Galatians 5:13—“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
How would you finish this sentence?
If I want to be a really good Christian, I must…
How you finish that sentence is critical. Finish it incorrectly, as many people do, and you fall into the same trap of the ensnared first-century Christians in Galatia.
What does it mean to be called to freedom? Many wrongly define freedom. Some would say that I am free if no one hinders me or stops me from what I want to do. In other words, if I am not impeded from anything that I desire, I’m free. But is this really true?
Is this statement true on the lips of a crack-addict or a compulsive gambler? Is this statement true on the lips of a workaholic or a thief? I don’t think so! When the Word of God speaks of the believer being “called to freedom,” what does it mean? Mortimer J. Alter wrote a book entitled, The Idea of Freedom. In this book he traced the debate about freedom through centuries of human philosophy. Boiling it down, he said three viewpoints have prevailed among the philosophers of the world:
The first is that freedom is circumstantial: by this he meant that we are free as long as there is no state, institution, or dictator seeking to hinder us from doing what we want to do.
The second is that freedom is natural: this is the viewpoint of the founding document of our country, The Declaration of Independence.
The third is that freedom is acquired: this viewpoint suggests that freedom is inward, in that, if we have a change of mind and character that makes us feel free, then we are free.
Which view do you think best represents God’s viewpoint? Circumstantial, natural, or acquired?
The freedom that Jesus came to give us is not represented by the above three. The freedom believers are called to is a freedom from God’s wrath over us, Satan’s rule below us, and sin’s power within us—for Jesus said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Are you free?