“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1)
Most Christians know that Christ has freed them somehow. What does freedom in Christ mean? In one sense, freedom is defined by what we are freed from. Galatians 5 helps us see the borders of freedom.
Much of Galatians is devoted to describing the Christian’s relationship to the law of Moses. Paul makes it clear we no longer relate to God through keeping commandments and observing rituals. We are righteous because of Christ’s death, not because of our behavior. We live for God, not by our own willpower, but by faith in the Son of God who lives within (Gal. 2:19-20).
When Paul says Christ has liberated us to be free, he is talking about our freedom from the law. Our life isn’t about following rules. Christ is our life. Ephesians 2:14-15 says it this way: “In His flesh, He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations….”
For some Christians, freedom in Christ means little more than freedom from rules. But Galatians goes on to show us the deeper significance of freedom: “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:13-14).
Some would say the very definition of freedom is following every desire and living without restraint. This is part of freedom–freedom from the law. But when our flesh is unrestrained we are not free from ourselves. Jesus accomplished this on the cross as well: “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).
My flesh, along with all its self-centered desires, is dead and gone. As Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” The life of Jesus internally restrains selfishness. His life needs no law because He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and self-control. “Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Jesus has brought us into complete freedom. His life needs no rules because it moves lawfully and unselfishly of its own volition. It’s love, not law. The more we live by faith in *this* Son of God–the Son of God within–the more freedom we will experience.