Galatians 5:13 “For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh.”
The very moment a person trusts Christ as their Savior, many wonderful changes take place. Their sins are now cleansed by the blood of Jesus, they receive eternal life, they are born into the family of God, and the list could go on and on. One of the greatest blessings that we enjoy from the moment of salvation is the liberty that is ours in Christ Jesus. That word liberty simply means, freedom. We who were in bondage to sin are now set free.
However, what God has given as a blessing, Satan will try to us as a hindrance. For example, God blesses a man with a job and then that man is tempted to think more of that job than he does the God who provided it. God blesses us with liberty from sin, but Satan tries to deceive us into believing that we have liberty to sin.
Now before we deal with this verse let me make two points very clear as it pertains to living Godly lives.
1. We do not do what we do as believers so that God will love us. God already loves us with a perfect love. Nothing that we can do will cause God to love us any more or less than He already does. God’s love for us is not performance based.
2. We do not feel that we are spiritual simply because we live a life of outward separation. Separation from ungodliness is imperative for the Christian as we will see in a moment, but separation alone does not mean that we are spiritual. We can have outward forms of separation and yet inwardly be full of pride, selfishness, anger, and other hidden sins. We must first be right inwardly and then we will manifest outward conformity that enables us to please God with joy and not compare ourselves among ourselves.
There is a conflict when it comes to the matter of Christian liberty. It is a conflict that has always existed to a certain degree, but that seems to be increasing in our generation. There are two opposing viewpoints on this matter of Christian liberty so therefore one must be right and one must be wrong. How do we know which one is right and which one is wrong? We turn to the Word of God and the answer becomes clear.
Here are the two viewpoints being taught today:
1. As a Christian, you have freedom in Christ. You are under grace. Therefore, you can basically do whatever you want to do. You can go wherever you want. You can listen to whatever you want. You can wear whatever you want. You are free and if anyone tells you that certain things have no place in the life of a believer then they are just trying to put you into bondage. They are legalistic and they are frustrating the grace of God. So says this teaching and as you might imagine it is quite popular. It is also dead wrong!
To say that because I have freedom in Christ, I can basically do whatever I want, is to say that freedom in Christ is freedom to sin. Now those who promote this type of teaching would never say it that way, but that is basically what they are teaching. You have the freedom to sin and no one has the right to say anything about it. God knows the heart of man. He knew that we would be tempted to misuse the freedom we have in Christ. That is the very reason that He warned us not to use our liberty as an occasion to the flesh. Yet that is exactly what many are doing today. They use the term Christian liberty as a smokescreen to satisfy their fleshly desires.
2. The other view point says that as a Christian you have freedom in Christ. You are under grace. You have freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. You have the freedom to follow God and to be His ambassador to a lost and dying world. You are free to do what He wants you to do, go where He wants you to go, and wear what honors Him. The Christian is free to live a life of holiness unto the Lord and while this view point is not as popular it is Scriptural.
When we understand Christian liberty, we understand it is freedom from sin. Now I am not in any way advocating sinless perfection or the idea that a true Christian will never sin. What I am saying is that the freedom we have in Christ is a freedom from the power of sin. We are no longer the slaves of sin but rather have the power through Christ to live in victory over sin. When I was lost, I had no power to resist sin. I was of my Father the devil, the lust of my father I would do. In my flesh there dwells no good thing. But praise be to God when I came to Christ, He set me free from the prison house of sin. Not so that I could run back to the cell and do all the things I used to do. That is not freedom. He set me free so that I could now live after the Spirit and not after the flesh. He has made me a trophy of his grace. That is freedom.
We must understand that our liberty in Christ is not liberty to act like a lost world, look like a lost world, and dress like a lost world. We did all those things when we were in bondage. We now have the liberty to obey God when He commands us to come out from among them and be ye separate and when He commands us to be holy as He is holy.
Many do not want to preach or practice this truth because preaching on living holy lives offends those who want to do what they want to do. People leave the church, visitors don’t return, and it doesn’t seem to be conducive to drawing a crowd so lets tell people that liberty in Christ is liberty to do whatever you fell comfortable with. Their ears are tickled but the truth is perverted.
Romans 6 makes it clear that we are not let sin reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey in the lust thereof. Dear friend, let us not return again to the former things of bondage. We are free in Christ, accepted in the beloved, and seated in heavenly places. May we in a spirit of humility exercise our freedom to follow in the steps of Christ.
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” – Charles Wesley
written by Pastor Denny Patterson