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
In yesterday’s post, Paul was describing how important it is that we not intermingle works with grace. Why is that important? We were not called to be under the yoke of the law, but we were called to freedom in Christ. This freedom scares many Christians because we are born with an innate desire for legalism. We like to know rules and we feel comfortable when we know how far we can go before we are in danger of trouble. The free grace of Christ and God’s commitment to holding us tightly to Himself allows us to live free from even the laws we place on ourselves. The ESV Study Bible puts it this way – “Far from the Christian life being enslaving, it is the only way to resist the various slaveries offered by the world.” In Christ we find our everything – our peace, our satisfaction, our joy, our love – so that we don’t have to settle for the cheap knock-offs that the world provides.
What does that look like? If it’s not sin for me, I am free to drink in moderation to the glory of God. By a sin I mean it is your idol – your god that controls you and you are unable to stop drinking. Then it becomes a sin. In the same way, we are free to partake in worldly exercises like watching TV as long as we do it to the glory of God and watch to keep ourselves free from sin. We must not flaunt this freedom, however, before those who, for the sake of their conscience, do not partake in these things. For instance, if you have a friend who was an alcoholic, don’t offer him a beer, and don’t drink one in front of him. He may see this and believe that if it’s alright for you then it’s alright for him and he would fall back into sin. This principle can also be applied to anything where you are likely to sin or to find yourself unable to keep from sinning. Strip clubs? Yeah, we have freedom but not THAT much freedom.
We cannot allow ourselves to break God’s eternal moral laws while exercising our freedom in Christ. As Paul states, our goal is love and not division, and we do not want to lead our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ into sin. We, as Christians, live in service to one another and if we are not being good servants of one another then we are mocking the God who died in our place to save us from our sins. Division feeds on pride and once it starts growing it’s hard to put a stop to it. Seek, therefore, to live peaceably with one another, promoting love first and devoting yourself to seeking Christ. What does THAT look like? We’ll read more on that tomorrow.