Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. —Galatians 5:13

Freedom is dangerous in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it. That’s why criminals are confined in prisons with barbed wire, steel bars, and concrete barriers. Or consider a campfire that is allowed to spread in a dry forest. It quickly becomes a blazing inferno. Unchecked freedom can create chaos.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Christian life. Believers are free from the law’s curse, its penalty, and its guilt-producing power. Fear, anxiety, and guilt are replaced by peace, forgiveness, and liberty. Who could be more free than one who is free in the depths of his soul? But here is where we often fail. We use freedom’s luxury to live selfishly, or we claim ownership of what God has merely entrusted to us. We slip into patterns of self-indulgent living, especially in affluent societies.

The proper use of freedom is “faith working through love” to serve one another (Gal. 5:6,13). When we rely on the Spirit and expend our energies on loving God and helping others, the destructive works of the flesh will be restrained by God (vv.16-21). So let’s always use our liberty to build up, not to tear down.

Like a raging fire, freedom without limits is dangerous. But when controlled, it is a blessing to all.  — Dennis J. De Haan

Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but to do what pleases God.

I do not usually share from my daily devotional. But today’s reading spoke to me and I would like to take some time to chew on it.

Coming from a grace-based church, I have the privilege of knowing what it is like to be free. I say that because not all Christians know, much less live in that liberty. There are many still bound by the chains that Christ has redeemed them from. There is a verse in the Bible that says, my people are destroyed from the lack of knowledge. Pastor once told us a story. There was an elderly man who lived alone in a humble shack. He had lived most of his life in lack. One day a distant friend visited him. As he was sipping tea on the shabby couch in the living room, he noticed something framed up on the wall. Curious, he asked the elderly man what it was. The man replied that it was something his grand aunt had left him before she passed away. He had it framed up to remember her by. His friend got up and walked over to have a closer look. To his amazement he saw that it was a will. Excited, he called the old man over and asked him what is the will doing in a wooden frame on the wall? The elderly man was speechless. He said he didn’t know it was a will as he is illiterate. The next day, they called in a lawyer to have the will authenticated. It turns out that his grandaunt had left him some shares of stocks which is estimated to be worth several million dollars in today’s market. If only the man had known of his inheritance! Likewise, believers who do not know their inheritance in Christ (and what an inheritance we have!) will not be able to enjoy it.

Freedom from the curse of the law, its penalty and its guilt-producing power is part of our inheritance.

How we use our new found freedom reflects how much we understand and appreciate this gift. The danger and temptation that comes with unlimited freedom is real, the same way blessing can be a curse if we abuse it. Paul must have seen this when he wrote to the church in Galatia. There will be some who will abuse it and some who do not understand it but the majority really want to use it properly. This is the life purpose of every believer – first, to know and enjoy the love of God and then to use our liberty to honor Him.