Set Free to Serve

MEMORY VERSE: “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” —Galatians 5:13


THE word “liberty” as it applies to Christians is frequently misunderstood and often distorted in meaning. The liberty principally referred to in the New Testament is freedom from the bondage of the Law Covenant by which natural Israel was by agreement bound to Jehovah when, concerning the Law given at Sinai they said, “All that the Lord hath spoken will we do.”—Exod. 19:8

The Ten Commandments were the basis of the Law Covenant. The first four of these commandments set forth man’s proper relationship to God, and obligations to him—“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” etc.—while the last six outline man’s relationship to man—“Thou shalt not covet”; “Thou shalt not steal”; “Thou shalt not kill,” etc.

In our lesson Paul writes that we “have been called unto liberty,” and then admonishes that we use not our liberty as an occasion to the flesh. (vs. 13) Paul was addressing this admonition principally to Jews, who had been under bondage to the Law, and while he wanted them to realize that the bondage no longer existed, they were not to take advantage of their freedom, either by dishonoring God or by selfishly injuring their fellows.

The Law offered an opportunity to gain life, but because of human imperfection inherited from our first parents it was impossible to live up perfectly to its terms, so no one had actually escaped the death condemnation which rested upon him as a child of Adam. Herein was the bondage. The Law was as a yoke of servitude upon the necks of the Jews which did not bring them the result for which they labored.

However, the Law served a valuable purpose in that it demonstrated the necessity for the redeeming blood of Christ in order to obtain release from the condemnation to death which was upon the whole world. The Law itself was good; indeed, it was perfect, and Paul explains, quoting from Moses, that “the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”—vs. 14; Lev. 19:18

Love is thus seen to be the intent of the Law, and if we are motivated and guided by love, we are in our hearts fulfilling the law. Paul adds, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” (vs. 15) To this Paul adds, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”—vs. 10

Here Paul is referring to the depraved, fallen flesh, the works of which he declares to be “Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, … drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Paul speaks of the works of the Spirit as the “fruit” of the Spirit, which he explains to be “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”—vss. 19-23

Paul continues, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (vs. 24) Here the Christian’s life of sacrifice is likened to Jesus’ sacrificial death. We are invited to lay down our lives in sacrifice, even as Jesus did. Paul assures us that in doing this we can be assured that our sacrifice will be holy and acceptable to God.—Rom. 12:1

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,” Paul continues. In Galatians 6:7-10 Paul refers to sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit. Admonishing those who sow to the Spirit, he says, “Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” And notice his example of sowing to the Spirit—“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Doing good to others is an act of love, a fulfilling of the intent of the law. Instead of injuring others, it calls for self-sacrifice in doing them good. This is the way of the Spirit, the way of love.


From what are Christians made free in Christ?

Contrast the way of the flesh with the way of the Spirit.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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