The Law and the Gospel

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The Church of Galatia was the scene of a conflict between the law and the gospel, or Sarah and Hagar. We have in the progress of Scripture many such scenes. The house of Abraham was such. There Hagar and Sarah for a season dwelt together, but in sad discord and strife. Again, the family of Jacob presented the same. Leah and Rachel, the two wives, dwelt together, but between them there was again the same disturbance, upbraiding and envy. Elkanah's house was the same. Peninnah and Hannah were the Leah and Rachel again-pride and provocations from the one, and constant sorrow of heart from the other. And all these scenes were the expression of the conflict between the flesh and the spirit, or the law and the gospel, of which conflict the Church in Galatia was the scene, when we reach the times of the apostolic ministry.
The trouble was brought in through unbelief, and could be removed only by strengthening the freewoman. Thus it was Sarah's unbelief that brought Hagar into the family. Had she, in the patience of faith, waited the Lord's time, and not given her maid to Abraham, she would have been spared fourteen years of sorrow from Hagar and Ishmael. It was Jacob's craft on Isaac that brought down Laban's craft on himself in giving him Leah, and thus his getting her into his house as well as Rachel. Had his faith been-more simple, his faith would have been more undistracted. And nothing healed all this sorrow and quieted this disturbance, but the fruitfulness of the beloved, or the freewoman. Then Sarah gets rid of Hagar, Rachel rejoices, and Hannah sings her song of holy triumph. So Israel brought the law, or the bondwoman, on themselves by their unbelief and self-confidence (Exod. 19.); and Galatia, and the flesh in each of us, is the same cause of trouble. And nothing drives it away, nothing heals the house, the Church, or the heart, but strengthening the spirit, the gospel, or the freewoman, thus giving fruitfulness to the seed of God, the spirit of adoption, the principle of liberty in us. Bring forth Isaac, and then send away Ishmael, and dwell in an undivided house, breathe the pure element of liberty, " Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ bath made us free." Indeed we ought to do justice (may I so speak?) to the wondrous love of our God. It claims our happy confidence, our filial confidence. To render it merely a diffident or suspicious glance, as it were, is treating it unworthily. May the Sarah in our hearts cry out, and cry out lustily, " Cast out the bondwoman and her son."