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.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV).
I love the book of Galatians. Paul’s passion for Jesus AND for his fellow believers in the Lord’s church is on full display.
If you take the time to study the original language of verse one of chapter 5, you will discover an emphasis that is not readily apparent to a casual reader. Paul employs what theologians call “polemic” language – meaning that it was spoken with deep passion, almost “yelling it out.” Paul was shouting this truth in a desperate manner. He wanted the Galatians to understand that Christ has set them FREE. He wants us – you and me, and all believers – to understand this very thing too.
Many people get tripped up in their walk of faith when it comes to freedom in Christ. This happens when our eyes are more on what we aren’t – than what we are in Jesus. It is true – none of us who are living are, or ever will be, completely free from ever falling short of the mark (said differently, we still blow it – we sin…) And when our eyes and hearts are focused on that, we can easily agree with our enemy, our accuser, who rushes in and says to us, “See – you’re not REALLY free in Jesus. If you were, you wouldn’t have spoken to your spouse in such a way…”
When thoughts and words like that hit us right after an argument, or when an unkind expression comes out of us in an angry moment, condemnation can quickly rob us from our sense of freedom that was promised to us in the Word.
A well-known author and theologian named John Stott has given us a very helpful look at our freedom, defining it in a way that guides us to a better understanding of this gracious gift from the Lord:
“This freedom, as the whole Epistle and this context make plain, is not primarily a freedom from sin, but rather from the law. What Christ has done in liberating us, according to Paul’s emphasis here, is not so much to set our will free from the bondage of sin as to set our conscience free from the guilt of sin.”
Christ loves us with an everlasting love, and this is still true, even when we make mistakes. The Bible tells us to “get back up again.” And He is faithful to wash our hearts of the guilt that we feel, returning to us the joy of freedom.
I am privileged to be a father of four (now adult) children. My kids have given me great joy, more than I can ever describe. But they have made mistakes, and so have I. At times, they disobeyed me. And afterwards, they would repent, and I would forgive them. At times, I would handle things wrongly, and it would hurt them. I would repent, and they would forgive me. But at no point in these times did they ever stop being my kids, or did I stop being their father. And, at no time did my love for them cease. Not even in the midst of a relational situation.
If that is true for me, and my love for my kids – how much more true is it in describing the Love that our Heavenly Father has for us? He has given us FREEDOM in Jesus! If you’ve made a mistake, run to the Lord, repent, and rest in knowing that He is your Lord. You’re free in Him. He is faithful and just to forgive you…to cleanse you.
Our country has long been known as “the land of the free, and home of the brave,” and we are preparing once again to celebrate its freedom from what was a tyrannical British rule in the 1700’s. Our founding fathers truly believed in a freedom that was first and foremost described in the pages of the Bible…in verses like Galatians 5:1. Many of them gave their fortunes, even their very lives for our freedom. Oh, that our leaders would return to an understanding and definition of this kind of freedom!
As believers in Jesus, we are privileged to know FREEDOM in a tangible way that transcends governmental ideals. It transcends this very life itself, and opens the way for us to be free not only in our lives here – but throughout eternity as well.
Enjoy your freedom in Christ. Stand firm. Don’t give up. And don’t believe the accusations of the accuser either. Believe the words of the Lord. He who the Son sets free…is free indeed.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
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