"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." - Galatians 5:13-14 (ESV)
CALLED TO FREEDOM:
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36
Does freedom "in Christ" indicate freedom from the law (old covenant)? Paul made clear that the law "reveals" sin, convicts us of our sin. Not just an awareness of our sin nature ...but specifically of a sin, the sin we commit in our actions and/or thoughts. In Galatians 5:2 Paul indicates that "if you accept circumcision, then Christ will be of no advantage to you." Paul debated with Peter (Cephas) that circumcision was of no value to a non-Jew (Gentiles), as this was never a part of their culture. Likewise, Paul asked Timothy to be circumcised ...so that he would be accepted. 1 Cor. 7:19 makes this seeming contradiction crystal clear. "For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God." Jesus' sacrifice on the cross "fulfilled" the law. Jesus said, Himself, I have not come to abolish the law but to complete it, to fulfill it. Becoming "all things to all men so that by all means so might be saved" means we cannot use the law as representation of Christ-likeness. The old covenant "law" is not to be weilded as a sword by the Christ-follower. Rather, the law exists to convict the sinner of his/her own sin. The good news of Christ' death and resurrection is a call to freedom.
CALLED FROM SIN:
" What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" -Romans 6:1-2
We are free "from" sin, not free "to" sin. Sin is contrary to the Father. While we are indeed sinners, our desire cannot be to become contrary to God. As purchased by Him, freed from the bond of sin ...we have traded our slavery to sin, to freedom in Christ.
CALLED TO LOVE:
"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." -1 Corinthians 13:13
Paul's desire and sacrifice to proclaim the good news, the gospel, of Jesus Christ was based on "love". Believers, our desire must not be to lead others to sin, to entrap a sinner. Nor can our desire be to split the hairs of the old covenant in comparing self-righteousness. We, as iron sharpening iron, are charged to simply reveal that we are all sinners, fallen short of God's glory, and that the redemption, and freedon, from sin is through Jesus Christ alone. No one comes to the Father but through Him. The law must be used to "expose" sin ...not to "expound" upon the sin ....lest Christ be of no advantage to us. Remember ..the idea is to exalt the Father, thank and praise our Savior, and lead the captives to freedom.
What if I'm not a believer?:
Well, that depends. If you simply do not "trust" and accept the Scriptures as God's word revealed to us, His will for us, then I need not waste your time. Nothing I have or can say will convince you. This is where "faith" comes into play. On the other hand, if you're willing to "let go and let God", as they say, and are willing to submit that God desires to communicate His will to us, but are not currently a believer / follower of Jesus Christ ...please know this. "Christianity", as it were, is not about following rules, legalism, despite what you may have been told or simply mis-informed of. God's "rule" of law and righteousness is not a goal you or I can accomplish. It is and would be a losing battle. But the Scriptures makes clear that..."God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8 (ESV). That said, being a follower of Christ, if I may summarize it into one phrase, is about one simple rule.... ABSOLUTE SURRENDER! Surrender is not about perfect living, following the rule of the law to the letter. It is simply recognizing that you and I cannot succeed at attaining God's high standard for righteousness ...and accepting His love for you and I, shown through the sacrifice of His Son on a cross. It isn't about YOU doing anything. Just recognize what Jesus did ....let it sink into your life ..and accept the free gift of a relationship with Jesus Christ. But be aware ..absolute surrender will result in you surrendering your life (all worldly desires) to Him ..and then stand in awe as God "perfects" you. You see ...you and I do the submitting. He does the changing.
Know this fellow traveller. I love you ...no matter what you do or what you've done. It doesn't mean I can love what you do or what you've done. The same is true for me! But I can love you because Christ "first" loved me. No other religion in the world offer forgiveness and redemption apart from you and I "doing" something. Christ is available to you right now ...no strings attached. If you give yourself to Him ...you'll desire serving Him.