Galatians 5:13-16 – Freedom in Christ

The fact the believer is free from the Law should not necessarily lead to the view that the believer may indulge in sinful behavior (Galatians 5:13). Does Paul contradict himself in this verse? He has consistently argued in Galatians that the believer is free from slavery to the Law, but now he says the believer ought to re-submit to slavery, this time to his neighbor. Freedom from Law is not a freedom from everything. There is always some sort of obligation to fulfill, whether to the government or family, etc. Here in Galatians 5, Paul has in mind our obligation to serve God by serving one another.

Galatians Freedom in ChristSince the one who is in Christ is free from the obligations of the Law, they now must voluntarily re-enslave themselves to the Spirit. For Paul, there are only two possibilities, either one is enslaved to the flesh, or one is enslaved to the Spirit. Paul will unpack what he means by flesh and Spirit in the next paragraph, but for now it is important to understand these are the only two options for the one who is in Christ.

Based on what Paul says in Galatians, the Law is not an option for living out a life “in Christ.” Nor is it acceptable to blend a life “in Christ” with something else, such as a Greek philosophy or worship of another god. Paul would be just as critical of the Galatian churches if they chose to live out a new life in Christ through popular Stoic or Epicurean ethical philosophy as he is with the Gentiles trying to keep the Law.

The fact we are free from the Mosaic Law is not to be used as a reason to indulge in sinful behavior. The noun here refers to a starting point, like capital for a business venture or a military base from which an assault is launched. By the first century, the word was used for “pretext” or “occasion, opportunity.” In 1 Timothy 5:14 it is used for an “excuse” for Satan to slander unmarried widows for moral lapses.

Since the believer in Christ is free from the Mosaic Law, it is possible some people took Paul’s gospel as a license to sin. Paul must deal with this problem here and in Romans 6:1-1-4 since there were people who did take their freedom too far. Some of the problems described in 1 Timothy and Titus are a result of people “sinning so that grace might abound.” The letter of Jude deals with people who “pervert the grace of our God into a license to sin” (Jude 4). If someone is free from all restraint of the Law, what keeps them from indulging in all sorts of sin?

Someone might say, “If election and preservation means I cannot lose my salvation, then I can behave any way I would like and still be saved.” Paul would never agree with this statement. This is an issue of spiritual maturity. For example, imagine the first taste of freedom a teen has when they go to college. Mom and Dad are not watching them all of the time so they have the freedom to do whatever they want. As a result, many college freshmen get into trouble (or at least the freshman fifteen….or twenty!)

While it is possible for a person to understand their freedom in Christ in this way, Paul says it is inappropriate for the one who is “walking by the Spirit” to indulge the sinful nature.

What is an example of a Christian using their freedom as an excuse for sin? Based on Galatians, how would Paul respond to that sort of misuse of one’s freedom in Christ?

36 thoughts on “Galatians 5:13-16 – Freedom in Christ

  1. To many times the Gospel is preached as a ‘give some, gain a ton’ gospel. You can draw the parallel by thinking of grace like a credit card. The ENTIRE bill has been paid, in advance, so you (as any believer can) get to the point where you don’t feel conviction for using the ‘grace credit-card’. Jesus Christ died for our sin, so that we could be free from them, but, like you said, that doesn’t mean we can sin just because they are already paid for. One of the types of sin that generally gets overlooked is sexual sin (whatever it may be). It becomes something the church doesn’t care about enough about, and because it is such an emotionally based sin we don’t want to step on anyones toes. Swipe the grace card. I appreciate Paul’s view of being a slave. If you are either a slave to Christ, or to sin, then choose already! Longenecker puts it like this: “In fact, this kind of slavery-in-freedom or freedom-in-slaverz is itself the was in which the entire law becomes “fulfilled” among Christians (5:14).” (TTP p, 102-103). Paul speaks extensively to this in Galatians 5, but also would respond with a 1 Corinthians 3:16 type of address. Don’t you know that your body is the temple of God? And do not sin that grace may abound. (Rom. 6:1) It is the difference between seeking our own benefit or seeking the benefit of others.

  2. This misconception is very common in the church today, especially for our generation. Many people think that salvation is a one time thing, and then for the rest of their life, they can do whatever they want. Many people have the mentality of, ‘Well, I’ll just ask for forgiveness later.’ But now they are intentionally sinning and God hates that. In ethics class, we talk a lot about the cycle of sin. We are told not to do something, then we sin because we are human, and then we get mad at ourselves for sinning, but anger is a sin, and now your angry about that, etc, etc. It is a vicious cycle. But like Chris said, “the ENTIRE bill has been paid, in advance, so a believer can get to the point where they don’t feel conviction for using the grace credit-card’. But that’s where people go wrong and think that means they can do anything and they will still be right with God. However, Paul says in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh…” Paul would be angry with Christians today because of their behavior. Even students at a Christian college will go out and party on the weekends because they think it is okay. ‘I go to a Christian college, and I’m saved, so it’s okay.’ No, it’s not okay. Paul would not say it was okay either. Paul tells these people that if they participate in this kind of behavior, they will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). Paul was not saying that people were free from the law in order to do what they want. “When Paul writes in 5:23, ‘against such things there is not law,’ he means that when communities of Jesus-followers are saturated in a character comprised of these spiritual attributes, the law become irrelevant in its function as a control on behavior” (TTP 95). He meant that we are no longer slaves to the law. We are free to live in grace; the grace Christ has given us.

