“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”
but through love serve
The purpose of liberty is to serve one another in love. This is no unrestrained liberty in Christianity. Neither is liberty legalism. Legalism looks like biblical Christianity, but it is a deception.
“Serve” is the word for abject slavery. Slavery to loving others is liberty. A mother who stays up nights and gives herself untiringly to her baby is not servitude but love. No one can serve the Lord until he is born again. Once a person accepts Christ as his Savior, he is free to serve God and becomes an ambassador of God. God calls us to serve from the motivation of love.
The words “one another” mean one another of the same kind. Paul assumes that Christians live in community with one another. Our freedom affects other believers in the body of Christ. We love from the base of liberty.
Legalism hampers love because it searches God’s favor. It is self-oriented. Biblical love orients to the needs of others. God did not give us the liberty to indulge ourselves but to devote ourselves to others. A person operating in grace produces love for others.
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
Christian liberty is not lawless liberty but the liberty to love out of grace.
Some people feel that it is a deadly thing to operate on pure unadulterated grace. However, it is not dangerous if a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit allows himself to be filled with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23). He is a person with the liberty to serve, not sin. The Spirit-filled person burns the fuel of love. Grace adds the dynamic of love. The constraining motive for love is grace.
Some Christians use their liberty as an excuse to sin, but liberty is not license. Christianity is not antinomianism [lawlessness]. Christian liberty is the right to serve the Lord on earth because of what God provided for us. The Christian life is freedom from sin, not the freedom to sin. If we use grace as an excuse to sin, we do not understand the essence of freedom from sin through grace. God never issues a license to sin. Liberty is no springboard for sin.
“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
Neither is Christianity a set of taboos or asceticism. Christian liberty is a dynamic that requires the Spirit of God to execute the Christian way of life. God gets all the credit because He gave us three things in grace: 1) He gave us salvation freely, 2) He gave us the Holy Spirit to empower our lives, 3) He provided eternity for free. It is not who we are and what we do that constitutes the Christian life but the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. A policeman in a cruiser is more effective than a 60 mile an hour speed sign. We can post any number of rules, but none of them will be as effective as the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Everywhere we hear siren songs of liberation. People demand freedom because they think that freedom will bring them liberty. Authority is evil to them, and personal rights are everything.
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
This thinking launched an addictive orientation. People are slaves to many forms of bondage, such as sex, violence, pleasure, and drugs. They are powerless to escape, for they cannot control their addictions. They have no eternal authority in their lives.
Christians do not have to earn the right to relate to God, for they have that right. Yet there is a great proclivity to revert to either legalism or license. The Christian is not free from the law but the curse of the law. Law is the expression of God’s character; it is the code of God’s way of operating.