Freed in Christ
Category : General
Galatians 5: 13—KJV
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
“There is a great mistake about liberty from law. Some religious persons think it means free, so that though you sin, the law will not punish. This is the liberty of devils: free to do as much evil as you will, and yet not suffer. True Christian liberty is this, self-command; to have been brought to Christ; to do right and to love right without a law of compulsion to school you into doing it. If we have not got so far, the law has all its power hanging over us still.” (F. W. Robertson.)
A total freedom from all the burdensome rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law. Freedom from Jewish observances did not mean freedom to indulge in things forbidden, which Paul would promptly enumerate. No relaxation of the commandments of Christ was for one moment intended by anything Paul had written about being “under grace” and not “under law.” Here he cited the great motivator of Christian morality, namely love of the brethren.
As noted, he calls them “brethren”, to testify his affection to them, and to put them in mind of their relation to one another, which required mutual love, a thing he is about to press them to; he asserts that they were “called” not merely externally, but internally, by the effectual grace of God, out of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, unto the liberty of the Gospel and of the grace of God; that liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, Galatians 5:1 this he said in a judgment of charity, hoping well of them. He reminded them that they are only use not that liberty for an occasion to the flesh. By flesh, here, we may understand all the non-renewed desires and propensities of the mind; whatsoever is not under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. Your liberty is from that which would oppress the spirit; not from that which would lay restraints on the flesh. The Gospel proclaims liberty from the ceremonial law: but binds you still faster under the moral law. To be freed from the ceremonial law is the Gospel liberty; to pretend freedom from the moral law is Antinomianism.
In other words he was saying to them: “You have gained liberty through Christ, i.e., You are above all laws as far as conscience is concerned. You are saved. Christ is your liberty and life. Therefore law, sin, and death may not hurt you or drive you to despair. This is the constitution of your priceless liberty. Now take care that you do not use your wonderful liberty for an occasion of the flesh.” Satan likes to turn this liberty which Christ has gotten for us into licentiousness. Already the Apostle Jude complained in his day: “There are certain men crept in unawares. . .turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” (Jude 4.) The flesh reasons: “If we are without the law, we may as well indulge ourselves. Why do good, why give alms, why suffer evil when there is no law to force us to do so?”
This attitude is very common enough among those who proclaim salvation in Christ. Too many people talk about Christian liberty and then go and cater to the desires of covetousness, pleasure, pride, envy, and other vices. Nobody wants to fulfill his duties. Nobody wants to help out a brother in distress. This sort of thing makes me so impatient at times that I wish the swine who trampled precious pearls under foot were back once again under the tyranny of the Pope. You cannot wake up the people of Gomorrah with the gospel of peace.
Let us always remember that the present question is not, in what manner we are free before God, but in what manner we may use our liberty in our intercourse with men. A good conscience submits to no slavery; but to practice outward slavery, or to abstain from the use of liberty, is attended by no danger. In a word, if “by love we serve one another,” we shall always have regard to edification, so that we shall not grow wanton, but use the grace of God for his honor and the salvation of our neighbors.
Have a great and godly day!