Called to Freedom
Here Paul makes it clear that some believers had gone off-track from their pursuit of Christ and his grace (v.7). They’ve returned to the law as their means of justification (v.4), or their being in right standing with God. They are throwing away the riches of grace for the fool’s gold of adherence to the law. C.S Lewis captures this when he talks about our settling for less than what God has for us, saying that we are “Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
We saw, in Galatians 2:4, that “false brothers” had crept into the church to steer believers into the snare of following the Jewish system of depending on adherence to the law and rituals in order to prosper. Paul previously used strong language (See Galatians 3:1 and 5:4) to rebuke those who had fallen for this and also gives a warning, in verse 10, to those who cause this. Judgement falls on those who rely on the law to be right with God and who lead others to do so. We may gasp at how the Galatians could have “fallen from grace” and gone on to lean on the law as their way to prosper; but it can be all too easy to fall away from a grace-centred mindset to a self-centred version, even without Judaisers to help you do so!
Consider these, perhaps recognisable, statements: “As long as I’m loving people I’ll always be accepted by God” and “If I love and care for people I’m sure that God will grant me eternal life.” Such statements, as well meaning as they may appear, are laced with legalism. Can you spot this? They are based on performing in the right way in order to achieve God’s acceptance, or his gift of eternal life. The emphasis is on self-achievement rather than God’s achievement for you – grace. We are accepted by God and given eternal life by God ONLY – through FAITH in God’s GRACE – which is Christ’s achievement of victory over sin and death on the cross on our behalf.
God’s intent and purpose for our lives is that we think and live in freedom (v.13) – this is what Christ has won for us. This freedom is not a licence to get away with as much wrong-doing as we can (v.13, Romans 6:1-2), but freedom from being driven towards wrong-doing. A freedom that empowers and propels us to live unshackled by shame, guilt, hurts, impulsiveness or fear and to soar into a mindset and lifestyle of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the attributes, or personality qualities, of Jesus which the Holy Spirit enables us to experience, enjoy and produce, as naturally as a tree produces delicious fruits.
Therefore, as Paul exhorts us, let’s resist the pull of desires which do not honour Jesus and pursue living through intimacy with him and the energy and power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us, as Christians, to enable us to think and live like Christ.
Thank you Jesus that your mind and lifestyle are available for us to enjoy and live out in our daily lives. Help me to know and experience this today and onwards, Amen.