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Makestraightpaths.com examines the teachings of the religious group variously known as “the Family,” “The Family International,” the “Children of God,” or the “Family of Love,” and evaluates these teachings from a Christian perspective. This page is one in a series on the 'Law of Love.'

 

Christian Freedom: the Book of Galatians

Gal 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. NASU

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul strenuously defended the concept of freedom: Christians should resist all attempts to enslave them, because one of the reasons Jesus came was to give them freedom. The concept is not limited to Galatians. Jesus said that the truth would make people free (John 8:32), and Paul also addressed the issue in detail in his letters to the Corinthians and the Romans.

But what is 'freedom'? One dictionary defines it as, a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Is that what Jesus intended or what Paul meant in Galatians? How far does freedom go? Is freedom by definition unlimited, or are there things that Christians are not allowed to do? Why does Paul take such a strong stance, what exactly is he calling for, and what are the practical implications of his teaching?

This web page examines the book of Galatians, in which Paul stridently calls for Christian freedom. It contrasts the differences between the meanings of 'freedom' as applied in modern secular society, in ancient Greco-Roman culture, in Hebraic thinking, and in the Family. Biblical freedom, it will be seen, is vastly different from these other three types.

 

Freedom in the 21st Century

'Freedom to do whatever you want' is a kind of freedom, but actually only represents shallow thinking. When people claim this freedom, they usually mean they are free from the control of their parents or some other authority figure. However, in reality there are few, if any, people who are truly free from all authority; everyone is subject to authority of some form, whether it be their country's legal code, or their particular cultural requirements and restrictions, or the requirements of their particular workplace, or the rules they obey when they drive a car.

Freedom may also be political, as when a minority ethnic group strives for autonomy or democracy. Financial freedom refers to independence and security. Freedom may be from slavery, a thriving industry in the 21st century, or from numerous other forms of bondage. An abused wife, for example, may count herself 'free' following divorce.

It is clear that absolute freedom, that is freedom from any and all external restraints, limitations or authority does not exist for humankind. Freedom is always selective, but most people do not have a problem with that. Very few people - if any - actually desire absolute freedom.

Modern western society, however, does insist on various freedoms, including freedom of religion, freedom to choose one's political affiliation and freedom to choose whom to marry. These particular freedoms vary according to the culture and the country. Freedom as an ideal often relates to concepts of self-determination and individuality, as contrasted with the obligation to act according to traditions or other's expectations. Interestingly, it is here that modern society finds itself influenced by ancient Greek philosophy.

 

Freedom in ancient Greco-Roman culture

There was a tremendously high proportion of slaves in the population of cities like Rome in the first century AD. Some estimates put the number as high as 85-90% of the population being slaves. Some slaves were war captives, some were prizes from conquered nations, some were kidnapped and sold into slavery, some sold themselves into slavery for financial reasons, and some were born into slavery. Some people lived their whole lives as slaves, some managed to save enough money to purchase back their freedom, and some were granted freedom by their owners. In other words, slavery was a normal part of first century life.

However, at the same time that the new Christian movement was spreading around the Mediterranean, a new Greek philosophy was also developing. It preached freedom from slavery to passions, freedom from desires for external material things, and individual, internal freedom regardless of whether one actually was a slave or not. While there are similarities between this Hellenistic philosophy and spiritual freedom as outlined in the Bible, those similarities are largely superficial.

 

Freedom in the Family

As with every other group that claims freedom, Family freedom is highly selective. Family members, for example, do not consider themselves free from obedience to authority in general or to particular people in positions of authority. They believe that in general they should obey the laws of the country in which they reside (with some exceptions) and that they should obey police officers in their course of duty. Family members also agree to obey their own leadership within their homes, and those leaders who have been appointed over countries or regional areas. All Family members promise to obey to the best of their ability the person who is leading the entire Family (currently Maria/Zerby).

Neither do Family members consider themselves free from rules, for Family members strive to obey long lists of rules and regulations governing all areas of daily life, published in handbooks like the Charter, in which Family members are instructed on the number of hours they are required to go witnessing, attend fellowship, educate their children, read Family publications, pray and so on. Full time Family members must agree to obey these rules if they wish to remain members. This fact is neither disputed nor particularly controversial. Family members voluntarily choose to obey all official Family rules, and to conduct their lives in accordance with the Charter.

