A main topic in the book of Galatians? Free. Freedom in Christ. In Christ I have been set free. But what does freedom even mean? What does freedom look like for me where I am, right now?
A few weeks ago I studied Galatians 5:1-15. It was part of a study focusing on who I am in Christ. It was one of the weeks I was most looking forward to studying, and the one that has continued to stir my heart weeks later.
Paul begins the fifth chapter to the church of Galatia with what I view as a mighty proclamation: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Christ has set us free!
So stand firm!
Do not again submit to that yoke of slavery!
When I mull over freedom, I often find myself forgetting that I was ever enslaved. Enslaved to my sinful flesh, my insatiable desires rooted in this world, and to the Mosaic law I would never be able to uphold as hard as I might try. When I forget what I've been set free from, I find myself submitting again to that yoke of slavery. I forget the truth of Romans 8:15:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'
Praise be to God!
In Christ, I am no longer in bondage to fear.
In Christ, I have received the Spirit of adoption as a daughter of the Most High.
In Christ, I cry to God as Father.
In Christ, I am set free from earning my salvation and worth.
Christ has not set me free so I can fall back into my try-hard lifestyle or my self-centered desires. When I am not operating out of the freedom I have in Christ, I am operating out of my own strength. I become wrapped up in the fear of man, in the fear of failing, of not being worthy or enough. I become so consumed with pleasing others, being liked, and trying to meet my own lofty expectations that I forget the merit on which I have been accepted as a child of God—an honor based on nothing I have done.
In the second verse Paul goes on to challenge the Galatians regarding the value they placed on circumcision as a meritorious work in God's eyes saying, "Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you" (Gal. 5:2). In laying hold of our freedom, and truly living out our lives as free women we give glory to God, praising Him that it is not because of our works but His that we may boast. Being a child of God means not being fearful of failure or fearful of not measuring up to Christ’s holiness, as I continually recognize that the debt has already been paid in my place. It means that I get to be used as a vessel in which Christ works through me, for His glory, not my own.
For freedom Christ set me free, that in Him I might pursue Him whole-heartedly, not because I have to but because I so deeply want to. This freedom I have means I love God's people deeply and richly out of the overflow of my heart because I know who my heavenly Father is and I know the great gift of freedom He has given to me through His Son. My heart-cry is that we would be women who love the Lord intimately, who seek to love our neighbors truly as ourselves because we have experienced the richness of living freely in Christ.
"For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise if not from man but from God."