Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
We pick up where our sermon text left off on Sunday. Paul makes a few important points here:
1. All religions (except true Christianity) are the same. They all have the common “ABC’s” or “elementary principles” which rule them. As Paul explains in Colossians 2:20-21, these are regulations about how to appease God. Every religion of the world is a religion of law, enslaved by the law and doomed for failure. For every such attempt to draw near to God is “weak and worthless.” Whether it’s Islam, or Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Mormonism, each is a weak and worthless attempt to do something to earn God’s favor or attain some goal. This is why Paul mentions “seasons and days and months and years.” He’s pointing out that keeping the mosaic law (which included all kinds of mandatory observances of days like not working on the Sabbath and feasts at certain times of the year) as a means for salvation is exactly like the paganism the Galatians had been called out of. It’s exactly like every other human religion – enslaved to these elementary principles and weak and worthless. But Christianity is the opposite…
2. Being a Christian isn’t about what you do, or even about your choosing God, it’s about (as Paul emphasizes) “Being known by God.” He chooses you. He saves you. He forgives you. He gives you faith. God in Christ is the only actor in the salvation of a Christian from beginning to end. The Christian doesn’t do a thing. For the things that we do are and can only be damning. But the things Christ does, these save us. Christ’s perfect life. His doing. His dying. His rising. These save and these alone.