Wednesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Galatians 5:13-15

True Freedom

So that’s the gospel teaching about the law: It no longer binds us.  We do not need the ceremonial or ritualistic laws of Moses.  They were binding for their time, but now that Christ has come we no longer need that guardian.  We have a new and better guardian—the Holy Spirit who birthed us anew through faith in Christ.  We really do not even need the Ten Commandments to tell us how to behave as now the law of God is written on our hearts and the Holy Spirit gently leads us to fulfill that law, which in essence is a law of love—love of God and neighbor.  Towards God, that love manifests itself in obedience; towards neighbor, that love manifests itself in deeds of service.

But now Paul must address the opposite error.  Because of our sinful natures and of the world which was broken by our sin, there are always pitfalls in this life.  Really, there are.  Avoid one danger on one side and before you know it you’ve fallen before another danger on the other side.  This will ever be the case in this world.  So Paul has passionately explained to us that we need not the law for salvation; Christ alone is sufficient for us.  But people being what they are, he must now remind them that though they are free, they must “not use [their] freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.”  What does this mean?  Well, he is about to spell that out but suffice it for now to say that “flesh” in this instance means, “sinful nature.”  In other words, it is all too easy for one to think that now that the law is thrown off, let us indulge ourselves.  This is exactly what Paul’s enemies accused him of preaching (Romans 3:8; 6:1-4, 15-16).  And frankly there have been and are Christians who have led such lives as to legitimize the accusation.  But to the one truly is born of the Spirit, such thinking is abhorrent.

So Paul tell us to not allow our freedom to serve as an opportunity for the flesh “but through love [to] serve one another,” as that is to fulfill the law, a law we could never keep in our own strength.  And that is really all that needs to be said.  Indeed, Ravi Zacharias has said that the reason we have thousands of laws is that we can’t obey ten, or in this case, two.

Someone might ask me why then is the New Testament so big?  I answer, because we’re so stupid.  Love of God and neighbor is so incomprehensible to us that we need a great big divine book to tell us how to do something that one would think would be instinctual for us.  It is not, which is why we continually need the Holy Spirit within to conquer bad habits and fill us with good ones.  True freedom is obedience to God and service to neighbor.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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