Freedom! – Galatians 3:23-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 30, 2016
Americans do not truly understand what slavery is all about. Even those who decry it as a part of their family history have no idea what it means to be enslaved. You are not your own person, you cannot go where you want when you want, and you are a piece of property that can be disposed of, sold, or traded at the whim of your master. Those gained their freedom from slavery would never willingly go back to being enslaved, yet many who desire that others pay their way, give them something for nothing, or want a handout are just as enslaved as the slaves of Paul’s day.
When Jesus came he saw no racial, gender, societal, political, or financial barriers. For Jesus all lives mattered and in his statement “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV) proved this fact. God desired to set people free, not from individuals or governments but from their enslavement to sin. Paul understood this and was frustrated that those who had claimed their freedom in Jesus were going back to being enslaved. Paul reminds them of their freedom; let’s discover what he said…
If you place yourself under the influence of someone else or something else you are enslaved by the choice you made. The Law of Moses only pointed to how tough it was to be holy and the price our sin demands. It had once had its purpose but no longer. In fact Paul related…
I. Freedom is found in faith! (Vv. 23-25)
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
1. In his continued teaching on the Law Paul uses two figures of speech. He shows how the Law was like a prison and how we become free as children of God (More about the latter later.). Paul relates that “Before this faith came”, meaning our faith in Jesus as Messiah and the fulfillment of the Law; “we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.” The Israelites were protected by God from the evil and ungodliness of the societies around them as they followed his Law. And in that they were held, imprisoned by it until Jesus came! They had to follow all the guidelines, nuances, and intent of the entire Law or they were guilty in breaking the entire Law! Paul reminds us “So the law was put in charge” of us. The NASB relates the wording here as “tutor” and the KJV relates it as a “schoolmaster”, but the word in the Greek “paidagōgos” is where we get our word pedagogue from and it is more like an educator who teaches his way and no other way. If you disagree it is the highway for you! The Law was a strict teacher keeping its adherents under its control “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” The Law was their disciplinarian until Jesus was revealed! The sole purpose of the Law of God was to lead the Israelites to the knowledge of faith in Jesus! This is why that “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” We no longer need a tutor or nanny with a switch that would smack us back into line if we messed up because salvation comes by faith in Jesus, God’s one and only Son! Our chains are gone, our shackles removed, and we are free from mindlessly following a set of rules in order to be right with God. Freedom is found in faith!
EXAMPLE: The term “paidagōgos” literally means to beat one into line until they conform. I had a drill instructor in the Navy who did this quite well. My mother was another pedagogue in my life because often it was her way or the highway for us as kids. She would pull her petite five foot frame up and tell us miscreants that we had “Better shape up or ship out!” If we cried too long she would tell us to “stop crying” or she would give us “something to cry about!” Now lest I make my mother out to be a harsh mistress, she wasn’t entirely. She did it to protect us. You have to remember she had two wild and woolly boys and a rebellious teenage daughter growing up in a tiny town. The Law of Moses was like my Mom. It protected and punished, but now that Christ has come, our faith in him sets us free from this hash mistress. Freedom is found in faith!
The world often makes the mistake in thinking that Jesus just taught about love, love, love and never bothered with our sin at all. This simply is a lie. Jesus did not come as some Buddhistic philosopher spouting confusing platitudes and passing them off as wisdom. He lived and died to make us new creatures in him! In fact, Paul relates that…
II. Christ’s freedom makes us children of God! (Vv. 26-29)
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
1. If we are no longer under the Law’s supervision, are we free to do whatever we want whenever we want? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Paul tells us that things have changed since Jesus came and redeemed us. He bluntly relates that “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. Believers are made God’s children not by following the Law of their enslavement but rather by their faith! How is this possible? Paul taught that “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” The Law was a discipling pedagogue, and those under its supervision were spiritual babies. However, now that Christ had come, the Galatian believers were sons through faith and were no longer under a “Jewish slave-guardian.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) Like newly set free slaves they had been given a new wardrobe; they were now “clothed… with Christ”! In fact there no longer existed any spiritual gender, class, or racial distinction: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Make no mistake Paul was referring only to those who have believed in Jesus and not everyone in the world! Why would I say this? Paul writes, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This is why John would write that “all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13 NIV) People are not naturally born children of God but can become so by receiving the gift of the new birth by faith in Jesus! Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!
EXAMPLE: Few of us would like someone constantly hanging over us telling us what to do every moment of every day of our lives from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. You know, from the womb to the tomb. Now I know it is natural for teenagers to test the boundaries of the perceived confinement. This is part of growing up but what I am talking about lasts a lifetime with no break and no freedom. This was the Law of Moses. When one woke up and until they went to sleep they were constantly under the watchful eye of its mandate. There was truly no rest for the wicked because we are all wicked and as Paul would write, “For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned. But now God’s way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it. God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.” (Romans 3:20-24 GNB) Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!
Freedom is found in faith! Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.