It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1)
We all have a tendency to be controlled by the opinion of others. We often seek the applause of man rather than the approval of God. Today I want to remind you that the only opinion that truly matters is God’s.
Puritan Samuel Bolton put a sharp point on this truth:
Let us never surrender our judgments or our consciences to be at the disposal and opinions of others, and to be subjected to the sentences and determinations of men . . .
The church is full of people who will tell you how to live your Christian life. They talk about God’s plan for your life, and then proceed to put all the pieces together for you. They insist that you live according to their opinions. Their weapons of choice are “guilt trips” . . . condemnation . . . rejection . . . gossip . . . punitive silence. Such people must be resisted if we are going to live the freedom we have been given in Christ. The casualties inside the church resulting from the effects of this legalism infecting the body of Christ are legion.
I have talked here before about what freedom looks like in the life of the Christian. It is not freedom to do as we please, but rather freedom to do as God pleases in our lives. We live by grace in view of God’s mercies, and we live that grace in the way God has called us to live it.
There is a paradox in freedom that we must understand: Only to the extent we are in bondage and slavery to our Savior are we truly free. It is only the opinion of Jesus that matters in our lives. The the more closely we walk with Christ, the better we will understand His plan and purpose for our lives.
In our verse for today, Paul was addressing some very legalistic and opinionated Galatians. They believed that in order to become a “real” Christian, believers must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses. If they did not, these Galatians maintained, the uncircumcised lawbreakers were not saved. Paul urgently and vehemently condemned this false, works-based gospel, saying “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned” (Galatians 1:8).
If Paul were speaking to the church today, he would tell us that any and all man-made rules and traditions are not to stifle the saints of God. Paul made it crystal clear in his letter to the Galatians where we are direct our focus:
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
How is it with you? Whose opinion have you been most concerned with lately? Have you been seeking the applause of man? Or the approval of God? We must remember that our Christianity is in no way tied to compliance to any “rules” and “regulations.” You see, God already completely approves of you because of His Son. You cannot earn His favor or cause Him to frown. You are completely loved in the Beloved. So go live like it, Christian, looking only to the One who says to you, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!