Freedom In Christ

Today we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S. Historically, this means we are celebrating freedom from tyranny and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And today, these words and this celebration is more important than ever.

While our nation has become divided and too many people and leaders seem to be more concerned with winning and control, our American democracy hangs on a thread. But even so, we can be free in Christ! "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36

So, on this Independence Day 2023, do you find yourself trying to please God by following a long list of dos, don’ts, woulds, and shoulds? Does that make you feel tired? What would happen if you decided to quit trying to justify yourself before God? What kind of freedom would that bring for you? Let’s look at a scripture where 2,000 years ago Paul dealt with this very issue in the church in Galatia.

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6-7

Some in Galatia were telling Christians that they must keep both the law of the Old Testament and their newfound faith in Christ to be righteous before God. Paul’s strong letter to the Christians in Galatia coined a term that is often used in theological circles called “Galatianism.” According to Dr. C. I. Scofield in The Scofield Reference Bible, “The Galatian error had two forms, both of which are refuted. The first is the teaching that obedience to the law is mingled with faith as the basis for the sinner’s justification; the second, that the now justified believer is made perfect by keeping the law.” This was the “other gospel” Paul referred to above.

Modern day Galatianism takes on many forms, but it comes down to the same basic principle: our justification (forgiveness and redemption) is initially received by faith but is then sustained by human efforts to keep the law (do’s and don’ts). It’s an attempt to mix both law and grace, and it tries to convince us that grace ends at the point of salvation and now we must work hard to ensure God loves me going forward. It sounds a lot like the childhood game of “he loves me, he loves me not”.

I don’t know about you, but I mess up a lot. If God’s love for me was dependent on my always doing right, I would go from saved to being lost every day. This doesn’t sound like the freedom in Christ that Paul writes about because of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Galatians 2:20-21

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."  Galatians 5:1

There it is. Our righteousness is not based on rule keeping and if it were, Christ died for nothing and we would not be free. It’s not what we do, it’s what He’s done.

Father, help me every day to live in the freedom for which you laid down your life. Help me to live righteously because of what you have done, knowing your love is not earned through my efforts. And when I fall, may I also fall to my knees before you, repenting so I may receive your grace that forgives me, as a Father forgives his children and loves them just the same. Amen

Credit: Ron Kelley

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