Summary: The forgiveness of sin through Christ gives us the freedom to be victorious over fleshly desires and gives us the power to be successful in God's work.
CALLED TO FREEDOM
Our has been and is still a time of bondage. We can think of the slavery days as practiced in our country and in other countries. Africans themselves even practiced slavery. It was under the administration of Abraham Lincoln that the slaves of America found freedom, but it would take other amendments to the Constitution and Voting Rights Acts to truly give them freedom from those who continued to oppress them. Women also faced bondage for many years in our country and in other places. It was not until 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that women received the right to vote in Presidential elections. Many other minority groups have also suffered bondage of one type or another. Some find themselves in financial bondage. It seems it takes all they earn to make ends meet. Then there are those who are in bondage to alcohol and drugs. Others are bound by addictions to sexual passions and violence. We can imagine the bondage found in our prisons. All around us there are forms and extremities of bondage.
But there are also cries for liberation from such real and imagined bondage. People demand freedom to do as they please. It is a day of individualization where the rights of the individual become more important than the rights of humanity. Authority is flouted and restrictions are resisted in the name of liberty. Many want to do as the Israelites of old: whatever was right in their own eyes.
As real as the above mentioned forms of bondage are, they in no way compare to a greater bondage the Bible speaks of. It is not a bondage placed upon us by some other form or person but our very selves. It is a bondage that eats at our very souls. We are enslaved by it from the earliest years of life. Jesus said; “Truly, truly, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) James writes; “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. But each is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (1:13)
This is a bondage we cannot free ourselves from in our own strength. It takes someone far more powerful than us to help us. Jesus gives the prescription for this freedom; “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) How does he free us? He does so through his grace and our appeal for his forgiveness. When we trust him in faith, he unlocks the chains of sin that enslave us and sets us free.
This call to freedom is universal. It is not restricted to a particular group or culture or country. It is available to all who will receive. The primary freedom Paul speaks of in Galatians is freedom from the law as a system of government that regulated one's daily life. This included the Old Testament ceremonies and rabbinical traditions. The Judaizers attempted to drag the Galatians back into such a system from which the grace of Christ had freed them. It was a system that was impossible to keep and one that could never provide true freedom for them. Living by such a system could never free their consciences. Only the grace of Jesus Christ could do that.
Paul had a difficult task in trying to convince the Galatians of how to find true freedom. The tradition of revering Old Testament ceremonies and traditions ran deep in their minds. Such a proclamation was scandalous to the Judaizers and a stumbling block to many sincere Jews. Some considered Paul a lawless libertine. Paul was simply teaching that we did not need such a system anymore because of the work of Christ. We do not need an outward system to restrain us and keep us from doing what is wrong. When we accept Christ, he gives us an inward guide in the person of his Spirit. His internal guidance and restraint keeps us on the right path.
The governmental law of the Old Testament was designed to set the Jews apart as God's distinctive chosen people and to picture the sacrifice in the coming Messiah, but all this was fulfilled in the work of Christ. This does not mean that we throw away God's moral law, for this is still in effect. The Spirit gives us the ability to live according to the internal and external law of God.
How wonderful to have this spiritual freedom. It is available to all, but it places certain responsibilities on us. What does it mean to be called to freedom?
I. WE MUST OPPOSE FLESHLY DESIRES
A call to freedom does not mean we can abuse our Christian liberty by involving ourselves in sin. We are not against the moral law of God. We simply heed it because of God's internal guidance through his Spirit. This call to freedom is not a call to self-indulgence. It does not mean we can satisfy the desires of the flesh.