As we, who are citizens of the USA, celebrate our national day of independence [July 4th], we would do well to focus on how we were set free, who and what we were set free from, how we stay free, and the purpose for which we were set free. Freedom is not free!
As a nation, and as a Christian [those who live a lifestyle where Jesus is Lord], we benefit from the sacrifice of someone else. As free people we must pay whatever price to ensure that we, and all those who follow us enjoy true freedom. Each generation is responsible to pass freedom forward. As a matter of fact, each generation has the responsibility to take the freedom they have and expand it for the next generation.
Galatians 5:13 – “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
1. “For” = The sole purpose of. “For the sole purpose of the freedom you were called to embrace.”
- In the first verse of chapter five Paul wrote, “It was for [the sole purpose of] freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [NAS].”
- God’s Word Translation says it this way, “Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again.”
2. “You” = The person who was called. This denotes a personal invitation to accept a gift [associated with the call] someone paid a huge price to ensure would be available to you. It’s your call!
3. “Were called” = The time frame of the call. The act that purchased the call, and the call itself comes out of your past, and is ever-present with you. In other words, the fact that a call was made sometime in your past means that it is still available to you today [Romans 11:29].
4. “Brethren” = A close family association. We are all connected at some level but this verse is directed toward those who are very close. The word in the Greek means ‘from the womb’. We are all connected through Adam and Eve [our old nature] and if Jesus is our Lord then we are connected to Him through a spiritual womb and the new birth according to the will of the Father [John 1:12, 13].
5. “Only” – Keeps ambiguity to a minimum. This speaks of focus to the task at hand. You and ONLY you have control of what you do with your freedom and how you honor the one or ones who made the sacrifice to purchase it.
6. “Do not turn” = This is a command not to change direction from the intended course your freedom affords you. “There is a way [not THE WAY] that seems right to man, but it ends in death” [Proverbs 14:12; 16:25].
- In departing from our old life of sin, shame and bondage we repent [turn toward God and His way and away from our old way of living]. It is described this way by the writer of Hebrews, “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” [6:1].
- This turning is described by Paul when He wrote, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 3:13,14].
7. “Your freedom” = You are responsible to manage your freedom. You are to manage it in such as way that freedom is not used to enslave yourself or anyone else. Many people end up claiming to be free but are bound by the results of poor choices. In effect, they are not free. A good rule of thumb is to ask whether or not something is legal, ethical or moral. If the choice passes all three then it is probably okay.
8. “Into an opportunity” = Here is where our choices are challenged. Here we discover if we are truly free or living out of a wrong perception. The word ‘opportunity’ comes from opportune. Opportune comes from Latin ‘ob’ = in the direction of, and ‘portus’ = harbor. In other words, we must make sure we are headed into a place [harbor] that is really safe and truly beneficial, not just appearing to be safe and beneficial.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham sought for a city that had no [physical] foundations, whose architect and builder was God [Himself]. He tells his readers that Abraham, and his family, IF they had considered where they had left [a life of paganism] they would have had opportunity to return [Hebrews 11:8-16].
- “Opportunity to return” = ‘Return’ comes from ‘re’ [go back] and ‘turn’ [a direction]. This means going back to the direction they were heading before they made a correct course change in turning to God and His ways.
9. “For [the sole purpose of] the flesh” = In the Greek language of the New Testament there are two words for ‘flesh’. There is ‘soma’ which means our physical body and there is ‘sarx’ which means our old, carnal, sinful nature. It is ‘sarx’ that Paul uses here. He is warning the saints not to take liberty with their relationship to Christ and His Body to go back and live like they were not saved.
There are tons of people who live in a virtual world of freedom. Many Christian’s have said, “No one will tell me how to live.” They don’t realize that in that virtual world even they are not in control of how they live. They think they are telling themselves how to live but in reality they have lost control of themselves [self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit] and have given themselves over to someone else. That someone may be another person, another spirit or even another belief system. But they are not free.
10. “But through love serve on another” = Use our freedom to model the love of God which wants only what is best for us to come to pass.
- Love does no wrong!
- Love covers a multitude of sins!
- Love is the vehicle by which faith travels!
- When we serve others we are thinking of how we can make their life more fulfilling.
- When we love them genuinely we will genuinely want what is in their best interest.
- We are to speak the truth in love which means we may have to confront them when their choices do not reflect what is best for them.
- Love gives them the space to hear our heart, and the heart of the Father, and then make their own decision.
Staying Hungry and Thirsty!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin