Formations Lesson for May 22: Set Free By Christ : Friday, May 6, 2005
May 6 2005 by Julia Ledford

Formations Lesson for May 22: Set Free By Christ : Friday, May 6, 2005
Friday, May 6, 2005

Formations Lesson for May 22: Set Free By Christ

By Julia Ledford
Focal Passage: Galatians 5:1-6, 13-26

Changing Partners

Though not in our focal passage, verse 7 is where I wish to begin to set a context for my thoughts. Referring to an athletic race, Paul asked the Galatians, "Who cut in on you?"

I hope you will pardon a dance analogy, but the question reminds me of the dance custom of "cutting in." The Galatians had been dancing, so to speak, in freedom and love with Christ, through the joy of grace. But, someone had "cut in" and drawn them away to dance with another partner. Paul wrote to encourage them to go back to the right partner and not give heed to any attempt to be drawn away.

Free from Bondage

Galatians 5:1-5

Paul called them back to the freedom Christ had purchased for them. Paul had begun the letter with a reminder that the Lord Jesus Christ had given Himself for our sins, to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of God (1:3-4). It was God's will to free them and God's will for them to remain free. God had no intention of setting them free from the futility of the law, only to subject them to it again.

Paul strongly warned that returning to even one aspect of the law is tantamount to a rejection of Christ. To seek justification before God by law requires absolute fulfillment of the entire compilation of religious law, something no one is capable of doing.

Free to Love

Galatians 5:6,13-15

It all gets back to love. We are redeemed by God's love and we are called to live by the spirit in love. That is where Jesus pointed in His life and teachings. When standing before the woman taken in adultery, He was the only one without sin; but He chose to forgive (John 8).

When He taught about the day of judgment, He envisioned those who enter the kingdom of heaven as people who express love to others like Jesus modeled in His ministry (Matthew 25).

Jesus proclaimed that we are sent as He was sent (John 20:21), so we are to live on the same premise of love with which He lived.

Free to Live in the Spirit of Christ

Galatians 5:16-26

In contrasting what the sinful nature produces with the fruit that life in the Spirit produces, Paul exposed the heart of the matter. The way to truly please God and experience the positive results that make life meaningful is not through keeping regulations. We must choose to live by the Spirit rather than by religious or self-determined regulations. Living in the Spirit is a different life-environment that can only be entered by grace through faith. It is like trying to live under the sea without air. We cannot fulfill God's purpose of love without the life-giving "breath" of God's Spirit. And we cannot earn that breath of life by works. We can only receive the Spirit by faith.

Conclusion

The freedom into which we enter as believers is a responsible freedom that operates only in the power of the Spirit, on the basis of self-giving love, and within the parameters of God's will. Such freedom is not to be equated with human abandon to individual self-will. The call of the gospel is to community and inter-dependent relationships based on shared faith in the grace of God. Human freedom without any restraint is anarchy and ultimately results in damage to persons, property or the earth. Freedom in the Spirit produces positive results that fulfill the requirements of divine law and improve life and relationships.

5/6/2005 12:00:00 AM by Julia Ledford | with 0 comments




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