Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan
is:Song of Solomon 6-8; Galatians 4
I found a great sermon by John Piper here
that talks about "Hagar and Slavery vs Sarah and Freedom" from Galatians 4:21-31. I appreciated how he explained the desire that is needed to rely on God's strength being a critical part of living in freedom - and in our salvation. Here is an excerpt:
Freedom is what you have when there is opportunity, ability, and desire to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. Surely everyone here wants this full freedom—to have occasion and ability to do what you love to do with the result that you live in perfect joy forever. If that's what you want, then this text is crucial for you, because Paul says the Ishmael-types don't have this freedom but the Isaac-types do.
Why aren't the Ishmael-types free? They are not free because they lack the desire to rest in God's promises. They lack the desire to show their own resourcefulness. It's not that they desire to reject God. They simply want him on their own terms. Abraham and Hagar wanted God's blessing, but not on his terms.
The Judaizers want God's blessing, but not on his terms. Ishmael-types in every age rely on human resources and don't desire to feel like children in need of a father, or like a patient in need of a doctor. Ishmael-types think you can outgrow:
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong,
We are weak but he is strong.
Therefore, when it comes to saving faith, Ishmael-types do not have the freedom of desire. They do not want it. Therefore, they also lack the freedom of eternal life, because no one who prefers to live in his own strength rather than trusting God will be saved and go to heaven. And what's more, the hardness of heart that spurns childlike dependence on God will also darken the understanding. Every one of us knows that the most common use of the mind is to justify our desires. Therefore, deeply wrong desires will deeply mislead the mind until it is not able to understand what is right. So Ishmael-types are not free because they lack the freedom of desire to rest in God's sovereign grace; and therefore, they lack the freedom of ability to understand God's will; and finally, they lack the freedom of eternal joy, because the life they have chosen leads to destruction.
But we, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise (Galatians 4:28
). We have been born of the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christianity is the miracle of new birth. The hallmark of the Isaac-types is that we have been converted, changed, transformed at the center of our lives, so that we desire
to rest in God's sovereign grace. We desire to become as little children and receive the power and wisdom and holiness from our all-sufficient Father. We hate the remaining tendencies in us to be proud and to trust in ourselves or other people instead of God. Our delight is in the law of the Lord, and our choicest food is to do his will in reliance on his power. This is what it means to be born according to the Spirit. This is what it means to say I no longer live but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20
). His passion becomes our passion.
Therefore, Isaac-types have the freedom of desire. We don't labor slavishly under the burden of having to do what we don't want to do. We are free to do what we love to do and to do it forever in perfect joy. For God has caused us to be born again by the Spirit of his Son, and is shaping our desires according to his will.
"For freedom Christ has set us free! Stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage
: Isaiah 1-2; Galatians 5