What Is The Difference Between Works And Fruit In The Book Of Galatians



I am continuing my series on the book of Galatians today. We are going to look at the difference between works and fruit as Paul describes in Galatians 4:21-31.

So many times in modern Christianity, we get confused about what is works and what is fruit.

Works is generally defined as trying to earn your salvation and fruit is defined as how well you are keeping the law.

This is not at all the definition that Paul was talking about.

So let’s take a moment to step back and look at the example that Paul gives concerning the difference between trying to live right with God by keeping the law and trusting in God to produce in you a life that is pleasing to Him.

Hagar And Sarah – An Example Of Works Vs. Fruit

Galatians 4:21-31

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children – 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27 For it is written:

“Rejoice, O barren,

You who do not bear!

Break forth and shout,

You who are not in labor!

For the desolate has many more children

Than she who has a husband.”

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as f he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Now Paul specifically states that the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah are symbolic of the differences between the Old Testament law and the new covenant.

He equates the Old Testament law to works of the flesh, whereas he equates the New Testament as the promise.

So let’s take a look at this story a little closer and see if we can draw some correlations between this story and our lives today.

Genesis 16:1

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” 6 So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, l she fled from her presence.

Reasons Why People Fall Into A Works Mentality

You can see in this passage that there are some very real temptations involved with operating in a works mentality.

The first temptation you can see is that Sarah, then called Sarai, decided to take responsibility for fulfilling the promise given by God into her own hands.

She decided to make it happen. So she went to Abraham and offered a “human” solution.

The second temptation we can see in this passage about the works mentality is that Hagar became prideful because she seemed to fulfill that promise.

Once she conceived, she looked down upon the one that God gave the promise to.

Spiritual pride is a very real temptation to operate in with works mentality. It gives you a litmus test to compare yourself to others.

Hagar started comparing herself to Sarai and thought she was better and more blessed than Sarai.



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Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber has been a believer in Jesus for 35 years. He has been a pastor for over 20 years currently serving at Mid-Peninsula Vineyard Christian Church In San Carlos CA. and was formerly the secretary treasurer of White Pine County Ministerial Association. He is an alumnus of LIFE Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
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