Let’s reconsider the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” in Luke 15 because neither son is a very good example for us. One is openly foolish and the other is a religious fool.
I believe that the story demonstrates this~
We know that the Father had 2 sons who were legally of age to receive the Father’s inheritance. (The depths of these words will be spiritually perceived by you who have eyes to see.)
The Father equally gives all that he has to each son and the younger son (Isaac/Jacob) wastes his life in open sin. The older, religious son (Ishmael, Esau) works like a servant outside of the Father’s House by laboring in the fields…presumably striving to please Father and earn favor/grace from him…despite already owning everything that the Father had!
When his brother returns because he reaches the end of himself he has very little expectations of Father but, to be less than a “hireling” (which is less than a slave in their culture!) Father rushes out to meet him because He has been seeking him constantly and instructs the servants to adorn him with an engagement ring (betrothed to Christ), garment of salvation and reconciliation through the peace of the Gospel to cover his feet!
He also feeds the son meat which is solid food; the word of righteousness (according to Heb.5 & 6) and they all celebrate (Father and the servants) because his son has died to himself and been raised to new life in Christ!
In the meantime, the firstborn son has foolishly been playing religion in the fields and apparently esteems himself lower than the servant/slaves. He hears the celebration and is so far away from Father and abiding in His house that he has to ask a lowly servant what the Father is doing.
Then he self-righteously accuses Father and his brother of being unjust sinners because he, like a Pharisee; has been striving in the flesh to earn grace! However, he is clothed in filthy rags of self-righteousness and hence is judged by his own heart.
He admits that he has never even tasted meat, solid foods and even claims to have never disobeyed the Law (which only Jesus has perfectly fulfilled!) Despite all of this, Father assures him that “We are always together and everything I own belongs to you!”
Now this parable has more depths to it that Paul articulates in Gal.3 & 4. It also links to Deut. 21:15-23 and I believe Matt.13
Gal.3 sums it up nicely “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?”…6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham….18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”
Rom.5:17b describes how the son receives this solid food! “much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
We receive every grace (including the free gift of righteousness) always and only by the faith of the Spirit!
Jesus said in John 8 that a son remains in the house but a servant does not and compared Moses (who represents the Israelites) to a servant. They did not enter God’s rest for their souls even though they were promised the complete inheritance because of lack of faith and grumbling and complaining. Instead of growing up into sons that inherit the full promise of the Covenant; they remained servants in the wilderness and even considered returning to bondage of sin in Egypt as a better place!
These verses have only recently been made known to me by the Holy Spirit and now I understand how I have been striving as a slave instead of receiving the free/permanent righteousness of Jesus! I no longer am compelled to “do anything” but, I get to do things with Jesus!
I have heard it said that “a servant works to be loved and a son loves to work because he rests in being loved.”