Family members do claim freedom in several areas. Each individual member has the right to choose his or her own ministry and place of service (provided, of course, that he or she obeys the relevant rules governing such decisions). Family members also talk about their freedom from the ‘system,’ which means that they believe they do not have to work at secular jobs for a secular employer. Actually, Family members are strongly discouraged from such employment, and there are a number of rules governing those who do.

The Family also claims spiritual freedom, meaning that they believe that Jesus' law of love has done away with all the requirements of the Mosaic Law for Christians. In other words, they believe that no Old Testament Law is applicable for Christians, and no activity in itself is unlawful in God’s sight, provided it is done in love. While this teaching is potentially extremely far-reaching, there is actually only one area in which the Family puts it into practice: in direct opposition to almost all other Christian groups, the Family claims the liberty to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage.

Theologically, the Family teaches its members that Jesus’ death on the cross abolished all previous biblical rules of conduct, replacing them with the simple command to love.

The Family claims that verses such as Galatians 5:14 prove this doctrine:

Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” NKJV

In other words, according to the Family, as long as the individual people are acting in love, they have freedom to do pretty much whatever they want. Family slogans such as “God’s only law is love” reflect this teaching. The Ten Commandments no longer apply; biblical prohibitions against  extra-marital sex no longer apply. Therefore, Family members are free to have sex with each other (if it is done according to the rules). But is this really a valid interpretation of the biblical doctrine of Christian freedom?

It should be noted that although there are numerous rules governing all extra-marital sexual contact, there are serious flaws in those rules which may jeopardise the safety of vulnerable Family members. For more on this topic, please read Family life.

 

The book of Galatians

Galatians has been called the Magna Charta of the church, bestowing as it does the freedom for  Christians to enjoy their faith without the necessity to conform to Judaism.

The letter was written by Paul sometime in the middle of the first century to a group of churches in Galatia, the exact location of which is not clear. There are two main themes recurring throughout the epistle: a defence of Paul’s apostleship, and a vindication of the doctrine of justification by faith. Paul himself had founded the churches in Galatia, but it appears that in his absence, some false teachers had been promoting conformity to the Jewish ceremonial law. In particular, they had been requiring Gentile believers to become circumcised. These ‘Jewish Christians’ separated themselves from Gentile Christians who had not yet conformed to Judaism.

 

The false teaching

Dispensing with some of the niceties common in his general letters, Paul begins his epistle with a direct statement that the Galatians had gone astray, pronouncing a curse on the false teachers.

Gal 1:6-8

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

NASU

The epistle to the Galatians was no friendly fireside chat. The recipients would have been shocked into solemn attention at such an opening.

Then in chapter two, Paul recounts an incident when he had publicly rebuked Peter for allowing himself to be swayed by these false teachers, whom Paul terms ‘those of the circumcision’ (NKJV) or the ‘circumcision group’ (NIV).

Gal 2:11-14

11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

NIV

The false teachers taught that the “works of the law” were necessary for justification and righteousness, doctrines which Paul found repugnant.

Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. NASU

Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. NASU

These false teachers wanted the Galatian Christians to get circumcised. This was obviously the main issue, as it is mentioned thirteen times throughout the epistle. The teaching that Gentiles should be circumcised in order to gain acceptance in the eyes of God so angered Paul that he mercilessly attacked his detractors. His opinion of them comes out in Gal 5:12, given here in several translations:

Gal 5:12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. NASU

Gal 5:12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! NIV

Gal 5:12 I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves! NET

It also seems that the Gentiles were being taught to observe the various Jewish feast days.

Gal 4:9-10

9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.

NASU

The false teachers taught that in order for Gentiles to be fully righteous in the eyes of God, they needed to conform to Jewish ceremonial or ritual law. The false teachers wanted the Gentiles to become ‘Jewish Christians’ by getting circumcised and observing the ceremonial feast days. Their motives were personal: they wanted to avoid persecution, and they wanted to be able to boast of converts to Judaism.

Gal 6:12-13

12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.

