What’s it all about? Through Jesus Christ, we are no longer enslaved under the law. The perfect life, substitutionary death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ have made it possible for those who were once alienated from God to be adopted as sons and daughters. By virtue of being adopted into God’s family we receive (1) a new nature; (2) a new identity; (3) are granted access to the Father; (4) experience the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; and (5) become heirs of the promise of salvation.
[4:1] I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,  but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.  In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7 ESV)
So what? Since we have been adopted in God’s family through grace of Jesus Christ, we must reject legalism and resist the temptation to trust in our own perceived good works to justify us before God.
Questions from the Text:
1. How does the image of slavery portray our condition apart from Christ (4:1-3)?
2. What are the effects of the incarnation (4:4-7)?
3. What does it mean to be “adopted” into God’s family (4:5-7)?
(1) The New Nature: Our interactions with God, the world, and others will never be the same again. Our new nature isn’t simply measured in a moralistic checklist but is manifested in (1) our new affection for God; (2) our new concern for the brokenness of this world; and (3) our new love for those we formerly hated or ignored.
(2) The New Identity: We are no longer defined by categories such as how much money we make, the level of education we’ve received, or the job we have. These and all other man-made categories are meaningless in the Kingdom of Christ. He alone is King and my identity is shaped by who He is, the risen and triumphant Savior.
(3) Access to the Father: Apart from Christ, we were alienated from God. However, in Christ we can come before God, not as sin-stained outsiders but as cleansed and redeemed children of God. His affection for us has no limits, and He graciously calls us into His presence.
(4) The Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit: God has not left us alone. He lives and dwells within believers in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit graciously convicts us of our rebellion and sin, calls us to repentance, regenerates us, and preserves us to the end. God has enabled you to know, love, and enjoy Him forever. The journey begins now!
(5) The Heirs of the Promise of Salvation: In Christ, we’ve inherited what we could not purchase: eternal life. Thus, we don’t have to fear death. Instead, we can embrace death as the means by which God will usher us into His presence. A person who has died and been raised in Christ already has eternal life; so live like it.
Small Group Questions – Scripture: John 1:9-18; Romans 8:12-25; Ephesians 1:3-10
1. In John 1:12-13, how does a person become a child of God?
2. In Ephesians 1:5, what do we learn about God’s plan and purpose concerning our adoption into His family?
3. In Romans 8, what is the primary evidence that a person is a child of God?
4. If we are already “in Christ”, what does it mean to “wait eagerly for adoption as sons” (Romans 8:23)?