Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Galatians 5:1-15 (NIV)
Freedom in Christ
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers, and sisters were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
How have you seen Christian freedom abused?
Lord, You gave us freedom from adhering to the many Old Testament laws through Your sacrifice, death, and resurrection. You released us from the law because You are the ultimate sacrifice and paid the penalty of our sins for us. Our freedom from the law is around the principles of self-governance and isn’t an invitation to loose living or a license to sin. We can fall into legalism (slavery to the law) and license (slavery to ourselves), which takes away our freedom. Out of our freedom, we are sometimes focused on our own needs, desires, and preferences at the expense of others. We have seen people in the church or in families or in businesses biting and devouring those near them. When that happens, everyone loses. Let us use our freedoms to take care of each other to build up churches, families, businesses, communities, and our Country. You give us free will to serve each other in love. As we enter Lent, we look to the cross and to all that You did to give us freedom from sin and death. You gave to the point of sacrifice. Let us do the same as we exemplify Your love through service to one another. We repent of our selfishness and reflect on Your love as we strengthen our relationship with You. If You have set us free, we are free indeed. Amen