  3. I think Christians today use their freedom as an excuse for sin a variety of ways. If someone swears, rather than attempting to change that behavior because it may cause other believers to struggle (as is Biblical (1 Cor. 8:12)), give the excuse that ‘Jesus understands’ that picking up bad habits is hard not to do. Someone who overeats may give the excuse that the Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us to “eat and drink and be joyful” (Eccl. 8:15), while we are also instructed that whatever we eat or drink should be for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Paul would argue that we are to use this freedom, not for our own benefit (such as an excuse to swear or overeat), but to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13). What benefit does swearing have to those around you? Do you want to make other believers think it is okay? Or kids for that matter? Is that language good for edifying others (Eph. 4:29)? Wouldn’t using positive language be a better way to show love to those around you? As far as overeating goes, if we do not take of ourselves physically, we will not be able to serve others to the fullest extent we would be able to if we did. In sum, Paul would argue that anyone who is abusing their freedom in Christ should think of how their actions are affecting others, rather than focusing on their own enjoyment. Longenecker and Still put it well when they say that “While Jesus-followers are “free,” this does not mean that they are able to do nothing with their faith, or to live irresponsibly. With freedom comes responsibility” and this responsibility it to “serve one another humbly in love” (TTP 102).

  4. As I have been reading Paul, my new understanding of morality is that Paul funnels it through the lens of the gospel itself. For example, we read in 1 Corinthians; “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” While this isn’t particularly applicable to morality we often read that Paul talks about the Gospel in such high regard that it is as if he desired everything to be understood through this lens. In this way, morality is best understood (in my opinion) as a way of glorifying God through “lifestyle evangelism.” In other words, when we live under the crucifixion rather than the law which was a placeholder for Christ and cannot save us, we cheat God of his wonderful saving Gospel. To answer the question, I think it is best said from the perspective of an old friend of mine. “You don’t wear a seat belt because you are told to or have to, you wear it because you want it to save your life.” This is why we do not use the freedom of Christ as a license to sin. It simply doesn’t fit with the holistic concept of faith. Who could live that way and really truly believe in Christ’s resurrection?

  5. Throughout reading this blog it reminds me of growing up and how we are raised with obligation to follow all the rules we were raised with. I have heard individuals say that they grew up in the church but what they believed was more what their parents believed. The freedom we have in Christ allows us to grow and have a relationship with Christ at His pace. We are not always growing in the same way and I think that that’s okay. As mankind we do battle flesh and Spirit, I would be wrong if I said that individuals do not take advantage of this. There comes a point when you choose to surrender your entire life to Jesus and become intentional with Him, that you separate what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit. For someone who is new to faith in Jesus, perhaps how the Galatians were, they will follow what they’ve always known and that was the Mosaic law.
    To live by the Spirit and remember the freedom we have is hard. We are not perfect and with life comes things of this world. One way a Christian could use their freedom as an excuse for sin is overindulging in alcohol. In scripture it talks about drinking wine and enjoying yourself, but we should not get drunk because with that comes sin. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Those who have interest in drinking and getting drunk could use scripture to defend their sin. God wants us to enjoy ourselves, but we are not called to misuse what God has given us. Galatians 5:16-18 is such a beautiful reminder that when we walk with Christ, darkness cannot have a hold on us. Flesh and Spirit are always opposing but to stand against the desires of this world we must be led by Christ. The gospel comes before the law and we are set free by the word of God.

  6. After reading through Galatians 5 and than through this, I wonder if Paul wrote Galatians 5 to be two sides of an argument? An argument that discusses whether or not you are allowed to give into sin and be saved or you must still keep the Law to be saved. I read through Romans 6 and the end of the letter verses 15-18 shows that Paul probably matured in his understanding. It starts with this, “15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law by under grace? By no means!”. Compared to Galatians 5 it is straight to the point, no you are not free to sin without punishment. Proverbs 21:15 says this, “15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:21 about righteous and the unrighteous that their deeds will are seen by God. So even though we are not slaves to sin doesn’t mean we can’t sin, it means that, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…”, we have an out given by God. Paul maybe saying that we no longer are slaves to the Law where we will forever perish if we commit a sin and to repent we must preform a sacrifice. Rather we must repent to God who turned himself into the sacrifice releasing us from that restraint of needing to sacrifice? Looking back at Romans 6 verse 20, “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness” this doesn’t mean God didn’t have control. But we may not have had the Holy Spirit in us before the death of Christ.
    So back to Galatians 5 and the two sides, the first mention about circumcision could be saying being circumcised doesn’t mean you are automatically saved. The first part of the letter to me is seen as you can sin all you want, but the judgment of God will always be there. You will still need to deal with the punishment for your sins. The second part title “Life by the Spirit” in NIV could be seen as we not slaves to sin but to God seeing that God is now able to be with us in spirit. So no matter what sin we are entrapped in, God will always be there to help us through it.

