“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to slavery” – Galatians 5:1 (NASB)
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he exhorts them to refrain from going back to the law after they were set free by the gift of grace through their belief in Jesus Christ. He says, “You were running so well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7) The truth is we have been saved by faith alone. And we have received power to do the will of God through the Holy Spirit. We are incapable of doing the law fully and, as Paul points out, if we cannot do it perfectly then it will have no power to perfect us. Only faith in Christ perfects us and makes us whole in the sight of God.
Christ did not set us free so we could go back to a legalistic way of doing things. The scripture says we were set free so we could live in freedom! Imagine yourself as a prisoner who has suddenly been set free. The jailer who sets you free says, “You’ve been set free so you can be free.” Would your mind know what to do with a statement like that? Maybe you’d wonder, “Did they find me not guilty? Or did they make a mistake? Am I getting away with something?” Most people in this situation would want to know the grounds on which they were being set free . “Is there a rational reason for my freedom?” It’s difficult to simply embrace the freedom and allow the legalistic questions to be quieted in the mind. But we will never be able comprehend grace. It doesn’t make rational sense.
When we are faced with a statement like Paul makes here – “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free” – it is understandably difficult to process. Did he set us free because we were not guilty? Absolutely not. We were. We didn’t keep his laws. Did he set us free because he made a mistake? No. God can’t make mistakes; he’s perfect. It’s just as Paul says it. He set us free simply so we could be free. That’s the kind of God he is. He wants his kids to experience freedom.
For some, when we feel we’ve been let off the hook without merit, we tend to go right back to the bad behavior that got us into trouble to start with. Because of a root issue we have with guilt and/or feeling guilty (not necessarily the same thing), we go back to what we know. We go back to what feels safe. But here, Paul encourages us to resist being a slave to our old ways. He says to stand firm. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stand in the freedom Christ has given us even though we haven’t earned it. But part of being a believer is believing that even though we didn’t earn it, it’s still ours. Christ set us free for freedom. Let’s walk in it!