Leading a Double Life
So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. Galatians 4:31
I remember once reading about a man who had two families in different cities, neither or which knew anything about the other. It amazed me that someone could lead such a double life. In the end of course, his lies caught up with him. In reading the story, I found myself asking, How did he think he could balance both lives? How could he live with his own lies?
If I’m honest however, I’ve got to admit that even though my details were quite different, I’ve also attempted to live a double life. In one life, I was a reasonably successful physician, husband, churchgoer, and parent. In the other life, I was secretly addicted to opioid pain medications. I tried to maintain both lives, but it was impossible. The two lives were ultimately incompatible, and, in the end, my existence came apart as they collided. One life had to go. I couldn’t keep my family, faith, and career while clinging to my drugs.
This was Paul’s message in today’s passage. In it, he used a story from the Old Testament that would have been familiar to his audience. In telling the story of Hagar and Sarah, a slave and free woman, he said that the Galatians – a Christians – were now children of the free woman, not the slave. The problem, was that the Galatians were returning to the old ways, choosing to live once again as children of the slave. They claimed faith and new life in Christ, yet they also wanted to maintain the old life. These two lives, Paul said, were incompatible.
What was true for the Galatians is true for us. We cannot live in slavery to the old life while also enjoying freedom in Christ. Still, we try. We say we believe and we claim to follow God, while living enslaved to our old self-destructive nature. We surrender to our greed, lust, anger, gluttony, pride, and resentments on Saturday, then we go to church, attempting to worship on Sunday. The problem though, is that as long as we’re enslaved to our old nature, we cannot truly enjoy the freedom of the new life.
We try to lead a double life, but in doing so, we find a miserable half life because the two existences are incompatible. If we truly desire to know the full new life, we must daily work at casting off the old one. This will be an ongoing process. We’re not made perfect all at once. In daily pursuing the new life in God though, we will experience the freedom and joy for which we were made.