    • I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this post. I enjoyed how you brought in another work of Paul’s, the book of Romans. I enjoyed thinking about your thoughts on Paul maturing between these two statements. I also wonder if maybe Paul simply perfected his delivery of this defense because he had been addressing this issue to other churches that we do not know about. I also wonder if simply in the moment in writing this letter to the Galatians Paul was filled with more zeal because of the background situations such as those who were “agitating” the church and leading them astray (Longenecker). This would make sense, as Paul would be angry with them about their immature teachings, thoughts and behaviors. Paul is quite angry when talking about these agitators in this letter to the point of where he insists that if they remain hard headed they should simply mutilate themselves (Galatians 5:12). It cold be in the Romans passage that Paul was simply addressing some concerns rather than rebuking those who were attempting to lead his sheep astray. This is why knowing the context of the epistles of Paul is so important, it shows what was going on behind the scenes, giving context as to why Paul would respond differently to the same topic in all of these letters. Each of these churches was facing different problems, struggling in different ways and at different degrees. It is also possible that people at one church were much more hard headed than those at another, which could also attest to the differences in language, vocabulary, and tone across Paul’s letters.

  7. I find it interesting that the church of Galatia was confused with what Paul was trying to communicate that if we are in Christ, we don’t have to keep the whole law. Today we see that we must have a relationship with Christ, instead of being a “slave” to the law.
    P long said in class that the one who tries to keep the law must keep the whole law. If people are circumcising themselves under old covenant law, but this has already expired and does not apply anymore. By trying to keep the law, they are trusting something else other than Jesus Christ.
    We see that Paul wanted them to have a relationship first through is what TTP says, “the only thing of importance is putting one’s faith into practice through concrete forms of leaving service (pg. 102).” what he is saying is that the relationship is what matters first. That isn’t the whole point of believing in Jesus. We don’t have to have all these dos and don’ts to follow to be saved. We are adopted and apart of his family.
    Paul used metaphors for explaining how we must do something. In this case, Paul uses slavery as a metaphor for how we were slaves to the law and were trapped.

  8. This issue of uncontrolled Gentile believers (as in not following the Jewish Law) could have been one motivation for the “certain men from James” (Gal. 2:12) to try to convince the Galatian believers to follow the Law. I could see it being very challenging for traditional Jews to just allow gentile believers to eat unclean foods, not practice the Sabbath, etc. and say that there was nothing wrong with that. However, this is exactly what Paul was teaching. But this does not mean that the pagan Gentiles could just go back to living how they were used to. After all, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Paul does not want believers indulge themselves and abuse their freedom, but rather to serve others with their freedom (Gal. 5:13). In fact, Paul uses the same word for “serve” as he does for “slave” elsewhere in the book, adding to the emphasis of our responsibility (Longenecker, p. 102). Paul looks at this issue from another angle in 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23. Here, Paul makes the point that even though we are free and even though some things might not be inherently wrong, they still might not be beneficial to us or our fellow believers. We are not supposed to use for our own benefit, but as a way to serve others.

    • Burkey, i liked your comment about how great freedom comes great responsibility. just because our sins are forgiven does not mean we should abuse that power. God will still judge us before entering heaven. I think it is also good that you noted how words have different meanings back then. It is important to explore certain meaning of words from the bible to fully understand the point that is being said. If you do not explore gods words you will be misled. it is important to keep growing in your faith and digging deeper into Gods word to get the most of what God wants. Everyone’s spiritual journey grows on a different path and it is important to have brotherhood and help each other grow together.

  9. This topic and passage have always interested me! I love how Paul says how we are either a slave to sin or slave to the Spirit. The beauty in this is that where the Spirit is, there is freedom. We find ourselves pursuing righteousness and holiness rather than sinful desires and nature. Those who believe it is free access to do anything they want to do not have the full revelation of what it is like to “be a slave to the Spirit” or live in no compromise. When Jesus is Lord, nothing else in their lives should have to compete with that. As Longenecker states, “with freedom comes responsibility” (102). When someone keeps in step with the Spirit, out of that overflow the law is followed naturally. He is the one who will walk and guide you to righteousness, with continual renewing (Longenecker 103).
    You are right when you say people tend to manipulate this Scripture is by making it an excuse for sin. One example I can think of is with sexual immorality of any kind. Whether it is the impure thoughts or the actual act, they sometimes will continue in their sin due to shame, but as they keep sinning without trying to make progress, they go back to the fact that they no longer live under the law. They will live a lifestyle content with themselves because they have dimmed the voice of the Spirit and may even immediately ask for forgiveness, and then go right back to where they came from. Paul would respond to this along the lines of Galatians 5:25 stating that “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” There are also multiple principles in the Proverbs that would show the black and white of good and evil, and how they’re always turning away from evil, and pursuing good. This principle is shown throughout the Bible in multiple places.

