In one of the earliest of the New Testament writings we find Paul the apostle addressing a number of young Christian assemblies located in the part of the world where modern Turkey exists today. Some of his strongest words are found in this letter to the Galatian believers, who had been swayed from the simple Gospel that Paul preached to them by certain impressive Rabbis.
Paul himself was once among those whose religious traditions became the center of their lives. But after a first hand encounter with the risen Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, his life would never be the same again. Whatever satisfaction he might have found in those observances was eclipsed by the One to Whom those laws, traditions, and ritual observances had long pointed.
Paul now saw the glories of the Mosaic covenant, the Ten Commandments, the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Temple in Jerusalem with all its ceremony and animal sacrifices as only a shadow of the One True God as revealed in the Person of Jesus the Messiah. All of these things were not to be despised but seen in God’s plan as leading up to a much greater glory. Now the Glorious God Who appeared to the Exodus generation in a pillar of fire and smoke to a relatively few would be known to many and available to all.
Paul had found in Jesus the True Freedom he had perhaps sought for all of his life. The words spoken by Jesus to His 12 disciples had become a reality to him as well. He had come to know the Truth, and the Truth had made him free! (John 8:32). The evidence for this fact is difficult to ignore, even by outsiders. The course of history reveals that this man was powerfully touched by some greater force and transformed into a man of great passion and persuasiveness. The result was not only Christian communities springing up all over the Roman Empire, but also the faith and inspiration that generations to come would find in his enduring letters to those early churches and individuals.
But Paul’s genius was less rooted in his education and intellect than in his liberating experience of meeting and knowing Jesus the Christ. It was that experience, which he shared with these early Galatian believers, which demanded a priority in not only his life, but theirs as well.
The question being put to me and you today is: Are YOU standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free?
No, we are not likely being tempted to become Pharisaical Jews, but there are a host of other things that threaten our freedom. Some of us have not fully tasted of that freedom to begin with. The freedom of which we speak only comes from a genuine encounter with the Living God through Jesus Christ and the power of His Good News. Some like Paul, have a direct confrontation with Christ from the beginning. Others, like the Galatian believers hear the testimony of liberated souls like Paul and are in turn liberated in the Spirit upon their believing and embracing this Good News.
A third category could be those who love the Christian life and message, but continue to struggle in the bondages of the past. To them I say that it is high time to meet Christ for yourselves! Yes, it is fine to enjoy the fellowship of the liberated ones, to receive their strength and joy in gratitude. But how much better to have drunk from the Well of Life yourself, and to have His Rivers of Living Waters springing forth from within you!
Make yourself available to Him right now! Call upon His Name! He has promised that no one who truly comes to Him will ever be turned away! Believe it!
Then of course, all of us still need to heed the words of Paul, to stand fast in Christ’s liberty!
If you have been liberated from past guilt — stand fast in your liberty. If you have been delivered from nasty habits and lifestyles — stand fast in your liberty! If you tend to worry about the future — remember the freedom that you have known in Christ! If you have been released from the power of physical and emotional addictions — return not to the bondages of the past, but stand fast in your glorious Christian freedom!
What about fear, depression, lust, hatred, bitterness, greed, insisting on your own way, a judgmental or controlling spirit, or even a plain old grumpy attitude? Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free from all these things! You now know the Truth and the Truth has made you free!
Perhaps you will join me in prayer, to the end that these words can become a reality in all our daily lives:
We offer our deepest gratitude for the freedom you have purchased for us through the precious Blood of Your Son on that horrible Cross. Grant that we fully know the Truth of your Word and more fully enter into that wonderful freedom. We ask that you then encourage us and provoke us to stand unmoved from that place of freedom and fellowship in Your Presence.
All of this we ask in order that our lives may more fully glorify You, that all men will know that in Truth we have known You, and have found eternal life only in You.
In the marvelous, Holy Name of Jesus we ask,