This edition of our newsletter briefly details Paul’s conception of believers’ freedom from the requirements of the Old Testament. The law puts people in bondage but does not them free. Jesus is the only person who sets sinners completely free (Rom 8:36). As believers, we have been given liberty through Christ.
Christians are, therefore, being encouraged to stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1). Peter also calls the Mosaic law a yoke in Acts 15:9-11, 23-29.
Liberty and freedom have been or are usually used interchangeably. Webster defines freedom as a state of exemption from the power or control of another, and liberty as exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. It is seen as freedom from restraint and it is applicable to the will or mind of persons. A person enjoys liberty or freedom when s/he is not under coercion to act or not to act (Webster). Liberty or freedom as a concept encompasses freedom of the press or media, natural, political, civil or religious liberties. But in this Newsletter, the focus is on our freedom from the practice of Mosaic law, as a result of the sacrifice of our Lord, Christ Jesus.
As Christians, we have been set free from the following laws:
- The demands to be circumcised (Gal 5:2, 3, 6, 11, Acts 15:5, )
- Sabbath and observance of days (Col 2:15-18, Mat 12:1-12, Lk 13:15, Jn 7:22-23)
- Burnt or animal sacrifices for sin (Heb 10:1-11)
- Levitical Priesthood (Heb 7:5-24)
- Forbidden meat, food and drink (Rom 14:1-23)
- Diverse washings of the body (Heb 9:9-11)
The observance of the above practices does not bring us true salvation and neither does it contribute to it. Our salvation is purely the work of grace but not the work of flesh (law) as it is written:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10)
From Acts chapter 15, what needs to be retained in the Old Testament laws include abstaining from;
- Meats or foods offered to idols. This implies idol worshipping itself is sin (Rom 1:22-23)
- From blood and from things strangled
- Fornication (Acts 15: 29) and sexual immorality in general (Gal 5:19-21)
- Homosexual relationships (Rom 1:21-28)
One law that was instituted by Moses which was repealed by Jesus Christ was that of divorce (Mat 19:6-12). This is also repeated by Paul, the Apostle (1Co 7:10-17). In as much as it depends on us as believers, we should resolve our differences peacefully in the light of scriptures. Divorce is not the best option for us. Seek proper counseling and be ready to come to a compromise.
Concerning the law, Paul strongly contends that now we are delivered from the law, that being dead in that in which we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter (Rom 7:6). If any person persuades you to obey Moses, do understand that such persuasion cometh not of God that calls you (Gal 5:8). Yielding to the law of Moses would only trouble your souls. Paul wishes that they that persuade believers to follow mosaic laws bear God´s judgment, whosoever they might be (Gal 5:10).
It should be emphasized that the moral laws of Moses in the Old Testament have not been Abolished. The New Testament authors reinforce them several times in their writings. It is the ceremonial laws that have been done away with in Christ Jesus.
Caution: The necessity of righteous living
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Gal 5:13). Though we have received our liberty from the mosaic law, we have been warned to avoid sinning. Thus, our freedom in Christ does not immunize us against anything unwholesome. We are not under the law but we are being encouraged to abstain from such vices as recorded below:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
Lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).
Our freedom in Christ demands that we live by righteousness because, it is written, nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord God knows them that are His. So, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2Ti 2:19). As believers, we must be guided by the Spirit of God and our consciences in the choices that we make.
Prayer: Dear Lord, as we celebrate our freedom in you, may you guide us through the path of righteousness, so that we might live to please your holy name. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.