“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” Galatians 4:8 (NIV)

Notice the past tense — this is what you were. Many Christians live their lives in fear, as though they are still slaves. Are you more aware of what God still needs to do in your life, or of what God has already done?  

What does Paul mean when he tells Christians they were slaves? A slave has no freedom. He does what he’s commanded to do. The tragedy of the slave’s position is his work never moves him to a better place. It cannot bring him freedom. That was your position.

You had not fulfilled the demands of the law, and you were unable to fulfill them. So, you owed God a debt you could not pay. That put you in the position of a slave, and you couldn’t change your position by your work — no matter how hard you tried.

The Gospel sets you free
“You are no longer a slave, but a son;” Galatians 4:7
This is in the present tense: This is what you are! The good news of the Gospel is that God has acted to win your freedom. This remarkable change has already happened in your life, if you are a Christian believer. You were a slave: You are a son!

God has embraced you in Christ, who died to redeem you. He has made you a new creation in Christ by the Spirit who lives within you (2 Corinthians 5:17). Grasping the Gospel means believing that these things are true for me in Christ.

Many people who believe they’re Christians are constantly telling themselves that they’re slaves: “I have this sin I can’t get over. It’s the way I was made.” When you think or talk like that, you’re saying you’re a slave, and you’re denying the Gospel. You’re not living by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Where victory over sin begins…

There’s only one way to live the Christian life and that is by believing the Gospel, by believing that what God promises in Christ is true for me. When you do that you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).

If you’re a Christian don’t say, “I have this sin that I can’t get over.” Say instead, “This is a sin I have fallen into many times, but those past failures are forgiven, and today I stand before God, not as sin’s slave, but as a child of God in whom His Spirit now lives. So, I can endure this trial, I can stand against this temptation, and by the grace of God I will prevail.” That’s what it means to live this life in the body by faith in the Son of God.

This LifeKey is based on the message “The Gospel Sets You Free,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on December 3, 2006, from the series “Grasping the Gospel.”