As we continue our look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to talk about this problem.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
Paul tells us here that before we experienced the true God, we were under the yoke of slavery. Now, having come to Christ, we’ve learned the freedom that’s only available in Him. Paul is perplexed about why anyone would ever want to go back to the old ways.
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 principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Paul makes it clear that this slavery is not to a person. We choose to be enslaved by certain principles. And his description of these principles – this way of ordering our lives – makes it sound like it’s not worth serving under them.
He says that they’re weak, without any power. I want my life to change, but trying to serve a set of rules doesn’t bring about that change. I’m the same person I always was, but now I’m struggling to act differently than my natural desires.
He also calls these principles miserable. The word he uses means a fearful, beggarly existence. In other words, you want God’s blessing, but you’re so afraid that at any step you’ll do something wrong and lose it all. You’re hoping that by your good works you’ll convince God that you’re worthy of His blessings.
I can tell you from experience that this is a miserable way to live. And yet there are many who only serve God in this way. They’re in constant fear of making God mad at them. They’re in slavery to a no-win lifestyle.
You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
The bottom line is that God isn’t pleased with us because of our rituals and observances. He loves us because we’re in Christ. He sees us under the blood – washed clean and delivered from our past. It’s not about ritual but relationship that brings us closer to the Lord.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Please understand what Paul is saying here. It’s not that he wants to know about, read about, or learn about Christ. He wants to know Christ deeper and deeper on a personal level. The more he knows Christ, the more like Him Paul will become.
Instead of fearing that we’ll get God mad at us, we should be drawing on our relationship with Him. Spend time in His presence. Let the Holy Spirit work in you as He wills. Don’t waste time by putting yourself back under a yoke of slavery.
Question: Why is relationship better than slavery?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017