Set Free to Love
Bible Reading: Galatians 5:13-15
Pete Maravich was one of the most famous basketball players who has ever lived. He could do things with a basketball no one had ever seen before. Pete was the leading collegiate scorer of all time. He was an All Star and voted one of the best 50 NBA players of all time. Whenever he played crowds would flock to see him. He had it all–fame, fortune and fun playing the game he loved. Yet he was miserable. He was a drunkard. A bad husband and a bad father. He was suicidal. One night, as he laid upon his bed, he was thinking about his life and his misery and his sins. He couldn’t get away from his despair. So he prayed. He asked God to save him. He had heard the gospel before, but he had previously resisted. Now for the first time he sincerely trusted in Jesus. Jesus saved him and set him free and transformed him. He became a great father. He went on to share the gospel in every opportunity God provided. Pete died unexpectedly at the age of 40, but until his death he’d been set free to love and serve Jesus.
The believers in Galatia had heard the gospel message and responded. Sadly false teachers had crept into the church and were promulgating a different message than what the Apostle Paul had preached to them. He indicted the false teachers in the strongest possible terms, “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). These false teachers were saying it was necessary for a person to keep the Jewish law to be righteous before God.
Apparently, some of the Galatians were buying what the false teachers were selling, for Paul chided them in a striking manner: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh” (Galatians 3:1-3). In contrast to what the false teachers were selling, Paul reminded those believers that they had received the Spirit not by the works of the law, but by hearing with faith. And the work begun in their lives by the Spirit, was to be also perfected by the Spirit. Same goes for you. You received the Spirit when you believed in Jesus. You have the Spirit, and it is by Him alone you can transformed into Christlikeness.
This context is important if we are to understand and appreciate what is being said in Galatians 5:13. As a believer in Christ you’ve been called to freedom! You are no longer under the law. You’ve been saved out of a works-based approach to spirituality. Yet this freedom could be misunderstood. The freedom spoken of here is not the freedom to do whatever a person wants to do, but the freedom to do what a person ought to do–the freedom to do what we were first created to do, which is to know and love and worship God! The believer in Christ has been born again by the Spirit and is being perfected by the Spirit. And by the Spirit he is led and empowered to love like Jesus! By the Spirit we’ve been set free to serve Jesus, and to serve Him by loving others.
The Believer in Christ has Been Set Free to Serve
Heavenly Father. How wonderful that day when we were born of the Spirit with life from above into Your family! You did that which we could never had done for ourselves. Forgive us for our sinful tendency to gravitate towards a self-effort approach to our Christian lives. By the Spirit You caused us to be born again. By the Spirit we are being transformed. By the Spirit we’ve been set free to love and serve You by loving and serving others. As we walk in dependence on the Spirit and Your Word, may our heads and hearts and hands all rejoice in the new freedom they now have to now have to worship You. In that freedom may we love one another, that Your presence and work in our lives might be evident to all. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.