Why would anyone who had found freedom in Christ want to turn back to the law? Why would anyone let themselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery? Why would anyone want to be under the law?
Relationships of law have clearly defined limits. That’s why we have contracts—to limit our liability. Relationships of love have no limits—“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (john 15:13). Love can cost you your life.
We want to limit our liability
“Tell me, you who want to be under the law…” galatians 4:21
There is a deep instinct within all of us that wants to limit our liability. Your relationship with the credit card company is a relationship of law, not love. You pay them what you owe. When you get behind in your payments, you end up owing more. But even then, there’s a limit to what you owe. Your statement tells you exactly what debt you have incurred. So, you write your check and you’re done.
A relationship of love is different. There are no defined payments—no limits. When it comes to our relationship with God there is a strong instinct in our fallen nature that would prefer a relationship of law: “Tell me what I have to do—daily quiet time? Bible study? Accountability partner? Pray with the family? What else? Give me the list.”
God’s love has no limits
If Christ related to us on the basis of law, He would never have come into the world. He was under no obligation to come. The incarnation is about God going beyond the law and reaching out to you and to me in love. His love has no limits.
If His Spirit lives in you, you can’t relate to Him on the basis of law, but only on the basis of love. You will find yourself saying, “Were the whole realm of nature mine that were an offering far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life my all.”
That’s where the Spirit of Jesus brings you—freely embracing an unlimited liability, and placing no restrictions on what He can ask of you. There will always be something in your flesh that says, “Just give me the rules. Tell me what I have to do.” It feels safer than the unlimited liability of love. Do you see that in yourself?
How to lose your freedom in Christ
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ.” galatians 5:4
If you start to reckon your standing with God by your disciplined prayers, your committed service, your worship experience, or anything else you do as a Christian, you’re back to the law. That will alienate you from Christ and take you back into slavery.
It is possible to have the Spirit but live like a slave. That may be where some of us are. There’s only one way to be free, and that is to live by faith: “By faith we eagerly await the righteousness for which we hope” (galatians 5:5).
My righteousness does not rest on anything I do for God, but on the righteousness of Christ crucified for me. I find peace in God’s promise—on the last day He will accept me, not because of my Christian life, but because of His Son who loved me and gave Himself for me.
This LifeKey is based on the message “the gospel sets you free,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on December 3, 2006, from the series “grasping the gospel.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.
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