Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces | Galatians 4:1-11

Galatians 4:1-11 | Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces

When someone is in Christ, he is a new creation. He/she has been saved out of the world and brought into the Kingdom of God. When we were saved we were saved out of the age of this world, out of the evil forces of this world and now we have a new identity in Jesus. We have put on Christ. We have a new life, a new worldview, and a new behavior pattern based on God’s word. But if one is not careful, one can slowly drift back to the old nature or what Paul calls the elemental spiritual forces of the world.

Galatians 4:1-11 | Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces

Illustration: I remember sometime earlier a couple came to church. They got saved. They were very enthusiastic and zealous for God. They would not even miss one Sunday service, Bible study or care cell meeting. One year down the lane they became irregular to the church. I started following up with them, on one side they want to grow in Christ but on the other side there is the tradition, world and the family that is attracting them.

Galatians 4:8-9 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But 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?

Apostle Paul had pioneered the churches at Galatia during his first missionary journey. After Paul left, people came from the Jerusalem church and said:

  • Paul did not teach the right gospel.
  • To the Jewish believers they said, “You need faith in Jesus and also follow the mosaic law.”
  • To the Gentile believers they said, “You need to become a Jew first and then follow Jesus.”

So what Paul is addressing that if one comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he/she is the son of God. They have direct access to God. If you go back to your Jewish religious practices or the Gentile Galatian practices, you are turning back from God to the elementary spiritual forces of the world.

Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? They began their spiritual life by the spirit. Now they are foolish in going back.

Galatians 4:1-3 1What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forcesof the world.

Galatians 4:8-9 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But 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? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

1. One Needs To Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces

The problem with these believers here is that after coming to Christ, they were going back to their old nature and old worldly culture. Paul is telling it as the elemental spiritual forces or the weak and miserable forces.

App: How is your Christian life? Are you staying strong in the faith that you are having in Christ? Or are you trying to mix your faith and the influences of the world?

Paul is telling here that before coming of Christ, the law was the guardian of the Jews. Now that Christ has come, if you believe in Christ you are getting to adulthood.

See this growing to adulthood according to Paul. The promise of salvation came to Abraham to Israel and the world. The promise of salvation was given. The inheritance was waiting, but it was not available to those who were in infancy (law). And Paul says, “While we were children, we were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.” The law was the guardian. Now when the Messiah, Christ came, it would lead them to maturity. So the law and its practices were the “the elemental things of the world” for the Jews.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forcesof this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:20-21 20Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Galatians 4:10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

These are the human centered efforts to find God versus the Christ-centered reliance on God.

What are the elementary principles of the world for us Gentiles? They’re the things in which we were held captive before coming to Christ, whatever they are, whatever that bondage is.

Elemental Spiritual Forces Of The World

  • Philosophy

Hollow and deceptive philosophy. “Well, what do you mean by philosophy?” Any godless idea raised up against the truth of God. According to 2 Corinthians 10:5, they are any godless idea raised up against the knowledge of God.

  • Human Tradition

Also called tradition of men. Human commands and human teaching contrary to the scripture

  • Values And Rules Of The World
  • Self-Imposed Worship

Any act of worship that does not include reverence and worship to the Triune God. Worship that is not about God but about us.

  • Harsh Treatment Of The Body
  • Following Special Days, Months, Seasons, And Years

All human way of reaching God, no matter how sophisticated it may appear is really elementary. There’s no real maturity Why are you going back to these things after you are in Christ? In Christ comes full maturity. Paul is telling that these elemental spiritual forces held us in prison and now Christ has come to liberate us from that. Jesus came at the appointed time.

2. Jesus Came At The Appointed Time To Rescue Us

Galatians 4:4-6 4But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son to redeem us from the former way of life. God’s time was perfect. Coming of Christ marks the culmination of human history. The bondage had been long and hard, waiting for a redeemer to set us free. In the fullness of time, perfect time, exact time Jesus came into this world.