NASU

If the converts could be seen to observe Jewish ceremonial law, then perhaps there would be less persecution from those opposed to Christianity.

Paul’s teaching in Galatians was written specifically to counter the notion that ceremonial observance of the Law was essential for righteousness in God’s sight.

 

Paul’s apostleship

After having set the tone for the letter with his opening rebuke, Paul gives a lengthy vindication of his own apostleship. He explains that it was God Himself who gave him the Gospel he preaches.

Gal 1:11-12

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

NASU

After a detailed account proving he did not receive his message from the church at Jerusalem, he then reminds his readers that Jerusalem had fully agreed with what he was preaching.

Gal 2:6-9 (excerpts)

6 … Those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been  to the circumcised … 9 recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. NASU

In fact, it was the apostles from Jerusalem who through fear of man had departed from the truth, not Paul.

Gal 2:11-13

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.

NASU

In fact, Paul uses his speech to Peter at Antioch as a springboard to launch into his major theme of justification by faith.

 

Justification by faith

The theme that Paul repeatedly stresses for the remainder of the book does not concern the nature of righteousness, but rather the means of attaining it. In other words, there was no argument as to what righteousness was, but rather the dispute between Paul and the false teachers was over how to become righteous. The false teachers taught that conformity to the ceremonial laws, in particular those concerning circumcision, brought God’s favourable judgment. According to them, one could not be judged righteous without obedience to these ritual laws.

Paul refuted this position in no uncertain terms.

Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. NASU

The word ‘justified’ used in Gal 2:16 means ‘judged to be righteous.’

justify NT:1344

To judge, declare, pronounce righteous and therefore acceptable. Especially is it so used, in the technical phraseology of Paul, respecting God who judges and declares such men as put faith in Christ to be righteous and acceptable to him, and accordingly, fit to receive the pardon of their sins and eternal life.

(Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

True righteousness only comes through faith in Christ.

Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. NASU

Gal 5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. NKJV

Paul appeals to the Galatians’ own experience (Gal 3:1-5) and to the story of Abraham (Gal 3:6-18),  proving that if righteousness could come by the law, this would prevent people from coming to God by faith, like Abraham. The law is a “curse” because it excludes people who live by faith. Once you try to become righteous through the Law, you can no longer obtain eternal life through faith in Christ, although if it were possible to become righteous through the Law, then Christ would have died in vain (Gal 2:21).

 

Purpose of the Law

If the Law did not allow for justification by faith, then what purpose did it serve?

Gal 3:19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. NIV

People are sinners and until Christ came to empower with His Spirit, the Law was necessary to confine them and to hinder them from evil.

Gal 3:23-25

25 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

NET

Gal 3:23-25

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

NASU

The Law acted as a ‘guardian.’ Here are some translators’ notes on this word:

“Disciplinarian,” “custodian,” or “guide.” “The man, usually a slave whose duty it was to conduct a boy or youth to and from school and to superintend his conduct generally; he was not a ‘teacher’ (despite the present meaning of the derivative ‘pedagogue’). When the young man became of age, the [guardian] was no longer needed.” “Guardian, leader, guide”. NET

 

NT:3807 paidagogos

a boy-leader, i.e. a servant whose office it was to take the children to school; (by implication [figuratively] a tutor [“paedagogue”]):

(Strong’s)

 

NT:3807

a tutor (Latin: paedagogus) i.e., a guide and guardian of boys.

Among the Greeks and Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood;

(Thayer’s)

 

NT:3807

In this and allied words the idea is that of training, discipline, not of impartation of knowledge. The paidagogos was not the instructor of the child; he exercised a general supervision over him and was responsible for his moral and physical well-being. Thus understood, paidagogos is appropriately used with ‘kept in ward’ and ‘shut up,’ whereas to understand it as equivalent to ‘teacher’ introduce, an idea entirely foreign to the passage, and throws the Apostle’s argument into confusion.

(Vine’s)

Thus, the Law instilled discipline; it brought constant and vivid awareness of sin. It had no power to bring righteousness, but it certainly brought an understanding of sin.  

Rom 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”  NIV

 

Freedom

Christ came to free us from the confines of the Law.

Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. NKJV

The NKJV also has a footnote that gives an alternate translation: “For freedom Christ has made us free; stand fast therefore…

Most other translations render Gal 5:1 like this:

Gal 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. NASU

Exactly what freedom does Christ bring? Christians are free from the obligation to conform to the entire Law in order to become righteous before God. They are free to come to God the Father by faith, and receive His blessing as children and heirs.

Gal 3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. NASU

There is no suggestion in Galatians that this freedom means ‘freedom to do what you want’ or ‘freedom to indulge in any kind of behaviour’ or ‘freedom from rules.’ Freedom is the freedom to come to God by faith, unhindered by the knowledge that we are unable to conform to the Law. It is the freedom to accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross by faith and in so doing receive His mercy.

 

Hebraic freedom

It is important to understand the way Paul the Jew would have understood 'freedom.' Israel as a nation was born when God miraculously freed them from slavery in Egypt. God's purpose in those days was not the abolition of slavery in general, and neither was it that the Hebrew people in particular could not be slaves. In fact, slavery as a social system continued in Israel following the Exodus; God gave Moses specific laws to protect their slaves and to ensure that they too would accept him as God. Hebrews could sell themselves into slavery (Lev 25:39) or even sell their family (Exodus 21:7). They were allowed to keep foreign slaves (Lev 25:44). Slavery was one of the punishments in the criminal code, for example, for a convicted thief who was too poor to make proper restitution (Exodus 22:2-3). There were strict laws governing slaves' rights. For example, violence against slaves was not condoned: if someone hit his slave and knocked out his tooth, that slave was given freedom in recompense (Exodus 21:26-27). Hebrews did not have a problem with slavery in general.

However, freedom was a tremendously important concept for them: Israel was a nation that was born when God miraculously rescued them from bondage and servitude in Egypt. God effected their release from slavery but he did not do it so that they could be free from all obligation. He freed them so that they might serve Him. Baker's Dictionary says, from the very beginning God's people were taught that the alternative to servitude was not freedom in some abstract sense, but rather freedom to serve the Lord.

God's instruction to Moses was that he was to inform Pharaoh that Israel was to be set free to serve God. Repeatedly, Moses went before Pharaoh and said, Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, 'Let My people go, that they may serve Me' (Exodus 9:1 NASU). When God gave them the Law, Israel's position was that of a slave of God: You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name (Deut 10:20 NASU). God considered Israel as His own possession (Exodus 19:5).

 

New Testament freedom

This concept is repeated in the New Testament. Peter and Paul both referred to believers as God's possession (Eph 1:14, Tit 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9). A proper understanding of freedom, therefore, means knowing what Christians are free from, and what they are free to do. The New Testament does not promote fanciful ideas of freedom from obligation, or freedom from authority, or freedom from moral requirements, or freedom to make up your own mind about right and wrong.

In short, Christians are free from sin, they are free from the control of the Devil and they are free from eternal death. They are free to serve the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. They are free to obey Him, having being transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul never declares that believers are now allowed to do the things that the Law said were sin. On the contrary, he expects exemplary behaviour from believers, and often defines that behaviour in terms of the moral requirements of the Law.

Christian freedom occurs when Jesus Christ becomes Lord and Master of the individual believer. From that point on, the Christian is in bondage to none other but Christ. He no longer serves sin, the Devil, the Law or himself. In other words, the Bible does not say that believers are free from the Law and so may now break it with impunity. Rather, it says that they are free from serving the Law; they are free from bondage to the Law; they are free from the punishments of the Law. They are free from their just desert of eternal punishment due to their sinning against God. This is what is meant by Christians' freedom from the curse of the Law. The Law is no longer their master, just as sin is no longer their master, or the Devil. Christians can have only one master, Jesus Christ the Lord.

 

Freedom from sin

Jesus said He came to free us from slavery to sin.

John 8:34,36

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

NASU

Rom 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; NASU

Jesus’ death on the cross and His gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit freed us from being slaves to sin. Non-Christians do not have the power to refrain from sinning; they are captive to sin and try as they might, they cannot avoid it. Christians are released from bondage to sin and are filled with the Holy Spirit so that they may please God.

