Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Gal 4:1-7
Paul is continuing his analogy from the previous chapter, comparing the Law to a child’s tutor. The Law was Israel’s guardian and steward, until the time appointed by the Father, when Jesus came.
Our redemption that Jesus accomplished for us, is that because we had transgressed the Law, we were under a sentence of death. Christ redeemed us from death. The blood of the Lamb has been brushed over the doorposts of our heart, and the angel of death has passed us over. Now that we have been redeemed, God has adopted us as sons, and as proof that He has adopted us, He has given us the Holy Spirit. This fulfills the prophecy we have been quoting from Ezekiel:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Eze 36:26-27
Our obedience, now that we are heirs come fully into the inheritance, comes from the Spirit within our hearts. We want to obey, we are no longer compelled to obey by guardians (the Law written on tablets of stone) as if we were children.
A tutor teaches a child something they did not know. Let’s use reading as an example. So for several years, a child studies reading under a tutor, with the goal that he will be able to read anything on his own with understanding when he has learned to read. Now when that child graduates, he does not immediately say, because I am no longer under a tutor, I never have to read again. No! He continues reading, but now he no longer needs help to read.
It is the same with us: the Law, written on the pages of the Bible, is teaching us something we did not know before – how to walk in God’s ways. Now that the Spirit has come, we obey God out of our hearts, as second nature, without having to be compelled solely by the pages all the time. It does not mean we stop obeying; and it does not mean that what we obey changes. The written Word and the Spirit always agree, and if we are ever unsure as to the leading of the Spirit, we can refer to the written Word for direction and confirmation.
Continued in: Galatians 4:8-20, the elements of the world