“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Galatians 5:1
We need to remind ourselves again and again that we are free. We are no longer under condemnation.
How do we stand fast for freedom in Christ? How do we stand for grace and not become slaves again? How do we keep ourselves from being caught in a cycle of works and failure and drifting away from God? There are some things we can do for ourselves that will help us be people of grace and some things we can do for others to help them allow grace to awaken in their lives.
Every time we are tempted to enslave ourselves, we must remind ourselves that we are free. The Gospel of John says it well: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . If the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36). We need to remind ourselves with Scripture that we are no longer enslaved to sinful habits or sinful relationships. You and I are no longer enslaved to sinful thoughts, sinful organizations, or sinful behaviors. Sin is no longer our master. I’d like to suggest that you read Romans 5 through 8 and choose some verses to memorize. Those chapters are all about the fact that where sin once reigned over us, keeping us under the condemnation of a death-like sentence, Christ now reigns in grace.
In addition, don’t allow yourself to be enslaved by anyone whose list of requirements becomes your channel to feeling acceptance. This may be the result of an overly sensitive conscience and perhaps a traditionalism fed to you by people who meant well—parents, missionaries, or pastors, all with the best of motives. We need to remind ourselves again and again that we are free. We are no longer under condemnation. We need to consider that reality and then present ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness rather than to sin as instruments of unrighteousness (see Rom. 6:13).
I would imagine that most of us are better students of our sins than we are of our position in Christ. I’m not making light of the wrong in our lives—I’m just saying it’s wrong to focus on it. We are more conscious of sin than we are aware of Christ. How much better it is to have lives that focus on who we are in the Savior: forgiven, in the family, in Christ, secure, and accepted.
Not only do we need to remind ourselves that we are free, but at times we may also need to remind others who try to enslave us. Whenever I do that, I become less popular, but I sleep better at night. You must be both direct and kind, but conversations with those who try to enslave us don’t always end kindly. This is because legalists who want to dominate you don’t always give up easily. (If it sounds like I’m being too strong or too independent of spirit, reread Paul’s words in Galatians 2:4-16 and 3:1-4.)
Why do I say this with such passion? Because there will always be more legalists than there are freedom-loving believers. We will always be outnumbered. But Christ has gained victory for you. His name is at stake in your freedom. Don’t relinquish it. I realize when I say this that I am asking a hard thing. But Christ has set us free at the cost of His life. The freedom He gives us is worth fighting for.
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