The Son and the Slave
Galatians 4:7
Why you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The Christian is compared to the son, the Jew to the slave. The gospel brings sonship, Law inflicts bondage. The sonship of the new order involves liberty and heirship. Consider some of the privileges herein implied.

I. INTELLIGENT PRINCIPLES SUBSTITUTED FOR SPECIFIC COMMANDMENTS, The slave is ordered to do this or that without his master condescending to tell him the reason for his mandates. He is bound to a blind, implicit obedience. Nothing is done to develop his understanding and to help him to choose and decide on his own judgment. But the son is admitted to his father's counsels, and educated so as to reason for himself and to act on the dictates of his own conscience. The Law keeps men as slaves. It commands, it does not explain. Christianity

(1) enlightens so that we see the principles of righteousness, understand their inherent rightness and discern their applicability to specific cases;

(2) liberates by allowing us freedom to apply these principles according to our own conscientious convictions, instead of forcing upon us a rigid course of conduct.

II. LOVE AS A MOTIVE INSTEAD OF COMPULSION. The slave may hate his master and only obey in fear of the lash. The true son is above this abject, servile obedience. He has learnt to love his father, and from love to seek to anticipate his father's wishes and willingly to endeavour to please him. The Law commands, threatens, drives, compels. The gospel persuades and attracts. The Christian obeys God because he first loves God. The secret is that Law cannot change our hearts, while the gospel does "create a new heart within" us, so that we no longer need the restraints of Law, but earnestly desire to please God.

III. FAMILY FELLOWSHIP IN PLACE OF SERVILE INFERIORITY. The slave is kept at a distance from his master, holds an inferior position, and is excluded from familiar intercourse. The son lives at home in the presence of his father and enjoys close companionship with him. Law keeps us at a distance from God. Jews were made to feel a sense of separation caused by their Levitical system. Christians are brought near through Christ and belong to the family of God.

IV. A RICH INHERITANCE IN EXCHANGE FOR HELPLESS POVERTY, The slave can own nothing. All he earns and his very person are the property of his master. Sons are heirs. Law allows us to gain nothing - it is a hard master; but the gospel offers the richest gifts. Christians, being God's sons, become fellow-heirs with Christ. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

WEB: So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

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