Grace and Truth (Part 11): Two Women and Two Covenants

by Rick

Today we continue our series entitled, “Grace and Truth” by continuing to look at The Law given under Moses vs. the Grace provided by Jesus.  Our main scriptures are John 1:14 & 17. Let’s look at them again.

(John 1:14 NIV)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John 1:17 NIV)

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

For the past week we have been looking at what Paul taught in his letter to the believers in Galatia.  So far we have covered half of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4. In Friday’s message Paul explained how he was raised a strict Jew, but was living like a Gentile, free from the Law.  On the other hand, many Gentiles who had been raised free from the Law, were somehow tricked into accepting the bondage of the Law, even after they had been Born-Again in Christ. Why anyone would want to take on the bondage of the Law was baffling to Paul.  The Apostle addresses this in today’s passage. I cover Galatians 4:21-26. Let’s get into it.

Paul says, “Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?”  Unfortunately, many believers who were told that they had to live under the Law, and who willingly accepted whatever they were told, really had no clue what the Law actually said.  It is sad, but this is still happening today. People blindly accept what a Pastor or Priest says, without reading the Word of God for themselves. I don’t ever want you to receive anything I teach without seeing the Word for yourself.  Not only do I provide you the actual scriptures and many references, but I urge you to double check what I am saying. I want you to see it with your own eyes. Because once you are convinced that this is what the Bible actually says, you will be changed!

Paul goes on to give an analogy.  He says, “The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife.  The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.”  The child born from Abraham’s slave wife came into the world through human effort and he represents the Law, while the child born from Abraham’s freeborn wife came into the world by God’s Grace and he represents the New Covenant and God’s promise.  Paul makes it plain as he says, “These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants.  The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them.  And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law.  But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother.” 

So what does this mean to you today?  Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Many believers blindly accept what a Pastor or Priest says, without reading the Word for themselves.  This is dangerous and it is not what the Bible teaches us to do (see Acts 17:11).

2.  Abraham had a son named Ishmael with his slave wife Hagar.  This boy was born through human effort. He represents the Old Covenant of the Law.  He was born of the flesh, NOT God’s promise.

3.  Abraham also had a son named Isaac.  He was born from his freeborn wife, Sarah.  This boy was born by God’s Grace. He represents the New Covenant.  He was not born of human effort. Actually, he came after human effort was no longer working.  Abraham was 99 years old and his wife was 89 years old when they got pregnant. He was 100 and she was 90 when the baby was born.  This was supernatural. This was God’s grace. This was the manifestation of God’s promise. Abraham DID NOT believe God when Ishmael was born.  But for Isaac, Abraham had to believe God. He could not consider the deadness of his own body (from the waist-down his body was not working and back then there was no Viagra), nor did he consider the deadness of Sarah’s womb.  She was 90 years old and she could not have babies when she was 18 (read Romans 4:17-21). This was all God. This was faith! This is why Abraham is known as the father of faith!  

4.  Paul likens the Old Covenant to Abraham’s first child, born of a slave.  Paul said “the law enslaved” those who attempted to live by it.

5.  Just like Paul calls Abraham our father, he calls Sarah our mother.  Sarah was a free woman and she gave birth to a child when it was a human impossibility.  She was 90 years old and she had been barren all her life. Abraham was 100 years old and he was dead from the waist-down.  But God gave them a baby by His Grace, NOT human effort. Paul then likens this baby — born by Grace, through the faith of Abraham and Sarah — to the New Covenant we have with God!

6.  The Old Covenant made us slaves to the Law.  It was about human effort. It was about our performance.  The New Covenant makes us free to embrace God’s grace. Under the New Covenant God does all He does by grace and we access His grace with our faith!  

7.  In Galatians 4:21-26 the Apostle Paul did a good job of comparing the life focused on human effort/performance (the Old Covenant) with the life of faith that accesses God’s grace (the New Covenant).  Under the Old Covenant the spotlight was on YOU and it was about what you had to DO for God. Under the New Covenant the spotlight is on GOD and what He has already done for us. God has done all He is going to do for you by grace, unearned and undeserved.  Your job is to find out what He planned and believe it by faith. By faith you do whatever is required of you to receive what God has already provided!    

Declaration of Faith

Father, I thank you for taking the time to teach me Your Word.  Paul made it very clear for me. He used Abraham’s two wives, Hagar and Sarah, and the children that were born from them, as a clear example of the two covenants.  Hagar was a slave. She and Abraham had a child through human effort. This child, Ishmael, represents the slavery and human performance associated with The Law of Moses.  Sarah was a free woman. She and Abraham had a child by Your Grace, through their faith. This child, Isaac, represents the New Covenant of Grace. I am not under the Law, but under Grace.  I don’t live my life on human effort alone, I live my life by Your amazing Grace. Like Abraham, I seek to hear from You, to find out what Your will for my life is. Once you speak, I accept it by Grace and pursue it by faith.  This is how I live. I am the just and I live by every Word You speak to me. I live by faith! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and prosper!

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