Pondering the meaning of freedom over the Fourth, I was led to words from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” (Gal. 5:1) What kind of freedom is Paul talking about?
Before Jesus died on a cross, God’s people lived under a very detailed system of laws that served as a moral compass to guide their lives.
The 10 Commandments were part of a “pass – fail course” which we’ve all flunked The Law’s purpose was to point the way to a need for Jesus Christ, our Savior (Gal. 3:19–24) Through His sacrificial death, Jesus Christ paid our fines … posted bail for us … setting believers free from the law of sin and death.
The Church at Galatia was a new church, with people who had a fresh, new exciting salvation.
Then, ritual laws such as eating meals offered to idols and in particular circumcision was the “requirement” (the yoke”) that started being laid down on their shoulders by so-called “Judaizers.” The apostle Paul compared this to slavery: “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
Christian freedom involves not living under the burdensome performance requirements of the Law. An important aspect of Christian freedom is our responsibility not to return to living under a legalistic form of religion. Christian freedom is not a license to sin.
But rather, God’s laws are now written in our hearts through the Spirit of God, and we are free to follow a law of grace,” (Rom 6:14) serving Him in ways that please and glorify Him (Rom. 8:2–8).
In addition, I believe it also means being released from the “yoke” of other’s performance expectations.
Just as the so-called Judaizers” of the Galatian church wanted to instill burdens (yokes) of ritual law, so do people we know want us to measure up to their expectations (yokes), worldly mores, and codes of behavior.
Seemingly exasperated, Paul exclaimed to his beloved church, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Gal. 3:1-2) Scripture promises, “to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (Jn. 1:12)
My brothers and sisters, we are all “children of God” … members of “The First Family” … with Godly blessings making us wealthier than a Rockefeller. We don’t have to “measure up” or perform.
We should know even more than the “freedom” of America. Christians should know true freedom, the greatest of freedom: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.