Over the last few months I’ve become convinced that there might not be another passage of Scripture that this generation of young adults needs to hear more than Galatians 3:23-26.
Read Galatians 3:23-26.
Notice the massive shift that takes place. “Before faith came, we were held captive under the law … but now … we are … sons of God, through faith” (v. 23-26, ESV). The law (which we’ve all broken) accuses us. It convicts us. I’m not talking in a “my heart feels convicted” sort of way – the Holy Spirit does that. I’m talking in a “criminal, you’ve broken the law, now you have to pay the price” sort of way. The law throws us in a spiritual prison only to await our coming death sentence. Prior to faith that was our condition: we were captives, prisoners, and slaves to the law. But now that faith has come, that’s no longer our condition. In Christ, we are no longer prisoners awaiting our coming death sentence. We are free!
Notice, though, that God’s Word doesn’t just say we are “free.” It says we are “sons.” Way too many of us who have been set free from captivity to the law through faith in Jesus live more like captives than we do sons. Too many of us have not realized the change that’s been set in motion in how we relate to God. As a result, we continue to live in fear, we continue to live with shame, we continue to live with this feeling that we need to convince the Judge that we’re truly sorry and we’ve truly changed, and we continue to live like we have limited access to God like a prisoner does to a judge.
That, however, is not what God wants our relationship with Him to look like. We have to see the massive shift that has taken place in our lives. As captives we relate to God as judge, but if by faith we’re in Christ, we’re not captives anymore! Therefore, as sons we relate to God as Father!
God wants us to approach Him like He’s our dad … because He is. My dad isn’t perfect and we’ve had plenty of relational rifts, but I’ve got a pretty awesome dad. One of the things I love about my dad is that I can call him whenever I want. He almost always answers even if he’s in the middle of work. He wants to talk to me. In fact, he calls me, too. When I was younger, my dad would often slip me $20 bills and say, “Don’t tell your mom.” My dad wants me to succeed. He cheers me on and supports me. When I would screw up, of course he would discipline me, but with love in his heart.
Read Galatians 4:6.
To be a son of God is to know God in the same way a son knows his father. This goes back to the massive shift we saw at the beginning in how we relate to God. As captives we relate to God as judge, but as sons we relate to God as Father! God wants us to approach Him like He’s our dad, because He is.
I know that for many, the dad comparison isn’t a good one. To compare God to a father may be difficult for some people because of the way their dad treated them. Whether your dad was good or bad, God is the Dad that none of us have ever had (see Luke 11:11-13). God’s father love is perfect and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). He wants us to talk to him. He wants us to succeed. He wants to bless us with good things.
Here is why this is so important: Way too many of us who have been set free from captivity to the law through faith in Jesus continue to live more like captives and slaves to our sin, guilt and brokenness than we do sons of a loving Father. This generation of young adults, which just so happens to be plagued with really messed up views of God and really heavy burdens of past and present sin, need to know that this is the kind of relationship that God, through Jesus, is inviting them into.
Austin Wadlow and his wife, Lesley, live in Iowa where he serves as the Teaching Pastor and Salt Company Director at Keystone Church in Ankeny, IA. You can connect with Austin via Twitter: @austinwadlow