andrew! Almost at the end of the book, when Aslan is creating Narnia, he speaks to the animals and actually and the sons of Adam, meaning Digory and Poly and the King and Queen of Narnia. Poly asked Aslam to do something, and she said, “Could you say something to unfrighten him? Aslam said: “I cannot comfort him; he has made himself unable to hear my voice”.

How is that possible?

How could we get to a place where we can no longer hear the voice of God, the voice of Jesus and the voice of the Holy Spirit? This happens daily, and if we are not careful, we will not be able to recognise the voice of God. If we move away from the Gospel, we move away from the Glory of God.

Well, I believe that here in chapter 4 has some vital warning regarding

I want to point out three things about these verses, and I only point them to you.

First, False Truth!

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (Galatians 4:8–11 NIV11-GKE)

Paul is pointing out clearly where they came from before they encounter Jesus. The Gospel is about experiencing the power of Jesus, and it is not just an intellectual exercise. He tells them that they were slaves by nature to other gods, meaning that they worship the gods, remember he is pointing out the vast ray of Romans, Greeks gods, myths and superstition.

Let me tell you something, do you know what the fastest way to become an idolater is? It is when you placed something or someone as the lord of your life. It can be work. It can be family, and it can be ministry. When God is no longer the one you and I are devoted to.

When that happens, we become like uncle Andrew!

Paul makes an important distinction, and you and I need to pay serious attention. He asks the Galatians: But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces?

He is telling asking them that you, above all people, know God or, better still, God knows you! I want you to hear this. I want you to see the impact and the deeper meaning of being known by God!

There are a handful of people that potentially know you well. These are your father, or mother, and your spouse! They know who you are. They know you. So, it is the same with God; to be known by him is to see that you are deeply loved as a son and a daughter, and he is pleased with you!

Does God know you? How does he call you? How does he speak to you?

The Galatians have taken a sad and difficult turn for the worst. They now have become a slave to the law, the ritual, to the man-made rules and to follow them, and in doing so they think they are now the people of God. What a travesty.

Paul said, I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”

Second, Truth Hurts.

There are few places in Paul’s letters where we see his most human side, and we sometimes forget that he was. But here, it is one of Paul’s most telling display of his emotions and struggles.

“I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the Gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:12–16 NIV11-GKE)

You know that there are times when we say the truth in love, but it hurts. I believe that we all been there. Someone who loves us has come to speak to us about an area of our lives that is not right, which is actually evident to all, but we are blind to see it.

I believe Paul is doing the same! He is pleading with the Galatians to come back to the Gospel.

To come back to the place of Sonship, he is pleading with them to become like him. You can tell that he loves these people; he has become one of them. He, as a father, tells them how grateful he is as they did not treat him with scorn or contempt because of Paul’s illness. But he was welcomed into their lives as like of an angel or Christ himself.

He is pleading with them to come back to the Gospel, to where the real blessing dwells. His blessings as an Apostle, evangelist, teacher among them. They are the fruit of his labour in the Lord. The blessings of bringing them to Christ, preaching the Gospel and seeing the fruit of that work now being undermined by those who once slaves become sons and daughters and now that God has known them to want to remain slaves again to religion.

What Paul says at the end of this verses is a double edge sword of every Minister. He asks:

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

What would you prefer a minister that tells you that all is well, that there is nothing to worry about, knowing that you are not or a minister that will say to you the Gospel? You see, this is what I have been saying all along: The Gospel is not just a ticket to heaven; it is that power that sustains us here on earth so that we become more like his son!

If you can’t hear the truth in love, then you don’t know the Gospel because the Gospel makes you a son and a son who has an amazing Father. A Father that corrects us and disciplines us.

Sometimes, ministers suffer the illness called Fear of Men!

Sadly, there are among us “Uncle Andrews, who cannot hear the voice of the Father”.

We need to hear the warning of Hebrews 4:7 “Today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts”

Third, True Passion.

“Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” (Galatians 4:17–19 NIV11-GKE)

Paul is in pain! Can you hear his heart?

He is warning them not to be swayed by these zealous people, which will lead them to a wrong place. Their plan is to alienate you from the body of Christ and bring discord.

But be passionate about the good, about the Gospel. Then you can hear his heart, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you”.

Paul brought these people into new birth in Christ, yet he is feeling the pains of childbirth to see the ones whom he got to the kingdom moving away from the Gospel.

The way for us is evident, we can become uncle Andrew, who could no hear the voice of Aslan, or we take the blessing of Sonship and freedom that the Gospel brings.

Why is this so important? Tim Keller latest book on the Resurrection, saying that the Resurrection is the great reversal of reason he  quotes Calvin saying:

John Calvin expressed the beautiful paradox of Jesus’s Great Reversal like this: He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, debt cancelled, labour lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery and goodness, all misfortune. ”

(from “Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter” by Timothy Keller)

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