PJ’s Daily Devotional for Saturday, January 28, 2017.
How do you measure freedom?
It seems that in today’s culture, at least in America, freedom is measured in many ways. Whether it is freedom to own guns; freedom from government regulation; freedom to live and work wherever you want; freedom to be true to your own religion; freedom to work or to not work; or a variety of other personal liberties we seek so we can freely and divergently express our individuality.
What does the Bible say about our freedom?
Paul continues his conversation about being the real thing, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
From what has Christ set us free? In one word: sin. Sin is rebellion against God and His absolute standard for faith and conduct given to us through the revealed Word of God. The Bible teaches us that we all have sinned and fall short of meeting God’s requirements to be with Him eternally (Romans 3:23) and that what we deserve for our personally committed sin (our own ways of selfishness, hurtful words and actions) is an eternal punishment of separation from God (Romans 6:23). The good news of Jesus Christ is that while we were still in our sin, rebelling against God and His absolute standard for life, God first loved us by sending His Son Jesus Christ to take the punishment for our sins—Jesus took the death we deserve so we can have life with God eternally (Romans 5:8 & John 3:16).
When we confess our sin, and turn away from it by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive eternal life and are set free from sin; we are now forgiven to live a new way! The Bible teaches us that the new way we are to live is called, “the new way of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6).
In today’s reading, Paul says it this way, “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.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:13-15).
Your freedom is not measured by your personal liberties! The test of your freedom is how you walk in the Spirit which is most clearly made visible in how you think about and treat other people.
This is the emphasis of Galatians 5:16-26 which teaches us how to walk in the Spirit and how to measure whether we are still walking per the elementary principles of the world which are manifested as the works of the flesh (read verses 19-21) or walking by faith through the Spirit of God which manifests as the fruit of the Spirit (read verses 22-23).
Freedom is measured by how well you love and manifest the fruit of the Spirit in you without the encumbrances of sin. As the Bible teaches us, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Are you truly free in Christ or do you just live in the illusion of freedom because the government has granted you some personal liberties?