Vol.XIX No.VI Pg.7
August 1982

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

To what extent does freedom and liberty in Christ (Gal. 5: 1; 2 Cor. 3: 17) remove obligations to obey law?


I assume "law" refers to things taught, by command, example, or necessary inference, that impose divine regulations upon us. Some seem to use such passages cited to say we have no obligations. Being not under law but under grace for justification does not mean we are free of divine regulations. The system of faith "establishes law" (Rom. 3:31), and we must "hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thes. 2:15).

The "freedom" of Gal. 5: is from the bondage (or "curse") of a system of law for justification (3:10-13). To be "free of guilt" via law, one had to "do all" or perfectly obey. Christ's death made forgiveness possible, so that though we are less than perfect, through faith in Christ (going to Him for mercy) we can be saved. This "freedom" does not "free" us of obligations to obey. "Ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13). The perfecting of faith is accomplished by the "obedience of faith" (Jas. 2:20-26; Rom. 16:26).

Freedom in Christ also refers to our escape from the bondage of sin. When Jesus said, "The truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32), he added, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin." Freedom from the guilt of past sins (Acts 2:38), and access to God's throne for mercy respecting later sins, is certainly not freedom from obligation to law. Paul tells us the appetites of the flesh bring one "into captivity to the law of sin which is in (one's) members" (Rom. 7:23). Christ is the remedy, "for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (8:2); but this "freedom" is only for those who accept the obligation to "walk after the spirit" "led by the Spirit of God" (vs. 4, 14).

As an additional consideration, those who are, by Christ, made free from sin, become "servants (slaves) of righteousness" (Rom. 6:18; 1 Cor. 7: 22-23). Christians practice "second mile" religion (Matt. 5:38-45), going beyond the requirements. For the sake of a pagan's conscience, and to glorify God, we must give up, at times, our "liberty" to do things not wrong in themselves — but which might harm another (1 Cor. 10:25-31; 8:9-13). We must defer to a weak brother who has imperfect knowledge concerning some matter of judgment (Rom. 14:20-21). To do otherwise is to abuse our liberty in Christ (1 Pet: 2:16).

Freedom in Christ puts obedience on a different level, makes it a work of love, a response to principles we have accepted in our heart, mind, or spirit (2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10), but the source of such "law" is divine revelation, and it can not be ignored with impunity. Libertines promise freedom only to recapture those who are free in Christ, and again enslave them to lusts of the flesh (2 Pet. 2:17-19). Brethren, shun this snare of Satan.