Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 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? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
~ Galatians 4:8-11
Paul is pleading with the Galatians here to seriously consider what they are considering. If they abandon the grace of God and adhere to the law again, they are not only abandoning their “sonship” with Jesus – and their adoption into the family of God, but are seeking after nothing shy of demonic practices. Put simply, any religious system that does not seek the God of the Bible is worshipping demons and false gods. God has made His stance very clear on this in the ten commandments, dedicating His first three commandments (the eternal moral laws) to protecting His name (how we refer to Him), His image (as in, don’t make anything to worship since God the Father is spirit, and not corporeal) and His preeminence in our lives:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
~ Exodus 20:2-7
How do we worship false gods? Simple! In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of you have done the same. Have you ever, before God saved you, read something in the Bible or heard something about God that you didn’t agree with and said to yourself, “nooo… that can’t be right! My god would never believe that!”. You, my friend, have just created a god in your own image. You rejected the God of the Bible and created one that met your personal needs. The problem here is that God will not be mocked and He has no tolerance for those who reject Him. That’s one of the things you can do when you’re God. See, He’s given us a book where He tells us about Himself and, because we’re prideful and prone to ignoring outside influence, we listen to what He says and reject it, substituting our own plan, or ideas, or theology. But God is who He claims to be.
Let’s say that you and I was in another country and you, because you were a close friend of mine, wrote me a letter every week detailing your life for me. You pour it all out and describe who you are and what your life is like and how you respond to things that happen to you. When I finally meet you, I call you by another name, tell all my friends lies about you that, if I read the letters you sent me I’d know to be untrue, but still said that I knew you personally because you had written to me about your life – what would you think about me? In the same way, when we reject the God of the Bible and insert our own theology, and then tell people that we are followers of that God we are lying about Him and deceiving many who listen to us.
So, how does that tie back into the text we have before us today? The Galatians were dangerously close to abandoning the gospel of Jesus Christ and laying themselves beneath the law, but still were calling themselves followers of Christ. Paul sees their dilemma and lays it out for them – they’re in danger of falling back into their own false religion and false system of legalism. He even openly states that he fears that he may have wasted his effort in trying to convert them to begin with.
Now, for those who are in Christ Jesus, truly saved and transformed, God will allow you to wander off the reservation a bit before bringing you back to Himself but once you are truly in Christ you are a new creation and God will not allow you to leave. That would insinuate that He was incapable of finishing a work that He started in you. But for those who are false converts – people who put on a front of Christian behavior yet who are not actually saved, they will eventually fall away. Therefore test yourself to be sure you are in the faith.