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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery . . . You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”—Galatians 5:1,13 (NIV)
“I didn’t put you through college for you to sit on the couch playing games all day!”
“I didn’t give you lunch money for you to use it on soda and cupcakes!”
“I didn’t get you that fancy mountain bike you begged me for so that it can sit in garage collecting dust!”
These are a few examples of things that parents will sometimes say to their kids. The purpose behind these statements is always the same . . . to the let the child know that they’re misusing a gift or privilege given to them. Usually, these statements are made when a parent is trying to correct an issue that has arisen in their child’s life. Whether it be laziness and entitlement, poor dietary choices, the waste of money, or anything you can think of that you have said or that your parents have said to you, the heart behind it remains the same.
In the passage above, the apostle Paul, who was for all intents and purposes the spiritual parent of the believers in Galatia, was basically making one of these statements. He said to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . . do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Translation: Jesus Christ didn’t die to break the chains of slavery to sin in order for you to put those chains back around your neck! Because of Jesus, sin no longer has mastery over us . . . and yet for some reason, we still so often chain ourselves to sin and give it power over us.
And guess what? Those chains take different forms. For some, the chains come in the form of lust, anger, greed, idolatry, comfort, or pride. For others, it’s self-righteousness and legalism. The latter was the case in Galatia, where the Judaizers—whom Paul refers to as “dogs,” “evildoers,” and “mutilators” (Philippians 3:2 NIV)—were trying to get the Galatians to cling to the law as a way of perfecting what grace had begun in them, specifically in the area of circumcision. And Paul was furious about it. The Judaizers had so angered him that he basically says, “I wish they would castrate themselves.” If circumcision is necessary in order to receive God’s grace, why stop there? Take it a step further and see if you can get even more of God’s love that way!
Paul’s point was simple. Jesus told us in John 10:10 (BSB), “I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” He died on the cross so we would no longer be slaves to sin. He willingly gave up His life so that “through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin” (Acts 13:39 NIV). So, walk in that freedom!
The apostle then takes it a step further and says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). You were called out of slavery as you were baptized into Christ’s death in order to walk in this new, amazing life of freedom. But there’s a catch . . . don’t abuse your freedom! “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). He also addresses this issue in Romans 6:1–2 (NIV), saying, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Use the freedom that was gifted to you by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to live the life we were intended to live before sin entered the picture. And that life is a life categorized by love . . . by our love for God and one another!
Friends, let us honor the sacrifice of Jesus by living in freedom. Let us honor the gift of salvation by walking in the light of Christ. Don’t put the chains of slavery back on.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.