Do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1-13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Paul begins today’s text saying: It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Some mistakenly believe it is the bondage of the law which we are set free from. In Romans 6:12-18 Paul tells us what it is that we were in bondage to, what Christ has set us free from: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. So it was not the yoke of the law, but rather the yoke of sin. The intent of the law was to lead to righteousness, but it was impossible for righteousness to come through the law. In today’s text Paul says: I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. James 2:10 says: Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. It is not that the law is bad. Again, its purpose was to lead to righteousness. It is just that people could not achieve righteousness through the law. It was too difficult. Jesus says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Many who reject Christ believe that faith in Christ is too restrictive. The truth is, faith in Christ is freedom not bondage. Again as Paul says in Romans 6: Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Sin seems like an easier task master at first because it is pleasing to our flesh and to our natural desires. It is easy to be in agreement with it. But our natural desires, our flesh is never satisfied staying the same. Our lust becomes greater, whether greed, power or depravity, there is no end to the depths man will go to satisfy the lust of sin and the flesh. There is no end to the depths and the power of the bondage of sin in this life. The flesh will never be fully satisfied by sin. We are always left wanting more, going deeper into the bondage of sin. Romans 6:23 says: the wages of sin is death… Bondage to sin leads to death. Physical death is the only natural end to the bondage of sin. Once the body dies, we are no longer subject to lust. Romans 6:23 continues though saying: but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eternal life in Christ is not only a future, after this life. It is also our present life. Eternity is eternity past, present and future. Our life in Christ, His easy yoke, is for this life, here and now. Bondage to sin and disobedience is a never ending spiral to death. Bondage to righteousness, in Christ brings rest to our soul. Righteousness satisfies what sin cannot. Righteousness through the law was too difficult, but righteousness in Christ is easy because it is Christ who does the work, we are bound to Him and we share His righteousness.
Today’s text ends with Paul saying: For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. There are some who have believed yet another lie. They believe that because of grace of God in Christ, they are free to do as they please. When we continue to pursue our own desires, the desire of our flesh, we give an opportunity to our lust to again hold us in the bondage of the never ending spiral of seeking self satisfaction through sin. The freedom we have in Christ is not freedom to pursue the satisfaction of our flesh. It is not freedom to sin, but rather freedom from sin through obedience to Christ and His righteousness. If we are free by our being yoked to Christ, then we will, with Christ, love and serve others. Again there is no end to the desires and greed of self satisfaction. We are always left wanting more. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we seek and are bound to the righteousness of Christ, when we love and serve others God will supply us with everything we need. In Psalm 37:3-7 the psalmist says: Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for freedom. Thank You that in Christ I am free from the bondage of sin and its control over my flesh. Thank You that as I seek You, as I delight in You, my desires are no longer to satisfy my flesh but rather to be satisfied in Your righteousness. I gladly choose to take on Your yoke Jesus and so to love and serve others. Thank You for the freedom which has set me free. Amen.