By Neil Anderson
If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law
Paul said that walking according to the Spirit is not license: an excessive or undisciplined freedom constituting an abuse of privilege. As a Christian you may see the phrase “You are not under the Law” in Galatians 5:18 and exclaim, “Wow, I’m free! Walking in the Spirit means I can do anything I want!” Not at all. In the previous verse Paul wrote, “You may not do the things that you please.” Being led by the Spirit doesn’t mean you are free to do anything you want to do. It means you are finally free to live a responsible, moral life–something you were incapable of doing when you were the prisoner of your flesh.
Once I was invited to speak to a religion class at a Catholic high school on the topic of Protestant Christianity. At the end of my talk, an athletic-looking, street-wise student raised his hand and asked, “Do you have a lot of don’ts in your church?”
Sensing that he had a deeper motive, I answered, “What you really want to ask me is if we have any freedom, right?” He nodded.
“Sure, I’m free to do whatever I want to do,” I answered. “I’m free to rob a bank. But I’m mature enough to realize that I would be in bondage to that act for the rest of my life. I’d have to cover up my crime, go into hiding, or eventually pay for what I did. I’m also free to tell a lie. But if I do, I have to keep telling it, and I have to remember who I told it to and how I told it or I will get caught. I’m free to do drugs, abuse alcohol, and live a sexually immoral lifestyle. All of those ‘freedoms’ lead to bondage. I’m free to make those choices, but considering the consequences, would I really be free?”
What appears to be freedom to some people isn’t really freedom, but a return to bondage (Galatians 5:1). God’s laws, from which we seek to be free, are not restrictive, but protective. Your real freedom is your ability to choose to live responsibly within the context of the protective guidelines God has established for our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the privilege I have to choose to live in freedom. Help me not to abuse that privilege today and find myself in bondage.