  10. This is a tricky topic because many people see Paul’s saying “free from the Law” as a ‘get out of Hell free’ card. But you can see how hard Paul fights to contradict this view. in chapter 5 he emphasizes living by the Spirit. Like P. Long mentioned above, there are two life possibilities according to Paul, slavery to the flesh or slavery to the Spirit. Longenecker puts Paul’s point-like, “with freedom comes resposability” (102). Which makes me think of Spider-man when Uncle Ben tells Peter with great power comes great responsibility. As Christians, we have the great power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Living for the flesh would be like having a superpower but never using it. Having the ability to save people but keeping it to yourself. So, we have freedom from the Law but it is not an excuse to live a reckless life with no concern for the power within us. For Paul’s ministry, sexual immorality was a big problem subject. Christians who believed they were free to do anything they wanted and not get penalized could see going to the temple prostitutes as something they could do, something that wasn’t wrong. Paul rebukes flesh centered behavior in verses 19-21 saying people with this lifestyle will “not inherit the Kingdom of God.” This is a scary concept, especially when you find these fleshly behaviors in your own life. But with “resolute intention to walk with the Spirit” (Longenecker, 103) it becomes easier to say no to these sinful lifestyles. Paul also mentions that being a slave to the Spirit takes maturity and that can only be acquired through responsibility.

  11. The gifts that God has given to us (including the best gift of salvation through Jesus and eternal life) are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). If Christians believe that they are above the law and are unable to lose their salvation, some have the thought that they can behave in any way they want and simply capitalize on the forgiveness aspect of the gospel. I see this most commonly with Christians who want to do something God commands against, and try to justify or rationalize it in many different ways. In addition, people (including myself) will break rules and sin because they don’t think they are important or necessary. God calls us to obey governing authority (Rom. 13:1-2) yet we determine that following the speed limit, neglecting to pay taxes on side jobs, jay-walking, etc. are all “okay” as long as we don’t get caught. I agree that this is a true example of spiritual immaturity and Paul would certainly disagree with this thought process. “With freedom comes responsibility” (Longenecker 102). We are free in terms of the law, but we are not free to do whatever we want. When giving our lives to Christ we are essentially enslaving ourselves to benefit others in the form of “slavery-in-freedom or freedom-in-slavery” (Longenecker 102). We are given freedom in Christ yet still called to obey his commands and rules that he gives us. His rules are not meant to limit us, rather he puts parameters in place because he loves and wants to protect us in the same way parents tell their children not to touch the stove, to stay out of the road, and wear a life-jacket when they are in a boat.

  12. This reminds me of when I was a little kid and heard about how God forgives all sins. I would think that it doesn’t matter what I do because I know God will forgive my sins. Just because our sins are forgiven doesn’t mean we should sin and do what we want. The people who do this take one thing in the Bible out of context and use it because it seems easier. There are plenty of times in the bible where it says to obey god though such as Deuteronomy 11:1, Joshua 5:6, Luke 11:28 and more. I think people misuse words and phrases all the time and this has happened all throughout time. Everyone grows in faith at their own pace and is at their own level spiritually with God. The correct way to fix an issue is to teach them why they are wrong and to encourage them to indulge more on research in the bible and Gods word. Christians are not to enslave themselves to law observance, but are to remain free from enslavement (pg102).

  13. Paul strongly condemns those who go back to their old ways after salvation (Gal 5:2). In the Galatian’s case, it was circumcision and the law. Christ’s sacrifice was enough for salvation. The gentiles did not have to add circumcision and keep the law to be a Christian. In Galatians 5:1 Paul writes “for freedom Christ has set us free.” However, some Christians take this literally and believe that they can do whatever they want. For example, a person might become saved but they choose to sleep in on most Sunday mornings and do not change their lifestyle to conform with Christ. This person may view those things as optional because they are free in Christ. However, Paul must have anticipated this because later in chapter 5 he claims that freedom comes with responsibility (TTP, 102). Believers are to “serve one another humbly in love” (Gal 5:13). The word for “serve” implies “slavery” (TTP, 102). This irony is echoed in Romans when Paul calls believers to not to be “slaves to sin” but “slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Even though Christ has set us free from sin, that does not give us the freedom to continue in sin. Instead, Christ calls us to humbly serve one another.

