Galatians 5:1 ESV (Please read the whole chapter)
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Slavery to Old Covenant Law
This fifth chapter of Galatians covers the subject of two different kinds of slavery, which in the present are both of the flesh of humankind. God set his people free from both, but the pendulum seems to largely swing to one side or the other, but neither side is correct. So, here we are going to look at both ends of this slavery issue and then talk about what’s in the middle.
Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished deliverance from both kinds of slavery. For the Jews who had been under the control of “the law,” Jesus set them free from having to keep all those Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, and purification laws and customs the Jews of old were required to obey. They were no longer under the Old Covenant, for through Jesus’ blood sacrifice on that cross for our sins he brought us who believe in Jesus Christ into the New Covenant – both Jew and Gentile by physical birth.
But the New Covenant is not free from the commands of God. Under the New Covenant, we are not lawless. We are not free from having to obey our Lord and from having to do what he says to do. God sees faith as obedience and he sees disobedience as unbelief, both in the Old and in the New Testament (1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13, and more). Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament God’s people were saved by faith, not by keeping a set of rules which no one could keep perfectly.
So, what’s the big difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Well, for one, under the New Covenant, we don’t have to obey all those Old Covenant ceremonial laws and customs. Physical circumcision is not required of Christians nor are all those sacrifices, etc. Jesus did away with those animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant, for he became our blood sacrifice for our sins, once for all, when he died on that cross.
Also, Jesus is now our intermediary between us and God the Father. And we who believe in Jesus with God-given faith are now kingdom priests, so we no longer have to go through human priests to get forgiveness of sins. Also, now the Spirit of God is living within us, so we have the Word of God living inside of us instructing, teaching, counseling, encouraging, guiding, directing, correcting, rebuking, comforting, and empowering us in holiness. So we don’t have to go to a physical temple to be taught the Word of God.
For, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit/of God. We the people of God are his church, not some building, and not some denomination, and not some organization of man which is incorporated under the state and is called “church.” We are the holy people of God. We are his Holy City. The city of Jerusalem is now of the slave woman, not of the free woman. And the Jews who do not believe in Jesus are not God’s chosen people. They are no longer the children of Promise unless they believe in Jesus Christ. See these verses:
[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]
Slavery to Sin
Also in Jesus’ death and resurrection he set us free from slavery to sin, which is a free gift of God’s grace for all who will believe in him by being crucified with him in death to sin and by being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For the free gift of salvation from sin is deliverance from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is empowerment of God’s Spirit living within us to now walk according to the Spirit in obedient faith.
If all we do is mouth words of profession of faith in Jesus Christ or of confession of him as Lord, but we never submit to him as Lord (Owner-master) of our lives, and we never die with him to sin, and we never walk in obedience to his commands (New Covenant), then we have not accepted God’s free gift of salvation. We have refused it! And if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin, and we are not walking in obedience to our Lord, in his righteousness, then we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
But many people are teaching today that all that is required of us is to “believe” in Jesus, without actually explaining biblically what it means to believe in Jesus, for it isn’t words we say or a mere acceptance of something. For faith in Jesus is not of ourselves. It is gifted to us by God, it is authored by Jesus Christ, and Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. So, our faith will be aligned with the holiness and righteousness of God and it will submit to Christ and to his will and purpose for our lives.
[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; Lu 9:23-26; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 1:5-9]
What’s in the Middle?
So, if we truly believe in Jesus Christ we are delivered from slavery to sin and we do not have to come under the Old Covenant. Yet, if we are freed from slavery to sin, we are not lawless. We don’t have permission now to sin as much as we want. So Paul makes it clear that being freed from the control of the Old Covenant Law is not freedom to sin, it is not lawlessness, and it is not freedom from having to be obedient to our Lord, for obedience is faith. And if we make sin our practice, heaven is not our eternal destiny.
So, on one end of the pendulum are the legalists who insist on a bunch of externals and rituals and religious rites and customs added on to faith. Wrong! On the other end of the pendulum are the libertines, those who teach and/or imply that we don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, that we don’t have to obey his commands, and that we don’t have to repent of our sins. They are the corrupt, the immoral, the perverted and the wicked who think God’s grace is freedom to live on in their sin without guilt. Wrong!
Somewhere in the middle is the truth. We are not under the Old Covenant Law, but we are not lawless. Jesus simplified the law for us by making it into two laws – to love God with our entire being and to love others with the love of God, which is holy, righteous, and morally pure, etc. We don’t have to keep a bunch of old ceremonial laws, but we still have to obey our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), and we still have to live moral and upright lives in accord with the Holy Spirit. But now we do it in the power and working of God’s Spirit living within us as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord.
[Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Matt 22:36-40; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
Master, The Tempest is Raging!
Lyrics by Mary A. Baker, 1874
Music by Horatio R. Palmer, 1874
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
Oh, hasten, and take control.
Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
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