As Americans, we are blessed with freedom. Freedom of speech… the press… to peaceably assemble. We can thank our Lord that we have a country conceived in liberty.
But there is no such thing as complete freedom. Not really.
As a resident of any country, one is subject to the laws, regulations, and rules of said country. When someone works for a company, there are standards of conduct and behavior to which one must submit.
If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you have to follow rules regarding the upkeep of your home. Businesses have to meet criteria for health, financial, and other practices.
The point? No one is free from all restriction.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:1-6
For this post in the Freedom series, I want to take apart the above passage with regards to our actions and the role our decisions play in our freedom.
It is interesting to note that, in this passage, Paul refers to slavery as a choice. The word submit in verse 1 means to hold onto. If you notice, every mention of slavery or bondage in these verses is an action on the part of the individual… submit… accept… obligated… fallen. In other words, Paul is saying that those that followed the dogmatic religious leaders of the time were, in essence, making themselves subservient to the standards of the law. And verse three says that if you are subject to one part of the law, you are subject to all of it.
The point of this text is that no one is able to keep the whole law. When we hold ourselves in subjection to a list of standards that we cannot possibly meet, we enslave ourselves. And because we cannot keep the whole law, we cannot reach the goal which we try to attain by doing so, which is righteousness. Verse 3 tells us that the opposite becomes true – that we fall away from grace. Fallen in this verse is literally to leap or spring out.
And the relief is shown in verse 6, where we see that our works unto righteousness are for naught. We are not capable of righteousness on our own, which is the point of the law! The act of keeping the law for the dogmatic nor the act of breaking the law for the redeemed “count for anything.” What a blessed thought!
Our righteousness was bought with a price, one that none of us are capable of paying on our own. Our choice in the matter is crucial. We can choose the grace and mercy of our God or we can choose to try to be good enough under the law.