Liberty Has Responsibilities

19 May
from Google Images

from Google Images

Our liberty in Christ (Galatians 5:1) is not simply freedom to do as we please. Our liberty in Christ is true freedom only as we accept the responsibilities that the high cost of freedom brings us. All other so-called expressions of freedom end in slavery or addiction of one sort or another. Liberty in Christ is manifest in the fruit of the Spirit of Christ not a mystical experience. True spirituality is very practical and not so mystical as to be of no earthly good. Paul tells us that, if we follow after the Spirit of Christ, it will be evident in both our relationships and in the manner in which we use our wealth, whether that wealth is our time (life) or our material goods.

First of all we have responsibilities to ourselves in that we must not deceive ourselves (Galatians 6:3-5). If one becomes deceived, he or she is no longer free to fulfill the Law of Christ. To be at liberty in Christ concerns understanding rightly. The one who has been overcome has been deceived into thinking he could make himself worthy of the Lord by some means other than faith. The one who comes alongside to help can become deceived by believing he is better off than the one needing help. While this may be true practically, it is not true spiritually, because the only reason that one needs mending is because he deceived himself into believing he was stronger than his sin. In other words, he left off trusting in Jesus and began looking to his own strength. If the helper begins to believe he or she is better or stronger than the one needing help, he or she is making the same mistake by looking to his or her own strength rather than that of the Lord.

Paul tells us that we need to test our work (Galatians 6:4; cf. Romans 12:1-3). This is done as we offer ourselves to God in his service—trusting or walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Then, allowing ourselves to be transformed and led by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:18), we are able to test our work through its execution by soberly and gently living out the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 5:25). We are new creatures (Galatians 6:15; 2Corinthians 5:17) whose fruit (character) is the product of divine nature (Galatians 5:22-23; cf. 2Peter 1:4). Doing the will of God should not result in the fruit found in Galatians 5:19-21 (cf. Galatians 5:16). Our work in Christ should produce the results found in Galatians 5:22-23, both in ourselves and in the brother needing our help.

Obviously, in Galatians 6:5 Paul is not contradicting what he said in verse-2. One’s own burden points to one’s work or labor. Jesus said that if we wish to work the work of God it is our responsibility to trust in the One God sent—i.e. Jesus (John 6:28-29). Everyone has this responsibility and no one is able to have faith for another person. When a brother is overcome in a fault, he has left off carrying the light burden of trusting in the finished work of Christ and has taken up that which only Christ can do. The burden described in Galatians 6:5 has to do with the backpack each soldier had to carry. In the Gospel it has to do with the yoke the Lord says he has given us, because we had been heavily laden and in need of rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

We all have the responsibility of ministering our worldly goods to those who have helped us in our spiritual walk (Galatians 6:6; Romans 15:26-27; 1Corinthians 9:7, 11; Philippians 4:14-20). Paul took offerings of the gentiles to aid the poor Jews (those who have labored to preserve the word of God that the gentiles now believed); and more specifically Paul refers to those who labor in the word of God among us for our benefit—like our pastors.

The reward for our labor will be according to our generosity, not in amount but in terms of what it cost us (Galatians 6:7). Moreover, God cannot be mocked concerning our hearts. If what we do in his service is in hope of a worldly reward, that is what we can expect, but if we sow to the Spirit we shall receive a spiritual harvest, concerning which Paul claims we are unable to even imagine the generosity of God (1Corinthians 2:9) in terms of what God will do for us at the judgment.

Paul isn’t speaking of our salvation here, for salvation is a gift (Romans 6:23). Rather he is speaking of reward for our labor in Christ, but we need to beware of becoming tired of doing the good and stopping altogether, because such an attitude will prevent us from receiving a full reward (Galatians 6:9). If we are able to detect such weariness in others, especially our spiritual leaders, we need to remember them both in prayer and in practical ways to encourage them, because their spiritual labor is a daily matter, while ours is as opportunity presents itself (Galatians 6:10).


Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul


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2 responses to “Liberty Has Responsibilities

  1. Donald Mitchell

    May 27, 2015 at 03:31

    Understanding Grace verses actions.
    The following is a question that I have concerning Paul’s decisions, I am not trying to make a statement, I truly am trying to reconcile grace and negative actions of the flesh.
    I find it strange in 1st Corinthians chapter 5 that the Apostle Paul seems to draw a line arbitrarily in the sand concerning sin, why did he choose this wicked act to draw a line on and not others. I have personally been having a hard time understanding Paul actions. He was the primary teacher of the grace message and verses like 1st Corinthians chapter 10:23 “all things are lawful for me but not all things are expedient”. Seem to add to my question. The term sin to me means if its broke its broke. If you shoot a BB through a window or throw a brick through it still broken.
    I am in no way condoning wicked acts, but who am I to draw a line in the sand and how did Paul decide to all of a sudden to plant his flag and say this particular thing can’t happen. It seems like to me that Paul says God’s grace applies to all of you here except this man here he’s gone too far, this seems like a contradiction and doesn’t really seem to fit in, I’m having a problem reconciling this. I think if I can get a handle on this I can more rightly divide the word of truth concerning today’s society with gays and lesbians trying to enter full time ministry positions. Eddie, your insights would be appreciated. Thank you, Donald Mytnik

    • Eddie

      May 27, 2015 at 06:38

      Donald, greetings and thanks for reading and for your comment. Don’t be overly concerned about not understanding Paul. Many people have trouble with him, but the Spirit will guide you and eventually his thinking will become clear. He was a brilliant rabbi in his day, and God used him as such.

      Actually, Paul doesn’t arbitrarily draw a line in the sand over fornication, in 1Corinthians 5:11 he mentions a group of sins of the flesh which should point us to his claims in Galatians 5:19-21. He zeroed in on fornication, because it was the specific sin that was troubling the Corinthian church at the time of his letter.

      We need to step back a moment as we are trying to understand Paul and ask a few questions. He speaks of grace, and also of sin–what is “sin”? According to scripture, sin is the transgression of the Law (1John 3:4). Yet, Paul says we are no longer “under the Law”. If scripture cannot be forced to contradict scripture (John 10:35), we need to really think about both what Paul is saying and what he is not saying. Does he claim we can cast away the Law as though it has no purpose for the New Testament believer? No, I cannot point to any scripture that tells us that. What if we did trash the Law, how would we know what sin actually was? Wouldn’t we be arbitrarily defining morality–more or less like we are trying to do with the gay thing you mention above? We need to ask ourselves is there such a thing as “morality” — that is, does it exist on its own, like you and I exist on our own? Are we able to find out what morality is on our own? It seems what is moral to Americans (religious or irreligious) is not the same as morality in India or Iran or Japan or _______________ (fill in the blank). Therefore, if it cannot be found out and tested by mankind it is not something that exists of an by itself. But,did God ever intend morality to be “arbitrary” like it seems to be among the nations of this world? No! because then God would be an arbitrary judge, judging sin by impulse etc. Therefore, either “morality” is what man says it is or it is what God says it is. God gave us the Law to define sin (immorality) — sin is the transgression of the Law.

      Paul says the Law tells us what sin is, but it is no longer our authority. God has set us free (Galatians 5:1) not to do anything we wish (i.e. what our flesh desires — see Galatians 5:19-21), but to do his will or, in other words, to become like him (Genesis 1:27). Being in God’s image doesn’t mean God has two eyes, a nose and ten toes. It has to do with character (Hebrews 1:3). This is a high calling and cannot be met by simply being blameless according to the Law (Philippians 3:6), but we cannot even begin to be an image of God’s character if we trash the law and live according to the flesh. The law identifies the works of the flesh as morally corrupt.

      The sin Paul mentions is 1Corinthians 5:1 was a capital crime under the Jewish constitutional Law — punishable by death. One couldn’t simply bring a sacrifice to remove one’s guilt. It required the life’s blood of the transgressor. Such a sin is forgivable under the New Testament only through the sacrifice of Christ. Yet, this man was acting like he didn’t even care about what he was doing to his Savior. He was “trampling the blood of Jesus under foot” (Hebrews 10:29) as though the life’s blood of his Savior was a **common** thing. It is one thing to sin, even commit a great sin and later be repentant, it is quite another to live in sin without repentance like this man was doing. This was Paul’s point.

      Hope this helps, and the Lord bless you Donald in your study of his word.



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