NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.
Bible Passages: Galatians 4:8-20
— In what ways are paganism and legalism similar? How do both lead to the same end?
— How does faith in Christ bring freedom in our lives? How is serving Christ different from being a servant to paganism or legalism?
Food for thought:
Xander and Morgan view their families very differently. Both do a lot of things to help their families, but they do it for very different reasons. Xander knows his family loves him, so he responds in kind. He knows he will be treated fairly in the future, which impacts his attitude now. Morgan on the other hand lives with the fear of being cut out of the family inheritance, so she does all she can to stay on their good side. She has become a slave to the inheritance and in effect, to the family. Xander serves, while Morgan slaves away.
Paul reminded the Galatians of the slavery they once endured in their pagan worship. They lived in constant fear of losing the favor of the idols once worshiped. The festivals and other events were done with the hope of staying on the good side of that idol or false god. Paul understood that same fear-based slavery but in the form of legalism, which is keeping the law to secure God’s favor. In a way, the false teachers that directed the Galatians to adopt legalism were calling them to take on the same fears that motivated their religious practices prior to knowing Christ. They were trading one form of slavery for another.
Freedom is found in serving Christ, because that service is not based on the fear of losing something but on the joy of being known by God (Galatians 4:9). We serve Him in response to His love, as opposed to in hope of gaining it. Legalism and paganism are functions of fear.
Following Christ is a function of experiencing God’s gracious love. Why would we return to a life of fear when we can have a life based on God’s gracious love? This fear makes slavery of servanthood, while God’s love makes servanthood our joyous response to the freedom found in Christ.
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible.