What Are Christians Free From?

What are we free from?

The apostle John tells us, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 NASB). Think about that; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. Prior to the public, prophetic, Messianic ministry of Jesus, grace and truth were not realized. The Greek word used here is ἐγένετο (egeneta), which has to do with coming into existence. Therefore, the fullness of truth or the better version of truth comes with Jesus and the NC. There’s a clear contrast here: Moses/Law with Jesus/truth.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV). Then later on Jesus says, “I am the truth” (14:6 ESV). Therefore, the coming of Christ Jesus brings now in this time, in this covenant, something different than before, something new. In the OC, God used Moses to administer the law, but now in the NC, He uses Jesus, His unique, one of a kind Son to administer grace and truth. Jesus is truth and knowing Him will set us free.

So, what are we free from?

In Galatians 5:1, Paul says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery” (NASB)He then goes on to explain that law keeping places you under the law: “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law” (5:3 NASB). Now this has a primary focus on law keeping in order to be justified, but it has significance for the life of the believer after conversion by faith. It’s notable also to see Paul is using circumcision as an example of law keeping. What’s the point? The requirement of circumcision is part of the law. Some think of the law being only the moral aspects of it i.e. the Ten Commandments. Clearly, Paul doesn’t see any specific distinction within the law itself. It consisted of multiple things, which for the sake of explanation could be broken down as moral, ceremonial and civil. But in reality all of it is what we call the Mosaic Law, since it was distributed through Moses. Erroneously, some today would say the civil and ceremonial elements of the law are done away with, but the moral aspects of the law are still in effect today. I don’t believe Paul would agree with this.

In v. 6, Paul says that circumcision (law keeping) means nothing. However, “faith working through love” (NASB)means everything. The NLT captures the understanding of this: “What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”In v. 13, Paul says Christians (NC believers) have been called to live in freedom. Freedom from what: freedom from being under the law. To Christians in Rome he says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2 ESV). In the NC, we are free from the bondage and condemning purpose of the law as laid out in the Mosaic administration, and therefore able to fulfill it as Jesus did. Verse 14of Galatians 5says the law is fulfilled in love to our neighbor.

So how do we love our neighbor unconditionally, thus fulfilling the law of Christ?

This is only possible by God’s Spirit working in and through all believers today. From Pentecost (50 days after Jesus was crucified) when the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers until the return of the Lord, Christians have the power and ability to fulfill the law of Christ through loving our neighbor as our self. In v. 18 of Galatians 5, Paul says, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (NASB). This is not a come and go kind of thing. All true believers everywhere in every time since the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost are being led by the Spirit, therefore are not under the law.

To the Roman believers, Paul says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14 ESV). Paraphrase: “You have the power to live a life of love to God and others, because you are not under Moses’ administration (OC), but Jesus’ administration (NC).”

So what’s the purpose of the Mosaic Law?

In the most helpful and gracious manner, God through Paul tells us in anticipation of this question: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring(alsov. 16[Jesus]) should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by and intermediary” (Gal 3:19 ESV). Again to the Christians in Rome: “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20 ESV). Clearly, the law’s purpose was to make it crystal clear God’s way to be brought into loving fellowship with Him, which would overflow in genuine love of others would come not through the law, since being under the law makes sin increase.

Amazingly, Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that the law empowers sin: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56 ESV). And also, knowledge of sin comes through the law: “…through the lawcomes knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20 ESV).Ultimately, the law is used for and against unbelievers: “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners…” (1 Tim 1:8-9 ESV).

Jesus took the curse of the law for us

Jesus the Savior came to suffer and die taking on the curse of the law: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the lawby becoming a curse for us-for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:13 ESV).Therefore, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom 7:4 ESV). Since Jesus fulfilled all things necessary for salvation, you are under the Law of Christ, which brings freedom, life and fruit for God (loving God and loving each other) and not the Law of Moses, which only brings more sin and death.

A rigid external adherence to the law is not what God is doing with His people. Salvation has always been of faith (Hebrews 11), but in the NC, faith is expressed in genuine love of neighbor as self and loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, we, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2 ESV), because, “What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Gal 5:6 NLT). This becomes possible because of God’s gracious work of His Spirit being poured out in this New Covenant.

 Glory to God Alone

J.D.N.

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