The United States boasts of itself as the “Land of the Free.” Perhaps if you asked the average citizen what makes America a great nation, their response might be, “freedom.” While the merits of their answer are given to a bit of doubt, the reality that the American people hold vehemently to their freedom is an inarguable fact. We are a country with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble peacefully, and a freedom of religion. The list of our national freedoms goes on and on, and with that freedom comes a feeling of safety, for most.
However, with the worship of individual liberty and freedom in our country we have come up with some pretty seriously bad things like the government sanctioned freedom of women to murder their unborn children. Others, including some who call themselves “Christian”, have the government-protected freedom of speech, and sinfully act and say things that are disrespectful to their God-ordained authority and to their fellow citizens. Having been given liberty and freedom, some have failed to take the responsibility necessary to use those freedoms in good and pure ways.
Similarly, when it comes to the freedoms that we as believers have received, some have argued that if you tell people they are free from the law, perhaps many of them will go dancing on the ledge of impropriety and sinfulness. This concern was at the heart of those who sought to convince the Galatians that they still needed to follow every line of the law to earn the favor of God. These religious zealots might have been trying to keep the Galatians from living sinfully licentious lives. Sadly, to keep the Galatians from sinning, they had told them to relinquish their freedom.
But can a person be free and not fulfill all the sinful things forbidden in the law? Can a person be set free from the oppression of the law without becoming a vile and wicked person? According to the Judaizers, the answer would be, “No.” But if that were the case, why would God label those who came in faith, finding acceptance apart from the law, as “righteous?” Paul would argue that those who are free from the law are not bound to sin, rather they are free from the law and from the slavery of sin.
Whereas before, while under the law, they were slaves to sin, now because of the freedom offered in Christ, they can be free not only from the oppression of the law, but also from slavery to sin. Paul pressed on to remind the Galatians that they were granted freedom as the descendants of Abraham by faith; they should not desire to be enslaved again and leave the promise of freedom.
Many still today wish to limit the liberty of others. Acknowledging that God has not spoken in restrictive terms, they seek to lay on their own standards of limitation in the areas where God in wisdom for the sanctification of His people remains silent. Conversely, others uninterested in the holiness of God negate the clear call of God in areas where God in His loving wisdom has clearly instructed His people. Paul’s admonition to the Galatians comes to us, “Stand fast in your liberty, and don’t be entangled again with bondage.” Live in freedom, but don’t use your God-bequeathed freedom to degrade the holy nature of God.
Food For Thought: What is the danger of telling someone that they don’t have to follow the law to earn the favor of God?