Monday, April 6, 2020

Freedom in Christ

Monday April 6, 2020For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Freedom is something that we all are in short supply of right now.  We are not free to be with our friends and even some of our family, go to a restaurant, go to work, or worship together.  We know this is for our best and only for a short time. We are certainly not feeling as “free” as we did six months ago.  But this week is the week leading to Easter and what happened on Easter morning has set us free for an eternity.  We may not be able to go where we want to go or do everything we want to do presently, but we have a freedom that nothing can take away.
We are released by Christ to be free persons. He died on the cross to pay the price of our sin and rose again the third day to deliver us from sin forever. He broke the chains. He opened the prison doors.  The verse above speaks to the fact that He did not set us free for us to still live as a slave. 
Being free does not mean that we have no limits on our freedom. Paul, who wrote Galatians, tries to explain the implications of what his own words clearly attest. In Galatians 5:1 Paul clearly states For freedom Christ has set us free. But just a few verses later we find him trying to explain the scope of our freedom - 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 word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14  For though it is true that we are free, there is still a long list of behaviors later in chapter 5 we are to avoid: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21  As verse 14 says, the whole law is fulfilled in one word - You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Freedom for our hearts can be found in loving others. Freedom is actually found in giving a part of ourselves away, much as Christ gave so much away for us.
Having declared that it is for freedom and freedom alone that God has set us free, the apostle Paul immediately proceeds to tell us what we may not do in the name of freedom. So yes, we are free, but that does not mean we can do everything and anything. It means we are free from the bondage we are in, and free to stay out of bondage.
License and liberty License means basically that freedom means everyone does exactly what he or she wants to do regardless of the effect on others. License is inauthentic freedom. It means the license or authority to do whatever one pleases no matter what the consequences are or who might be hurt by our selfish desires to get what we want because we deserve it. 
Liberty on the other hand is freedom which is constrained by ethical and natural law. Liberty is based upon authentic freedom. Liberty requires discipline.  In a community, liberty requires discipline from everyone.  If just one person wants to exercise their license instead, the liberty of the whole could be compromised. A society based upon license is corrupt and unjust and will not last. A society based upon liberty not only survives but flourishes. 
Our freedom was bought and paid for with the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He didn’t die for us to fall right back into the slavery of sin, and license is the road that will take us straight back to that prison.  It seems like freedom, but it is not. Freedom means being responsible enough to know that sometimes we give up a little freedom for the good of everyone.  
This week, instead of focusing on everything we cannot do right now, focus on what you can do and what Jesus Christ did for you.  You can read your Bible and pray.  You can live without guilt and shame.  You canknow that you are forgiven and will have a place in eternity. You can show His love and grace and mercy to others around you. And you can tell others His story. You are His and He has set you free from the prison of your sin.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17

Devotional Archive