Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
These next two chapters teach us what it is to live in the liberty of the Gospel of Grace. We’re not talking about political liberty here. We’re not talking about anyone’s rights or freedoms from a human point of view. We’re talking about being free from the bondage of legalism, which requires us to abide by a complicated set of rules if we want to have any hope of heaven.
Jesus is not about man-made systems and liturgies. He’s not about religion. He’s about grace, and faith, and the freedom of knowing we have been redeemed through His death and resurrection. The sin question is settled.
So does that mean we can just let down all the standards and live however we please?
Don’t be silly. You know very well that’s not what is being taught here. This is Paul speaking, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He is not giving us permission to sin. He is telling us that we are no longer bound by sin, nor by the systems that keep us in bondage to fear and doubt.
I love this first verse of Chapter Five.
Stand fast: We are never told to go chasing Satan, or attacking him in order to defeat him. What we are told to do is to STAND! Stand on the Word, as Jesus did when Satan tempted Him in Matthew 4. Stand on the Gospel of Grace. Stand on the freedom that faith affords. Stand.
The liberty wherewith Christ has made us free: His obedience to the cross, to the will of the Father, and His submission to the Father and to our need, provides us the liberty of living free and joyfully in our salvation, never worrying that some little law we’ve neglected will send us to hell. Free from sin and death; free from the lure and temptation of sin; free to live and love as we have been loved.
Entangled: Sin tangles us up. It wraps its links around us like a spider wraps up a fly in its sticky web, making us unable to move. Sin will always take you farther than you expected; it will always do more damage than you ever dreamed. Choosing sin leads to a life of bondage, enslavement.
Don’t believe me? Come sit with me in my office for a few days, and listen to broken- hearted men and women whose spouses are leaving them for an adulterous affair, or for drugs and alcohol, or just because they can. See the pain on their faces, hear it in their voices, and don’t even try to tell me that sin only hurts the sinner. That’s a lie.
Talk to anyone who has chosen the path of sin, lost everything that was dear and precious, and has to repent in sorrow to try to rebuild all that has been lost. Don’t get tangled up in sin. And don’t get tangled up in legalistic religious systems that steal the joy of your salvation from you.
Yoke of bondage: A yoke was used to lock oxen or other animals together. The yoke is used to train them to walk in perfect step with each other. Once they are yoked together, they can go their separate ways only if the master opens the yoke and sets them free. Sin is a terrible yoke, and locks us into bondage. Legalism is a terrible yoke that locks us into bondage, as well.
The pure definition of legalism is not just keeping a set of rules. It is doing so in order to earn one’s way to heaven. I have personal standards that I believe are biblically based and biblically sound. They won’t, however, get me to heaven. My salvation is by grace, through faith, and nothing else at all.