28 May WALKING IN THE LIBERTY OF CHRIST”
PRAYER: “Dear God, speak your truth through me, that all may hear, and may your blessings descend on us as we meditate on your word, in Jesus’ name.” Amen.
(Readings: Standing fast in the liberty of Christ –The Epistle: Galatians 5:1-6 & 13-18.) The Gospel: Matthew 15: vs. 1-11 Old Testament: Exodus 20: vs. 1-17.)
—All liberty is precious, but political and physical freedom, are freedoms merely of the second order. Freedom of the first order is spiritual freedom, and this is transcendent!
“The Epistle to the Galatians” has been called “The Magna Charta of Christian liberty”;
-Referring not only to the historical royal charter of political rights, but also meaning a document, or piece of legislation that serves as a guarantee of basic rights. Accordingly, the letters to the Galatians written by Paul, effectively describe for us what it means to be free in Christ and what our basic rights are, as Christians!
We will look at these today as they are reported in the scriptures, and also consider what it means to “Walk in the liberty of Christ.”
In his letters to the Galatians, Paul describes our greatest freedoms as follows:
- 1. Freedom from the law of Moses… Paul asserts that Christ has delivered the Jews from their obligation to keep the Law of Moses.
In Galatians 2: verse 15, he elaborates: ‘We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but in faith in Jesus Christ. So we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by observing the law, because by observing the law, no one will be justified.’
What is the implication of this statement for us as Christians today? You may ask: if observing the Jewish laws cannot justify us, why should we still obey the 10 Commandments and other Old Testament laws?
I hear some people breathing in anticipation of that freedom. But i must disappoint you, for Paul was not saying that the law is bad, because in another letter to the Romans (chapter 7 vs. 12,) he wrote: ‘The law is holy.’
Further, Timothy, a student of Paul and a teacher in his own right states in 1st Timothy Chapter 1 verse 8, and in 2nd Timothy Chapter 2 verse 15;
- The law is good if used properly;
- It was written for our learning and admonition;
Also said Paul in the Book of Romans: 15:4 and Corinthians 1 10:11
- It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness reiterates Timothy, in 2nd Timothy 3: verses 14-17.
What Paul is saying then, is that the law alone cannot make us acceptable to God.
It however has an important role to play in the life of the Christian.
The laws of the 10 Commandments, for instance, guard us from sin, by giving us standards for behaviour. They convict us of sin leaving us with the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness.
But Paul also wants us to realise that the law has its limitations. It must be properly handled, if we are to preserve our liberty in Christ!
Trying to keep the law cannot in itself save us, but it drives us to trust in the sufficiency of Christ because we know that of ourselves, we can never keep the 10 Commandments perfectly.
For, because we have all been infected by sin we of our own power cannot keep God’s laws perfectly.
So, God has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, and not on our own efforts. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, says Paul in Galatians 3 vs. 23. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ… that we may be justified by faith. The law of itself cannot possibly save us, but when we have become Christians, it can guide us to live as god requires!
“Because I have been crucified with Christ, says Paul, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me….I do not set aside the grace of God…for if righteousness could be gained through the law, then, Christ died for nothing!”
Paul reminds us that the cross, (and not the law,) is the only way to salvation!