Galatians 5:13-15 ESV
“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.”
The context of this passage of Scripture has to do with Judaizers trying to convince Christians that they had to add on to their salvation some of the ceremonial and liturgical (ritualistic) requirements of the Old Covenant. So, Paul was instructing them that if they added these things on to their salvation that they would be submitting again to a yoke of slavery and they would be falling away from grace. So, when this says that they were called to freedom, it was freedom from all the Old Covenant liturgical requirements, such as circumcision and other ritualistic requirements.
Only they were not to use their freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, for continuing in deliberate and habitual sin. For, by God’s grace, the Jews who had been under the Old Covenant, but who now believed in Jesus Christ for their salvation, were not set free just from all those ceremonial requirements of the Old Covenant, but they were also delivered from slavery to sin so that they could now become servants of God and of his righteousness. So they were not free to continue in sin. They were not free from God’s moral laws, for those continued under the New Covenant. They were not now lawless!
So, they were not to see their freedom in Christ as an opportunity for them to now sin against the Lord and against one another. But that is exactly where many professers of Jesus Christ are today. They are being convinced that once they “believe” (rarely defined) in Jesus that all their sins are forgiven and heaven is now guaranteed them when they die, regardless of how they live. For they are being taught that not being under the Old Covenant law means that they do not have to obey our Lord’s commands under the New Covenant. But we do!
In fact, if we read through this entire chapter in Galatians 5, it will become abundantly clear that faith in Jesus Christ is not free license to continue in deliberate and habitual sin against God and against one another. For it lists for us all sorts of habitual sins, and it warns us that if we practice such things as what are in this list (and others like them) that we will not inherit the kingdom of God, regardless of what faith in Jesus we professed with our lips and regardless of what we think we believed about Jesus in our hearts.
For those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. We were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, not like we walked before we believed in Jesus, but now in walks of obedience to our Lord and in holiness and righteousness, and not in sin. So sin is no longer our master, and it is not what we obey, in practice, if truly we are in Christ. For if sin is what we obey, it will end in death, not in life eternal (Romans 6:1-23).
Therefore, we are not to use our freedom as an opportunity to sin against God and against one another, but through love (which prefers what God prefers) we are to serve one another. And we are to be united together in heart and mind, which is the heart and mind of Christ first and foremost. For there is much talk about unity in today’s market-driven “churches,” but it is usually not unity with Christ and with his mind and heart, but with marketing schemes and goals and missions, which may be against the Lord.
And then Paul stated that the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And, again, this love comes from God, as he is Love, and this love prefers what he prefers and it obeys his choices in the power of God. And what God prefers is what is holy, righteous, upright, morally pure, honest, and faithful, and the like. So we don’t love God and we can’t love one another with this kind of love if we are still walking in sin, deliberately and habitually doing what we know is wrong and what will harm others.
So, if we reject this whole notion that faith in Jesus Christ is now freedom from having to obey our Lord, and so we agree that it is not license for immorality and sensuality and liberty to keep on sinning against God and against other humans, then we can begin to truly love God and one another with this love which is based in moral purity. And when we truly love one another with this love, which comes from God, then we will serve one another instead of ourselves. And we will be bonded together in love for Christ and for one another, and we will have one another’s best interest in mind and heart instead of just looking out for ourselves and what we want.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30; Acts 5:32]
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
John Fawcett, 1782 / Hans G. Nageli
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
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2 thoughts on “Through Love Serve One Another”
“Blessed Be the Tie that Binds” brings back my summer camp days.. 💕
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I remember singing that as a young person at the end of some church services. Usually we sang The Doxology, but if we had a testimony meeting or something like that, we would sing “Blest…” I have not heard the song in many years, but the Lord put it in my mind to go with this devotion.