My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.
(Proverbs 5 ESV)
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. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 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? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
(Galatians 4 ESV)
Galatians 4: When Abraham was seventy-five, God had promised to bless him with a son who would prove to be a blessing to the entire world. Then when Abraham was eighty-five, he decided to take it upon himself to produce a son who might be able to fulfill the things that God had promised him. However, God rejects the son that Abraham was able to produce on his own, and when he was a hundred years old, God promises again that in spite of Abraham's age and his wife Sarah’s infertility, they will have a son through a supernatural work that God is going to do.
And then in Genesis 21, we read these words:
The LORD visited Sarah as He had said,
and the LORD did to Sarah as He had promised.
The “son of Sarah” was a supernaturally born product of God’s power alone. And so Paul compares Christians to the "son of Sarah" to point out how a Christian is not a product of man’s own power but a product of God’s power alone. Paul calls Christians “children of promise” because a Christian is something that comes into being only on account of what God has promised to do in the hearts and lives of men Himself.
Paul writes later that, “God saves us and calls us to a holy calling, not because of what we are doing or can do but because of His own purpose and grace, which He promised in Christ before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1).
The regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification of a Christian is a collective supernatural work of God on account of His own purpose and His own plan to redeem and purify a people for Himself. (Titus 2)
So how can we make sure that we receive these life-giving and life-changing things that God has promised?
Well, we might find it helpful to consider what Abraham was required to do in order to receive the son that was promised to him? What did he have to do?
All Abraham had to do was to trust God over everything else. He had to trust God over his own intuition. He had to trust God over what he assumed was right and better. He had to trust God over biology and science. He had to trust God over his own experience and circumstances. And he had to believe something in faith that the rest of the world would consider foolishness and absolute nonsense.
So what do we do to receive the supernatural freedom found in God's promises?
We have got to trust what God has said over everything else. You have got to “cast out” the enslaving sin of self-reliance and humble yourself to the point of putting yourself squarely in the hands and at the mercy of God by placing all of your hope, confidence and trust in The True Promised Son of Abraham - Christ our Lord. You must truly believe God (not just ‘in God’) and behave accordingly.
(Because after all, if you’re behavior is not in line with what you claim to believe then the odds are you don’t truly believe what you think or claim you believe.)
A Christian is not a simple product of religious work and self-reliance but rather a supernatural product of God’s work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
So may we examine our own lives and ask ourselves sincerely and honestly, Does your life and lifestyle look like something that only God could do? Is your life a living testimony to the power and work of God?
A good measure of your Christian condition is whether or not your faith in Christ is something you’ve decided that you would do or something that God has powerfully done to you.