It is very wonderful that Godís people know him as their Father (Matthew 6:7-15). They respect him, but not with the relationship of fear that slaves have towards their master. Instead, they truly love him (Mark 12:30; 1 John 5:1-2), with the love that children have towards a good and kind father.
To emphasise that lesson, Paul uses the word ABBA (Galatians 4:6). That is the familiar word which children in Israel use even today to call their father.
If people do not have a real relationship with God, they have no right to call him Father. However, the Bible teaches that people can become Godís children (John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:10). That happens when they turn from their evil deeds to believe in Christ. God is adopting them to be children in his family (Galatians 4:5).
Formerly, the people who are now Godís people were the slaves of sin (their own wrong and evil behaviour and attitudes) - Romans 6:20. At that time, the devil controlled them by fear (Hebrews 2:15). However, by the death of Christ, God saved (rescued) them, both from sin and from the devilís power (Romans 5:6-10; Hebrews 2:14).
It astonished Paul, therefore, to discover that many Christians were choosing to behave like slaves again (Galatians 4:9-11). Some teachers were emphasising certain rules from Godís law so much that they were changing Godís message (Galatians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 11:4). In reality, they were replacing love for God with a series of strict rules. They thought about God as a strict master, and not as a loving Father.
God gave his law to show people how they could have a right relationship with him. They do not become his children because of their efforts to obey his law, but because they believe his promise (Romans chapter 4; Galatians 4:28-31).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.