"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 (ESV)
FREEDOM: eleutheria (freedom); from eleutheros (unrestrained, to go at pleasure, as a citizen, not a slave; exempt from obligation or liability); from erchomai (to come or go)
We were called to freedom.
Who called us to freedom, and how are we called? In what sense are we free as Christians?
The Greek word means unrestrained, able to go at pleasure, as a citizen and not as a slave. The word means being exempt from obligation or liability.
Paul described Christian freedom as "the freedom of the glory of the children of God", in his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 8:21).
"The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 (ESV)
Paul saw freedom in Christ as culminating ultimately in the redemption of his body, the physical and spiritual freedom from the effects of sin and aging:
"The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8:19-23 (ESV)
As a Christian, our sin-debt to God was completely paid by the death of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's sure guarantee to us that we have been forgiven and we will now inherit, as children of God, all the blessings now enjoyed by the resurrected Christ.
Our planet, our broken, diseased and polluted, will be made completely new, just as our weak, diseased, sin-susceptible bodies will also be made completely new. This is the glory of being set free from bondage to corruption.
Until that glorious day of Christ, when all will be made new, we live here on earth in spiritual freedom, without obligation to God to pay for our own sin.
The freedom we now enjoy as Christians includes intimacy with the Spirit of Jesus, allowing us to see His glory and gradually become more and more like Him:
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (ESV)
Christian freedom removes the obligation to perform rituals that once served to prepare people for the coming of Christ:
"Now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! Galatians 4:9-10 (ESV)
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." Galatians 5:6 (ESV)
"If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:18 (ESV)
The law and traditions and rituals of the past were to prepare for the ultimate sacrifice of Christ and His indwelling Spirit. Freedom in Christ means complete dependence upon what He has done, is doing, and will do for us.
Christian freedom allows us to rest from our own personal struggle to be good enough. Christian freedom allows us to devote our energy and passion outside of ourselves, towards others, in love:
"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 (ESV)