  14. I could see how this could be confusing to someone with it saying God has forgiven us of our sins. Some might take that and run with that and abuse what he is trying telling us there. Some Christians may think they are higher than one another because of what Galatians 5:1 says “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
    With this, they might think they have the freedom they can do whatever they want because we are being forgiven of our sins but that is not how it should be because that is so wrong you still have to have values in life and do what is right in this world. God made each of individually so no one is really higher than one another and we should always be doing what is right no matter who is watching or what we believe in. An example of Christian using their freedom as an excuse for sin could be believing they are better than someone because what they think is right based on what they think. I think paul wouldnt be very happy on the sort of misuse of one’s freedom in Christ is being used and how some might take advantage on what they think is right.

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  15. The dynamic of freedom from the Law and grace in Christ’s life, work, and resurrection is often a topic that is overly stressed as being complicated. Galatians 5:13-16 and Romans 6:1-14 Paul clearly states that we ought not use God’s grace as an excuse for more sinfulness, using strong verbiage of “by no means”. Bruce Longenecker and Todd Still write upon this topic in their book Thinking Through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology that Jesus followers are free from the Law however this does not mean they can be lazy within their faith and live carelessly (Longenecker, Still. Pg. 102). On the topic of P. Long’s prompt at the end of his post, I see no reason not to assume that throughout the last 2,000 years, Christians have tried to use God’s unending grace as an excuse for most all sins. Though, obviously, God’s unending grace as mentioned in Titus 2:11 is helpful in evangelizing to criminals who have committed terrible crimes, it is not something believers ought to take for granted. Believers ought to live a life honoring to God, for just a James writes, without works, faith is dead. This is how Paul and James’ theology compliment each other, not contradict. Paul and James’ both call Christians to live lives in a way that honors God instead of sinning recklessly. A true Christ-following life- style does not only change your spiritual destination (heaven or hell), your inward values, morals, and standards, but it should also completely change how you live your life. Not that sinning or living righteously determine your eternal security, but rather works or sustaining from sin displays God’s work within your life. This is the point that Paul makes, we ought not to sin more to show God’s grace, but instead live righteously so that those outside the faith may see the difference Christ has made in us.

  16. Growing up we were taught that we are not able to sin because although we may be forgiven by God it was against what he wanted. Paul says in Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Although our sins are forgiven, does not mean that as Christians we should be going around and doing whatever we want. Longenecker says, “While Jesus-followers are ‘free,’ this does not mean that they are able to do nothing with their faith, or to live irresponsibly. With freedom comes responsibility” (Longenecker, pg. 102). What he means in this is that just because Paul says that we have freedom in Christ does not mean that we have the freedom to sin like I said earlier. Responsibility is still a huge factor in our Christian faith even with being able to live free in him and not be enslaved by the Lord. There are many times in Paul’s letters where we see him contradict this phrase as well because this statement only comes with the right context given.

  17. The issue of using salvation as an excuse for sin occurs as much as it did in the time of Paul’s letter to Galatia as it does in modern society. Typically, when one thinks of being enslaved to something, it brings about a sort of negative connotation. When Paul explains this enslavement of humans to sin in Galatians 4 8-9, he uses this negative connotation to try and persuade the people of Galatia to not fall back into slavery from their freedom. As Christians we are no longer subject to the Law as in the times of Moses, however, we must not completely disregard It either. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the ultimate payment for our sins and allows who believe in him the freedom of the law. This gives people a choice to make. Jesus set the perfect example of how we are to live our life out when walking with God – he knew the law wasn’t going to apply to himself, but that didn’t mean he completely disregarded what God had in plan for him. He knew that the life he had to live was still to be for the goal of pleasing God. Although Jesus’ life was a payment for us to not be enslaved by the law, we can still be enslaved by a life of sin or a life of salvation. When Paul explains that we are to be slaves to a life of Christ he uses the same word for “serve” as he does “slave in another part of Galatians (TTP 102). This reiterates that although we are free from the law, we still are called to serve as a responsibility of our new freedom.

  18. After we surrender our lives to Christ a lot of things change. One of them being our desires, and no longer desiring sin but desiring a strong pure relationship with God but also other people. At this point in our walk, giving our heart over and surrendering to God also means that we are no longer bound to our sin, we are set free, meaning the blood of Jesus washed our sins and now we will live with him forever in heaven. Like you mentioned in this article people take that as like a golden ticket and after they receive that Grace they just abuse it and sin as much as they want knowing that it doesn’t matter God forgives them and they will get into heaven anyways. I think this is a narrow way of thinking. People will always continue to sin even after receiving Christ because everyone sins, but freely sinning not caring at all is abusing the Grace of God and sometimes called hyper grace. I would encourage the people that are doing that to reflect and look within themselves because living and surrendering your life to God just for a free ticket to heaven is not how he intended our relationship to be like. According to (Longenecker 2014) For Paul, then, the characteristics of self-giving that marks out the story of Jesus is intended to mark out the story of Jesus’ followers”(p.95). Paul is saying here that our lives should be more, we should be walking examples of Christ everywhere we go.


