Freedom of the Christian
Open Your Bible
Galatians 5:1-15, Numbers 11:1-20, Romans 2:25-29, 1 John 3:19-24
Give us an inch, and we’ll take a mile. Christians can fall prey to the same temptations as everyone else. It can be hard to know where to draw the line in our Christian freedom. We’re “called to be free,” but how free? (Galatians 5:13). What movies should we really allow ourselves to watch? How much time can we spend on our phones every day? How often do we actually need to be in church on Sunday morning? We are not bound by the ten thousand commandments, and we instead enjoy the freedom and grace of two:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:37–40).
Really, in just these two commands, all are fulfilled. In this we see what Paul means when he calls the Galatians to “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). With this in mind, suddenly, it seems we actually have a lot of freedom.
The law of the Spirit is not rooted in a slavish obedience to the law of Moses, but in a loving obedience to the God of grace. The law itself was never designed to save us, as the Judaizers were teaching; it only signifies our guilt and condemns us, because we are unable to keep it (Matthew 5:17–20). But the gospel of grace delivers us from bondage to the law and its condemnation. We are indeed free! For in Christ, there is now no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
The Ten Commandments allow for freedom in Christ, but that freedom is not for us to see how much we can get away with; rather, it is freedom to bear the fruit of love for one another, as brothers and sisters. It is not to be used as an opportunity to return to the flesh. So how do we use our freedom rightly?
The Holy Spirit must quicken us inwardly. Our hearts must be circumcised, not our bodies. “Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision” (Romans 2:25). Outward acts of faith are not a measure of our identity in Christ. It is the inward washing of the Spirit alone that sets us free.
In fact, a faith that looks amazing from the outside can be deceptive. Man judges by the outside, but God judges the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Our hunger for outward approval and reputation often ensnares us, and distracts us from our need for the inward work of the Spirit. The end result is a shallow and fruitless faith, which actually makes us “alienated from Christ” (Galatians 5:4). Furthermore, the pride of self-reliance also produced discord in the church at Galatia, prompting Paul’s warning: “If you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another” (v.15).
True freedom is found in the love and Lordship of Christ, which “compels us” to love others as He has loved us (2 Corinthians 5:14–15). In Christ Jesus, we are free from bondage to the law, and free to serve Christ instead. He has called us to walk in the liberty of love. May we use our freedom to show our gratitude to Christ.