In my last blog article, I wrote about how Paul reminds us of the freedom that the Gospel offers, is in many respects a change in whose slave we are. We have been freed from the cruel task master of sin, who was going to kill us once we had done his bidding, and have been made slaves of God, Who offer us eternal life for our service.
Well as my wife and I drank coffee this morning, and were reading some of the book of Ephesians another aspect of our freedom came to my attention. As we talked over the relation of law, and the freedom of the gospel I was reminded of one of my discoveries from seminary from the book of Galatians.
Paul in this book makes a huge deal about freedom, and about how we can not submit to the law as a means of gaining freedom and salvation. He also goes on and talks about how the law was put in place to be custodian until Christ had come and we obtained an inheritance as children of God through Christ.
He makes it clear that the believers have a clear choice to make. You can continue to try to gain sonship and freedom through the law, or you can trust in the work of Christ. Those who go backwards and try and gain Gods approval, are again submitting to the “yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1) and have fallen away from grace(5:4). He tells the only thing that matter now is “faith working through love.”
Some have taken this teaching and essentially taught that it is free game for the believers. All is forgiven, and those who would teach that there are some ethical requirements in the gospel are legalist.
But we must not forget the words of Paul that come right after these verses.
“for you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Gal. 5:13-14)
It is here that Paul gives us one of the reasons for our freedom. We have been set free not for ourselves, but for others. Paul, actually wants us to fulfill the law. Not slavishly, as if it could earn our salvation for that is what he just done railing against, but we he does want is for us to fulfill the intent of the law.
Paul’s message both in Romans, and here in Galatians is a reminder that our salvation is not about us. We have been bought for a price and we are not our own(1 Cor. 6:19,20). We are now slaves of righteousness (Romans 6), and We have been set free so that we will serve others (Gal 5:13).
And if we have any doubt, when we look one paragraph further in Galatians 5:16-24 it is dispelled. Paul contrast the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit, and they are diametrically opposed. The works of the flesh are almost completely self-centered, where as the fruit of the Spirit almost solely focus on others.
The truth about freedom is that it can only be found in Christ, and in Him alone. But we are not set free to be our own man. We have now become servants of an incredibly great master. And He has now called us to use this freedom to serve one another.
This freedom is radically different from the freedom of the world. Yet some how this is the only freedom that doesn’t bring bondage.