For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery … in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love … For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1-15, ESV.
Governor Wolf, who had been doing so only on a county-by-county basis, has now placed the entire state of Pennsylvania under a “stay at home order." While we still have the freedom to get groceries and perform other essential tasks this order does remove some of our freedom. Even those who seem free to leave their home to do essential work now feel compelled to do so out of duty. To lose freedom is hard. I am sure that you feel it as I do.
This morning I want to consider Galatians 5:1-15 (please read the whole passage if you have time). This word from Paul’s pen is about the freedom that is ours in Christ. While we feel the burden of the reduction in our social freedom, I want to encourage you to remember a freedom that nations and states cannot remove.
Paul was writing to a church where people were being tempted to see the gospel as an addition to the law of the old covenant instead of the fulfilment of it. They were tempted to believe that they were made right with God through faith in Christ and obedience to the law. Paul is fighting against that view throughout the entire letter of Galatians.
Here, in chapter 5, Paul states plainly that Christ has set believers free so they can live free, not as slaves to the law. Everyone who considers their own experience knows what it is like to live under the law, trying to keep God’s commands well enough to be judged good in God’s eyes. It is a constricting and miserable experience: our sinful hearts hate it, and we fail, and fail, and fail again to do it. Thankfully, Christ came to us in our misery and He, as the new and perfect Adam, kept the law for us. And He died for us, absorbing the law-breaker’s penalty. He set us free.
As people who are set free, we are to live like it. We are to live in the freedom of knowing that Christ has taken our law burden. The law for us is no longer a taskmaster, but a teacher, showing us what righteousness looks like. We no longer live under it, but, trusting in Christ, we now live under this rule: the rule of love. Free men and women loving God and loving one another as the perfect exercise of our freedom!
So, follow the stay-at-home rules. But, as you do, enjoy the freedom you have in Christ. Love God. Love and serve your brother or sister in Christ. Love and serve your neighbor.
It is my prayer for you that you will enjoy your freedom in Christ—today!