“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
“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.”
Now, I cut out verses 2-6 for a good reason. Although it gives us one of the contexts here, it is not generally something that the church, at least here in America, is dealing with today, which is the subject of circumcision. But, the broader context of that subject is one of legalism and one of Judaizers trying to convince Christians that they had to be more like Jews and that they had to add on to their salvation some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, and dietary laws and restrictions, including or most especially circumcision.
But there is a second context here which is the predominant issue the church is faced with today, at least here in America, and this one doesn’t add to our salvation, but it takes away from the message of the gospel of our salvation. For it is teaching that our freedom in Christ is freedom solely from the punishment of sin, and it teaches that even our future sins are forgiven. And so it also teaches that if we continue living in sin that it will not impact our eternal salvation, but Galatians 5:16-21 refutes that notion.
[Aside: With regard to future sins being forgiven, many are using this as a pretext for continuing in deliberate and habitual sin without guilt, without conscience, and without remorse. For, if our future sins are all forgiven, that would then presume that we would not be judged nor held to account for any future sins. But Galatians 5 alone refutes that notion when it states that if sin is what we practice that we will not inherit eternal life with God. And all throughout the New Testament Christians are being warned against continued and willful sin and the consequences of continuing in sin.]
So, when it says here that for freedom Christ has set us free, that is mainly our freedom from our slavery to sin, so that we can now become slaves of God and of his righteousness, in his power (see Romans 6:1-23). But they were also set free from having to obey the Old Covenant liturgical laws and customs, including circumcision. But they were not and we are not set free from having to obey God nor from having to obey his moral laws which are taught to us again under the New Covenant relationship we have with God.
For if we read down to verses 13-21 we see that we are not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Instead, we are to love one another, and we are to walk by the Spirit, and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. And the works of the flesh are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, and the like. And we are warned here that those who are doing such things (making such things their practice), that they will not inherit the kingdom of God regardless of what faith they profess with their lips.
And then going back up to verses 7-9, it speaks of leaven as something that leavens the whole lump, and it is in reference to this persuasion (spreading evil influence) toward following a gospel message that is not of God, but that is of man (human flesh), whether it is in the direction of legalism (adding externals on to salvation) or whether it is in the direction of using our freedom in Christ as free license to continue in deliberate and habitual sin, which is modifying and diluting the true gospel of our salvation.
And this brings to mind the lesson in 1 Corinthians 5 with regard to another spreading influence of evil within the church, specifically in the area of sexual immorality being overlooked and not dealt with biblically within the gatherings of the church. So, we need to watch out for these influences so that we don’t get captivated by them and be led away from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ. Or so, if that is where you are presently, that you will repent of your sins and begin walking in obedience to Jesus Christ.
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Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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