“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another”
only do not use liberty
There is a special warning for those who exercise Christian liberty – do not let liberty become license for sin. Paul does not espouse that the Galatians become libertines. There are two polar opposite positions that are not biblical: legalism and license. Legalism is the attempt to gain God’s favor by performance. License does not care about biblical standards but lives according to his own preferences.
God never set aside His moral law because the moral law is the expression of His character. God did set aside the ceremonial law of Moses, an outward expression of God’s character. Although God did not do away with the moral law, He did do away with the law as a way of gaining God’s approval.
as an opportunity for the flesh,
The Greek uses the word “opportunity” for a starting point of an expedition, a base of operations in war. The law can provide the sin capacity with a base of operation for attacking the soul (Romans 7:8,11).
Our freedom in Christ is not a base of operation for the sin capacity to launch an attack on our spirituality. Satan uses sin for a base of operations as well (1 Timothy 5:14). The flesh will use sin as an occasion, pretext, opportunity for undermining the Christian life.
“For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error…While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’” (2 Peter 2:8, 19-22 ).
Liberty is not a pretext for sin.
Whenever we provide a favorable environment to sin, sin will seize the moment. If we neck in a parked car isolated from view, there is a greater possibility that we will commit unfaithfulness.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
Some people use liberty as a pretext for sin. They rationalize their liberty into an excuse to sin. They use liberty as an opportunity to turn their flesh loose.
“…as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
The flesh cannot improve, be refined or even converted. The sin capacity is the totally depraved, corrupt nature we received from Adam. The Christian is not free to serve the dictates of this sin capacity. That was our life before Christ. We are now free to serve God in spite of possessing a sin capacity.