(Galatians 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
The Galatians had been delivered from the bondage of pagan legalism. They were now being led by Judaizers who were trying to put them back into the bondage of legalism by requiring them to keep the Jewish Law. But the promise of the path to freedom was really a deception designed to bind them in a system of never-ending emptiness. Achievement, holiness, purity, maturity were all desires. Failure, self-hatred, sin, and immaturity would be the inevitable result. “Stand fast” was the battle cry in the spiritual war for the spiritual life of these believers. Paul was telling them, “Don’t give in, don’t go back into slavery, you are already free in Christ!”
A “yoke” is a piece of wood wrapped around the neck of two cattle. It is connected to a plow or cart. The cattle are not free to maneuver according to their will. They are bound by the yoke and turn or pull at the whim of the person driving them. It is often used in Scripture as a picture of slavery.
Slavery is not better than freedom. Repeat that to yourself again and again. So many Christians willingly place themselves into the chains of legalism. Our liberty in grace is constantly being challenged by power-hungry people who want control over the souls of the free. They make guilt the motivation for service. They speak kindly and gently. Their demands may even sound reasonable. Some even use the word “grace.” But their methods show their heart. When they speak, there is pressure behind those words. There is pressure to act as they act and speak as they speak. They make you feel inferior when you don’t measure up to their expectations, use the words they use, pray the prayers they pray, or support the causes they support. You are looked upon as “immature” when you fail. Guilt is used as the motivation. Guilt works in the beginning because the soul is sensitive. We even feel good about ourselves when we meet the demands of the legalist. But when guilt is constantly used to spur performance, the soul becomes desensitized. It doesn’t last. Our concern turns into carelessness. Our desire to lay our life down for Christ turns into a desire to keep back part of our life for self. We find ourselves in a never ending cycle of trying to perform and falling into sin. Yes, this is slavery.
We must guard our hearts against those who would put us under a yoke of bondage. When you stand in the liberty you have in Christ, be sure the fiery darts of wickedness will be aimed at your heart. Accusations and insinuations will come your way because you refuse to yield. These are the times we must plant our feet firmly on the ground, raise the “shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16), and stand fast in the liberty we have in Christ! Don’t give in!
Renewed Thought -Legalism at its root is self-reliance and ultimately worships self. Christ set us free to rely totally on Him and to worship Him with our complete self.
(Galatians 3:26) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
How does someone enter a relationship with God? Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we are not physically born into a relationship with God. We were born dead in our spirit.
(Ephesians 2:1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Paul makes it clear to the Galatians that the Law cannot give life and therefore cannot help them enter into a relationship with God. The world would like us to believe we are all God’s children. It’s true the verse does say “ye are all the children of God,” but we must not stop there. There is a qualifier to become related to God. But it is not a dispensational qualifier. The word all in this verse confirms that for us. Jew and Gentile have the capacity to become children of God. The Law allowed the Gentile to approach God but only through Israel. This is no longer the case since the “schoolmaster” no longer prevails (Galatians 3:25). God provides equal ground to all at the foot of the cross.
We must never forget that we enter into a relationship with God “by faith in Christ Jesus.” It is the only requirement we can participate in that is outside of our own self action. Faith is trusting in the work of someone else on our behalf. The message to Jew and Gentile today is the same:
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Under the Law, the veil in the temple separated God from man. By faith, we are declared righteous (Romans 5:1). By faith, we are free to approach God today and address Him as a child of God. There is nothing that separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus!
Renewed Thought – A child of God is defined by righteousness. Christ’s righteousness applied to me places me into a relationship with God. I am free right now to approach His throne of grace.
(Galatians 3:25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
In Greek society, a “schoolmaster” (paidagōgos) was a guardian or guide. The schoolmaster was far more than a teacher. Thayer tells us, “Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class.” In Paul’s time, the schoolmaster governed the behavior, regulated the friendships, and provided punishment when necessary. Here, the “schoolmaster” was the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:24). The Law governed the behavior (“thou shalt…thou shalt not”). The Law regulated friendships (e.g. Leviticus 18:24). The Law provided punishment (Leviticus 26:14-39).
“But” is a great word celebrating a change in the relationship between God and man! God no longer deals with man on the basis of the “schoolmaster.” Although the Law still points out sin, we do not live under a performance based system for blessing and cursing. Grace is the operative system God uses today to regulate our behavior. Grace working in us points us to friendships. The Holy Spirit working in combination with the doctrine of grace convicts us when we do wrong.
We are not escorted from place to place, as school children, with a careful eye ensuring we perform up to the standard. As children of God in Christ, we are free to choose a life without the pressure of the Law. Some may see this as a license to live according to the flesh. How short-sighted and insulting to all that God accomplished for us! No, we are free to live a life governed not by the Law system, but by God’s grace. The power and motivation of grace rests not in the letter of commandment. The power and motivation rests in something more costly and precious than we could ever conceive: The Cross.
Renewed Thought – The motivation of God’s grace comes through the cross working in my daily life.