    Thinking through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology. By Longenecker, Bruce W. and Still, Todd D.. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

  19. One of the main issues that I see today is people living a life how they want to live and thinking that it is fine because they are saved. This is not something that is true because a sin is still a sin. Although Jesus died for our sins that does not mean that we are free to live how we want to. Christians will commit sin in a world like today unknowingly and that is going to happen, but the issue is going out of our way to commit a sin because Jesus died for our sins. In Galatians 5:13 it states “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve on another” (ESV). With this passage, I was raised to love and respect everyone because even though I may be forgiven by God, doing the opposite of loving and respecting others is not what Gpd had wanted. Longenecker says that as Christian’s we are free, but not free to do whatever we want and live irresponsibly. The freedom that God gives us is giving us responsibly to live out a Christ-like life which we often forget to do. If we are going to be saved by Christ we must live out a life to please Christ.

  20. Personally, I can think of some people who have taken the wrong impression of what it means to be saved. Many people have the idea that once they are saved, all sins they commit will be forgiven automatically, therefore making it easier to continue sinning. Unfortunately, this misconception seems to be one of those things that never fade out with time. Galatians 5:13 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” I think that logically this statement is very straightforward. Jesus died for our sins to set us free from all the bad things tying us down in this world and it only makes sense that he asks us not to put ourselves in these situations again, but he also gives us free will. I believe that is where many people get confused and utilize their free will as it becomes convenient to them. I like the modern application that professor Long uses to help us understand. Professor Long said that when students go off to college some give into doing bad things because they are not being held accountable any longer. As Christians we have to equip ourselves, family, neighbors, and children to always know the will of God and what he has asked for us to do. To instill those values and understanding is the best way for us to know what it means to be saved. If we disobey the word of God telling us to love each other, he states, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another,” which could look a bit different for everyone (Galatians 5:15).

  21. Grace is a beautiful gift from God, it is through Christ that we have the opportunity to receive it. The Lord loves us so much that even when I make mistakes I can come to Him and ask for forgiveness, then start over with a clean slate. For some knowing / receiving that grace for God is humbling unfortunately for others some misconstrue what grace is and take advantage of it. Individuals will often say “well I can do whatever I want because God will forgive me” or “I will live like hell until my dying day and God will still receive me into the Kingdom because I will rely on His grace to forgive me.” Though this may be true, it doesn’t give us any excuse to live life this way because God’s grace doesn’t give us permission to go and constantly sin. There are multiple excuses one can use to try and make sin “acceptable” to various people but at the end of the day it’s not looked upon as good and faithful by the Lord.

    Looking at the verse that is used for this topic Galatians 5:13-16 it states that though we are called to be free we should use that freedom to indulge in the flesh but use that freedom to love and serve one another. So though we have freedom to do what we want we should try to shy away from the desires of the world and lean towards a life filled with godly choices. People sin and that goes without questioning but to use grace as an excuse is another thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  22. A common pushback for Christians that I hear is that if God forgives, then why can’t we keep on sinning if we are saved no matter what? This is a valid point that can be hard to answer sometimes, especially for those who do not know God and the heart change that comes with having a relationship with Him. Paul talks about how you cannot be half in the world and half with God. In a sense, we are a “slave” to one type of lifestyle. “Since the one who is in Christ is free from the obligations of the Law, they now must voluntarily re-enslave themselves to the Spirit” (Long, 2019). We can either choose to follow God and His ways for us or choose to go against Him and live in the ways of the world. There is no gray area. We see this in Galatians 5:16-17 about there being conflict with the flesh and spirit. We are either following God, or we’re not. Being free from the law and saved does not give us the authority to act and indulge in behaviors that do not show we are free and saved. Paul talks about this in Galatians “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh…” (Galatians 5:13). Longenecker adds “While Jesus-followers are “free” this does not mean they are able to do nothing with their faith, or to live irresponsibly. With freedom comes responsibility” (Longenecker, 102). I like the point that we as Christians have a responsibility. Our work and purpose are not done at the time of salvation, it is an ongoing process.

