“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13)
In Galatians 2:4, Paul briefly referred to the importance of protecting the “freedom” that we have in Christ Jesus. But what does Paul mean when he speaks about “freedom,” which he does so often? What does this freedom include? How far does this freedom go? Does it have any limits? And what connection does freedom in Christ have to the law?
Paul addresses these questions by warning the Galatians of two dangers. The first is legalism. Paul’s opponents in Galatia were so caught up trying to earn God’s favor through their behavior that they lost sight of the liberating nature of Christ’s work, of the salvation that they already had in Christ through faith. The second threat is the tendency to abuse the freedom Christ has purchased for us by lapsing into licentiousness. Those who hold this view mistakenly assume that freedom is antithetical to the law.
Both legalism and licentiousness are opposed to freedom, because they equally keep their adherents in a form of slavery. Paul’s appeal to the Galatians, however, is to stand firm in the true freedom that is their rightful possession in Christ.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 10.