The Point of Freedom

Key Verse: “Ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
—Galatians 5:13

Selected Scripture:
Galatians 5:1-15

PAUL WROTE TO THE Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) This verse properly belongs to the previous chapter where he also emphasized freedom from the bondage of Jewish Law.

Now, he counsels his Jewish converts who had fallen back and were attempting to keep works of the Law as prior to their conversion. He tells them, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. … For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” (vss. 4,6) The apostle had told the Roman church virtually the same thing when he said, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”—Rom. 3:20

Paul first complimented them for their initial zeal in running well, but also expressed his disappointment, asking, “Who did hinder you [Marginal Translation: drive you back] that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:7-9) Apparently false teachers had intermingled the observance of the Jewish rites with the truth Paul had taught them and, like leaven, had spread until the whole mass had become infected with error. Had Paul preached in conformity with Jewish rites this would have saved him from all the persecutions which he had endured. He said, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” (I Cor. 1:23) To the Romans he said, “I know that in me … dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”—Rom. 7:18

He says, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Gal. 5:13,14) They were not to feel that they were so free that they might lawfully give indulgence to the desires of the flesh, but they were to regard themselves as under the law to love one another and thus fulfill the law of freedom.

“If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust [desire] of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (vss. 15-18) If we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we need not fear the corrupt propensities of our nature.

As enlightened people of the Lord, we are free from the Law and its penalties. This freedom does not permit us to do as we please without regard for others who may reason differently. We are to be motivated by love, even in the routine matters of eating and drinking, and not “to eat flesh, nor to drink wine” whereby our brother is offended.—Rom. 14:21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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