Have you ever had such an amazing experience that you said you were never going to go back to the way things were before? Maybe it was when you met that special someone and knew your life would be forever changed. Maybe it was something else. Nevertheless, the point is you could not imagine turning back to the old way of doing things. This thought process should be ours in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, the false gods of our lives and the legalistic practices turn us back to the old way (vv. 8-11). The Galatian believers, who now knew God and were known by Him, fell into this same trap. They listened to false teachers and were back to following the pattern of life they practiced before they knew God in relationship. The people who were sons of God by the work and person of the Son of God (4:1-7) had went back to the slavery of sin. They were enslaved by the “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world” (v. 9). This caused Paul great heartache and concern for the Galatians (vv. 11, 19-20). He was afraid the gospel labor he had preached to them had been in vain. But this heartache and concern is what caused him to implore the Galatians repent and turn back to the gospel. The worldliness, the legalistic stipulations, and the works-based “salvation” does not having any transforming power at all. The gospel Paul has received from the Lord and the gospel Paul has preached is what has the transforming power and is the only real salvation. Indeed, Paul is writing to the Galatians to tell them and remind them of the truth (v. 16). He wants to bring them back to the place where they were both Christians of conviction and compassion (v. 15). In sum, Paul says that turning back from the gospel will be of no good purpose. In contrast, turning to the gospel will be of much good purpose, as Christ will be formed in them. If this is true, that the gospel is only by the grace of Jesus Christ, then we must ask ourselves the same question Paul addresses to the Galatians, “How can we turn back?”
- Have you ever turned back to the enslavement of sin only to realize the need to repent and turn back to the gospel of Jesus Christ? What did you learn through that experience?