Christian Freedom
Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

St. Paul concludes the arguments and expostulations of the two previous chapters with a vigorous exhortation. This has, of course, its special application to the condition of the Galatian Churches, and the liberty to which it directly applies is deliverance from the bondage of Law. But it admits of wider application to the circumstances of our own day. We have here brought before us a privilege, a danger, and a duty.

I. A PRIVILEGE. Christ confers freedom (see John 8:36).

1. Religious freedom.

(1) From servile terrors of superstition;

(2) from priestly tyranny;

(3) from mechanical ritual;

(4) from external constraints in moral and religious life; and

(5) from the rule of the flesh over the spirit.

2. Intellectual freedom. Unbelievers sometimes arrogate to themselves the proud title of free-thinkers; yet it would seem too often that the only freedom they allow is freedom for expressing ideas with which they sympathize. The bigotry of Roman Catholic intolerance seems likely to be equalled by the bigotry that many leading opponents of Christianity show towards those who decline to abandon their faith. It is Christ who breaks the fetters of the mind. The Christian dares to think. The grounds of this liberty are

(1) loyalty to truth, and faith in its ultimate triumph;

(2) light and power to attain truth.

3. Political freedom. This is the outgrowth of Christianity

(1) through the spread of the spirit of universal brotherhood, and

(2) through the cultivation of conscience which makes the gift of liberty safe.

II. A DANGER. Christian freedom is in danger.

1. It is attacked from without. It has to face the assaults of the ambitious. There are always those who desire to exercise undue influence over others. There is danger in officialism. The official appointed as a servant of the general body usurps the place of the master. The fable of the horse who invited a man to ride him is thus often exemplified.

2. It is undermined from within. The force of habit wears grooves that become deep ruts out of which we cannot stir. The dead hand lies heavy upon us. Creeds which were the expression of free thought contending in open controversy in one age become the bonds and fetters of a later age. Ritual, which palpitated with living emotion when it first joined itself naturally as the body to clothe the soul of worship, becomes fossilized, and yet it is cherished and venerated though it hangs about men's necks as a dead weight. The very atmosphere of liberty is too bracing for some of us. It will not allow us to sleep. Therefore love of indolence is opposed to it.

III. A DUTY. We are called to take a stand against all encroachments on our Christian freedom. Here is a call to Christian manliness. The freedom is given by Christ; but we are exhorted to maintain it. He fought to win it; we must fight to hold it. This is not a mere question of choice - a matter only of our own inclination or interest; it is a solemn duty. We must stand firm for liberty on several accounts.

1. That we may not be degraded to servitude. It is a man's duty not to become a slave because slavery produces moral deterioration.

2. That we may have scope for the unhampered service of God and man.

3. That we may hand down to generations following the heritage of liberty. Once lost it cannot be easily recovered. We owe to our descendants the duty of maintaining intact the entail of a grand possession which we received from our forefathers, and which was secured to them at great cost. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

WEB: Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don't be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Christian Freedom
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