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Galatians  ◦   Chapter 4

1 What I am trying to explain to you is that as long as the heir remains immature, they are really no different from a slave, because they need someone to supervise their behavior, make their decisions, and guide their actions — even though they own the entire estate.2 They don’t have self-governance, so they need the guardians and trustees to protect them from their immature self until such time as they can handle their own affairs.3 Likewise, when we were childlike in character and immature in our thinking, we had no self-control and were slaves to selfish impulses.4 But when the time was right, God intervened and sent his Son–born of a sin-infected human mother, as a real human baby, with a humanity weakened by the law of sin and death–5 in order to purify, cleanse and purge humanity from the infection of selfishness and fear. He did this in order to heal and restore those diagnosed as "terminal" by the written law, so that we might receive all the blessings of sons and daughters of God.6 Because we are children of God, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts to restore Christlikeness of character so that we genuinely call out to God, "Daddy, Father!"7Rejoice! You are no longer childlike, needing the supervision of a slave, but are adult children, wise and mature; and as mature children–heirs with Christ of all that is promised!

8 In the past, before you knew God as revealed by Jesus, your minds were held in the bondage of fear and superstition by gods of your own darkened imaginations.9 But now that you have come to know God as revealed by Jesus (or, more importantly, now that Christlike character has been developing within you, and you are known as God's children), how could you possibly return to the dark, powerless, destructive beliefs and practices of your former lives? Do you wish to have your minds destroyed and be enslaved by superstition and ignorance all over again?10 You are actually observing ceremonial holidays as if somehow such observances could heal the mind, remove selfishness and guilt, or restore the character to Christlikeness.11 I can hardly believe it! I am beginning to wonder whether all my time with you has been wasted.

12 I beg you, seek to understand my concerns and try to see things from my perspective, as I have sought to understand your concerns and see things from your perspective. You have not offended me, nor do I hold a grudge against you.13 You know that when I shared the Remedy with you for the first time, I was in poor health.14 I remember how sick I was when I visited you and how kind and tender you were to me–as if I were an angel from God! You couldn't have treated me better if I were Christ Jesus himself.15 What has happened to all your love and graciousness and willing self-sacrifice? I can personally testify that you used to be so generous and caring that — if it were possible — you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.16 Will you now treat me as an enemy because I am bringing you the truth?

17 Those other people who have been talking to you are passionately motivated to win you over to their way of thinking–but not because they care about you or want what is best for you. No! They want to turn you away from us and re-infect your minds with lies, distortions, and self-promoting methods, so that you will use your energies promoting their destructive principles.18 It is good to have passion and be strongly motivated, as long as the motivation is to do good and promote God's methods (which should be done all the time, whether I am there or not).19 Don’t you understand that you are like my own children? With all my might I have struggled to help free you from the infection of selfishness, and I long to see Christlike character formed within you.20 Oh! I wish I could be there with you now to look you in the eye, and maybe then discover another way to communicate my anguish, fear, and heartache over you!

21 So tell me, those of you who are trying to heal yourselves by observing the written law or by performing certain rituals: Don’t you realize the real purpose of that entire symbolic system? Let me tell you:22 As it is written, Abraham had two sons: one from a slave woman, and the other–from his wife (a free woman).23 His son from the slave woman was born by Abraham’s effort (through natural conception), but the son by his wife (the free woman) was conceived and born by miraculous intervention–as the result of a promise.

24 This is more than a literal story; it is also a metaphor of God’s plan to heal and restore humankind. The women are symbolic of two contracts (or two different treatment plans). One contract (or treatment plan) was given at Mount Sinai, and it produces children who are slaves to a system full of works (one that fails to heal and transform the mind). This contract (or treatment plan) is represented by Hagar, the slave woman.25 Hagar represents a system in which selfish humans work, trying to heal and free themselves, just as the people chose to do at Mount Sinai and continue to do in present-day Jerusalem. Hagar was a slave along with her children, and she could never free herself, regardless of how much work she did. So too, slaves to selfishness can never free themselves, regardless of how much work they do.26But Sarah (the free woman) represents the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, home to those who are healed and set free by God — healed and set free from sin and selfishness as a result of receiving the promised Remedy. She is our mother.27 For it is written: "Be glad, O heavenly city, barren of people, empty of children; lift up your gates and sing with joy, O city who doesn't know pain; because more are your free and healthy children than the slave children in the earthly Jerusalem."

28 Understand clearly then that you, like Isaac, are children born of God's promise–his promise to heal and restore you to his original ideal.29 But the son born by human effort (through normal conception) persecuted the son born by the life-giving power of the Spirit. It is the same now, that those who pursue a system of human works (a self-motivated system) will persecute those who have been reborn within by the life-giving power of the Spirit.30 But what does the Scripture say will be the ultimate outcome? "Away with the slave woman and her enslaved son, for a slave woman's son can never share in the inheritance of the free woman's son."31 Therefore, friends, all of us who have stopped trying to create our own cure for selfishness but instead have accepted the free Remedy provided by Christ are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.