This post refers to our podcast. Can’t see the audio file above? Click here to listen!

“Christians who believe in justification grace need to begin believing in sanctification grace.”⇦Tweet that!

Swinging From Slavery to Liberty

The Book of Galatians is like a dual rope swing on opposite shores over a river of hopeless failure, shame and guilt dividing two ways of life.

One rope swings from the land of enslaving moralism, works-righteousness, and legalism. Like physical slaves, spiritual slaves aren’t happy, fulfilled, or hopeful, but at least they know what to do.

And then, chapters 1-4 of Galatians says, “Look, hanging from that tall oak tree that grows over the river dividing the two lands. It’s a rope, a rope God’s always had hanging there for you, it’s the rope of grace, the rope of the gospel of Christ, the rope of the truth that you don’t have to live like this any more. You can be reborn in Christ to do so much more than bow to the wishes of some religious culture, to be tormented by narrow, demanding and controlling religionists, to cower in the corner of someone else’s little kingdom of do’s and don’ts and measuring up in fear of failure enslaved by guilt and shame.”

You grab the Chapters 1-4 rope—the gospel of Christ, declared righteous when I believed in Christ and reborn to live righteously through the power of the Spirit. And then, as you swim across the river below, you see another rope swinging your way attached to a towering oak tree on the other shore you never noticed before, but now you see it. And as this rope swings closer you can see people on the other side of the river and they’re shouting: “This is the land of Christian liberty where we live out of our radical freedom in Christ. Grab the rope, you’re about to begin the greatest adventure of your life, the wild and holy life of a devoted follower of Christ…grab the rope!”

But then, just as you begin to reach for that rope that will swing you toward the radical and free life of a Christian liberated from legalism and works-righteousness, you begin to panic. “But what will I do when I get to the other shore? …

I’ve never done this before, I won’t know what to do, what will it look like, what will my conservative Christian friends think, my parents, how will I order my life, who will be telling me what to do?”

And then, you make the most tragic choice any Christian can make after reading Galatians 1-4 and before moving on to Galatians 5-6, you grab the rope to the land of liberty but cling to the rope from the shore of slavery. And you hang over the divide, stuck between two systems of righteousness, the false and the true—justification and sanctification by faith or justification and sanctification by works…eventually you’re going to lose your grip and fall into the murky waters below, the river of wanting more but not having the courage to leave my comfort world of religiosity.

Galatians 4:21-31 is designed by the Apostle Paul to convince you that when God swings that rope of Christian liberty in Galatians 5-6 you’ll let go of the enslaving chains of legalism…in sanctification.

The Critical Transition of Galatians

Paul transitions from justification grace to sanctification grace in Galatians 4:21-31 by supporting his coming appeal for radical grace from the Old Testament. His point is clear: Before you read on, learn from the Old Testament and do this: Throw out legalism as a method of justification and sanctification!⇦Tweet that!

Citing the story of Abraham and prophecy of Isaiah, Paul reminds Christians that we are not like children of the slave woman Hagar who were driven from the family and denied a share of the inheritance. We are children of the free woman Sarah, with a glorious destiny and responsibilities to live out our freedom and stand up to those trying to enslave us (4:21-31).

I hope you’ll listen to my teaching on the podcast and refer to the free online commentary of Galatians. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page for my detailed notes on Galatians 4:21-31.

Blended theologies of faith and works are a disaster. They always enslave the free and empower the slave-masters of legalism.⇦Tweet that!

Question:  Do you agree that the church needs a new reformation, a sanctification reformation? Why or why not?

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