Galatians 5:1-3 When we put our absolute trust in Christ, there is freedom to fulfil our divine potential

Galatians 5:1-3 When we put our absolute trust in Christ, there is freedom to fulfil our divine potential

1 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.

Background

The Judaizers were seeking to enslave the Galatians by redirecting them from Paul’s teachings to the Mosaic law. The Galatians were enticed by the prospect of an easy and grandiose gospel by being affiliated to the “mother” church of Jerusalem. Paul urged the Galatians not to be enslaved to men but rather to be enslaved to God. For Christ has set us free so that we may live for Him. Today’s devotion teaches us: Unless we are enslaved to Christ, we are never free. When we put our absolute trust in Christ, there is freedom to fulfil our divine potential and calling.

Observation

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Paul sets out a declaration of the Christian freedom; the freedom to fulfil our divine potential by living abundantly. It is because of this freedom that Christ gave His life. If Christ had not died for us, we would not have broken free from the yoke of sin and the curse of death. It is by His blood that our sinful inclinations and addictions are broken. And by the power of Christ’s resurrection we are freed from men’s oppression. How were the Galatians oppressed before they became believers?

  • By the curse of death and eternal torment.
  • By the bondage to lust, envy, hatred and the desire to dominate.
  • By the inability to understand and receive the truth.

Christ’s sacrifice freed the Galatians from the curse of death, which sanctifies their hearts from fleshly desires while enlightening their minds to understand divine truths. Paul told them not to return to their bondage, this time by way of the Mosaic law. Instead, they should stand firm in their freedom by rejecting the teachings of the Judaizers and affiliation with the party of circumcision in Jerusalem.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

Circumcision turns our eyes away from the inner man towards the outer man. The inner man comprises one’s spiritual identity, values, mindset and the motives of the heart. The outer man comprises his external packaging, possessions, religious heritage, knowledge, abilities and achievements. A person who practises circumcision seeks to perfect his outer man because to him, righteousness is ascribed by virtue of the outer man.

However, God credits righteousness by virtue of the inner man, not the outer man. And Christ’s blood works in perfecting the inner man, while the outer man wastes away. Why is that so? Because the outer man is to be destroyed with this world and the inner man to remain forever. Therefore, on the day of judgment, a man will have whatever knowledge he obtained on earth stripped. His achievements will not be credited except for things done out of goodwill. His possessions and external packaging will be destroyed leaving his true self which comprises his spiritual identity, motives, mindset, and values. Indeed, the sanctifying power of Christ’s blood and His empowering presence will be of no benefit to one who focuses on perfecting his outer man. But for one who seeks to perfect his inner man, Christ’s divine glory will be manifested in Him.

And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.

The primary purpose of the Mosaic law, which comprises a) the 10 commandments and, b) the systems and rituals pertaining to the tabernacle/priesthood/sacrifices, is to reconcile men to God. The 10 commandments dictate how men should live in God’s kingdom. The tabernacle/priesthood/sacrifices was the means through which men are forgiven of their sins and be reconciled with God. For 1,400 years, the Israelites endeavoured to obey the law while making animal sacrifices. Throughout this time, the Israelites could not fulfil the law nor were they repentant of their sins. Instead, they broke the commandments and profane the sacrifices continually. Indeed, the Mosaic law, which is the Old Covenant failed in reconciling men to God. It failed because the Israelites took it upon themselves to fulfil the whole law in exchange for blessings (see Exodus 19:7,8). There was no indication of inadequacy on their part and the need for God’s help to fulfil the law. Why did they not ask for divine assistance? In asking for divine assistance, they will have to submit themselves fully under God which they loathed.

The Judaizers were repeating the same error of the Jews before them. If the Galatians were to receive circumcision, they were obligated to observe the rituals surrounding the tabernacle/priesthood/sacrifices indefinitely (see Deuteronomy 28:58-59). In so doing, they established their independence from God while denying their need for divine assistance to live a righteous life. For without the power of Christ’s blood, it is not possible to live a righteous and blessed life.

Truth

Unless we are enslaved to Christ, we are never free.

Paul said, “he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.” (1 Cor 7:22b). Paul urged the Galatians to cast out the bondwoman and her son, the Judaizers who sought to enslave and rob the Galatians of their freedom… the freedom to live for God. Likewise, believers must be freed from the yoke of men, false teachings and fleshly desires, so that we can live for God.

If the Galatians commit to circumcision, they are enslaved to the Judaizers and their teachings,… consequently, the miracles, their sanctification and progress in all aspects of life will cease. And they will pass up on God’s calling and lose the eternal life. The Judaizers purposed to rob the Galatians of their salvation by redirecting them from Paul’s gospel to the Mosaic law. They enticed the Galatians with an easy and grandiose path to salvation by seeking affiliation with the “mother” church of Jerusalem. It was through a false gospel, an easy and grandiose gospel that the Judaizers attempt to enslave the Galatians.

