The smell of gun powder, the sudden loud boom as colors fill the sky, another Fourth of July celebration arrives. While cookouts and fireworks will dominate the day, the reason for the celebration is liberty.
In 1776 freedom meant an end to English taxation and governing authority. Yet, liberty poses dangers. How will the liberated live? With British law removed, it took over a decade for the new nation to hammer out a Constitution defining the principles that would govern American liberty.
In a similar way, since Christ has released us from the burden of seeking to be justified by the Law (Galatians 2:16-17; 5:1), we too encounter the dangers of freedom. Does this freedom empower every whim? How can we know how to live without the Law’s guidance?
Paul, recognizing how Christian liberty might be misconstrued, warned against using “your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh” (Galatians 5:13). Freedom, Paul argued, should not be used to pursue carnal desires.
How did Paul arrive at this conclusion? He reminds us that prior to entering into the freedom Christ provides we made a commitment to reject serving the flesh.
“Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). As Paul would introspectively assert about himself, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Thus, while the Christian is freed from the necessity of seeking to be justified by the Law before God, nevertheless this liberty provides no license for sinning. This would seem to lead us to the second question. Without the Law’s guidance, how can a Christian possibly know how to live?
Paul seems to suggest the answer is simple. The destructive ways of the flesh are obvious (Galatians 5:19-21). Furthermore, they are diametrically opposed to the fruit of the Spirit with its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:17,22-23).
Since the Spirit desires what is opposed to the flesh, if we will seek to live by the Spirit, Paul promises we will be incapable of fulfilling our flesh’s desires (Galatians 5:16-17)! Furthermore, we are told that the Christian who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8).
Christ set us free from seeking to be justified before God through the Law. As those living under the liberty of already being declared righteous before God, don’t just try to avoid evil, focus on living out love through serving others!
My original post can be found at http://forthright.net/2014/07/02/living-under-liberty/
Latest posts by Barry Newton (see all)
- The God of new beginnings: the hope of the new birth - 2018-10-10
- Thermometers or thermostats? - 2018-10-03
- Bonhoeffer, Culture & 1 Corinthians 11 - 2018-09-26