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.