This week I almost hate to speak. In light of what Jesus has gone through to bring us to Himself, words seem a little out of place. However, life in Christ develops as we reflect on His word in communion with Him through prayer. So again we will reflect, listen, and ask God to help us see truth.
(Read Galatians 5:1-26)
Let's think deeply about a few particular phrases Paul uses in this chapter.
1) "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (verse 1). What was Jesus' intention for His people? Why did Jesus do what He did? He did it to set us free, and He set us free so that we would live in freedom.
One is passive and the other is active. Being set free is what God does for us in Jesus, yet living in freedom is something we do in Christ. What do you think about that?
2) "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (verse 6). How does faith express itself through love? What does that have to do with living in freedom? Again faith is relatively passive.
We have faith in Jesus, but our faith is not active it is passive. By faith we rest in Jesus and thereby begin to live in freedom. However, love is active. Love is what we do. It involves good deeds, kindness, and care for others. Love is active. Love is the action generated by faith in Jesus.
3) "You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (verse 13) True freedom is never found by indulging the sinful nature. Sin separates us from God, and any separation from God is not freedom it is bondage. Instead living in freedom is serving one another in love. Freedom is active. It is God-focused and others-centered. Freedom means we are less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about God and others.
4) "So I say live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (verse 16) Living by the Spirit is how we live in freedom. Freedom is not possible for us. We cannot live in freedom on our own. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to live in freedom. The Spirit gives us the gift of faith by which we receive Jesus Christ and all His benefits. The Spirit also moves us away from serving ourselves and more toward loving God and serving others in love. And this leads us to our next verse for reflection.
5) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Living in freedom comes as we live by the Spirit,
and the Spirit produces fruit that looks more like Jesus in us. Notice that a lot of the "fruit" leads us away from ourselves and towards God and others. This is true freedom, and when we live by the Spirit there is no more need for law.
6) "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Life in Christ happens as we live in freedom and living in freedom occurs as we live by the Spirit. You see this all goes beyond mere religion. Religion offers a set of rules, laws, cultural mores, rituals, etc. for people to keep to attempt to re-bind their severed relationship with God. However, religion cannot do it.
Yet where religion fails, Jesus Christ succeeds! In Christ we are reunited to God (made forever right with Him). In Christ we have the Holy Spirit living in us. In Christ we are free and thus are called to live in freedom. In Christ we are finally able to obey God. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, but in Christ we will bear much fruit. (see John 15:5)
So as we journey this week with Jesus to the cross, let us remember why He did what He did and let's ask God to help us live in freedom ... for God's glory and Christ's kingdom!
So what do you think? Does this make sense? Do you still have questions? Let's be bold and share our thoughts, our questions, and our struggles as we seek to live in the freedom for which Christ has set us free.