Rom 6:12-14

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as  instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as  instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

NASU

This is an important point. The freedom Christ gives us has nothing to do with a supposed carte blanche to do anything that we feel is God’s will. We do not have God’s permission to do the things He has already told us are wrong. On the contrary, if we indulge in those things, it only proves that we do not have the Spirit of God. In other words, if we say, “I have the Holy Spirit, therefore I have the freedom to do these things, even though they are described as sin in the Bible,” this does not show that we have freedom, rather, it shows that we do not have the Holy Spirit!

Paul stresses this particular point from Gal 5:13 to the end of chapter five.

Gal 5:13-26

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

NKJV

Here we can see the fallacy in the Family’s teaching. The Bible does not grant license to act as one pleases without accountability. Christ’s death did not legitimise sinful behaviour, rather, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gave believers the power to become righteous before God.

In particular, Christian freedom most certainly does not include the sexual freedom as claimed by the Family. In fact, in the same document that proclaims Christian liberty (Galatians), Paul specifies that this freedom does not include the taking of sexual liberties (Gal 5:19).

 

Love

Galatians 5:13, quoted above, specifies that freedom was not to be abused by gratifying the flesh, but was to be demonstrated in love. In case anyone should misinterpret him, Paul specifies both what love is and what it is not.

Love is service to one another. Paradoxically, Christian freedom results in service. Christians are free to become slaves of each other. Paul made himself a slave (1 Cor 9:19) and urged his readers to do the same.

Love is not self-centred or self-gratifying. Love is not envying or being jealous. Love is not drunkenness. Love, obviously, doesn't murder other people (Gal 5:21). And very specifically, love does not engage in extra-marital sex (Gal 5:19). Family members who engage in such sexual activity are not acting according to biblical love, but rather are engaging in the "works of the flesh" and are in danger of being excluded from the kingdom of God (Gal 5:21).

 

Conclusion

The book of Galatians declares that ritual observance of the ceremonial Law is not the means to righteousness. Likewise, any such ritualistic religion cannot result in God’s approval. In fact, dependence on rituals negates the sacrifice Christ made on the cross.

However, Galatians does not teach, suggest or imply that for the Christian there are no standards of right and wrong behaviour. Galatians teaches that the only way to act in a righteous way is to be filled with and moved by the Holy Spirit, but it does not teach that any behaviour may be justified in God’s sight. As a matter of fact, there are certain sinful actions that not only cannot be justified in God’s sight, but actually prove that the person doing those things does not have the Holy Spirit at all. Sexual sin is specifically mentioned as one of the proofs of the absence of the Spirit.

The freedom Paul preached in Galatians is the freedom to do God’s will, unhindered by sin. Christian freedom is not licentious liberty or anarchic abandonment of all behavioural standards; it is empowerment by the  Holy Spirit to act in the way God originally intended.

True freedom is the freedom to function according to God’s intention; it is for man to act in harmony with his own created being. [It is] the ability to do God’s will. This is the only kind of freedom that the Christian ultimately is concerned with. It is to be free from compulsion, unhindered by sin’s dominion, and able to do God’s will. All other “freedom” is still bondage, no matter what the world may say. (Williams)

 

See also

Galatians Five

The Law of love in the Epistles

 

Further reading

The following sites are all external to Make Straight Paths, and are provided for further study purposes.

Freedom - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Life by the Spirit by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

True Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton (1606-1654)

What is Christian freedom? by John MacArthur

Christian Freedom by Dr. David Jones

What Is Christian Freedom? By K. B. Napier

Legalism by Ray C. Stedman

The Continuing Struggle by Ray C. Stedman

The Curse Removed by CH Spurgeon

The Uses of the Law by CH Spurgeon

 

References

Fee: How to Read the Bible Book by Book, Gordon D Fee & Douglas Stuart, 2002, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.

Thayer: Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, 2003, Biblesoft, Seattle, WA.

NET Bible, © 1996-2005 Biblical Studies Press,  http://www.bible.org/netbible/

Strong: Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, 2003, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Seattle, WA.

Vine: Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.

Williams: Renewal Theology, JR Williams, 1996, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.

 

 

 

 

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