At the beginning of Galatians 5, Paul reminds us that Christ has set us free from bondage to the law (Galatians 5:1) and that this freedom should drive to us love and serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Many of the hymns in the service this morning call our attention to the freedom purchased by Christ. In Martin Luther’s From Heaven On High, we sing that Jesus “Himself from sin will make you free,” in O Christ, Our Hope we marvel that He died a cruel death to set His people free, and in Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah (Psalm 146), we proclaim the words of the psalmist that our God “sets the mourning prisoner free.” At least one of these hymns, O Lord, How Joyful ‘Tis To See, with its images of brethren joining in love and singing “with one accord,” aligns with the admonishment in Galatians 5:15 not to “bite and devour one another,” as well as the preceding reading from Romans 13 (“the one who loves another has fulfilled the law”). But perhaps more than any of these, the communion hymn From Babel To Zion, sums up both emphases—freedom in Christ and love for one another. The lyrics paint an eschatological picture of “ransomed” saints “free from Babel’s fold,” coming home to “Jerusalem the free.” These faithful on their way to Zion have “one mind,” “speak with one accord,” and are “bound in love together.” I pray that this morning the reality of our freedom in Christ will bind us in love together. —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Freedom, Slavery, Circumcision, Stand, Law, Love
Keystone Verse: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?8 This persuasion is not from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.