Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 4, 1970

"For Freedom Did Christ Set Us Free"

Harold Turner

Much is said of the "freedom" in the above statement found in Gal. 5:1. Paul is certainly not saying that Christians are free from every restraint and can do what they want at any time and act in any way they choose. To the contrary the passage plainly teaches: "for ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh" (Gal. 5:13). Then if you'll observe verses 16-21 you will see that they were very much under obligation to the law. As a matter of fact in the next chapter, "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).

The phrase "set us free" (5:1) involves retrospection. A state of bondage has been left behind and in this passage the bondage is the old law. At the time Paul was writing they had been set free from that specific bondage. In view of this the word "freedom" is understood. Paul, anticipating misunderstanding of these words, remarked, "use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh." That is to say, do not understand "freedom" as defining a present circumstance in which no laws or restraints are binding.

In John 8:32 Christ used the word "free." The freedom here looks to a past condition of slavery to sin and again the word needs to be so understood; "free" or freedom in this context emphasizes a coming out of something more than a resulting state. However the resulting state is mentioned in v. 31, "my disciples." Now notice the entire verse, "Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, if ye abide in my words, then are ye truly my disciples." They needed freedom; they needed to become disciples of Christ, but, to be considered such, they had to keep his word.

Thus, the words "free" and "freedom" need to always be considered in context. Christians are not exempt from law. It becomes tiresome to hear such passages as these used to justify free exercising of the passions or as proof of one's right to propagate any weird theory that pops into his head. The first problem is specifically condemned by Paul in Gal. 5, and the second isn't related to the contextual material.

— 5405 Voider, Fort Worth, Texas 76114