I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday that Paul addressed the difference between being a slave and being a son or daughter. I began by asking if they knew the difference between being a slave and being a child. One 13 sabbathgrandmother brought her granddaughter to me and told me that when I asked that question the girl turned to her and whispered “there is no difference.” I thought that was really funny. Paul is going to explain what she said is true. In Galatians 4:1-3, Paul writes, “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.”

During Paul’s time children were placed under the authority of a guardian, usually a trusted slave in the household. As Richison points out, “Roman custom did not specify an age when a person became ready for adulthood. When the father deemed the heir ready, he celebrated this time by a festival known as ‘Liberalia.’ … At this time, the heir received his ‘toga virilis’ (coat of adulthood). The boy burned his childhood toys at this festival. This person now has authority over the slave that governed him as a child.” Richison goes on to say, “A person who operates under the law is no different than a child who is heir to an entire estate and placed under guardianship. He was a legal heir but he did not have the privilege of utilizing his legal rights to his estate. The law was the guardian (3:24–26) that watched over believers in the Old Testament. A Christian who reverts to the law puts himself back under slavery.”

While I was in Bennington last week, I was trying to get out of a large parking lot at the High School. The signs said “do not enter.” Yet it was in the middle of the day and no one was coming in or going out. The exit was just a few feet ahead. I was almost out of gas and didn’t like the thought of going all the way around the lot to find the right exit. So I quoted Jesus (Mark 2:27), “man was not made for the law, but the law was made for man.” My passengers all mocked me for breaking the law. How long would you wait at a red light before you broke the law and drove on? Motor cyclists know what I mean. Their vehicles are often too light to trigger the sensors that change the light to green. In Kentucky, House Bill 197 would amend state law to allow motorists to drive through an intersection against a red light under certain conditions. Why? Because the law was made for man not the other way around. Unfortunately, we’re still accountable for the decisions we make. I might have a clear conscience for driving out the wrong way, but had a policeman caught me, I would still get a ticket!