It is very easy to believe that somehow our works can make us more loved by God when we do good or more loathed by God when we fail him by our sins. The truth is that this understanding of God cheapens the gift of grace through the sacrifice of Christ. If works where a requirement of salvation it wouldn't be considered grace. There is nothing in us nor was there anything in us prior to our salvation that made us any more worthy of the gift that the Lord has given us. What Paul is attempting to do in these verses and throughout the letter to the Galatians is to show that works is not essential for salvation, only faith.
Paul desires to drive home the fact that salvation is apart from works and says it over and over again in this letter, but decides to put the proverbial bow on it with the allegory of Sarah and Hagar. This story, which at face value might be confusing, is representative of legalism versus faith. When God promised Abraham that his people would be as numerous as the stars, Abraham’s lack of faith made him go to Hagar as a physical method to reproduce and out of that physical union came Esau. On the other hand when Abraham and Sarah finally had faith to trust God's word, they bore Isaac. The son that was born from a rejection of God's word would be a child of wrath and of violence while the child of faith would become a blessing to all nations.
Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, points out that the son which was born out of a belief that we know better than what God does was a child of slavery. Counter to that, the child that was born out of faith was a child of freedom. One was from a mother which was a bond servant and the other was from a mother which was a free woman. What Paul was doing here was an attack on the Judaizers who believed that being sons of Abraham meant that they were secured and saved. They believe this to such an extent that they told others in the Galatian church that they needed to be circumcised and to follow the law like the Jews as a requirement for salvation. When Paul uses this story as allegory he says that being sons of Abraham isn't as important as being sons of faith and freedom.
Paul is not saying that the law is not important, but that being Jewish does not mean righteous. This is a lesson for all of us. Only when we understand that nothing within us made us worthy of salvation or election as children of God can we truly understand what grace means. That which is not freely given and necessitates anything that we have done or will do is not freely given. To believe otherwise cheapens the cross and the sacrifice that Christ willingly did for us. This fact is the reason why we cannot boast in anything and that it is all the glory and wonderful grace of God.
This week's posts were written by Michael Davis.