You are not Free if You are a Slave to Religion

In listening to ThroughTheWord’s lesson on Galatians chapter 6, Pastor Kris Langham said something very interesting. The word “religion” actually means re-bind-up. Think of the word “ligature”, which means “a thing used for tying or binding something tightly.” Now, that was an eye-opening revelation!

I remember as a kid growing up Catholic, I was more worried about breaking a rule rather than why I was in church in the first place — to learn about Jesus.

Jesus told us when he quoted the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4…

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”…

…“The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Luke 4:18-19, 21

Captives? What captives? The Jews who were bound by the law.

Freedom from the Law

As we finish with the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, let’s review a couple of key points. The Galatians began in grace, but let legalism slip into their beliefs.

  1. A believer is no longer under the law, but is saved by faith and grace alone. Judaism is said to be the cradle of Christianity, and we need to think of Paul as the Moses of the Christian church who delivered us from the bondage of the law. Galatians is like the Declaration of Independence for born-again believers.
    20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. ~Galatians 2:20-21 NLT
    Jesus didn’t die so we could have religion!
    So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. ~Galatians 5:1 NLT
  2. Freedom doesn’t mean we are free to sin so we can get more grace points! That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in and we’re supposed to “walk in the Spirit”. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! ~Galatians 5:16, 22-23

Galatians 6

Paul finishes his letter with good advice on Christian Living…

We Harvest What We Plant (or reap what you sow)

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Paul’s Final Advice in His Own Handwriting

11 Notice what large letters I use as I write these closing words in my own handwriting.

12 Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. 13 And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples.

14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

17 From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.

18 Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Galatians 6 NLT

Jesus Paid the Price for Our Freedom

Photo by Alem Su00e1nchez on Pexels.com

We are freed from sin — justified — by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross when He died bearing all our sins. However, freedom is deceptive. If you are bound by law — religion — then you’re not really free, are you?

But temptation is everywhere! Sure, and that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in as our gentle guide, convicting us like a loving parent. Like when you mom stops you from touching the hot stove, “No, honey, you’ll get burned.”

You are not free if you belong to religion. Your freedom is through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. If Jesus truly set us free, then why do we bind ourselves in religion that gets us nowhere?

It’s because many “religious” or “spiritual” people don’t really have the Holy Spirit in their hearts! I didn’t for over 50 years!

How to Invite Jesus into Your Heart

Jesus won’t force Himself into your life. You have to surrender your life to Him and invite Him into your heart. To do that you must…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

Pray this prayer humbly and wholeheartedly…

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Please forgive me. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and my life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. I surrender my whole life to you and I will follow you for the rest of my life. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Next Steps in Your New Walk with Jesus…

  1. Start reading the Bible daily. If you don’t have one, I recommend the YouVersion, Bible.app and Through the Word app — both are free and have a lot of great daily devotionals and Bible studies.
  2. Pray every day. Talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily.
  3. Find and join a Bible-believing church — preferably a non-denominational one and be baptized!

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!

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