Pastor Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1)
Next, we are to See our Liberator, “wherewith Christ hath made us free.” We are to see Christ. Our Liberty and our Liberator cannot be separated. This is also translated: “Christ has made us free [completely liberated us]” (Amplified); “What the Messiah has freed us for is freedom!” (Complete Jewish Bible). Christ is our Liberator! What did Jesus say would set us free? He said the truth sets us free (John 8:32). Jesus is that Truth (John 14:6). What did Jesus do to set us free? He came to fulfill the Law (:17). His obedience was better and His sacrifice was a better (Heb.10:5-9).
And Paul tells us the truth about Christ and what He has done for us. When He sets us free we are free indeed (John 8:36). The Greek word “made free” comes from “to liberate.” It means “to deliver” and once delivered we are free; it is very similar to the word “liberty,” so there is a double emphasis with “liberty” and “made free.” We have liberty because we have been made free. We have been “made free” from the bondage of sin. We have been “made free” from the legality of the Law. We have been “made free” and we are free to be servants of righteousness and servants of God (Rom. 6:18,22). Paul states that Christ has made them free – free from what? Free from the Law. How did He do this? He did this by keeping the Law Himself. They no longer have to do this. It is not necessary. The Law has been satisfied by His Obedience and His Sacrifice. Christ is the end of the Law – He lived by the Law – We live thru Him. (Rom. 10:4-5) To lay hold of Liberty they need to see their Liberator!
The 2nd Admonition:
See the Trap: “and be not entangled again.” This is translated the following ways:
“and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to (Amplified); “and stop being subject again to a yoke of bondage [which you once removed].” (Wuest) “and don’t let yourselves be tied up again to a yoke of slavery.” (Complete Jewish Bible)
The meaning of the word “entangled” means “to hold in a fixed position;” “to restrain and restrict” and “to be ensnared.” Traps are hidden so that the animal was caught, either in a pit or a net. It was not easily seen and once ensnared not easy to escape. That is what a trap does, that is what legality does. Their liberty would be restricted and it would be done bit by bit, by taking small steps, each leading to a more committed step. Paul has already spoken of observing “days and months and times and years” (Gal. 4:10), which seemed like such a small thing but something the flesh enjoys. In chapter 5 the issue of circumcision is introduced and that is a big step. Once circumcised they would be committed to keeping all the law, and all of its requirements and practices. Paul reminds them that even as Gentiles they had been bound by religious laws that had brought them into bondage. The pagans had their feast days, their festivals, their religious practices that were required. So, Paul uses the word “again” meaning “one more” or “once again.” It doesn’t matter that this entanglement is Jewish and not Gentile. Paul reminds them of their past condition. He does not want them repeating the same mistake. He warns them the result will be the same. Bondage whether to Gentile idolatry or Jewish legality is bondage. The results are still the same, bondage and not liberty. It reminds me of a saying used in 12 step programs and some attribute it to Albert Einstein. It is the definition of insanity: “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” The results of legality, whatever the sources are the same, entanglement and once entangled in something, the more you struggle the more you become entangled. The more you keep trying to do the law, the more futile it is.
See the Yoke: “with the yoke of bondage.” The word “yoke” comes from “to join, a coupling, serves to couple two things together;” it speaks of service and servitude. It speaks on joining two things together. It is seen in the yoke of oxen and the yoke of slavery. The danger and damage is found when you have two opposites yoked together.
Two Opposite Doctrines – Law and Grace and Faith and Works. Paul addresses this in Romans when he talks about the desire to and inability to boast in the law, in the works of the law. It is excluded by faith because we are justified by faith. (Rom. 3:26-28).
Two Opposite Natures – Believer and Unbeliever. Paul addresses this in the fellowship of believers and unbelievers. (2 Cor. 6:14) Two cannot walk together unless they be agreed. (Amos 3:3). One is an New Creation and the other an Old Creation. They are like oil and water.
The yoke Paul is speaking of is yoke is the Law. Once they are circumcised, they have put that yoke on and are fully committed to keeping all the Law. Legality and Liberty are two separate concepts, they cannot be yoked together. There is only one yoke we have and it is the yoke that Jesus offers to us. It speaks of submission and meekness, of grace and love. He does not put the yoke upon us, He offers it to us.
“Take my yoke (Meekness) upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke (Grace) is easy, and MY burden (Love and Faith) is light.” (Mat. 11:29-30) This is the yoke that brings true Liberty! Jesus has set us free!