1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
This verse should come at the end of chapter 4 — “therefore”
liberty — freedom from bondage to the law, or anything else
again — the Galatians were formerly in bondage to paganism
yoke — binding two things together so neither can move independently
John 8:36 — Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
2 Corinthians 3:17 — Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Christian liberty is:
imperiled by legalism (5:1-12)
perverted as license (5:13-26)
perfected in love (6:1-10)
In the present passage the bondage immediately contemplated is to those rites and ceremonies prescribed in a law that could not give either freedom in the present or hope for the future (Hebrews 7:18-19); but the principle is of the widest application.
Human freedom, eleutheria, that in which man was originally created, is not liberty to do wrong or to indulge oneself, it is liberty to obey God. Man is so constituted that only as he pleased God can he be happy in the higher, the spiritual, part of his nature, and efficient for the great ends for which he was created. The essence of the Fall lay in this, that man used his endowment of freedom against the giver of it. Instead of enhancing and extending his freedom by his disobedience, however, man’s first exercise of his will apart from God brought him into bondage to a new master, sin (Romans 6:17-18; 7:14) working through a threefold agency, the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:16-17; 3:8). Thus sin is not the true master of men, but a usurper, ruling with rigor, albeit the rule is disguised so that not even the wisest seems capable of recognizing it apart from the teaching of the Spirit of God.
Christian freedom is secured for men in the redemption of Christ, which is to reach its full fruition at His coming again (Romans 8:21; 7:24-25). Meanwhile the believer is to claim, to assert and to enjoy, the freedom that is his in Christ, but in so doing he will encounter many opposing forces, and these the apostle Paul usually sums up in the word “flesh.” Christian freedom is not liberty to the Christian to please himself; it is liberty for the new life which is his in Christ to develop in the leading of His Spirit (Romans 8:14), and according to its own nature despite the antagonism of the flesh, for “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,” i.e., the Spirit of Christ. — Vine, page 227.
We can best approach the study of this verse by offering the translation at the start. For this aforementioned freedom, Christ set us free. Keep on standing firm therefore, and stop being held again by a yoke of bondage.
The liberty spoken of here does not refer to the kind of life a person lives, neither does it have reference to his words and actions, but it has to do with the method by which he lives that life. The Judaizers lived their lives by dependence upon self effort in an attempt to obey the law. The Galatians Christians had been living theirs in dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit. Their hearts had been occupied with the Lord Jesus, the details of their lives being guided by the ethics that emerged from the teaching of the apostles, both doctrinal and practical. Now, in swinging over to law, they were losing that freedom of action and that flexibility of self-determination which one exercises in the doing of what is right, when one does right, not because the law forbids the wrong and commands the right, but because it is right, because it pleases the Lord Jesus, and because of love for Him. Paul exhorts them to keep on standing fast in that freedom from law. — Wuest, pages 136-137.
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