Standing Firm in Freedom
Pastor Jared Longshore continues his series in Galatians opening to Chapter 5:1 – 15 with a message entitled “Standing Firm in Freedom.” Christian freedom today is seemingly always under attack just as it was in the Galatian church. Judaizers had infiltrated and were seeking to teach the necessity of adherence to circumcision specifically and the law generally. Paul wrote this letter to set things right.
Christians must stand firm in their Christ-given freedom. Paul tells us how to stand, why we should stand, and against whom we must stand. First Paul explains how we must stand firm. This necessity has four aspects. Christ has set us free from the guilt of sin; we are no longer law-breakers nor are we subject to the law. This gives us power over sin. Our authority has changed from the master of sin to the Master who set us free. The second aspect involves what should be our tenacious commitment to freedom. We do this by rejoicing in it, exercising it, confessing our sin, and communing with God. Third, we must understand it is Christ who has planted our feet on freedom’s ground. Verse one’s “Christ has set us free” claims an accomplished work, a work that came at a high cost. Finally, we must actively not submit to a yoke of slavery.
Having explained the “how” Paul moves to the “why;” he calls it a matter of life and death. Not standing on our freedom in Christ but accepting the necessity of circumcision ultimately ends in Christ being of no advantage to you (v. 2). Putting oneself under the obligation of part of the law puts one under obligation to the whole of the law and we know all fall short therein. Verse 4 indicates such a person has been severed from Christ and fallen away from grace. But, counters Paul in the following verses, we can and should live through the Spirit, living a life in faith, eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness.
Finally, Paul addresses against whom we must stand. There are two enemies, one external and one internal. The devil is the external real enemy and it is him that attempts to lead people astray. The Galatians had been “running well” but had been led astray, not obeying the truth. The devil worked through the false teachers, the Judaizers mentioned in this letter. False teachers are not only a phenomenon of the early church. Today there are false teachers of the Scriptures and these type teachers will be leading people astray until the end times (2 Timothy 4:3). The internal enemy is our flesh seemingly always seeking to lead us from things of the spirit to things of the world. Our fleshly tendencies, however, have been conquered by Jesus who needs only to be relied upon for us to overcome sin, to give true freedom. This is not license to sin as if we are free to do all we may want, but rather through love to serve one another and glorify God in what we do.