There are prisons and chains of bondage that can cripple you and cause you to lead a defeated life. Some circumstances in life are tantamount to yokes of bondage and slavery and can hinder us from experiencing the freedom and liberty that has been availed to us by divine grace. Today we would like to focus on the issue of bondage and freedom in life, and the fact that true freedom and liberty can only be found in Christ.
Consider Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul wrote this letter to the Galatian church, a group of people who were being diverted from the truth by the false teachers. The false teachers were teaching law-observance as a way of attaining justification. Paul spoke against those who were teaching law-observance as a way of justification, declaring that justification could only come by faith in Jesus Christ.
It appears as if some people were trying to cage the Galatians in a cage of bondage, swaying them from their authentic faith in Christ. Furthermore, in this same letter, Paul mentions bondage under what he calls the “elements of the world”, stating that such bondages should only be in the past lives of believers as opposed to being in their current lives that day. The apostle also stated that all people (male, female, free, bond, Jew, Gentile) had equal access to God and that they could come to God through faith in Christ.
Now, in chapter 5, Paul exhorts to Liberty in Christ.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” 5:1
The use of the word “therefore” implies that Paul was reaching back to what he had previously stated, in the preceding text. We realize that in the preceding text (Chapter 4), he pointed out that they were heirs of God’s grace (both Jews and Gentiles)…He also highlighted the freedom of the believer from the bondage of the elements of the world. The believers were no longer immature children and therefore needed not be subservient to worldly principles. They were not expected to return to the “beggarly elements”, the “bondage that was in the world.”
So Paul, reaching back to this great truth, reminds them that they were under bondage and slavery before coming to the faith and warns them against reversion. And now he brings out the fullness of Christian liberty: The law availed nothing in the quest for freedom, But Christ avails the much needed freedom!! There is the hope of righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus. Paul declares that what the law had failed to bring was (and is) available in Christ – Freedom and Righteousness; that the Christian had been called to liberty, only that they should not use this liberty to advance the flesh; The apostle states that if we “walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
When he mentioned bondage, Paul was referring to those things that were holding them back from the fullness of the Christian life of victory; some things were holding them under oppression; they had chains of different sins and works of the flesh! This may resonate with your current state; you may be at a place of struggle; you may be dealing with a sinful habit that has held you captive for years, months, or a number of days… You may have tried your best to overcome, without success. I would like to refer you to the victory that is available in Christ.
Will power is an important component of what it will take to overcome, but it is not all what it will take for us to overcome. The ultimate solution is in the accomplished work of Christ at the cross.
The scope of freedom that Paul presents in Galatians can be viewed in two dimensions:
- Freedom from the law
In 3:24-26 “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
We realize that when we have faith in Jesus Christ, God’s grace delivers us and empowers us to leave the slave’s attitude and to embrace sonship. In 4:5, law-observance alone is portrayed as the opposite of sonship. Law-dependence for justification removes Christ from the view!
4:5 “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
We should look at the law as a schoolmaster that brought us to Christ, and when we come to Christ, we are to entirely trust Him to deliver us from EVERY yoke of bondage!
2. Freedom from the bondage under the elements of the world
We realize that Christ has delivered us from what Paul calls the “bondage under the elements of the world” (4:3). this bondage is also mentioned in 4:9, 4:31, 5:1.
In his presentation, the apostle clearly places us in the side of victory against the lusts of the flesh; “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and they are contrary to one another; so that ye cannot do the things that you would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (5:17,18).
Our victory is therefore inevitable if we are led by the Spirit.
We must consider the fact that the freedom and liberty that we receive in Christ does not exempt us from our own responsibility. Freedom from the law does not mean that we should not cultivate good deeds; Paul asserts in 5:14 that the whole of the law can be summarized in one word: Love. After receiving the righteousness of Christ by faith, we are to fulfill the law by serving one another in love. The righteousness that comes by faith in Christ does not eliminate the place of performance; we are still expected to do our part. In Gal 5:13, Paul cautions us not to use this liberty for an opportunity for the flesh. In other words, our freedom is so precious, so much so that we should never take it for granted and begin to be comfortable in sin. It cost Christ’s love. If we can picture the sacrifice of Christ every time we are about to fall in sin, if we can consider what it took for this freedom to be established, it will help us to say NO to sin!
I pray for you and for myself that we will be victorious; that we will not yield to slavery and satanic control; that if by some chance you are struggling under bondage, you will receive your freedom today and be able to yield to the leadership of The Holy Spirit for victory.
May every yoke of oppression break, in Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen