The book of Galatians is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia to address a very pointed error that they were believing and teaching. While professing faith in Christ, these new believers had fallen victim to the false teaching that, though they had found salvation in Christ, they needed to continue to follow the guidelines and dictates of the Old Testament law. How much they believed this was tied to salvation or simply proper living is hard to say but either way, they were trying to pull new believers back under the O.T law.
In the first few chapters of this book, Paul points out their error in very clear terms and then summarizes his teaching by writing in 5:13, ” For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” I love the word used in this verse, “liberty.” A quick google search for an official definition shows it to be, “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority.” Paul was saying that in Christ we are free from the restrictions of the O.T law, whose primary purpose was to bring us to Christ (3:24). But while we are to enjoy this freedom we have in Christ, Paul does offer one major restriction, “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”
This verse is a good reminder for us in American in 2021. Yes we are technically free as New Testament Christians to live as we chose to live. We do not have an obligation to follow the over 600 commands listed in the O.T. Additionally, without too much effort, we could find pretty much any kind of church that suits our type of teaching and level of living. However, while we enjoy that liberty in Christ, we must remember that this freedom does not give us a license to sin. If my liberty results in me giving “occasion to my flesh,” than I am not using that liberty as God is calling me to do. So are we free as Christians? Yes. But that freedom is bound by purity and holiness. Let’s be sure that the freedom we have in Christ is kept in check by the clear command to live a holy life in this fallen world.