Have you ever said, “I just want to be free” or experience “freedom”? If you have ever thought you wanted freedom in this life, God invites you to be free and offers you freedom. However, you may misunderstand how and why God offers you freedom.
God offers you freedom to live a life that He intended you to live – a full and satisfying life in relationship with Him that brings Him honor and glory and provides you freedom. However, the freedom God provides is not about throwing off all restraint and doing whatever you want, nor is freedom achieved by following a set of rules to earn the freedom that only Jesus Christ can provide for you.
If God invites you into a life of freedom and offers you freedom, the question is, do you want the freedom God offers you?
This question is not new. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote a letter (probably 15-20 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ), now known as the book of Galatians, to “the churches of Galatia” (1:2). Paul received word that the Galatian Christians were turning from what he had preached to “a different way that pretends to be the Good News” (1:6). He was concerned that these Galatian Christians would leave a life of faith and freedom in Christ (i.e., the gospel) to follow the traditions, customs, and laws of the Jewish Christians. Paul was very clear throughout all his writing that salvation comes by faith alone in Christ, not by faith and works. The Galatian Christians needed a reminder that they had been “set free” by their faith in Christ. They had lost sight of the gospel Paul taught them because they observed the Jewish Christians approaching their daily lives differently. However, all Christians – who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation – are free in Christ!
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Paul clearly instructs the Galatian Christians in their options: (1) either live in the freedom God offers through Jesus Christ and stand firm in your belief in the gospel and allow it to instruct your daily living, or (2) subject yourself to the traditions, customs, and laws of your Jewish brothers and sisters who have believed in Jesus as their Messiah for salvation but also value following their historical and meaningful religious practices.
Paul was upset that the Galatian Christians thought following the Jewish religious practices assisted or helped make them more acceptable to God than their belief in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
You must decide what you will do with this freedom if you accept it from Jesus Christ.
Will you be like the Galatian Christians and try to follow a set of rules that make you feel better about your relationship with God, or will you embrace the complete and true freedom God offers in Christ?
Don’t misunderstand what God is offering you. Freedom in Christ does not mean you do whatever you want, nor are you meant to use your freedom for selfish purposes, but rather use your freedom as an opportunity to serve others in love.
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
Will you use your freedom in Christ to satisfy your sinful nature?
This phrase “satisfy your sinful nature” refers to the sinful desires and passions of your human nature that lead you away from God. These desires include selfishness, worldliness, and relying on your performance or achievement to obtain God’s acceptance. That is what Paul was so upset about with the Galatian Christians – they were fully accepted, forgiven, and righteous before God through their faith in Jesus Christ – they were set free from the bondage of sin – yet they became confused that they needed to be enslaved again, but this time, to the religious rules that other Christians were imposing on them.
The apostle Peter taught Jewish Christians the same teaching about freedom in Christ that Paul emphasized to the Galatian Christians – don’t use your freedom to do evil (sin).
“For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” 1 Peter 2:16
So why does God offer you freedom in Christ?
Multiple reasons can be found throughout the Bible, but let’s look at one reason from Galatians 5:13. Go back and read Galatians 5:13 again. The freedom God offers comes with an assignment – “use your freedom to serve one another in love.” You have the opportunity to live in relationship with God being a recipient of ultimate freedom in Christ to use your life as a conduit of God’s love to others.
Will you use your freedom to serve one another in love?
The word “love” in Galatians 5:13 is the Greek word – agape – which is the God-like love that you receive from God through Christ.
When you accept God’s offer of freedom in Christ, you are supposed to use your freedom to perform acts of service out of the overflow of God’s love in your own life so that others experience the love of God through you as you serve them. You take the freedom you have in Christ to humbly put the needs of others before your own so that you are exhibiting the love and character of God in demonstrative ways. Your service toward others becomes a practical expression of the love that Christ has shown you and is a powerful witness to the world that you have been “set free” in Christ and that you are living out the freedom God offered you. You serve others in love because you are free in Christ!
As you use your freedom to live a life of service, you will experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from loving others as Jesus loves you. This teaching should inspire you to live lives of service reflecting the love of Jesus toward others, not because you must or because you feel you need to earn God’s favor, but because you are truly free in Christ – you are living in the freedom God gave you and you accepted from Him!
Watch the LIVE REPLAY to hear more about how we often misunderstand what freedom in Christ means and how God wants us to use our freedom. Join us LIVE every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on @GodGivesCourage Instagram for our Spiritual Growth Series and check back here on Tuesdays for the companion blog post.