A few weeks ago I shared a message from Galatians 5:1 entitled “Live Free or Die Apart”. The message focused on the meaning of the phrase “It is for freedom you set us free: therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery”. I have included a PDF download of my sermon notes… Live Free or Die Apart
Our congregation discovered that this is in reference to adding elements to salvation by the grace of the cross and resurrection of Christ, through faith. Per the context of Galatians, that meant, false brethren of Jewish descent adding circumcision or other aspects of the law to the simple call to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Freedom, essentially in that context, means we are free from attaining salvation through obedience to the law. Yet we discovered this freedom is not freedom to choose to live according to the dictates of the flesh or our own ideas of the Christ-life, as Galatians 5:13 declares…
(Galatians 5:13 NASB)”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”.
This passage of scripture indicates that our freedom is not to be used in pursuit of our own desires, plans, or thoughts concerning how to live out our faith. In fact, the word of God has much to say about how we are to be careful of misusing our freedom. Below is a list of passages to consider.
- Romans 14:14-23; I Corinthians 8:9-12
- Romans 15:1-5; Philippians 2:1-5
- Romans 6:5-7, 12-14, 22
- Galatians 2:20 (KJV, NKJV); Hebrews 8:10-12
- Hebrews 4:16
The above list is not exhaustive, but served the purpose of the message the Lord Jesus gave me, but one passage in particular stood out from the others, because of the contrast it brings to the truth of our being free in Christ…
(Romans 6:22 NKJV) But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
Note that Paul was not speaking of himself, as being a slave to God, but all of us. This is the paradox of Christian freedom. We are free in order to fully surrender our lives to God, as bond-slaves. Just like Jesus.
(Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV) 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Without diving too deep into the wonder of Christ’s making “Himself of no reputation”, it is enough to say, by His own sovereign freedom, as God, He emptied Himself of His own will (for a time); for the purpose of serving only the will of the father. Hence the phrase, “taking the form of a bond-servant”.
We understand the word of God declares “As He is, so are we in the world” (I John 4:17). In the primary context of the passage, this means as He is love, we are to be His love to the world, until He returns. Yet, it has a broader application, as we are the body of Christ and the word of God declares repeatedly, we are saved to be as He was… Free to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
We must be aware, that this freedom we have in Christ, does not allow for us to choose not to be His bond-slaves (I Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). We are called to give our entire being to love Jesus by obeying His commands (John 14:15-23). Let’s remember this is not a requirement of salvation, but is to grow in relationship to the Christ life, as well as safeguarding our soul from backsliding and apostasy.
The reason for this posting is that I was once more dragged back to this truth while reading the word of God to my children the other morning.
(1 Peter 2:15-16 NASB)For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God.
Here we see the contrast in our being free in Christ. We live as men free from the dictates of sin and the world, the flesh, and the devil–but alive unto God for the purpose of freely surrendering our will; for the purpose of serving only the will of our Savior. All of this is for the sake of love for our Master. Consider that O.T. bond-slaves, after paying their debt, could use their freedom, for the purpose of continuing as a bond-slave the rest of their lives. Why would someone do that?
(Deuteronomy 15:12-17 NASB) 12 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13 When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.
Let us understand that for one who would become a bond-slave the rest of their life, they literally were laying aside their own will, for that of their master. They could expect no vacation, personal time, or accommodation, unless their master commanded it; their life was not their own.
I must admit, that the Lord has been dealing with me concerning this truth for several years. The new man I am in Christ rejoices in this truth, but everything I was raised to be as an independent American screams… NO! Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who has enabled me to grow in this desire, but woe to my stubborn flesh. Do you understand this battle?
Part of being His bond-slave is assessing where we are most prone to disobedience. Below I have listed some scripture to consider concerning your call to be His bond-slave. May God grant us grace to be honest and power to be free to freely surrender to Jesus.
- Proverbs 3:5-7, 11-12
- Ephesians 4:29-32
- Ephesians 5:15-21
- I Peter 1:13-16