Children of the Free Woman
Freedom is difficult for human beings; it really is. From the very beginning, we couldn’t handle it. Even in the Garden of Eden where we were unencumbered with sin, “originally righteous” the old theologians used to say…even there, we misused our freedom and from thence fell into our state of depravity. So how worse off are we now? Much, I’m afraid. Indeed, without rebirth from above of the Spirit, we have no freedom at all, lest we call freedom to sin “freedom,” which is the only “freedom” an unregenerate person knows. But having come to saving faith in Christ, the believer experiences a true liberation, not of the kind the world favors—freedom to do whatever one wants, which is again only that freedom to sin of which we already spoke, which is really only slavery—but freedom from sin, which is the only true freedom there really is.
But even this freedom is hard to maintain, which is exactly what we are seeing here in Paul’s letter to these Galatian churches. These were people who had experienced salvation, come to repentance and saving faith, were reborn of the Holy Spirit and ready to walk in the freedom of service to God, growing in grace and joyously rooting sin out of their lives. What could be easier? But it’s not easy; it’s hard. Growing in grace is hard; crucifying sinful desires is excruciating; walking in love can sometimes leave us with more questions than answers when confronted by thorny human predicaments and uncontrollable circumstances. It’s easier in those times to seek a set of rules and regulations, something that will provide easy answers, a written code that provides us with all the particulars, and ceremonies that make us feel better about ourselves. And no doubt Scripture certainly provides us with more direction than we will ever use. But that is different from seeking a code that enslaves us, that provides us with a false sense of security through empty rituals or diets. God has called us to more than this. He has given us His Spirit to live within us, empowering us, transforming us after the image of His dear Son. In such a way, love becomes obedience and obedience becomes love.
Paul illustrates this truth typologically with the account in Genesis of Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac, the old Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. We are of the latter. Cast out the slave woman and her son—the old nature, the elementary principles of the world and even the law. Those born of the Spirit have no need of these. Let us be brave and live as free men and women, citizens of a heavenly Kingdom, children of the promise.