Summary: About Paul’s definition of "freedom."
With each passing year in which our country celebrates it’s independence.. it’s freedom… a
cry intensifies for the current generation of citizens to not take their freedom for granted.
It’s noted that those who have come to enjoy freedom… can fall back to enslavement and
tyranny because they don’t recognize it’s subtleties… or that those who enjoy freedom all too
easily forget that freedom comes with responsibility.
> It shouldn’t surprise us that the reality of spiritual freedom cries out in a similar way.
The Apostle Paul had come to know true spiritual freedom… and didn’t want to see it lost by
any. Among the New Testament writings in which he addresses this is the letter to the Galatians.
Galatians 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-23
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. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves
be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets
himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be
justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith
we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith
expressing itself through love.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful
nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the
sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful
nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you
are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious….22 But
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness
and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Begins with a call to freedom…
Paul begins by explaining our calling: we are called to freedom. Christ came to set humans free.
Our most fundamental condition is that of shame… for the flaws and failures that we carry… and
Christ came and ‘bore our shame’ upon the cross… so that we could be free from carrying the
deep sense of being broken. We can be free from the guilt and consequences of sin because
Christ bore those consequences… the death and separation…. when he hung on that cross. And
through the power of the Spirit whom Christ sends, we can become free from the ultimate power
of sin in our daily life.
But Paul now sees a dual tension…one that I believe runs through us all… the tension
between a spirit of legalism and a spirit of license.
When issues of sin arise, there is a common feeling of tension between "legalism" and "license".