You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:13-15 NIV)
All of this talk of “freedom” can be misinterpreted.
Those who stand in the grace of Jesus have been freed from sin and are free from the curse of the Law which condemns them. They are recipients of the promise of Abraham, children by faith, and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.
But freedom comes with responsibility, and followers of Jesus should have no desire to sin. This truth explains why Paul has spent so much time focusing on the offense of the cross. Unless we grasp the debt we owe God for our sin and the price Jesus paid, we won’t be motivated to live as we should. When we know why He died there, we want to die to sin every day, for the rest of our lives.
All of the rules and regulations associated with the Old Testament Law fell under the umbrella of a single principle or law: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This same law was also referred to as the “second greatest commandment,” behind the first, which was to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.”
Please don’t misunderstand. I have heard people say as long as we live by this law of love, it doesn’t matter whether we are saved by Jesus or not. Technically, this is correct. The problem is none of us have lived perfectly by this law. Therefore, we need someone to pay the debt for our sin.
“You, my brothers, were called to be free!” What good news. “But use your freedom correctly. Love one another.”
Obviously, Paul was referring to the behavior of those embroiled in the debate over circumcision. Something was terribly wrong with a discussion on righteousness that led people to treat one another badly.
To be honest, this concept of freedom goes against our human nature. We often think of freedom as a green light to do anything we want, as long as we don’t hurt others. But this is a rather shallow definition, and certainly not a biblical one. Love is not defined merely by the things we don’t do to hurt others. It is the full expression of Jesus’ love through every step we take…every word we speak…and everything we do.
Freedom can be a beautiful thing if we remember the price that was paid to win it. Anything else isn’t really freedom at all, or at the very least a cheap substitute.
Dear God, flow free through my freedom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.