What Happened to Your Joy?
When anything we do starts becoming about issues and politics and wrangling over rules rather than about people, all the joy will be pulled out of life. Fussing over rules will do that.
Remember Your Past, Read Galatians 4:8-11
Galatians 4:3 “were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.”
Before Christ they were in slavery by these demonic forces. Christ had set them free, but now they were becoming enslaved again. They were exchanging pagan slavery for a Jewish legalism that was every bit as constraining.
Remember Your Relationship, Read Galatians 4:12-16
Paul had become just like them. And now he was begging them not to listen to the Judaizing Pharisees who were seeking to enslave these Gentile believers in the very legalistic rituals that Paul had left behind.
They had accepted Paul’s teaching, but now they were rejecting everything Paul had preached and stood for to embrace this slavery of legalism.
Contrast of Motives, Read Galatians 4:17-20
“They make much of you, but for no good purpose” Verse 17
The Judaizers were zealous to win friends and influence people for all the wrong reasons. Kind of like going to look at cars and having a new friend, not because they want to be your friend, but they want to sell you a car.
Paul says that he feels like a mother in the anguish of childbirth again. (verse 19)
He has already birthed them once, and now he was going through it again. In other words, they were really being a pain.
What Then Has Become of the Blessings You Felt?
This system would lead them to see themselves as holy, and it would lead them to judge others as being unholy. So, Paul asks them, “What has become of the blessing you felt?”
In legalism there is a “list” of rules that one has to follow in order to really be a “real” Christian. Leave one item off the list, and you are off God’s list! Don’t agree with me on everything then you are off the team!
Two tings steal our joy, legalism and sin.
The legalistic church will not be joyful, and the people in legalistic churches will never be caught up in the joy of the Lord.
There is one thing they will never be—they will never be people who are caught up, overwhelmed and filled to the brim with the joy of the Lord.
You see, the joy of the Lord can’t be your strength when you think you’ve got to be good enough on your own! You are too busy fretting over being good enough. Grace teaches us that we are never good enough.
It is important that we take sin very seriously. If we give ourselves over to secret sin, then there can be no true joy in the Lord.
Paul’s words to the Galatians are the answer to our sinfulness just as surely as they are the answer to our legalism.
Galatians 4:19 “my little children, for while I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
Summary: Here is the answer to our struggle with legalism and our struggle with sin—Christ must be fully developed in our lives. If the nature and love of Christ is formed in us, we won’t need lists and we won’t tolerate sin.
If Christ is fully formed in our hearts and in control of our lives, He will lead us to heights of obedience and holiness that artificial and superficial lists will never be able to touch. In fact, Paul says that mystery of the gospel itself is summed up like this, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)
Doug Haught, Minister at Cold Harbor Road church of Christ