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Standing Fast in Liberty

08 Feb
Yoke

from Google Images

At this time Paul takes us from theology to ethics, from dogma to living out one’s faith. What would our being devoted to God, yet living without the Mosaic Law, look like? If the Mosaic Law is discarded as a premise for Christian conduct, what would happen to moral living? This was the problem that the New Testament Church had to answer, because it was, no doubt, put to us by both the legalists who opposed the believer’s posture, and the legalists who were genuinely interested in the answer. If law takes away real freedom, how does one keep from embracing the opposite extreme of living so freely that one becomes addicted to lust, greed, wrath and the like? Obviously, such behavior also takes away true freedom. The answer to this dilemma lies in maintaining the image of Christ within us, which is kept through faith as we shall see.

Paul begins by informing us that the work of Christ has set us free from the Mosaic Law, the yoke of bondage (slavery), and we are expected to embrace our freedom (Galatians 5:1; cf. Acts 15:1, 5, 10). By submitting to the authority of the Law, we would no longer be able to live (walk) under the authority of Christ who has freed us (Galatians 5:1-4). Just as one nation has no power over those living under the authority of another nation, so the freedom one enjoys under Christ cannot be enjoyed while living under the authority of the Law. Simply put, only Christ is able to offer us this freedom, and if we are submitting to another authority, whether that authority is the Mosaic Law or some modern replacement of it (such as making a particular denomination or group of denominations necessary for salvation), Christ is of no effect to us. Nothing Christ offers us can profit us, while we submit to a different authority.

One may ask: “in what sense has Christ liberated us from the yoke of bondage (slavery)? We have been liberated by Christ in the sense that we no longer live under the authority of the Mosaic Law. It is no longer able to require our lives. Rather we live under the authority of Christ who has saved us from the death sentence of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law also defined what sin was, and for the most part we can still use its definition, but ultimately Jesus is our Lord and even a literal interpretation of the Mosaic Law would prevent us from obeying Christ and loving one’s neighbor, as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows (cf. Luke 10:30-37).

In Galatians 5:1 we are given two commands: stand fast in the freedom Christ gave us, and don’t become entangled again in the yoke of bondage. This implies that there is labor involved and that we could surrender our position if we aren’t careful. As Christians, we understand that we’ve been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1Peter 1:18-19), and we are told by Peter, himself, that if we become entangled again in the yoke of bondage, we are, in fact, tempting God. To embrace the Law of Moses as one’s authority is to reject the sacrifice of Christ. Such a posture rejects faith and seeks to become acceptable to God on one’s own.

Personally, I was at first surprised that God would do such a thing as to give me such freedom. Then I was a little confused as to how it would work, but once I began practicing what I believed God was saying through Paul, I was greatly relieved. This was decades ago, and since that time I have marveled over both the mercy and wisdom of God in liberating mankind from the Law. Otherwise, I would be doomed to failure and only death would await me, and without Christ, this is exactly what God has done; he has put us all in a hold (under the Law) awaiting judgment (Galatians 3:23). Faith, however, rejoices in the face of judgment, for there is no judgment (no death) for those in Christ, Jesus (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:13).

For freedom’s sake, we have been set free, and, if Jesus is the one setting us at liberty, we will be truly free (John 8:36). We have not made ourselves free, nor has any man set us free. Rather, it is Christ, our Savior who has set us free (Galatians 5:1). It is his gift to us, and it is to be received in the same manner it is kept, that is, only through faith. We stand fast in our liberty by trusting (directing our faith in) Christ.

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5 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Galatians

 

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5 responses to “Standing Fast in Liberty

  1. Seeally

    January 25, 2018 at 17:04

    The 144,000 Firstfruits sang the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb. These were ‘law keepers and had faith.’ All those under the law were required to keep it and the scriptures prove that THEY kept the ‘commandments.’ The old covenant was conditional and Paul said there were ‘some who did not sin as Adam did.’ Ro 5:14. They did not keep the law to be declared righteous but they kept the law BECAUSE they were righteous.
    “The law is SPIRITUAL.”
    “…3For what the Law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the righteous standard of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.…Ro 8.

    Paul was not antinomian. He upheld the law! Grace cannot exist without law. Positive cannot exist without negative. It takes BOTH poles of POLARITY to empower, create or light up anything and God’s eternal attributes are clearly seen in his creation. Examine an atom or a battery. Grace cannot exist apart from the law. Lawlessness is the absence of law and order. Where no law exists there is chaos.

    One who ‘walks in the spirit’ is not under condemnation. Ro 8:1. Jesus said ‘My WORDS are spirit and they are life. Under the old covenant, the law was external and the punishments served to restrain the flesh. It had no abiblity to circumcize the heart. Faith circumcizes the heart. And God said he would ‘write his laws on our hearts and minds’ so that by nature we do the things of the spirit. The spirit of the law is love. The law has always been spiritual. The Pharisees would not help the wounded Samaritan because it would have made them be ceremonially unclean. They put the law before love. The law was not meant to be intrepreted in that manner. God is love but he gave mankind the law for civil government. It is still a sin to lie down with a beast, steal, lie, murder, commit adultery, etc. The only time one is excused is when love trumps the law. For example, one does not lie UNLESS one did it to save another. We might lie accidentally but to lie with INTENT and foreknowledge is INTENTIONAL sin and one who is walking in the spirit does not commit INTENTional sin. Love trumps the law and one is not under condemnation when they did it out of love.

