Monday, 11 July 2011

Freedom and Slavery in Galatians (6)

So in conclusion, in this epistle, slavery is simply living the life of the flesh. Freedom is to crucify the flesh and live the life of the Spirit, a life lived to God the Father, through faith in the crucified Christ.

It is expounded in these ways:

1.      We are free from the slavery of sins in this present evil age[1] – that is the true ‘good news’[2].
2.      We are free from seeking the approval or justification[3] of fellow men – for we are justified by God in Christ.
3.      We are free from the fear of men[4], even the persecution of men[5] (especially those who are ‘religious’), for we are safe in the salvation of God.
4.      We are free from the law – its legal demands[6], its curse[7], its imprisonment[8]. We no longer have to prove our own righteousness – ‘it is finished’.
5.      Through faith in the crucified Christ, we receive the Spirit of God[9] - that is the basis of the free life we now live[10]. This has always been true – proven by Abraham’s life recorded in the Scriptures[11].
6.      We are free from regarding anyone according to the flesh, but only according to Christ Jesus[12].
7.      We are no longer slave to either the stoikeia[13] (initially the Jews) or those who by nature are not gods[14] (the Gentiles) – but we are all free sons of the Living God (Christ is formed in us[15]): children of the promise[16].
8.      The free life of faith in the Spirit, expresses itself in love[17] – including love for our neighbour[18] (which is what the law required[19]). The enslaving life of the flesh only produces the works of death[20].
9.      The free life longs to set others free[21], the slave’s life only enslaves others, and ultimately destroys everyone[22].
10.  The cross of Christ frees us from boasting in our work in ‘building-up’[23] others[24] (implying that we have a ‘better system’ than anyone else) – for all is the work of God[25].

So we can infer that the root cause of our slavery is insecurity with our new identity and status in and through Christ’s crucifixion that causes human religion to creep back in. The desire to set up systems and practices that are supposed to ‘ensure’ our justification before God (and cause us to boast in others as they join ‘our system’) – yet they only undermine our faith, causing more slavery than before! Freedom on the other hand, comes from understanding and trusting in the crucifixion of Christ. That we, with Him, are now dead to the world and the world’s influences – because we are alive in God, a new creation[26].

The result is that if one continues to grow in faith and maturity in Christ, one slowly begins to be free from self[27], as the self dies on the cross with Christ – free from the need to self-glorify, whether it be in front of men or God. God accepts us in the cross of Christ – there lies our freedom, our righteousness, our justification, and even our sanctification, through firmly abiding in that truth. That freedom allows us to willingly serve others[28], since we no longer need to serve self and because that is what the Spirit always does.

True Sons and Fathers

The true son rests solely in the love of God shown in the cross of Christ – He needs no other affirmation, encouragement or reassurance. The Spirit of God is the one that constantly pours that love fresh into our hearts[29]. If we are true sons, like Paul, we can become true fathers to others – to beget others through the same Spirit and not through the flesh.

If we are insecure[30], then all our disciple-making will only bind others to ourselves[31], to boost out own standing with men and God – while actually making others slaves to the same insecurity. We will insist on certain practices and systems that we have invented[32] for others to follow in as well[33]. Once the Son sets us free, we are free indeed – people are allowed to express the one faith differently, in a way that harmonizes together[34] – that the world may know we are a liberated people – for the flesh has no hold on how we view one another. We are a crucified people, through the cross of Christ.

(Appendix A - I used Dave Bish's article:

[1] Gal 1:4
[2] Gal 1:7
[3] Gal 1:10
[4] Gal 2:12
[5] Gal 6:12
[6] Gal 2:16
[7] Gal 3:10
[8] Gal 3:23
[9] Gal 3:2
[10] Gal 2:20
[11] Gal 3:7, etc
[12] Gal 3:28
[13]Gal 4:3
[14] Gal 3:8
[15] Gal 4:19
[16] Gal 4:23
[17] Gal 5:6
[18] Gal 5:13
[19] Gal 5:14
[20] Gal 5:19
[21] Gal 6:2
[22] Gal 5:15
[23] Although according to Paul, he implies we are not actually building-up if we do this, but rather, tearing-down
[24] Gal 6:4
[25] Gal 6:14
[26] Gal 6:15
[27] As Luther, quoting Augustine comments that sin is man ‘curved in on himself’ (homo in curvatus se)
[28] Gal 5:13-15
[29] Cf. Romans 5:5
[30] See Appendix A for an example of insecurity
[31] For further discussion, see D. Bonhoeffer, Works Volume 5, Fortress Press, 2005, pg. 44-5
[32] Whether or not it is through ‘Scripture’ (as the Pharisees often claimed)
[33] For example, even something like attending Sunday church eventually becomes a measure of someone’s spirituality. Although it is highly beneficial – it is definitely not the basis of salvation, and not the basis of spiritual judgment.
[34] God is the Chief Musician who arranges the symphony – not us

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