“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”
Living in the freedom that Jesus Christ brings to a believer at salvation is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with God.
Many times, as believers, there seems to be this great struggle going on inside our hearts. This struggle is caused by the conflicting nature of our flesh and the Holy Spirit. Obviously one or the other has to win out. It is also obvious that we as imperfect humans will not heed 100 percent of the time to a perfect Holy Spirit. We will mess up at some point, but I think one of the biggest reasons we do not heed to the Spirit is because we enter this struggle already defeated. Rather than pleading for the Spirit’s guidance, we allow the flesh to pull more heavily than the Spirit at times.
“It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” ~Gal. 5:1
The Greek for used for freedom there means “free, exempt, one who ceases to be a slave, not bound, manumitted”
In the Greek culture there were sometimes processes used called legal fictions. Basically this is a process to get around a law without actually changing the law or violating the law. There was a fiction used in the process of releasing a slave from slavery by a god purchasing them. Obviously, a slave had no money to pay to the temple treasury, so the master paid the money to the treasury in the presence of the slave. At that time, a document would be made up that contained the words “for freedom”. At that point, the slave was now property of the god and could never be enslaved again.
Paul undoubtedly had this in mind when he wrote “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free” We were slaves to sin and our flesh and did not have the means to “buy” our way out of slavery. Jesus paid the price for our freedom and drew up a contract that said “for freedom” for us. By doing so, Christ’s blood bought us and made us property of God, never to become a slave to the flesh again. Jesus provided a way around the law without violating or changing the law of God and satisfied the wrath, love, and justice of God.
For this reason, Paul pleads in Gal 5:1 “Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened gain by a yoke of slavery” Jesus did everything necessary and paid the price for our freedom. We are free. No longer bound by sin. The only way that you can be enslaved again is to allow yourself to become enslaved.
During when the time that Paul was writing to the Galatians, there were Jews trying to cause the Galatians believers to add Jewish teachings and traditions to their faith in Christ. The Galatians were saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and by accepting anything more than Christ would nullify their faith and make Christ’s sacrifice mean nothing.
“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” ~Gal. 5:2-3
This passage is not simply saying that being circumcised will cause Christ’s sacrifice to become vain. Paul is making the point that by allowing anything else to come into the salvation picture other than Jesus Christ alone will result in being obligated to uphold the entire law. By faith alone in Christ, a believer is declared righteousness before God and upholds the law. But by adding legalistic standards and religious traditions as way of salvation totally cuts the believer off from the grace of God.
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace” ~Gal. 5:4
Paul declares that by trying to come to God on our own terms and trying to be saved by another way other than Jesus Christ cuts us off from the grace of God. In other words, you do not have salvation.
“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” ~Galatians 5:7-8
Basically, Paul is saying, “What in the world happened?! You received salvation. You were free by grace. You had nothing more required to make you right before God. Why introduce anything else to the picture? Teaching that requires you to earn salvation by your works and practices are not from God! You are saved by God’s grace alone!
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” ~Gal. 5:13
As believers we have been called to be free. Christ has broken the chains that once bound us. So live free. However, as Paul points out, this freedom the Christ has given us is not to live how we please with no regard to God’s commands, moral standards, and righteous principles. This freedom is not a sin license. Freedom in Christ produces a life that is lead by the Holy Spirit and reflects the fruits of the Spirit.
“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” ~Gal. 5:16-18
Paul recognizes that there is a conflict within a Christian between the flesh and the Spirit. Such is to be expected, they are totally opposite of each other and desire totally separate things. This conflict makes it impossible to do things that please God in our own power or strength. Paul even depicts this in Romans 7:22-23:
“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me”
Although Paul is mainly addressing freedom from the Old Law in this chapter of Galatians, I believe that these passages are relevant to every aspect of life. The key here is being led by the Spirit. Paul said, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”. When the source of strength is no longer yourself or what you know, but instead is the Holy Spirit, then suddenly we are able to live according to the Spirit. We can do the good we know we should and please God. The Holy Spirit is freedom. There is no freedom without the Holy Spirit in your life. This battle between flesh and Spirit will continue until the day the Jesus comes to call His people home, but it is possible to live in freedom and victory by yielding to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Many believers today are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and have their eternal home secure in Him, but they are not living in the freedom that Christ brought. As I was studying the Lord reminded me of the Israelites in Egypt. For over 400 years the Israelites pleading to God for liberation from Egypt. They were slaves, bound by a force that they could not overcome on their own. But God answered their call and sent them Moses to deliver them out of Egypt into the Promise Land that God promised to them. After years of bondage, they were free! However, Israel never fully lived free from Egypt. They complained about God delivering them into the desert with no water. They complained about not having food. When things weren’t going peachy perfect, they questioned and disobeyed God. They even called out to let them go back to Egypt so they could eat their old meals.
“We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. ~Numbers 11:5
Even though Israel was taken out of Egypt, Israel didn’t get Egypt out of their hearts. They never took off the chains that were broken for them. This is the case for many Christians today. Many have been delivered out of this world into the Kingdom of Heaven, but they are still trying to live in the world. When things get tough in life, instead of relying on the Spirit to guide them, they turn to their own ways and strength to see them through. They are still holding on to the chains that bound them before Christ set them free. Alcohol, drugs, lust, depression, stress, anxiety, bitterness. Christ never meant for us to hold on to these things. Jesus set us free from these things; we don’t have to carry the burden of these things any longer. His burden is easy and His yoke is light. There is no bondage and condemnation in Jesus Christ, there is freedom. Not freedom to indulge in sin, but freedom to live in the new life that Jesus Christ has brought to every single believer. You don’ t have to perform for God, or measure up to the many outwardly standards the world throws at you. You’re responsible for having faith in Christ and conducting and molding your life after His life.
“Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.” ~Martin Luther
I conclude with asking tonight if there is anyone who is living life right now and are just wore down with any kind of burden, to lay it down at the feet of Jesus tonight. Throw down the chains that were broken. Don’t let yourselves be enslaved by things that use to hold you. Surrender yourself before God and live in the freedom that He has brought you.