"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)The Greek word translated here as "subject" means more to be entangled or snared. It literally means to "hold in." Darby translates this verse, "Christ has set us free in freedom; stand fast therefore, and be not held again in a yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1 Darby) When we come under the law we are held in bondage by more than our submission to it. The law entangles us and enslaves us by its demands and its decrees. In time our participation in the law becomes more than voluntary slaver. The law holds us in by its subjection of our lives. The law is a yolk from which we cannot escape until we have fulfilled every jot and tittle of its commands.
God did not save us that we might be brought back into bondage. Jesus did not set us free only to re-enslave us to the law and to religion. We have been set free and God desires us to remain free. Any teaching that would seek to restore us to bondage is not from God nor in keeping with the message we have received from Him. He has set us free and He desires us to remain free.
Often the challenge of our Christian walk is not to become free, for Christ has already done that for us, but to remain free, which takes vigilance and perseverance on our part. The personal price of freedom is often very low for often others have already paid the price for us. For example, living in the USA we enjoy the freedoms that others paid dearly to provide for us. They paid the price for what we now freely experience. However, the personal cost of remaining free can often be very high. The cost of maintaining our national freedoms often requires personal vigilance, citizenship, and determination not to relinquish our freedoms for what might seem an easier life. Today there are many who would gladly surrender their freedom for the ease of having others take care of them and manage their lives.
There was a time when the nation of Israel lived as slaves in Egypt and they longed to be free. So God sent Moses as their deliver and, through a series of signs and miracles, Pharaoh was persuaded to let them go. However, as they left Egypt and proceeded into the wilderness, times got difficult and their freedom began to require work and effort on their part. As they looked back they began to long for their days of ease even if it meant slavery. They retorted to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (Exodus 14:11-12) and "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." (Numbers 11:4-6) When times got tough they were quick to surrender their freedom for ease, even if it meant bondage, Josephus writes,
"That they ought to reason thus: that God delays to assist them, not because he has no regard to them, but because he will first try their fortitude, and the pleasure they take in their freedom." Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews. 3.5.4 vs 19Our Christian walk will test us, but at those times let us not look back and long for the past but look forward to the promises ahead. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the prize. Let us not surrender our future and our freedom for the supposed ease of our old ways. The things we have gained are far more precious then the things we have left behind. Let us not look back but press forward. Let us not only be free, but live in a way to remain free.