  23. The concept of freedom in the Bible is somewhat challenging to understand. It seems contradictory to say that true freedom involves subjugating ourselves to authorities or others. True freedom does not come from not being under any rules or laws, rather it is the freedom that comes from choosing to submit in the ways that we truly should. Instead of forcibly submitting to laws in order to avoid punishment or repercussion, it is submitting to God and following what is right. We, believers as a whole – myself included, have a tendency to abuse our freedom. It is difficult to constantly choose to submit, especially in American culture, submission is viewed as losing, so we fall back on things that abuse our freedom. There are many ways we do this. Even things like being selfish and prioritizing what we want and what we desire over how we can help others. So often we are so self-focused that we are more concerned about what we have to do than we are about stopping to pray for and with others. I think that being enslaved to the flesh includes small acts of selfishness. Like eating the last piece of cake because you don’t want your sibling to have it. Why do we not ask, or even share it with them? Instead, we are inclined to hide it, eat it ourselves, and consider what we want and how to fulfill that before we consider others. Eating the last piece of cake is not a sin, but I do think it represents a way that we use our freedom to indulge the flesh, selfishness. Paul’s point in Galatians is that we should serve one another in love, instead of abusing our freedom. Serving others involves being willing to put them first. We must lay aside our selfish nature to humbly serve others in love.

  24. Understanding the ramifications of freedom in Christ is important for believers as we try to live lives that are honoring to God. Paul addresses this issue in his letter to the Galatians, helping the believers understand what freedom in Christ truly is, not an excuse to do whatever we want, but a chance to lay down our lives for others and God. Paul presents his main point in 5:13-16, which at first seems to stand contrary to the rest of his implications of freedom in Christ.
    Throughout the letter, Paul has said that the Gentile converts do not need to follow the Law or be slaves or servants to the Law. But even though they are free from the Law, they are not free to do whatever they want. “While Jesus-followers are ‘free,’ this does not mean that they are able to do nothing with their faith, or to live irresponsibly. With freedom comes responsibility” (Longenecker, 102). Believers are given a new responsibility, to “serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13). This directive should be what compels believers to live responsible lives that are honoring to God. This is how the Law works out in the lives of believers.

  25. I have to admit that at some points in my life I wondered the same thing: that since I’m saved, it would be ok to sin since I’ll be forgiven anyway. Just like Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:14, it is no excuse to keep on sinning. The point of being Christians is to be like Jesus, always serving, not lazing around and being irresponsible. With this newfound freedom it comes with responsibility (Longenecker and Still, 102).

    As for an example that Christians use their freedom as an excuse for sin would be maybe moving out of your parents home to live with some friends. Sure, you have freedom from your parents of always telling you what to do and making you do chores. When you are living more independently, responsibilities arise like; laundry, groceries, bills, gas for car, checking the car regularly, dishes, taking care of the trash, taking the trash to the end of the driveway once a week, and much more. If these things were not taken care of, then the house would be more chaotic, dirty, car tires could be low, and yourself wouldn’t be as hygienic. How Paul in this day of age could respond to this misuse would be something similar to “Get off your lazy butt, and better use your freedom! It is not a luxury in which you could choose whether to use it or not!”

  26. I think Christians use their freedom as an excuse in many different ways. Today there are Christians that swear, smoke, drinks, have sex, and other things they should not be doing. They say they have freedom in Christ, thinking to themselves that God forgives them of their sins. No matter how many times they commit sins, it is going to get worse. Believers that are going through the situation will fight the flesh or spiritually. Those who give their life to Christ should be into God’s word, and grow spiritually mature. In Galatians 5:13, we were called to freedom, but do not take the advantage for the flesh but through love share the gospel. This reminds me in 2 Corinthians 5:17 of those who believe in Christ as a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. That is when we surrender our life to Christ and everything will change. Christians will change their ways by reading the Bible. To be honest, Christians do things that are sinful, no matter how many times we are going to repeat it, we can always go back and ask God for forgiveness. God loves us for who we are, also we are his children that will commit sin. Obviously, Paul was trying to do the right thing to make believers understand about the freedom in Christ. I guess Paul is somewhat harsh with the law that he is wrong but most of all he is right about the people taking the freedom too far which is true to this day.

  27. I think Christians use the excuse of freedom for their sin in many ways, maybe it’s in the way one acts, the gossip about others, or the language they use. As Christians, we know that we are saved by Grace (Eph 2:8) and so we justify it with our actions. We might commit sins such as sexual immorality and know that it is wrong but then remember that there is God’s grace. Yes, we are forgiven and have grace from God but that does not mean you are to continue in such sins. Galatians 5:13-16 talks about how we are to use our freedom to love others to serve one another. We are giving freedom but we are not to abuse the freedom we are giving. If we are to walk with the Spirit we will not be tempted by things of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Though we are forgiven and have grace from God, Paul tells us we still should not take part in such sins but remember to walk alongside one another in love and to watch out for one another (Gal 5:15). Our freedom comes with responsibility and Paul want to show us that in telling us to serve one another in love (TTP, 102).

