It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery, (5:1).
What is this freedom we are to stand firm in? What is Paul referring to when He wrote about a yoke of slavery? Paul wrote to the Galatians because of the Judaizers who had crept in and were propagating the lie that one must also receive circumcision in order to be saved. Paul was referring to freedom from the demands of the Law, the yoke of trying to earn God’s favor, in particular through the practice of circumcision. Circumcision was never a means to justification before Holy God; it was to be the sign of being in holy covenant with Holy God.
“And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you,” (Genesis 17:11).
And as we have already learned from the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, God’s Law was always intended to reveal our utter desperation and need for what only the Perfect Son could do on our behalf, if we would but trust Him and receive His salvation by faith.
“The law is the expression of the character and will of God; to violate one part of the law is to violate God’s will and thus his whole law.” NIV Study Bible
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all, (James 2:10).
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor, (Galatians 3:24-25).
And now, through His cross, all the demands placed on us by the Law are done away with. He Has Set Us Free because He is the only One Who can.
Freedom: “1657.ἐλευθερία eleuthería; gen. eleutherías, fem. noun from eleútheros (1658), a free person. Freedom, generosity, independence.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Because of the cross, He Has Set Us Free to experience the generosity of His Love, and to never again depend upon the Law to receive His favor. He Has Set Us Free from condemnation through a new Law, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death, (Romans 8:1-2).
And when the Son sets Us Free, we are freed from the bondage of sin!
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed,” (John 8:34-36).
Consider Him Who Has Set Us Free
- He Has Set Us Free from the yoke of slavery to stand firm in the freedom we have in Christ.
- It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery, (5:1).
- He Has Set Us Free from the obligation to keep the whole Law.
- And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law, (5:3).
- He Has Set Us Free from the works of the Law to live by faith working through love.
- For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love, (5:6).
- He Has Set Us Free from self-indulgence and self-centeredness to selflessly love and serve one another.
- For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (5:13-14).
- He Has Set Us Free from our critical, backbiting, destructive attitudes.
- But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another, (5:15).
- He Has Set Us Free from carrying out the desires of the flesh and to walk by His Spirit.
- But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, (5:16).
- He Has Set Us Free from the law to bear His fruit.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law, (5:22-23).
- He Has Set Us Free to crucify our fleshly passions and desires.
- Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, (5:24).
- He Has Set Us Free to live and walk by His Spirit.
- If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, (5:25).
- He Has Set Us Free from boastful pride and envy.
- Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another, (5:26).
How do we respond to Him Who Has Set Us Free?
The freedom we have in Christ is twofold, and both parts are equally essential to our faith. Jesus Sets Us Free from slavery to sin and Sets Us Free to become enslaved to righteousness.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness, (Romans 6:16-18).
Whether we present ourselves as slaves to sin or slaves to obedience, both are really an action of faith. Does that sound strange? Well, consider the Bible’s definition of faith, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1).
The flesh is naturally selfish, concerned most about how things affect us first and foremost. So, it is more than feasible that when we continue to present our members as slaves to sin, we must have some kind of confidence and hope that our choice will reap a benefit on our behalf. Why else would we persist in that behavior?
But only faith in Jesus is saving faith, the faith that trusts His cross and grace to Set Us Free. And when we place our faith in His finished work on the cross, He Sets Us Free from the penalty of sin, and also from the power of sin, so that we can now walk and live by the Spirit.
Trusting in anything other than His cross for our justification is disobedience and separates us from His grace. So really, whether we embrace disobedience through sin or through works of the flesh, both are a departure from His Grace.
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (5:4).
God has not called us to earn His favor. And when we start doing so, we are on a downhill trajectory.
This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. (5:8).
We must choose to guard the truth of the Gospel. It is only what Jesus accomplished on the cross. But that is not a popular message today. The cross sounds so gruesome and terribly antiquated to be pertinent today. But Truth is Truth, no matter what others may say or do. We must carefully guard the message of His grace, even at the cost of our reputation, friendships and comfort.
But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. (5:11).
And of course, the best way to do guard the message, is to know the message; and the best way to know the message is to continue in His Word.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” (John 8:31-32).
The Truth Set Us Free because Jesus is the Truth.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).
He Has Set us Free to walk and live in His freedom; freedom to turn from sin and turn to Him to live in His grace by faith. May we so depend on Him Who Has Set Us Free, that wherever He takes us, as we depend on His Holy Spirit, at every place we find ourselves we will also find liberty in Him Who Has Set Us Free.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Let’s Grow Together!