Freedom and Responsibility

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Our freedom in Christ should produce love, not selfishness or recklessness.

Galatians 5:13-15

Years ago a friend of mine made some decisions that changed the course of his life. He’d been a faithful pastor but became convinced that freedom in Christ meant he could do almost anything he wanted. I warned that such choices would come back to haunt him, but he refused to be held accountable and kept going down that path until he finally had to leave the ministry. He did exactly what Paul cautioned against: using freedom as an opportunity to sin.

The context for freedom in today’s passage is the Old Testament Law. Believers are freed from the demands of the Law—that’s because Jesus Christ fulfilled it by living a perfect life and paying the penalty for sin with His death on the cross. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith, not by good works.

However, liberty doesn’t cancel out responsibility. For example, people are free to pursue different desires, but if we decide we don’t have to obey the law, we will quickly discover that we’re accountable to the courts for how we use our freedom.

Let’s examine ourselves to be sure an attitude of selfish freedom hasn’t crept into our thinking. A reluctance to be honest, an unwillingness to be held accountable, and a strong desire to have our own way could be indications.

If we trust Jesus with our salvation, we have been freed from slavery to sin, but we’re to use that freedom to obey Christ and serve others through love. Romans 14:7 puts it this way: “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself”—that is, we’re accountable to both God and each other.

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