Free Indeed [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — November 26, 2018
Are you ready for some good news?
You are free in Christ! Free from condemnation. Free from the tyranny of legalism. Free from performance-based living.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6 ESV)
Who is God to you? Is He like a judge who is watching and inspecting your every move, ready to deduct points if you mess up? Or is He your Father and your coach, rejoicing over you with every good thing and longing for your every success at every point in your life?
If God seems more like a judge who is inspecting you, it probably means that, like most American Christians, your mind still gravitates towards a system of the law. Law-based living, in one way or another, say: “If I do more good – if I work harder to be a good Christian -- God will look upon me more favorably.”
In the face of the temptation toward legalism, Paul’s exhortation is strong: “For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul says, “stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
It’s fascinating. When Paul exhorts the Galatians to “stand firm” – to passionately resist evil-- he doesn’t reference specific, individual sins. The apostle isn’t calling them away from vices like lust and deceipt and drunkenness. The bigger battle, the more important battle, is counter intuitive. The spiritual battle for the Galatians is to stand firm in the commitment to live in the freedom of grace rather than the slavery of the law.
Paul’s passionate plea is filled with irony. In order to escape the clutches of sinful habits, you have to relinquish your determination to try harder to be a better person. Instead, the Gospel invites you to a glad surrender wherein you admit your inability to keep the law. The freedom we need is first, and foremost, a freedom from the deception that we can do something to add to the finished work of Christ.
The call for action from Paul is a call to take your rightful stance of freedom against the yoke of slavery to the law. You can resist the allure of legalism by an ever-growing meditation on the goodness and power of grace. And that’s the Gospel!