  28. I appreciate that you say this issue of believing that because we are saved sin is fair game is an issue of spiritual maturity. I would certainly agree that people who believe this way are likely doing so because they want to gratify the desires of their flesh and are spiritually immature. Paul says in 5:13 to not use this freedom as “an opportunity for the flesh” (ESV). I also believe the importance of this verse is found at the end. Paul says, “through love serve one another” (5:13). This is the highest form of responsibility that a Christian could have today. There is no better form of following Christ than to walk in the Spirit and love our neighbors. It is so easy for Christians today to claim that they are saved, so they can do whatever they want, but in reality, our freedom in Christ is nothing more than a call to more responsibility. This responsibility is found in the Holy Spirit. Paul states in verse 16, “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (ESV). Therefore, the argument that because we have freedom in Christ all sins are permitted is not at all accurate. Our freedom in Christ gives us more responsibility through the Holy Spirit to love one another. Paul goes even farther and directly combats this notion by saying, “the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (5:17, ESV). This is instrumental in living a Christ like life and Paul goes on to describe what that exactly looks like in the rest of this chapter as in other epistles. Walking in the Spirit, through love, is the only way to live, anything else is just gratifying our fleshes desires.

  29. Galatians 5 said: ‘’it is for freedom that Christ has set us free ‘’’. according to this verse, many people took so far and however they wanted. They said, they can do whatever they want for they are free from sins now and when you commit a sin you are forgiven by the grace of God. Well, Jesus did die for the sinner and set them free. This doesn’t mean they are completely. Which means, they are set free from the old law and the original sin. By his blood we are forgiven. So the OT’s law was broken but now we are in NT law. Which is ‘’Love your neighbor as yourself’’ Matt 22:39. How to love someone then? By helping others, providing what they need and caring for others right? But if you do not give then how can you help them? Instead of talking about things that we can see. Jesus actually means what we cant see. He meant to love their soul and to save them and care for them. For that you have to give them Jesus. Matt 5;15-16 said, ‘’you are the light of the world’’. Which we should light by how we live so that they can see Jesus in what we do. But we also do not know how to light by ourselves, but only by the Holy Spirit. That’s why Paul told the Galatians Believer to be led by the Holy Spirit.

  30. An example of a Christian who is using Jesus dying for sin as and having to follow the Jewish law as an excuse is someone who has the mentality of cause Christ died and forgives my sin that makes it acceptable for me to do any sort of behavior, I find enjoyable. This could be being drunk, being high, sexual misconduct etc. Paul addressing the church in Corinth who is still living in their former Pagan ways and might do many sinful habits like those mentioned Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:24 “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive” (NIV). Hrist desire us to grow and as Longenecker says “with freedom comes responsibility” (2014,102). The freedom that Christians have is not meant to serve ourselves but Christ through how we serve others.

  31. In Christian circles, I have heard the argument that Christians are free to sin for God will always forgive us. In talking to a friend one time over lunch, she shared her opinion on how if she was to have an abortion, God would forgive her since she is free to choose, and God is willing to forgive any sin since no sin is greater than another. What my friend was misunderstanding was that even though Christians have free will, we are not truly free if we love Jesus. As Long points out in this blog post on Galatians 5:13-16, Christians must be willing to resubmit themselves into slavery to God. As Christians, we are not free in the sense to live our lives how we want, indulging in acts that God hates. This is because, as 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies”. This verse just reiterate in what Pual writes in Galatians 5:13, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh”. Therefore, what I should have said to my friend that day at lunch was that yes we are free from sin, but we should not return to sin once we are free but submit ourselves to God’s will for our lives.

  32. In Christian circles, I have heard the argument that Christians are free to sin for God will always forgive us. In talking to a friend one time over lunch, she shared her opinion on how if she was to have an abortion, God would forgive her since she is free to choose, and God is willing to forgive any sin since no sin is greater than another. What my friend was misunderstanding was that even though Christians have free will, we are not truly free if we love Jesus. As Long points out in this blog post on Galatians 5:13-16, Christians must be willing to resubmit themselves into slavery to God. As Christians, we are not free in the sense to live our lives how we want, indulging in acts that God hates. This is because, as 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies”. This verse just reiterate in what Pual writes in Galatians 5:13, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh”. Therefore, what I should have said to my friend that day at lunch was that yes we are free from sin, but we should not return to sin once we are free but submit ourselves to God’s will for our lives.

  33. I really like the question from this blog post that reads, “If someone is free from all restraint of the Law, what keeps them from indulging in all sorts of sin?”. It is very interesting to think about this when it comes to a lot of people in the world today. Many people believe that they are free from all restraints of the Laws and will commit many sins because they believe that they are going to be saved either way if they do sin or if they do not sin. This is concerning because people have been plagued by sin and it seems like sin is becoming common almost everywhere. Sins are committed often by people and they boast about their sins sometimes. People do not understand how to follow the Law or they just choose not to follow it. It is difficult to see this happening because we were all created in His image and we should act like that. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, yet He still intended for us to stay away from sin and try to live as He did. We should all aspire to be like Jesus in the way He had the same temptations that we have today and He turned away from them.

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