So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

-Galatians 4:7

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Do you ever feel like you don’t belong?  Like you don’t measure up?  Like you’re not worthy?  One of the devastating side effects of misunderstanding the gospel of Jesus Christ is the focus we place on performance as it relates to belonging to the family of God.

The thought process is simple: I have to earn the right to be accepted by God, and be a part of his church.  If we believe ourselves to be acting righteously and the church does not accept us, then we are hurt, angered, and disillusioned.  If we fail to act righteously and the church finds out, then we feel guilty and ashamed, and hesitate to participate with our fellow believers.

As we have been walking through Galatians we have been consistently reminded that our place in the family of God is not dependent on our efforts, but on God’s efforts.  In Galatians 4:4-5 Paul tells us that God sent Jesus to redeem us (from slavery to sin via the law) and claim us as sons and daughters.  God did this.  In Galatians 4:6 God sent the Spirit of Jesus to dwell in us, and the Spirit cries to God as “Father.”  We are sons, not slaves.  This argument culminates in Galatians 4:7- “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  

Let’s be explicit: our place in the family of God is secured by the work of Jesus on our behalf and the Spirit’s work in us.  We are heirs.  The stubborn love of God resulted in the perfect action of God to rescue us and adopt us.  If you have put your faith in Jesus you are in.  You belong.  You measure up because he does.  You’re worthy because he’s worthy.  No matter what you feel, or what you think others think about you.

This has an amazing side effect: it frees us from the burden of man-pleasing performance.  If we fail to act righteously we can confess it knowing that our place in the family is secure no matter how people respond to us.  When those false teachers showed up in Galatia and told the Galatians that they weren’t yet good enough to be part of God’s family they should have reminded them of the work of Jesus on their behalf.

When your false fears, guilt, and shame accost your soul don’t make the Galatian mistake.  Stand up to yourself by standing on the work of Jesus for you.  Cry out to your heavenly Father… after all, you are in the family. 

Ryan serves as the Senior Pastor of Green Pond Bible Chapel in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is married with four children.

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