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This is What Freedom Feels Like

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Published: May 25, 2022
This is What Freedom Feels Like Plus

Whenever we feel bondage in this life, it is often because we have placed unrealistic expectations on others and ourselves. We do it to ourselves. Others do it to us. Christ never does it to us.

Before the age of ten, I was a carefree tomboy who ran in the wind and spontaneously attacked every day of life like it was my last. Most of my hours were spent reading, dancing, eating, swimming, talking, and volunteering. I loved animals. I loved Jesus. And I loved living life. Few of my days included chaos, anxiety, stress, and fear.

As Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' song featuring Kesha notes, 

"I wish somebody would have told me babe

Some day, these will be the good old days

All the love you won't forget

And all these reckless nights you won't regret

Someday soon, your whole life's gonna change

You'll miss the magic of these good old days."

I wish somebody would have told me that a quest for perfection would rob me of mistakes that enable me to learn.

I wish somebody would have told me that eating disorders and obsessions with exercise as coping mechanisms for control never keep the promises they offer.

I wish I didn't have to grow up so fast and would have realized that adulthood is inevitable, but Christ desires for us to be life-long children at heart.

I wish I would have loved and served friends and family more when I was too preoccupied with maintaining religion.

I wish I had realized that being robbed of freedom never shows up as a robber but looks like the fulfillment of everything you ever wanted. 

Freedom in Christ

In Galatians 5:1-12, Paul describes freedom in Christ as freely given to us for the sake of being free. Christ gave us freedom and set us free because He desired to do that for us.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1a, NIV). 

But quickly, we learn in that same verse that one can easily enslave themselves if they aren't on guard.

"Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1b, NIV).

Whenever we feel bondage in this life, it is often because we have placed unrealistic expectations on others and ourselves. We do it to ourselves. Others do it to us. Christ never does it to us.

Stand Firm

Although Galatians 5 highlights Paul's address to the Galatians, it is a message that still rings true in this day and age. 

In Galatians 5, Paul told those telling the Galatians that they needed to be circumcised to be saved were discrediting the cross of Christ.

"Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law" (Galatians 5:2-3, NIV). 

People in the year 2022, nine times out of ten, are not questioning circumcision. But we often let ourselves be burdened by yokes of slavery-by things that claim us, and it is a challenging fight. If it were not, why else would Paul tell us to stand firm?

If the Galatians went back to this belief that it was the Law that made them right with God, how much more likely are we to fall into the same trap? But if the Law made one right with God, there would be no reason for Christ to have died.

Stand by Grace

Works cannot, do not, and will not set us free.

We cannot save ourselves, and the same applies to us when we run back to religion, volunteer hours, service, and works to set us free. Or things disguised as freedom (addictions, struggles, perfection, disorders that attempt to convey peace) but only breed discontent! 

Addictions offer temporary relief.

Struggles remind us of why we are not worthy to be saved.

Perfection tricks us into thinking if only then I will be accepted.

Disorders' diagnoses offer comfort but leave us in earthly bondage.

But let me be clear: It is by grace through faith, and not by the Law, that sets us free. It is Jesus' death on a cross and not our works or attempts at religious perfection that make us worthy to be saved. If that were the case, we would aimlessly and hopelessly strive for an impossible destination for the rest of our lives. 

"You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:4-6, NIV). 

Stay In the Race

At one time, the Galatians ran in Christ's freedom race. This is why verse 7 says, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?" (Galatians 5:7, NIV). But perhaps they started hearing other voices and opinions that made them doubt the truth. Voices that sound like:

If you aren't productive, you aren't worthy.

Did Jesus really fulfill the Law?

Did God really say that?

Has Christ truly set you free?

If you don't read your Bible enough, can you really call yourself a Christian?

What if you get all these people saved, but you aren't saved?

Those doubts mean you aren't saved.

You must be perfect and maintain perfection.

You need to be circumcised to prove yourself.

Would someone love you enough to die for you?

No one would love you and choose to die for you.

Don't you know who you are and what you have done?

These voices grow loud, and before we know it, they are all we hear. All we listen to and bow down in obedience to without realizing it. 

As Galatians 5:7-9 says, however, it is clear that these voices and oppositions of persuasion do not come from the one whose name is Prince of Peace. They come from the one whose name is the Father of Lies.

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough" (Galatians 5:7-9, NIV; bold emphasis added). 

Paul boldly told the Galatians this: You were running a race. Stay in the race. Don't listen to anything other than the Word of Christ. And if it counters Christ, throw it off! The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus, who you know, came to give free life and life to the full (John 10:10). 

Paul also boldly preached the Gospel of Scripture and was not afraid to do so faithfully. Anything else the Galatians, or we, believe that is not Christ crucified discredits the miraculous grace of the cross. 

Don't Discredit the Cross

Every time we accept a lie as God's truth, every time we trade in His gift with an attempt to prove ourselves or win our way to His grace, we discredit the dignity, mercy, and salvation He has graciously bestowed upon us. But Paul tells us, don't discredit the cross!

However, in response to those causing and claiming these beliefs, he says, shame on you! You should be emasculated (deprived of male role/identity/ and entire male parts)! Yikes! Talk about bold and graphic, but Paul makes a point.

To make anything other than Christ's sacrifice of body and blood on the cross is a poor substitution for righteousness that will fail every time. 

"I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" (Galatians 5:10-12, NLT).

The next time we are tempted to run back to the Law, let us be reminded that doing so rejects the grace shed for our forgiveness and freedom. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14-17 that if Christ did not die, and had not risen from the dead, his preaching, and our faith would be useless. We are slaves to sin without Christ.

But Christ crucified brings freedom. How much sweeter is that than attempting to fill your own Law or religion?

This is what freedom feels like. 

Agape, Amber

Photo Cfredit: ©Pixabay/Congerdesign

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a young adult writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic worship arts, and volunteer roles. She is enrolled in the YWW Author Conservatory to become a full-time author and is a featured writer for Crosswalk, ibelieve, Salem Web Network, The Rebelution, Daughter of Delight, Kallos, Anchored Passion, No Small Life, and Darling Magazine. In the past, she's also contributed to Called Christian Writers, Southern Ohio Today News, Ohio Christian University, and The Circleville Herald. Visit her website at amberginter.com.