Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and so not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
July 4, Independence Day, is a historic landmark in American history. On this day 246 years ago our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence declaring our separation and freedom from Great Britain. Each year the citizens of the United States celebrate this national holiday with picnics, fireworks, parades, and more. We are blessed by our freedom and proud to be Americans. But what if someone snuck over our borders and surreptitiously sought to steal our freedom? This is exactly what happened to God’s people living in Galatia.
The Apostle Paul had spent time in Galatia preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In response a number of churches who believed the message — that the way to be reconciled with God is through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning death and resurrection — were formed. Things were going well for a while, but sometime after Paul left to continue his travels he learned an alarming fact.
Some false teachers had snuck into the churches and started teaching that faith in God’s plan for salvation was not enough. These Judaisers proclaimed that all people who wanted to be right with God needed also to partake in certain rituals and customs. The Galatians fell for the false message and started trying to earn their salvation by strict adherence to these laws.
When Paul found out, he was incensed and wrote a heated letter to the churches to awaken them to the lies they had fallen for. “You foolish Galatians,” he wrote, “who has bewitched you? … Having begun with the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Paul explained that those who try to keep the law are under a curse. There is no one who can keep everything perfectly. But Christ set us free from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us and bearing the punishment for our sin. All that is needed for salvation is faith in God’s gift through Christ.
Paul explained that even Abraham, the famous forefather of the Jews, who lived before the law was put into place, did not find peace with God by his good works, but by faith. He believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. So in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection Jews and Gentiles alike can receive the blessing of Abraham — the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The presence of God’s Spirit in the hearts of believers gives freedom. We are no longer slaves to sin, but children of God and heirs of His promise. So Paul begged the Galatians to keep standing firm in their faith and not to be subject again to the yoke of slavery promoted by these false teachers.
This same lie can sneak into our lives if we are not careful. Somehow it feels good to think we can do something to earn our salvation. But the Bible tells us that all of our righteous acts are as
dirty rags in God’s sight. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Over the years Americans have fought many nations that have threatened our country’s freedom and safety! But how many of our citizens have fallen for the trap of Satan who wants to keep us in bondage to our sin? It’s time to throw off any efforts to earn our salvation and to stand firm in God’s freedom the only way we can — by faith in Jesus!
Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.