Likewise, believers today unwittingly allow themselves to be enslaved by listening to false teachings. False teachers redirect the naive with itching ears from the bible to their personal teachings. Such ministers tout their teachings as a replacement for the daily reading of the word. They claim to be the source of divine truth by saying, “You don’t have to read the word. Just come to my meetings, listen to my tapes and the testimonies and you will prosper.” Because their brand of gospel is so enticing, those who don’t know the bible readily bought into it. Their messages are so far from the truth, it is hard to believe that it is the same bible they are preaching from. Because of this, their followers stop reading the bible, being enslaved to the devil through their perverted minds. Such are constantly tormented by envy, lust and the desire to dominate. They look to money for sustenance and to men for approval. Unless they return to the bible with sincere desire to know God, they have no freedom, no joy, no peace or fulfilment.

Christ had set us free by breaking the curse of sin on our behalf. And those who are in Christ, experience freedom by reading the word for themselves and obey His directives. To maintain one’s freedom in Christ, he who serve a master must not be enslaved to him. And he who is not serving a master must seek to be enslaved to Christ. Paul said,

“For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.“ (1 Corinthians 7:22).

When we put our absolute trust in Christ, there is freedom to fulfil our divine potential.

Fear is the yoke of slavery that prevents one from rising above his circumstances. Those who has fear, attaches the value of their personhood to their performance, which is the ability to meet standards accorded to them. They get deeply discouraged whenever they fail to live up to expectations. When such are faced with a standard they deem as above their abilities, they instinctively seek a way of escape. Fear is a kind of bondage that keeps us from progressing. In the days of the Old Covenant, people were afraid of the Mosaic law because they were obligated to keep the whole law and were judged by it.

However, Christ has set us free from fear,… by taking upon Himself the punishment due to our failure to meet the standards of the law. Because divine punishment is removed through Christ, there is no more fear, but only the pure desire to fulfil our divine potential. This brings about a freedom to embark on projects that require a competence or moral strength that we do not yet possess. In a fuller sense, we are emboldened to implement new ideas without the fear of punishment, albeit in a righteous and responsible manner. If we fail, we suffer a temporal setback. And we pick ourselves up and press on until we succeed. Proverbs 24:16 says,

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

The godly are able to rise up every time they fail because God is with them. But the wicked cannot rise up again because of divine retribution. Therefore, in times of failure, we must stand firm by the cross believing that we will succeed if we do not give up. As long as we harbour the right motives, humble ourselves and repent, we are always one step closer to fulfilling our divine calling.

Unlike the fear, there is another kind of slavery; which is human oppression. During the time of Elisha, Syria frequently oppressed Israel threatening to enslave the nation. In 2 Kings 6, the Syrian king in wanting to capture Elisha sent an army to surround the city where Elisha harboured. When the servant of Elisha saw the armies of the Syrian king surrounding the city, he was terrified. But when Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see,…” and immediately, the servant saw the mountains full of angelic forces. Often times, when we are faced with dire circumstances, our human instincts kick in preventing us from seeing the higher powers that are protecting us. Elisha’s servant was overcome by fear because he saw wrongly. But when, he saw rightly through the Spirit, his fear melted away. Therefore, when we learn to see rightly, there is freedom even in the thick of danger.

When Christ resurrected, He is now at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him (1 Peter 3:22). And Christ has given believers His authority when He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, believers do justice to Christ’s victory and to our privileged position by taking authority over the angels and authorities and powers. Unlike a child who is helpless, the onus is on the sons of God to exercise authority by sending the angels to protect God’s people from all kinds of demonic attacks.

Application

Who do you serve?

The question can be rephrased as: Who do you listen to?…. Is it your boss? Your spouse? Your parents? Your pastor? Or yourself? Jesus, in demanding absolute submission to God as a condition for discipleship said,

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26

Therefore, in whatever circumstances, we must first and foremost listen to God… A disciple of God must consider God’s directives as supreme and final. Indeed, our allegiance is first to God, and then to our human authorities. We are not to rank our bosses, spouses, parents, pastors or even ourselves as higher than God.

How do we maintain our freedom in Christ?

Firstly, to always trust God as our Provider and Protector, and under all circumstances to do all that He says. If we put our trust in men, we are enslaved by them. But when we put our trust in God, we experience freedom to exercise our divine authority. The psalmist, in reflecting upon God’s protection over Israel says,

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalms 20:7

Secondly, to be discerning as to who we can entrust ourselves to. Paul constantly warned believers in His epistles of ministers with hidden motives. He said concerning the qualities of a righteous servant,

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,… by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left… as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

We must discern a manager or minister’s manner of life before entrusting ourselves to them. God uses human vessels as channels of blessings to His people. However, some are wolfs in sheep skin who work not for the wellbeing of their followers, but for their own.

Thirdly, do not trust human rationale. But seek God’s wisdom when it comes to discerning people in business dealings, marriage relationships etc. When it concerns investments, ministry and career decisions, we seek His counsel. When we cannot see ourselves clearly, seek divine clarity! Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Dear Lord, I desire to be free from my own fleshly desires and selfish ambitions. Sanctify me by your blood so that I can live for you. As I put my absolute trust in you, remove my doubts and fears. Cause me to see the divine potential and purpose that you have placed in me. And help me to persevere and realise my divine calling. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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