Pastor Rick Hogaboam: Galatians 4:8-11 “The Tears of a Christian Hedonist”

Posted: October 19, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Galatians
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Galatians 4:8-11 “How can you turn Back” or “The Tears of a Christian Hedonist”

By Pastor Rick Hogaboam, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, Nampa, ID


Audio Link: Here

Galatians 4:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 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? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Galatians 4:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

–          V. 8 applies mostly to Gentiles. They did not know God, nor were known by God in their past life. They were in bondage to “non-gods” or dumb idols. They were idolatrous.

9 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?

–          Knowing God…better yet to be known by God. What really matters is not what we do with God, but He does with us. Having come under His grace and divine favor, why would anyone trade that for the old life.

–          2 Peter 2:19–22 (ESV) — 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

–          It is better to have never known than to have come to knowledge and forfeit it all. That is a greater smack in God’s face. It is looking upon all that He is in His splendor and grace and saying, “That’s not good enough for me anymore. I’m bored and wish to go back to me ex”.

–          Hebrews 11:24–26 (ESV) — 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

–          If you are turning back, you are saying that fleeting pleasures of sin is worth the wrath of God. You are also saying that the fleeting pleasures of sin is greater that the pleasures that are at God’s right hand as the fountain of all life!!!

–          Psalm 16:11 (ESV) — 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

–          Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) — 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

–          That is the height of idolatry, to tell God that pleasure is found in gift over the giver and that you are willing to pay hell for it.

Piper (Desiring God, 21-22): Lewis says that as he was beginning to believe in God, a great stumbling block was the presence of demands scattered through the Psalms that he should praise God. He did not see the point in all this; besides, it seemed to picture God as craving “for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments.” He goes on to show why he was wrong:

But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment

spontaneously overflows into praise.… The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game.…

My whole, more general difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not

merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

Piper (Desiring God, 22): But Edwards said it so clearly and powerfully: God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to…their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself.… God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it.… He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.5

5. Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellanies,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 13, ed. Thomas Schafer

(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 495, miscellany #448, emphasis added. See also #87 (pp.

251–2); #332 (p. 410); #679 (not in the New Haven volume).

Piper (Desiring God, 38): Christian Hedonism is a philosophy of life built on the following five convictions:

1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.

2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest

and most enduring satisfaction.

3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God.

4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.

5. To the extent that we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: The pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.

10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!

–          Paul is on dangerous ground here with Jews when he parallels the pagans’ observance to the Jewish calendar as a reverting to pagan idolatry.

–          The Jews were proud of the law and prophets and would claim to have true knowledge of God over against the pagans. Tis true, but when you abuse your knowledge and decide to ignore the further revelation of God, then what you boast of and are so proud of becomes just as wicked as pagan idolatry.

11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

v. 11 invokes pathos as Paul makes personal appeal based on his labors for them.

Have you ever labored for someone, only to be let down, frustrated by lack of growth, lack of fruit, increased neediness, emotional exhaustion? This is what Paul is feeling.

The appeal of vs. 8-10 is simple and straightforward. The simplicity and wisdom and straightforwardness, I commend to you.

Are you laboring over anyone? Do you shed tears in prayer on behalf of folks? Trust me, you start getting involved in someone’s life, seeking their good in Christ, you will shed tears.

Paul had a unique apostolic injunction, but we also are called to care for the flock.  Do you care about the lost sheep? Do you care about the one who is wavering? Do you care about the one who is delving into bad theology? Do you care about the one who is turning to dumb idols? Do you care about the one who is starting to choose the momentary pleasures of sin over God?

Jesus cares…He came to seek and save the lost. This was His mission.

These Galatians were deserting Christ…it is a fearful thing to turn back.

Hebrews 10:23–31 (ESV) — 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Are you stirring one another up to love and good works? Are you being faithful in meeting together with fellow saints? Are you encouraging one another? Do you realize that our time here can end like that? May there be a sense of holy urgency among us. Who cares if people think you’re a zealot or radical?

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God if you are turning your back on Him.

Where’s grace to be found? IN CHRIST!!! IN CHRIST!!!

Galatians 1:3–6 (ESV) — 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

By the grace of God, turn back to the God of grace in Christ…by the grace of God, turn others back to the God of grace.  You do it be delighting in God and shedding tears for those who don’t see His beauty, majesty, and splendor and instead opt for the gift rather than giver. You woo them with your delight in God through Christ, you woo them by living out David’s prayer from of ancient days:

Psalm 63:1–8 (ESV) — 1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.


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