Getting Rid of the Slave Woman [Part 2]

By Alan Wright — November 16, 2018

Are you ready for some good news?

God’s promises come to pass by God’s power – not yours!

Today’s Text: “But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.” (Galatians 4:30–31, ESV)

Law and grace simply don’t mix. You can’t fulfill God’s promises by human power. You’ll never conquer your impatience by deciding to be more patient. You’ll never stop lusting by promising to work harder to be pure. No law (including your own self-made laws “I will be better a person or else”) empowers anyone. The law is holy, just and good – but it is not powerful. The law lets you know how much you need a Savior and how much you need His Spirit.

To explain the futility of the law and how irreconcilable it is with the Gospel of grace, Paul employs a gripping story from Genesis. God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child, but after years of conceiving no child, the old couple decided to call in Hagar, the maidservant, as a surrogate mother. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael but, soon enough, God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Sarah – they had their own, biological child, Isaac. There was enmity between the two boys. Ishmael mocked Isaac. Sarah became incensed. Eventually, Sarah told Abraham to “cast out the slave woman and her son.”

Abraham evicted Hagar and Ishmael because the son conceived by human effort could not coexist with the son conceived by supernatural gift. The son of the flesh could not share a house with the son of the Spirit.  Human effort to keep the law cannot cohabit with grace.

Paul’s point is vibrantly clear: if you want to move forward with God, you must not only embrace grace, you must also reject law-based religion.  If you let the law live alongside grace in your heart, the law will mock you like Ishmael mocked Isaac. Look at you, the law sneers, you call yourself a Christian but you are still impatient, you still stumble about in your lusts – you don’t deserve to be blessed. The religious spirit always mocks the child of grace because the Good News seems too good to be true.

But, when you get rid of the slave woman – when you cast out law-based religiosity – you find yourself utterly reliant on the promises of God. There, enveloped in the grace of God, you are empowered to live out your God-given destiny. And that’s the Gospel!

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