    I left ‘church’ many years ago for a personal relationship with my God and to obey what Jesus said in Matt 23:8-10, not to call anyone by a title of spiritual authority over us as we are all equal and have the same access to our Father and we all have the same TEACHER. That would be the spirit, who is the LORD. 2 Cor 3:17. I worship in Sabbath REST as my Father does and gives it to those who have entered his rest and ceased from their own works. We don’t work our way to heaven; heaven came down and encamped IN us so that we could fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. As John said, ‘One who continues to sin (INTENTIONALLY) has not come to know God.’

    Gal 6:7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. 8The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.…

    Many fall away because they thought like Esau and trampled on the blood of Christ.

     
    • Eddie

      January 25, 2018 at 19:57

      Greetings Seeally,

      “The 144,000 Firstfruits sang the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb. These were ‘law keepers and had faith.’”

      Nothing is said about their being “law keepers” – law and faith don’t mix well. You are reading “law” into the text at this point.

      Indeed, the Law is spiritual, but that doesn’t make it what you want it to be—necessary for salvation. Anything that is spiritual is stronger than the flesh. The Law is stronger than man. It can kill, and it can require our lives, and we cannot undo that. Our only way out is **in** Christ. He is able to save us from the power of the Law.

      I agree that Paul was not an antinomian. He kept the Law as a Jew, because it was his national law—the constitutional law of the Jews. Paul never put the gentiles under the Law, because they already had laws of their own to keep in whatever nation they were citizens. The gentiles had similar laws, such as against murder and stealing etc. Paul told them to obey the governors of their own lands. The Law of Exodus 20 was a moot matter, as far as gentiles were concerned. This is what Galatians is all about.

      Concerning “intentional” sin, I hate to disappoint you, but I often commit intentional sin. I’ve I’m angry with someone, whom I should forgive, I really intend on being angry with that person. My words against him or her really are “intentional”, yet, those sins can and are forgiven by Christ. When I come to myself, and calm down, I seek forgiveness from God, and – sometimes, but not always – from the one who had to endure the brunt of my anger.

      Concerning your leaving the “church” – I have no comment, except to say I understand, but do not agree with that decision. I tried it, and it didn’t work for me. If it works for you, then may God be praised for his grace. However, since my decision, I’ve come to realize that as incorrect as it might be at times, we need one another and meeting together seems to me to be a healthy thing to do—spiritually.

      May the Lord richly bless you, Seeally.

       
  2. Seeally

    January 24, 2018 at 22:29

    God’s law is not a ‘yoke.’ The old covenant law was. Paul taught the commandments to the congregation: Eph 6:1 ‘Children obey your parents for this is the first commandment with a promise.’ (Honor your mother and father).
    God’s laws are eternal and immutable and Paul ‘upheld the law’ and the Bride of Christ observed the old covenant laws as agreed upon. Even Josephus, the Jewish historian, was Bishop at the church in Jerusalem after the 70 AD destruction and they observed the old covenant laws. God spoke the law first but the Israelites refused to LISTEN so he wrote them in stone. Yet the promise to the House of Judah and Israel was that God would write his laws on their hearts in the New Covenant. To try and keep all the laws to be justified by it was death, and Moses wrote the ceremonial laws and the book of punishments which was stored outside the ark in the symbolic place where animal dung and waste went. The two tablets of stone were kept INSIDE the ark along with two other symbols of his priesthood and prophet roles. The world needs God’s laws because their will always be evil people who harm their neighbors and the righteous need to be protected from them. It’s just as wrong to ‘murder’ today as it was in the beginning and God’s laws made order out of chaos. Jesus fulfilled the laws requirements by reconciling us to our father, who is spirit, and destroying the death of separation that Adam caused. We no longer need mediators, teachers and preachers if we have been reconciled to our Father and have his spirit, who is the Lord, who is our TEACHER. Matt 23:8-10; 2 Cor 3:17.

    A believer is not under the curse of the law because he walks in the spirit and has stopped committing INTENTional sin. No sacrifice was ever made for INTENTional sin, only unintentional, that which we inherited from Adam. Jesus came to put an end to the devil’s work, not’abolish the law’ but to fulfill it.

    Faith is so much more than a mental agreement. I can mentally agree that eating a healty diet will give me a healthy body but if I keep right on eating fatty, sugary foods, my faith is DEAD.

     
    • Eddie

      January 25, 2018 at 08:02

      Greetings Seeally, and thank you for reading and for your comment. Many sins were intentionally committed and for such things a sacrifice was provided. For example, after a war, the men were unclean and couldn’t enter the camp. There was a procedure for their “intentional” uncleanness. The same was true for folks who dealt with animal skins (tanners) etc. There was no sacrifice for such things as murder and blasphemy. I don’t know if you believe in the “Saturday” Sabbath or not, but if you don’t, your argument is immediately moot in that the Sabbath has not morphed into Sunday. There is no command anywhere in the Bible to keep Sunday as one’s Sabbath.

      It is impossible to walk in the Law and walk in the Spirit at the same time. Either one walks in the Law and is obedient or disobedient according to his own works, or he follows Jesus and trusts Jesus would never lead him down the wrong path (walking in the Spirit). I have 36 studies in this series on Galatians. You have chosen the 27th study out of the 36. Does this mean you approve of the previous 26 or perhaps you read only this one? Paul makes a logical argument for his stand that progresses throughout his letter. I have taken the time to read and study what he wrote on this subject. That cannot be undone by referring me to three scriptures as you do above. If you want to make a case, fine. Let’s go through it together, but stay on subject and in the context of how Paul presents his case.

       

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