Indecent Proposal Part II: Choosing Bondage or Freedom

Description

Dee Brestin helps us understand how the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar tie into the Gospel and our lives.

If possible, please read Indecent Proposal Part I

Jesus said, "If you know the truth, it can set you free." Paul uses the story of Abraham and his two wives as an analogy to show us a wrong way and a right way to approach the Christian life. One puts us in bondage, and the other sets us as free as an eagle in the sky.

The Galatians had listened to false teaching of the Gospel and had embraced an indecent proposal (the way of slavery). Paul writes to them sternly, saying:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? I am astonished that you are so deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all. 

False teachers had come to Galatia and told them it was right to trust what Christ did on the cross, but they also needed to keep the law. It was faith plus. It was a perversion of the Gospel. And Paul thunders:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.

Let’s look at the analogy Paul makes and then find applications to how we approach life — for God’s heart for you is to be set free.

Bible Study:

1. Read Galatians 4:21-23 and explain the differences between the birth of Ishmael and Isaac.

2. Read Galatians 4:24-31 and explain who “our mother” is. What does this mean? (This is a challenging passage, but not as hard as it might appear, and can truly make a difference in your life, so ask the Lord for His quickening to understand.)

3. Contemplate on the following and answer after each bullet point:

THE SON OF THE SLAVE WOMAN

  • Why did this not involve a miracle but natural means?
  • Why did this involve an indecent proposal?
  • What bad fruit did this lead to?

BUT THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN

  • Why was this a miracle?
  • Why did this honor God?
  • What good fruit did this lead to?

In our lives, we are continually faced with these two approaches to life. Consider them for our longings: 

THE LONGING TO GO TO HEAVEN

THE WAY OF SLAVERY

  • Follow the rules and earn your way to heaven – no miracle involved
  • Is an indecent proposal because Christ already paid dearly and it was enough
  • Leads to bondage and doesn’t work!

THE WAY OF FREEDOM

  • Trust what Christ did on the cross to pay for your sin
  • Honors God by trusting the miracle of grace
  • Leads to joy, freedom, and assurance

4. Pastor Tim Keller, a noted Christian apologist, notes one of the surest signs to discern whether someone is a Christian is their response when you ask, “Are you a Christian?” The response of someone who is a child of the slave will be a bit of a perturbed, “Of course! Why do you ask?” But the child of the freewoman will say something like, “Oh yes — isn't it wonderful? Isn't it amazing?” Explain, using the above analogy, why this would be so.

Now, let’s apply the Gospel to more than just heaven.

THE LONGING TO BE RELIEVED OF GUILT

Many women who talk to me after a retreat will confess a sin like abortion or infidelity and then say something like, “I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself.” There are two paths open to them. Let’s see how you do – imagine how someone who does trust Christ, might also choose the way of slavery. Then, contrast that with the way of Freedom.

5. Using the above explanation of the two approaches, see if you can answer the questions in parenthesis.

THE WAY OF SLAVERY

  • Trust Christ, but also beat myself up to help pay for my sin
  • (Explain why this is an “indecent proposal”)
  • (Describe result)

THE WAY OF FREEDOM

  • (What must you trust alone?)
  • (Why is this honoring to God?)
  • (What fruit does this lead to?)

4. What guilt and regrets do you carry? Why is carrying them dishonoring to God, offering an “indecent proposal?” If you are willing, list them and lay them down at the cross.

THE LONGING FOR THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART TO BE MET

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, the desire of my heart was that he would be healed on earth. I thought, I’ll ask everyone I know throughout the world to pray. I’ll live a blameless life. I’ll fast. I felt if I just did enough, then God would heal Steve on earth. And while it is true that Scripture exhorts us to pray, to live blamelessly, and even to fast – it is not to arm wrestle God, but instead, an expression of our intimate walk with Him. We live as He asks because we love Him, not to control Him. We leave the results to Him, who does all things well in His time. If we cannot see a reason for suffering, we submit to His wisdom and grace, knowing His character. As we grow in our trust for Him, we know that if He does not give us the desires of our heart, then it is because He has a better plan, a better way, that one day will be made clear. When we have a strong desire, whether it is for marriage, or children, or to be released from suffering – there are two paths open to us.

5. When we face suffering — see if you can explain which path is honoring to God and which path is not. Explain also why the path that honors God leads to humility and freedom, and the “indecent proposal” leads to pride or anger.

6. There are so many other applications, because living a Gospel-transformed life applies to much more than heaven. How might you apply this to your life?

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