Galatians 5:1 ESV
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, what were we set free from? Certainly we are free from the punishment of sin, which is eternal death and eternal separation from God. We, too, are free from the control of sin and Satan over our lives, and we are free from enslavement to sin. But, we are also free from man-made religion which is of the flesh of man.
So, as those who have been set free by the blood of Christ shed on the cross for our sins, we are to no longer submit ourselves to slavery to sin or to the flesh of man. But, Jesus Christ is to be the ONLY LORD of our lives. He is to be our only master.
For, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
Sin is to no longer rule our lives. The flesh is not to be in control. Satan should have no sway over us. And, man-made religion should have no part with us. But, we should walk in freedom. We should live our lives in the power of God for the glory of God according to the Spirit of God and according to the Word of God under the New Covenant Relationship God has with us, his people. Our lives should be pleasing to God, not to our flesh.
Galatians 5:2-6 ESV
“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
What is circumcision to us today? It is something done to baby boys, usually, at the discretion of the parents, but it has nothing to do with our faith and practice. So, what might it represent to us today?
It could represent any human effort, in the flesh, to be acceptable to God. It could represent external religious performance in an effort to earn one’s way to heaven. Or, it can have to do with religious performance to be acceptable to other humans, too, as a means of trying to impress them with our goodness.
But, does that mean that if we are leaving our sins behind us, and if we are following our Lord in surrender to his will and in obedience to his ways that we are trying to earn our salvation or that we are trying to impress others with our righteousness? NO! Absolutely not! Because if that is all there is to what we are doing, and if it is just performance, then it isn’t obedience to Christ nor is it leaving sin and self behind us, for it is still flesh on the throne.
So, this can also include man-made religion. If we, in our flesh, follow the ways of man-made religion, and man-made faith, then we are not acceptable to God. It does not secure us a place in heaven with God. We are not forgiven of our sins, and we don’t have eternal life with God.
So, if you are being taught that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ secures you heaven and it doesn’t matter how much you sin, then that is man-made. It is not of God. And, there is no freedom in that at all. For, true faith in Jesus Christ is a gift to us from God (Eph. 2:8-10), and thus it submits to Jesus as Lord, and it leaves our sins behind us to follow our Lord in obedience – all in the power of the Spirit of God alive within us.
True faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin that it might live with Christ and to his righteousness for eternity. True faith in Jesus Christ walks (in lifestyle, in practice) according to the Spirit of God and it no longer walks (in practice, habitually) according to (in agreement with) the flesh. It says “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and it lives self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Rom. 8:1-17; Tit. 2:11-14).
Galatians 5:7-12 ESV
“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!”
Many Christians today have been persuaded to reject the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of a cheap grace gospel which makes no demands for repentance, for obedience to Christ, or for surrender to Christ as Lord. They have been convinced that the true gospel is of the flesh of man and that the false gospel is God’s true grace, but that is a lie straight from hell!
God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins is not free license to continue living in sin without guilt or without fear of punishment. Jesus set us free from the control of sin over our lives! And, we are commanded of God to walk in that freedom, too (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8).
For, we are called to holiness. We are to be holy in all of our conduct. And, to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed of the Spirit of God to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are being made to be like Jesus, therefore sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. The world of sin should no longer have dominion over us.
Those who are preaching this cheap grace gospel are not being persecuted for their walks of faith with Jesus Christ because what they are telling the people is what the people want to hear. It is what the flesh wants to hear, because it appeases the flesh. And, that is why people are flocking to these charlatans by the thousands, because their itching ears are being tickled.
But, if we are teaching the true gospel of our salvation, as Jesus and as his New Testament apostles taught it, then we should not be voted most popular among the people. We should be hated, rejected, ostracized, mocked, criticized, and cast aside by the masses because what we are teaching, people don’t want to hear.
But, as servants of the Lord, and as his followers, and as those who have been given the gospel of Jesus Christ to take to the world, we have a responsibility to be sharing the good news of our salvation with the world around us, but not this watered-down version of it that so many are promoting these days. We need to teach what Jesus and the apostles taught, which is death to sin and living to righteousness, for only by hearing the truth will anyone genuinely come to true faith in Jesus Christ.
So, we need to be willing to go anywhere Jesus takes us, and to say whatever he commands us to say, for many people are dying in their sins, and they need to hear the truth which will set them free. And, we need to be willing to lay our lives on the line in order to see others walk in freedom from their sins and to have the hope of eternity with our Lord Jesus, in truth.
If Jesus Goes with Me
Charles A. Miles, pub. 1908
It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;
It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide;
But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair,
If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!
It may be I must carry the blessed Word of life
Across the burning deserts to those in sinful strife;
And though it be my lot to bear my colors there,
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
But if it be my portion to bear my cross at home,
While others bear their burdens beyond the billow’s foam,
I’ll prove my faith in Him—confess His judgments fair,
If Jesus stays with me, I’ll stay anywhere!
It is not mine to question the judgment of my Lord,
It is but mine to follow the leadings of His Word;
But if to go or stay, or whether here or there,
I’ll be, with my Savior, content anywhere!
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
’Tis heaven to me, where’er I may be, if He is there!
I count it a privilege here, His cross to bear,
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
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