Week 9: The New Testament and Adoption
Day 4: Adoption and the Law – (Romans 10:14; Galatians 4:1-10)
Over the years, I have come in contact with several children who made very puzzling decisions. They had, up to that point, been brought up either on the streets or in very bad home environments. Suddenly, they had the opportunity to be brought into a loving home either through adoption, foster care or a very good, loving children’s home. Obviously, the new situation is much better than their previous lives. And yet, when the opportunity arises, they run. They go back to their old way of life as quickly as they can. Sometimes, it is immediate. Sometimes the process takes years. They endure the “restrictions” of their new home, but once they are of age they throw it all off and return to the “freedom” they once knew. What they do not realize is that, that freedom is actually bondage.
This may seem strange at first, but the reality is that we as Christians can fall into the same trap.
In Romans 10, Paul continues the discussion about his desire for Israel to be saved. He makes it very clear that their clinging to the law and seeking to produce their own righteousness is what keeps them from salvation:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 10:1-4)
Christ is the end of the law. The law is no longer needed. It was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, as we see in Galatians 3:24,25 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Yet sometimes there seems to be this desire to go back. To put ourselves back under the law, which we cannot keep, and to somehow produce our own righteousness. Seems just as strange as that child leaving their safe new home and going back to the streets, doesn’t it?
In a way, though written to other believers, Galatians 4 offers a neat summary and expansion of the verses we covered in Romans 8-10. In Romans 8, we found that our adoption has made us joint-heirs with Christ. In Galatians 4, Paul says, “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
In Romans 8, we saw that by our redemption we were set free from the bondage of the law of sin and death and have taken hold of the Spirit of adoption. In Galatians 4:6 we see again that it is by that Spirit in us that we are able to call out to God in the most precious and intimate of terms, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.”
In Romans 9 and 10 Paul dealt with the fact that we are no longer under the law because the Law ended in Christ. In Galatians 4:7, 8, he assures us once more that we are no longer servants to the law or false gods, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” He’s saying, “That’s who you used to be, you aren’t that person any more. You’ve been set free.”
Then comes that strange phenomenon: Going back. “But now, after that ye have know God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9) Much of the book of Galatians is dedicated to this topic. How appropriate that Paul refers to the law as “weak and beggarly elements”. This is a very befitting picture of what some of the children who left their new homes were choosing. Begging for food. Little or no sleep for days on end because of the fear of what will happen if they do fall asleep. No way to bathe. Sniffing glue to forget the cold. Selling themselves for the sake of a little street protection, which will most likely end in betrayal.
Why would they go back? Why do we go back? It all comes down to two things: 1) A misunderstanding of what true freedom is, and 2) Pride. We’re still trying to make our own righteousness, so we run back into the very things that will bind us: Laws, regulations and rituals. Our salvation and adoption are by faith. The law ended with Christ.
Don’t run back!
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption