FREEDOM IN CHRIST Lesson 11 for December 10, 2011
WHOMAKESUS FREE? “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians, 5: 1) A slave can only be freed by paying the price of his freedom. Some people taught Galatians that they had to observe the law in order to pay that price for their freedom. That is something that none of us can do. Christ did what we couldn’t do. At the cross, He paid the price for us, so we could be free.
WHAT ARE WE FREE FROM? Free from sin (Romans, 6: 18) Free from damnation (Romans, 8: 1) Free from idolatry (Galatians, 4: 8) Free frombondage (Galatians, 5: 1) Free from death and from the devil (Hebrews, 2: 14-15) Although we could be free from some of those things by strictly observing the law, we could never be free from the power of the devil or from our tendency to sin. We would keep being slaves of the law. Only Jesus can destroy the sin, completely freeing man and giving us power by his Spirit, so we don’t sin again.
FREE FROMLEGALISM The Judaizers taught that believers must circumcise to be saved. Paul remembered them what that involved: They had to observe ALL the law in order to be saved (v. 3) They were separated from Christ, since they didn’t want to depend on His grace (v. 4) That hindered their spiritual growth (v. 7) The cross was an obstacle for them; it was an offense for their pride, since it made them dependant on what some other person did for them(v. 11)
FREE FROMLEGALISM We are being legalistic when we try to pay for our salvation, either by strictly observing the law, by sacrifices, by charity or by any other act. To be legalistic is to think that we can buy or earn salvation. Salvation can only be obtained through Jesus Christ. AND IT IS FREE!
WHAT DOES CHRIST FREE US FOR? “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) Since we are not saved by the works of the law, how should we live? Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean freedom to do anything we please, unless what we want to do is to obey Christ in everything. Christina freedom is not licentiousness. Being free doesn’t lead us to please ourselves. Our freedom must lead us to a life of serving others, being motivated by the love God puts in our hearts through His Spirit.
FREE TO FULFILL THE LAW Paul talks about “keeping” and “fulfilling” the law. He uses the term “keeping” as something negative (Galatians, 5: 3) and “fulfilling” as something positive (Galatians, 5: 14) We keep the law when we respect its principles and try to do whatever it dictates in order to gain God’s approval. We fulfill the law when we make it our style of living through Jesus. We obey the law because we are motivated by our love for God and for our neighbors.
“Faith does have "works," but these are not the "works of the law" (see on ch. 2:16). Thus excluded are all "works" performed for the purpose of earning righteousness (see p. 934). The "works" that accompany genuine faith are inspired by the spirit of appreciation for the gift of divine grace, by love for God and for one’s fellow men (see Gal. 5:14; see on Matt. 22:34–40). It is of works such as these that James speaks when he declares that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26; cf. ch. 4:17). At this point the teachings of Paul and James meet. The two are not in conflict, as some have hastily concluded. It is a counterfeit faith that does not produce the "fruit of the Spirit" in the life (Gal. 5:22, 23). It is a counterfeit faith that leads a man to think himself released from obedience to the will of God as expressed in the Decalogue, which is simply a brief outline of how love toward God and man will find expression (see on Matt. 5:17, 18; 7:21–27). Without obedience a profession of love is sheer hypocrisy. Obedience to known duty is an inevitable result of the righteousness that comes by faith, and is the supreme test of its genuineness (see James 2:18). Paul emphatically declares that God’s purpose in giving His Son to save sinners (see on John 3:16) was to make it possible for the principles of His holy law to be worked out in the lives of men (see on Rom. 8:3, 4)” (SDA Bible Commentary, on Galatians, 5: 6)
Without love, the law is empty and cold; without law, love has no direction.