The freedom we have in Christ is not a license to sin. Sin enslaves us to Satan, others, or our own sinful nature. As Christ followers, we are not to be slaves to sin because our chains have been broken through the blood of Christ. “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Gal. 5:13-15)
Instead, we are free to do right and to glorify God through loving service to others. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus and “love [our] neighbor as [ourselves]”.
Those who stand in the grace of Jesus have been freed from sin and are free from the curse of the Law which condemns them. Freedom comes with responsibility, and followers of Jesus should have no desire to sin. This truth explains why Paul has spent so much time focusing on the offense of the cross. Unless we grasp the debt we owe God for our sin and the price Jesus paid, we won’t be motivated to live as we should. When we know why He died there, we want to die to sin every day, for the rest of our lives.
All of the rules and regulations associated with the Old Testament Law fell under the umbrella of a single principle or law: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This same law was also referred to as the “second greatest commandment,” behind the first, which was to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.”
“You, my brothers, were called to be free!” What good news. “But use your freedom correctly. Love one another.” Obviously, Paul was referring to the behavior of those embroiled in the debate over circumcision (Gal. 5:1-12). Something was terribly wrong with a discussion on righteousness that led people to treat one another badly.
When believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults. Soon we lose our unity. What keeps us loving others and being unified in the Spirit? Setting aside our pride and submitting to The Picture of Christ in Me:
- Be that one who loves that which is unlovable.
- Be that one who returns kindness for spite.
- Be that one who forgives when deep heart offense happens.
- Be that one who sees past the insult into the wounded heart.
- Be that one who shines into lives who rest in darkness.
- Be that one who speaks spirit and life.
- Be that one who repents first.
- Be that one who walks straight.
- Be that one who understands the heart of God.
- Be that one who prays with that understanding.
- Be that one who heals broken hearts.
- Be that one who lives inside of you.
To be honest, this concept of freedom and humility goes against our human nature. We often think of freedom as a green light to do anything we want, as long as we don’t hurt others. But this is a rather shallow definition, and certainly not a biblical one. Love is not defined merely by the things we don’t do to hurt others. It is the full expression of Jesus’ love through every step we take…every word we speak…and everything we do.
Freedom can be a beautiful thing if we remember the price that was paid to win it and that we are no longer our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Anything else isn’t really freedom at all, or at the very least a cheap substitute.
- Life Application Study Bible (NIV)
- Stories of Value