Jesus Came At The Perfect Time:

The Perfect Time For The Nation Of Israel

God chose Abraham. Made them a nation. The law was given in the wilderness. God finally gave them the Promised Land. In the land, they sinned against God by going after foreign God’s and intermarrying. The country God divided into two: Israel and Judah. God sent them for exiles. The Northern Kingdom went to the Assyrian exile and later the Southern Kingdom, Judah went to the Babylonian exile. All these years God was working in them and After the Babylonian captivity when they came back into the land they never again worshiped an idol. Idolatry had been literally taken from them in their captivity. So religiously, the Babylonian captivity had resulted in Israel’s final turning from idols and focusing on the one true God. That cleared the way, in some sense, for the coming of Christ.

The OT Canon had been completed

Before Christ came, the Old Testament had long been completed, and they had the Law and the Prophets and the Holy Writings. The OT is so necessary to understand Christ, that’s why Jesus said, “If you knew the Scriptures you’d know who I am.”

Culturally the Perfect time

Before Jesus could come,Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) had made it a Greek world. This meant there was a common language stretching across all those multiple ethnic groups in the Mediterranean area. The development of the Greek language allowed for the New Testament books to be written in a language that everybody could read.

Politically the Correct time:

After the Greek came the Roman Empire. And then politically the pax Romana, the sweeping power of the Roman Empire had built good roads everywhere, sea routes, and they had good postal system, and so that the gospel could then be taken to the world. We read about that in the book of Acts.

So from even the standpoint of just looking at what was going on in the world, it was a right time.

Galatians 4:4-6 4But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

It doesn’t say He created His Son, it says He sent Him forth. Jesus already existed.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The eternal Son became man. God sent forth His Son. He is God. He is the exact representation of God. He is God in human flesh. “We have seen his glory.” This talks about the deity of Christ. At the baptism of Jesus, God said, “You are My beloved Son.”

God sent forth His Son. He is deity. But not only deity, it says He was born of a woman, He was born of a woman – fully human, full God.

  • Jesus had to be man in order to be the substitute for us.
  • Jesus had to be God to have the power of an everlasting and eternal life.
  • Jesus had to be God to conquer sin.
  • Jesus had to be man to take the sinner’s place.
  • Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.

Jesus was born under the law. When He came the law was still in place. And He adhered to the Mosaic law in every detail. He was circumcised on the eighth day when He was an infant. He was faithful to the law. Jesus came under the elemental spiritual things of Judaism, went through the practice of the law and led us to salvation.

This Jesus, who is fully God, fully human became a curse for us: Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

He sent His Son. Why? Galatians 4:4-5 4But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

“That we might receive the adoption as sons.” This is such an honorable privilege.

When we receive Christ by faith, we are born again, we are born into the family of God.

3. In Christ Jesus You Are All Children Of God

Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith..

Galatians 4:4-7 4But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Through Christ we have received adoption to sonship.

Through Christ we are God’s sons.

Before coming to Christ, we belonged to another family. What’s our former family? John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.

This is the universal human condition. But God displayed His glory through love and grace toward us. We were put into God’s family by then being chosen and adopted and taken out of the kingdom of darkness.

Adoption “The condition of a son, chosen and given to a father and family to which he doesn’t naturally belong, to formally and legally declare a son who is not a son by birth, but a son by choice, granting him complete rights and inheritance.”

That’s Roman adoption. Paul is dealing with a Roman idea here. We need to separate ourselves from the contemporary concept of adoption. Now modern adoption is a kind of charitable action of a child.

In the ancient Roman world they did not adopt children. They adopted adults, and they adopted male adults. Very rarely was a female adopted. That is why when Paul talks about adoption he talks about sons, because adoption was done with male, adult young men. Rarely does anyone in our society adopt an adult.

If a Roman citizen has no male children, he can adopt an adult male to inherit his possessions. Or if a Roman citizen feels that his sons are not capable of taking care of the family heritage or possessions, he too then adopts a male. Once a son is adopted, the adopted son can have ties with his original parents but now he will live in his adopted father’s house, he will have the name of the adopted father, and he will inherit all the possessions of the adopted father.

