It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
Today’s reading begins with a clear and refreshing statement of Christ’s will for our lives. “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” Jesus’ will for us is that we enjoy our freedom through Him. Our enjoyment of freedom is much more important to God than many of the day-to-day decisions that fill us with so much concern. A good test of your priorities in life would be whether you are just as concerned about the command to enjoy your freedom as you are about other pressing decisions in your life. Do you exercise as much diligence in prayer and study to stand fast in freedom as you do to decide about home, job, school, marriage partner? It is a clear and unqualified command: “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” God’s will is for us to enjoy the freedom of being found in Him. Uncompromising, unrelenting, indomitable freedom. For this Christ died, rose and set us free.
If you take upon yourself the yoke of the law and aim to use it to achieve your own righteousness before God, you have submitted again to a yoke of slavery and are not standing in the freedom for which Christ freed you. Or to use the words of the verse (v4): your relation to Christ is nullified and you no longer benefit from grace.
John Piper writes: “Christ is a great advantage to us! He paid all our debts on the cross and got us out of the debtor’s prison of guilt. He frees us from the slavery of having to earn our keep in the Father’s house. And He exerts Himself for us with kingly omnipotence so that everything works together for our good. Christ is our great advantage and profit! BUT! If you start to follow the advice of these false teachers and go back and take up the mindset of a slave instead of an heir—then you have taken over the work of Christ, and treated his work as insufficient. He will be of no advantage to those who try to do his work for him.”