GALATIANS 5:13-14: “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” CSB
OBSERVATION: What does it mean to be free in Christ? How do you know if you are walking in freedom? Paul gives us a very simple and powerful definition of freedom. It is one that we all need to hear and hold close to our heart!
Freedom has more to do with others than it has to do with me. At first glance this statement seems backwards. Yet, as much of the truth in the Bible is paradoxical, so is the principle of freedom. When we think of freedom our first thought is the removal of restraint that allows us to do what we please. This may be the world’s definition of freedom, but it is not the Scriptural definition.
Jesus was completely free. He was free from sin, and He was free to do whatever He desired to do. His temptation in the wilderness was real. He had a choice as to what He would do, and He chose to put the call and will of the Father before His own. His life was marked by this choice, and it led Him to the cross. And when He hung on the cross for our sins, He experienced the height of His freedom.
How can this be possible? How can someone who is whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross be free? It is because this act was a selfless act of love for others. Jesus did not have to die, but He willingly laid down His life for our sins. He knew that without this sacrifice we would die in our sins and be eternally separated from the Father. Jesus came to serve and to die. And in His death He opened the way to freedom for all who would believe!
- “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB
The joy that was set before Him was our salvation! It was always God’s will and desire to have a people for Himself. God has always wanted to share His love with others. Yet, sin separated us from God and from God’s heart. Bound in sin we are all selfish, absorbed with our own needs and desires. While we pursue our own way, thinking we are free, we are only being bound tighter in the chains of our sin. However, when we turn to Christ these chains are broken. We have been reborn to live a new life in a new way!
The evidence of freedom in our lives is love that is manifested toward others. It is being set free from our self interest, and being released to have a sincere interest in others. It is what Philippians refers to as the “mind of Christ.” And, it is the definition of what it truly means to be a Christian!
- “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 CSB
When my wife and I moved to Florida we became season ticket holders at Disneyworld. We have always been a Disney family, but this is the first time we have been season ticket holders. It has changed our entire approach to visiting Disney. It has become a freeing experience. When we visit we are not rushed to see everything because we only have a limited time. We can come and go as we please. And this has changed our attitude toward interacting with others during our visits. We have begun to enjoy watching and helping others have the best Disney experience they can when they are at the parks. We have given directions, shared experiences, and even given away fast pass readmission tickets for others to enjoy. It is really a wonderful experience to be free!
To walk in the God’s freedom is to walk in love toward others. To love others is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. If we love, as Christ loved, we will walk after the Spirit and in obedience to God’s Word. It is not a legalistic obedience, but a dynamic obedience that is both natural and intentional. It is natural, because as we walk after the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit grows in our life. It is intentional, because as we focus on love, we are drawn to the Word of God to renew our hearts and minds.
To walk in freedom is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself!
Lord, help me to walk in freedom today! Give me a heart to love others and to be set free from selfish ambitions and desires.
- “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:25-26 CSB
In Jesus Name!