Slavery to pagan religion or the legalistic system of Judaism is the subject of Paul’s declaration in Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free.”
Christ is the great liberator who sets the believer free from bondage to sin’s dreadful addiction; laws that are impossible to keep (Gal 3:24); or worse, the bondage of man-made traditions and rules that foster fake spirituality.
Christ wants us to live on an entirely different level, guided by principles and empowered by the Spirit, marking a broad circle in which we are free to make decisions that honor Him.
Paul describes our liberty within limits this way: “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh [as partially defined in Gal 5:19], but through love serve one another. Christ’s liberty does not mean a license to sin” (Gal 5:13).
When a person is united to Christ through the baptism of the Spirit—that is, by “putting him into Christ” (1 Cor 12:13)—his spirit is bonded with Christ’s, making him a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). The presence of the Spirit progressively produces Christ likeness (Gal 5:22–23a).
This godly character is much better than pretended obedience to the law. Paul declares, “Against such things [qualities or “fruit”] there is no law” (5:23b), thus it is never wrong to practice the fruit of the Spirit.
As he says in Romans, “God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (Rom 6:17–19).
He commands that we “continue to stand firm” in liberty, choosing to be a slave of Christ, where real freedom is enjoyed. Evidently, many were tempted to add legalistic works to their faith in their vain attempts to become more acceptable to God. How foolish, for the gift of His perfect righteousness makes us forever acceptable!
“I have an overwhelming sense of freedom since trusting in You as my Savior. Thank You for accepting me just as I am. I don’t have to impress You with my spirituality. I just want to please You with my life and avoid doing things to please men.”