In our first two posts, we looked at legalism. Today I want to sketch what “Freedom” means for Paul, and then next week I want to sketch some simple procedures we can use to liberate ourselves from legalism.
Freedom is an Act of God to set us free from sin, from the condemnation of sin, from the system of evil and injustice, and from the clutches of Satan. Freedom, though, is also positive: it is an Act of God to empower us to live in righteousness, to live without judgment and fear, to live courageously to do good and justice, and to live apart from the enslaving effects of Satan.
I find the following elements in Paul’s “theology of freedom”:
1. God is the one who liberates us: Gal 3:10-14; 5:1, 13.
2. God liberates us from sin and the system and Satan and the Torah through the death of Christ, who absorbs the curse of sin, death and the law by becoming the curse (Gal 1:4; 2:4; 3:13; 4:5). In this category, Christ is the Liberator through the Cross.
3. God liberates us from sin and the system and Satan and the Torah by empowering us with the Holy Spirit to be and do what God wants: 2 Cor 3:17; Rom 8:2.
4. God liberates us from the things that enslave us: Gal 2:4; 5:3-4, 12.
5. God actualizes this liberation in us at an inner, or existential, level: humans sense they have been set free (though they may not always sense this). I think we see this in the transforming elements of Gal 5:16-26.
6. God liberates us to make us slaves to Christ (1 Cor 7:22), God (Rom 6:22), and to righteousness (Rom 6:18).
7. God liberates us so we can accomplish a new social, ecclesial form of life: this is the point of Gal 3:28 (one in Christ) and the empowerment to love (Gal 5:16-26) and the freedom to cross boundaries (1 Cor 9:19-23).