Galatians 4:30 - “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.”
THE OLD TESTAMENT STORY
In order to fully comprehend what the apostle Paul was trying to say in this passage, one must first of all be acquainted with the story of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham had been promised a son, whom he understood would play a pivotal role in God’s redemption plan. Abraham knew that his son would either be the Saviour promised in Genesis 3:15, or that the promised Redeemer would be provided through his son’s lineage.
The problem was that the promise had been delayed beyond the seemingly natural means of fulfillment. He and Sarah had been unable to produce the promised seed. Sarah made the suggestion that Abraham might be able to raise up the promised seed by mating with Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden. This was a common practice in that day, but it was not God’s plan. Bible readers understand that although this plan did work, it produced more problems than it offered solutions. Hagar was impregnated and gave birth to Ishmael. But when the true seed, which was Isaac, was finally born of Abraham and Sarah’s union, God demanded that Abraham cast out both Hagar and Ishmael. Hagar and Ishmael represent man’s fleshly attempt to help God in carrying out or completing His redemption plan. Hagar and her son Ishmael represent the work of the flesh.
THE STORY OF GALATIANS
In Paul’s day, the Galatians had been led away from God’s true redemption plan and told by men, later to be known as Judaizers, that as Christians, they must obey the law and be circumcised. Paul taught that the true plan of God involved faith in Christ and what He had accomplished for us on Calvary. He taught them clearly and concisely that Christians could only be saved and sanctified through faith. He was also careful to be sure to point out that faith could only have one proper object. In other words, true Bible faith could only be defined as faith in Christ and Him crucified.
The Judaizers said that salvation and sanctification was impossible without both accepting Christ and then following the law. Paul exposed this thought process as an attempt of the flesh to carry out God’s redemption plan. He plainly teaches that faith in the law (faith in the act of circumcision) could destroy the believer’s faith and make what Christ had done for us on the Cross of none affect. Therefore, any thought that would lead someone to depend on either law or circumcision had to be eliminated from the heart and mind of all New Testament believers. Even as Abraham was instructed by God to cast out Hagar and her son, which was the wrong means of redemption/sanctification, even so today believers must “cast out” any action or thought that would oppose the exclusivity of the Cross.
CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN
The very strong exhortation of the apostle Paul to the New Testament believers was to “cast out” the bondwoman and her son. That means that faith in anything other than God’s biblical redemption plan was to be cast from off their minds. It was to be forced out, made to leave, examined, and eliminated from their thinking process.
The true battle that we fight is not against sin, for Jesus defeated sin and acts of sin by His death on Calvary. Our role is one of the fight of faith. Any thought pattern, any doctrine, or any teaching that would change our role from the one who reaps the benefits of Christ’s victory to the one who must achieve victory, must be cast out.
In II Corinthians 10:5, we see this battle described. Paul told us that though we walked in the flesh we were not to war by the means of the flesh. We are to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Our hearts and minds are to be totally dedicated to the truth of Christ and Him crucified. We are to trust exclusively in what He did and never in what we do to gain victory over sin. We frustrate the grace of God that frees us from sin when we exhibit a lack of dependence upon Christ’s finished work. Therefore, whenever sin appears in our lives, or we find sin dominating us in some fashion, that is the evidence that we are leaning to our own understanding and depending upon ourselves more than we are depending upon Christ.
We might think of it in this fashion: the more that our faith is truly resting in the finished work of Christ, the less sin or sinful activity will be evidenced in our lives. No one does this perfectly. We are all learning. But living free from sin is impossible if we fail to “cast out” from our minds and our hearts any way of salvation or sanctification other than faith in the Cross.
A LENGTHY PROCESS
Again, we emphasize that this process is a learning process. Even when we believe that our faith is properly placed in Christ and Him crucified, and it truly is for the most part, the Holy Spirit will constantly reveal the different areas of our life were we still trust in ourselves.
For example, the New Testament is filled with practical application. These are the actions and attitudes that Christians should display on a daily basis. These are not laws that establish righteousness, for the believer has been freed from the law. However, we are never free to disobey the instructions and commandments that address moral code in God’s Word. A study of the Beatitudes, or a quick glance at Romans, Chapters 12-14, will quickly give us information about attitudes and actions that God expects to see in His people.
What we are sure to find, as we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord, is that we still have not applied the truths of the Cross to each and every circumstance that we face in life. We have a long journey ahead of us. But we will never walk through it appropriately unless we first “cast out the bondwoman and her son.”