Paul is again reminding us that the purpose of the law was to show us our need for God. He uses examples from the Old Testament to explain why we are no longer under the law. Abraham had children with two women – Hagar (Sarah's slave) and Sarah (his wife). Paul uses the example of Hagar to liken the law to being a slave, because you have to fulfil everything it says to be righteous. In contrast, Paul uses Sarah to show us what we have in Christ – freedom. Jesus paid the ultimate price – He died as a sacrifice for us, to take the punishment we deserve for our sin. But through His death and resurrection God showed us such mercy and gave us His grace. This grace frees us from the law – if you like it fulfils the law for us, so that we are free from striving to attain an unachievable standard and instead can walk in freedom and relationship with our God. You see the relationship of a slave to her master is one of being made to feel inferior, striving to please, often being treated badly and as if they were worthless. In contrast, the relationship with a wife is one of love, acceptance and security. And this is what we find in Christ as we give our lives to Him.
Jesus paid the price and set us FREE! But how often do we live in less than he has paid for us? How often do we let things hold us back and hold us captive rather than living in the freedom Christ has already paid for? It is there for us.
In Galatians 5:1 Paul reminds us of our freedom and The Passion paraphrase puts it, ‘Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.'
We don't have to be held back by things anymore! We are free. I am someone who often worries and have suffered from anxiety at many different points in my life to different degrees. Even now I am free, I still get thoughts that cause the anxiety but I have a choice – do I listen to them and go into another anxiety spiral or do I listen to God who has set me free from all that? We have to actively make choices to stay in the freedom God has given us. I love what the verse says – ‘stubbornly refuse to go back'. That means we have to make a choice to follow God's way instead of the ways of the world. I'm not saying it is easy. It is difficult. But when we are active in deciding to stand on God's truth we can stay in our freedom. We need to get stuck into the Bible so that we are rooted in God's truth.
The enemy doesn't want us to stay free. He wants to trap us back in the things that caused us to be living as slaves to sin in the first place. We need to be aware of this so that we can hold fast to God and remain in freedom. We have to be active – when we are passive we often end up slipping back into the same old patterns and behaviours. In Colin Urquhart's book My Dear Child he says ‘Stand against every lie of the evil one. Don't entertain any of his thoughts. Don't believe any of his accusations. Don't accept any condemnation from him.'
We have to make choices to stand on God's word and to fill our lives with things of Him. For example, if you have struggled with pornography – you need to make decisions about how you are going to act when temptation comes or you will slip back into the ‘bondage of our past'. It is the same for me when fearful thoughts try to come in – I have to choose to start declaring God's word and truth over them. If I even begin to entertain those thoughts or try to reason with them, then anxiety starts. I have learnt (and am still learning!) that the only way is to declare God's truth – it is powerful and cuts through all the enemy's attacks.
Know this: we are free, so we can live this way. The enemy wants you to feel hopeless and like you will always be stuck, but that is a lie. Remember the truth – ‘Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free — not partially, but completely and wonderfully free!' (Galatians 5:1).
We are completely free so let's live in the good of our freedom! Why not ask God to reveal to you any areas where you are not living in freedom and allow Him to work in your heart so that you can truly live in His freedom.