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. -Galatians 5:13
There are three responses to the freedom that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers to us.
- The first, is the difficulty that these early Christians were having, it is why the letter was written. That is, LEGALISM. They had received Christ by faith, and yet were persuaded to go back to following a set of rules in regard to righteousness. Paul goes to great lengths to show that legalism leads back to bondage.
- The second, and I think very common response in the church today is LICENSE. Freedom becomes more about what we are free to do for ourselves and less about being free from the bondage of sin, and free to live rightly. Many people disregard Paul’s admonition to be careful not to become “a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9) as well as the idea presented here in Gal. 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16, that liberty can become a “covering for evil.” License leads back to bondage.
- Finally, the goal of Paul’s exhortation, as well as a clear reflection of Jesus’ desire for us, is LOVE. This is the proper response for one who has been set free. It’s not about what we are set free to do for ourselves, but our lives should be about others. We are free to love and free to serve one another motivated by that love. Love leads to liberty.