Study Notes

Galatians 5:1


Once again, the pendulum swings radically in the opposite direction in our study of the book of Galatians. Last week, we covered an entire chapter, this morning, we cover an entire verse.

Paul spent chapter four convincing the Galatians from the Old Testament that it is far superior to be free in Christ than enslaved to the Law. And verse one of chapter five highlights this with a climactic statement:

Gal. 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

5:1 It Was For Freedom That Christ Set Us Free

It was for freedom that Christ set us free. We, as well as the Galatians, were slaves that needed to be set free. Slaves to what? What did Christ set us free from?

The Scripture says,

2Pet. 2:19 what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

In my life, I was overcome with rage. I had no self-control at all. I was enslaved by a violent temper.

Now, the only thing that kept me from going completely ballistic all the time was smoking pot. But guess what? As that became a daily habit amounting to many times each day, I was overcome by that need, and enslaved to it.

People all over the world are enslaved to their addictions - to alcohol, to crack, to pornography, to television, to food. When there is no self-control, something else is controlling - and that's slavery. Jesus said,

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

We as human beings were enslaved to sin. But Christ set us free from that bondage. The Bible says,

Rom. 6:7 ...he who has died is freed from sin.

Now you and I know that we are not free from the temptation to sin. But we are freed from the slavery of obedience to it. Through Christ, we are empowered to deny sin in our lives. Paul told the Romans,

Rom. 6:11-14 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin {as} instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members {as} instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

You were set free from the mastery that sin had over you. It was for freedom that Christ set you free.

If you're in bondage today, it's not because you haven't been set free. If you are in chains today, they are not locked. If you are tied up today, there are no knots in the ropes. Jesus has set you free.

Sin shall not be master over you, so do not let it reign in your body.

Liberty In Christ

Unfortunately, instead of making sure that sin doesn't reign in our lives, we give sin free reign. And then we justify it by saying,"I have liberty in Christ. All things are lawful for me. I can sin all I want, because it's all forgiven."

But in reality, Jesus didn't give us freedom TO sin, but rather freedom FROM sin.

This must be carefully clarified, because many have fallen into false teaching about this freedom. Paul continued the teaching in Romans, saying,

Rom. 6:15-18 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone {as} slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

You see, if you are exercising your "freedom in Christ to sin," you are obeying it, you are still in bondage to it, you are a slave of it. What the Lord's desire for you is that you instead voluntarily obey righteousness. It was for freedom that Christ set us free!

Keep Standing Firm

So, because Christ set you free, you must keep standing firm in that freedom. Again, not the freedom to sin, but freedom from sin. Stand firm in your freedom from slavery to sin. The book of Ephesians tells us how to stand firm by using the illustration of the full armor of God.

Eph. 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to STAND FIRM. STAND FIRM therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

You will not be standing firm in freedom unless you have this spiritual armor on.

First of all, you must be saved. There is no true freedom from sin apart from the saving grace of Christ. That's why I can stand here today and say, "I used to be addicted." But those who are not saved stand up every week and say, "My name is Bill, and I'm an alcoholic." Until the Son sets them free, they will never be truly free.

To stand firm, we must also have our loins girded with the truth. To "gird your loins" meant to tie up your ankle-length garment up like shorts, so that you could run or work. If we are going to run this Christian race, if we are going to be workers in the kingdom of God, then not living a life marked by truth will trip us up and knock us down. To stand firm, we must live lives bound up in truth.

We must also have on the breastplate of righteousness. We guard our hearts by living righteously.

We must also be prepared with the gospel. The gospel begins with repentance of sin, and preaches forgiveness in Christ. Without this gospel, we cannot stand firm.

We must have the shield of faith - walking by faith, living in faith in Christ.

Finally, we must be practiced with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Are you in the Word? Are you familiar with it? Are you reading and studying regularly?

It is by all these things being in place in your life that you will ensure that you will stand firm. Without them, you are not standing firm, and in fact, in danger of enslaving yourself to sin again.

Do Not Be Subject Again To A Yoke Of Slavery

Paul's exhortation to them is to not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. A yoke is a wooden frame that is put on the backs of animals to pull a plow or cart. In the Bible, it is used in reference to human beings as being an illustration of bondage, slavery, and difficulty.

The Galatians had gotten out of the yoke of slavery to sin, but were heading right back towards having a religious yoke placed upon them. Remember, they had bought into the false teaching of the Judaizers. That teaching which insisted that a Gentile had to be absorbed into Judaism and all of its religious rules, regulations, and rituals, before they could be considered a Christian.

The Galatians had been freed from the slavery of sin, and had begun to be enslaved by religion instead.

Religion makes mindless animals out of people, the same way that sin does. God doesn't want us to be this way - He wants relationship with us. If we fall into sin, we will be in bondage. If we fall into religion, we will be enslaved. But if we fall into a friendship with God, a minute-by-minute, day-by-day relationship with our Creator, then we will not be carrying the heavy burden of either sin or religion

Jesus said,

Matt. 11:28-30 "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 SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

The yoke of righteousness is the easiest one of the three to carry. Today, let us make a commitment to stand firm in righteousness.

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