It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1)
This is my favorite verse in Scripture. It seems so obvious, and it seems so simple. However, this concept is one we have struggled with since before Paul first wrote this letter. Like the Galatians, we begin to assume that freedom is dangerous because it means license to do whatever we want. We assume there must be expectations, and limitations on that freedom, or else…well, who knows what would come from it? Anarchy? Chaos? Licentiousness?
Yet, there it stands – it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. It doesn’t say Christ has set us free except for, or but, or partially, or in this way but not that. It says it is for FREEDOM that He has set us free. Paul does a very good job of explaining what true freedom is, and beyond encouraging you to read his description, I am not going to try to rehash his explanation. Instead, I want to give you some suggestions on ways to identify when you are not living in true freedom.
We are truly free from the Law because the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, and our sins (past, present, and future) are already paid for and forgiven. If I follow God’s Law, it is because I know His instructions are for my good, for my protection, for my benefit, and for my well-being – not because I fear God’s judgment or feel trapped into it. In that way, my heart’s desire informs my choices, and the Law is rendered irrelevant. I choose to love God with all my heart because my heart does love Him; I choose to love myself because I know how much He loves me; I choose to love my neighbor as myself because His love has permeated my heart and overflows into others. Actions motivated by fear are limited to the presence of some punishment, an external source of control. Choices motivated by love are truly free.