By Rondi Lauterbach
I wake up with a groan. One eye checks the alarm clock. Internally, I ask myself, “Why do I feel so lousy?”
And then I remember. I finished off the Dove bars last night. “Be honest”, an inner voice nags, “you started AND finished them”. While I want to spank myself for my excessiveness in eating all of that chocolate, I instead make a mental note to start a 7-day detox program. And join a gym.
Before my feet hit the floor I remember the other baggage from yesterday — the fight with my husband, forgetting my best friend’s birthday, parking the kids in front of the TV so I could finish that project for work. My life is definitely out of control. Each failure prompts more resolutions to make it right and not mess up again.
I’m locked in the prison of my conscience. Do you ever feel that way?
Take a moment. Read Galatians 5:1-15.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
That’s how the chapter starts. Now let’s look at it together through the lens of three questions.
1. What good news is Paul proclaiming?
At first I thought it was freedom, but freedom itself isn’t necessarily good news. I don’t always know what to do with freedom. Every summer break of my childhood reminds me of that.
The good news is Christ. Christ has set us free! Notice how many times in the following five verses he is mentioned or alluded to — he is our advantage (v. 2), he is the one we don’t want to be severed from (v. 4), he is the one we are “in” (v. 6), faith in him is what counts (v. 6).
He is the one who freed us from justifying ourselves through rule-keeping: God’s rules or the ones we’ve added. He freed us by justifying us through his death on the cross. We can’t add to what he’s done. We can’t pay one red cent. In fact the cross offends us by saying, “put your wallet away.”
2. What is Paul warning them (and us) of?
We have to stay free. The constant temptation is to place our conscience back under the law as a way to please God.
But that route is a dead end. Paul is very firm in the next paragraph (vv. 7-12). Trusting in our law keeping actually hinders us from obeying the truth. Faith is our obedience now, faith in the one who kept the whole law for us. It’s his obedience that pleases God.
3. What should I do now?
The best way to stay free is to live free. Even in that I’m not alone. He is the one who calls me (v. 8, 13). Freedom lies in answering his call.
Freedom feels scary. It feels, well, free. So what now? I can hear my Savior say:
“Come on. You’re with me. We’ve got some people to love.”
Rondi entered the Ivy League full of personal ambition and left under a new Master. Her passion is to help women see Jesus in the Word and be nourished by him. She has been a pastor’s wife for over thirty years, a mother of three, and now a very happy grandmother. She and her husband Mark live in San Diego.
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