Freedom and Responsibility
By Charles Stanley
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:13-15
Years ago a friend of mine made some decisions that changed the course of his life. He’d been a faithful pastor but became convinced that freedom in Christ meant he could do almost anything he wanted. I warned that such choices would come back to haunt him, but he refused to be held accountable and kept going down that path until he finally had to leave the ministry. He did exactly what Paul cautioned against: using freedom as an opportunity to sin.
The context for freedom in today’s passage is the Old Testament Law. Believers are freed from the demands of the Law—that’s because Jesus Christ fulfilled it by living a perfect life and paying the penalty for sin with His death on the cross. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith, not by good works.
However, liberty doesn’t cancel out responsibility. For example, people are free to pursue different desires, but if we decide we don’t have to obey the law, we will quickly discover that we’re accountable to the courts for how we use our freedom.
Let’s examine ourselves to be sure an attitude of selfish freedom hasn’t crept into our thinking. A reluctance to be honest, an unwillingness to be held accountable, and a strong desire to have our own way could be indications.
If we trust Jesus with our salvation, we have been freed from slavery to sin, but we’re to use that freedom to obey Christ and serve others through love. Romans 14:7 puts it this way: “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”—that is, we’re accountable to both God and each other.