There were four results of this Roman adoption. This is also the picture of our adoption by Jesus.

Our Privilege Of Adoption As God’s Sons

  • You Have A New Father.
  • You Are Heir To The Father’s Estate.
  • All The Adopted Son’s Previous Debts And Responsibility Were Wiped Out.
  • The Adoption Would Have To Be Purchased With A High Price.

According to the Roman-Syrian law book, , “A man cannot disown an adopted son.” So once you were adopted, it was permanent. Do you know that nine of the Roman Caesars were adopted?

So this is a very richly textured picture of what Christian believers experience in being adopted into God’s family. This is what happens when God adopts us into His family.

First of all, we are in another family. A family of sinners, a family of the devil. We are in a family with no future, no hope for eternal life. We are chosen. We are then purchased. We are then given the name of the new family. We then become heirs of everything that that father possesses; and that can never change. That’s adoption. And we say, “Abba! Father!”

Think of your salvation that way. He chose you before the foundation of the world to be an heir of everything that He possesses. This is what Christ gave you when you believed in Him. You have that inheritance. You are a son; you have been adopted. You have everything that God can give you; you have it all.

Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces

Romans 8:14-18 14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Well, somebody might come along and make accusations against us.

Romans 8:33-36  33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Everything that God possesses is now ours forever. All things will work for our good. Nothing will separate us from the love of God.

Therefore, Paul is telling the Galatian church, “You have now been saved by God, adopted as sons and given the privileges of the Kingdom of God, why are you then turning back to your old way of life?”

Galatians 4:8-11 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But 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? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

4. Be A Responsible Son And Be Loyal To Your Heavenly Father

Adoption brought responsibility in the ancient world. You needed to be loyal to your new father. You needed to show gratitude for his love, gratitude for his grace. You needed to show appreciation for the inheritance that you were given.

Paul is asking, “Are you going back to your old debt-ridden, sin-loaded life? Are you going back to childishness? “Back to bondage? To rituals and rites? Are you so foolish? Are you so bewitched?

Live As The Children Of Your Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 4:17-24 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Galatians 4:8-9 9But 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? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Now that you know God why are you turning back to the old way of life?

Do you want to be enslaved all over again?

You want to be like Israel?”

A little bit of the history of Israel might be a good warning.

Israel was led out of Egypt. They saw the hand of God in the plagues, and their protection. And they got out into the wilderness. In chapter 14 of Exodus, Pharaoh starts coming after them. So they became very frightened. In Exodus 14:11-12 11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

And then Moses says, “Don’t fear! Stand by; see the salvation of the Lord.” And the Red Sea parts, and they walk through. And they get on the other side. “Wow!” I guess they learned their lesson.

Exodus 16:3 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

So you know what the Lord did? The Lord provided water, and the Lord provided meat.

Exodus 17:3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

They had seen miracle after miracle after miracle, including the parting of the Red Sea; water, food created; and they were seduced to go back to Egypt.

That’s what the false teachers were trying to tell the Galatian believers to do: Go back to what the Lord had rescued them from. Many times we too are guilty of going back to our old way of life.

Be A Responsible Son And Be Loyal To Your New Father.

What was it for the Jews? Galatians 4:10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

They were beginning to absorb the Mosaic calendar, the external rituals and ceremonies. There is no command in the entire New Testament to keep the Sabbath or any other of the Jewish calendar events – festivals, rites, rituals, dietary laws – all gone. “You’re going backwards.”

Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Galatians 4:11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Conclusion:

Once you are in Christ, you are a new creation. You are the children of God. We have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and adopted as the sons of God. We have rights, privileges, an inheritance, and a new lifestyle, the life of our Father in heaven. If you turn back you are, you are backsliding. You are getting back to the elemental spiritual forces.

Jesus Came At The Appointed Time To Rescue Us

In Christ Jesus You Are All Children Of God

One Needs To Overcome The Elemental Spiritual Forces

Be A Responsible Son And Be Loyal To Your New Father

Is there anything in your life that is reflecting the old way of life? Let us ask God for repentance and turn back to Jesus today.