Wednesday, 25 May 2016
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
The word “For” is given as a justification for the immensely strong words of the previous verse. He had said that those who were into cutting the flesh should go ahead and emasculate themselves. “For” now explains that harshness. Unlike those Judaizers who stood against the gospel, Paul is speaking to the Galatians as “brethren.” They were saved by Christ and stood in a completely different relation to Him than those false teachers. As they are his brothers, they “have been called to liberty.”
The circumcising of the flesh is identification with the people of Israel and, more especially, a willingness to adhere to the rites and customs of that people who were bound to the law. In the coming of Christ, that law was now fulfilled, but those of Israel who had rejected Him spent their time not honoring God through Christ, but by boasting in the flesh. Paul has noted that this is bondage. The Galatians however were free from this bondage and set at liberty by Christ. They were no longer under the power of sin, but are freedmen in Christ.
Because of this position they hold, he next admonishes them by saying, “…only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.” What is very easy to do when one has no law to guide them is to fall into the lowest levels of depravity. This was seen with the Corinthians. For example the man referenced in 1 Corinthians 5 had fallen into sexual immorality which was “such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles.” Paul warns them of this. Freedom in Christ is not license to sin. Rather, he gives them a contrast to hold to by saying, “…but through love serve one another.”
The word “serve” carries stress in this clause. As freedmen, they were not to serve the flesh, but rather they were to take on another form of servitude; they were to “serve one another.” Paul will explain the basis for this in his words to come, but for now we must consider the contrast which has been presented. Christians are freed from the constraints of the law, but they are, in essence, obligated to the service of one another. They are freed from sin’s penalty, but they are obligated to freedom’s standards and expectations. This may sound contradictory, but he clearly shows that with Christ’s freedom come such expectations and responsibilities.
Life application: In Christ, we are given great freedoms, but with this also come great responsibilities. If we are to be faithful to this calling, we should continually talk to the Lord, asking for His guidance and assistance in our walk. On our own, we are prone to wander, but by keeping close to Him and to His word, we will be in a much better position to handle the trials and temptations which are sure to come our way.
Lord God, how easy it is to wander from Your straight path. Our hearts are geared towards taking every crooked road we set our eyes upon. Surely this is why Your word asks us to “Fix our eyes on Jesus.” Help us in this Lord. Set Him as the desire of our hearts, the lamp for the stepping of our feet, and the constant stream of thought which flows through our minds. Keep us from our natural tendencies, and help us to follow the higher, spiritual ones that You instill in us. And we’ll be sure to praise You as we go! Amen.