What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.
So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, <"Abba>, Father."
So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.
As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.
Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them.
It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.
His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.
Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.
But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."
Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."
I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.
Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
for each one should carry his own load.
Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.