11/09/81 Abused Freedom

READING: Galatians 5-6

“. . . don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.”

Galatians 5:13

As a young pastor, I was quite legalistic. I was sure the Bible speaks only in terms of black and white (that is, there were no gray areas), and anyone who disagreed with my positions was surely wrong. I learned to preach messages along those same lines, and I found out quickly that I could secure many “amens” as long as I was preaching about the sins of other people outside my church. I’m embarrassed now to have written those very words.

On the other side of legalism, though, is another issue Paul confronted in Galatians 5: abusing the liberty that God gives us. The apostle described the issue this way: “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love” (Gal. 5:13). When we think that our Christian freedom gives us permission to live however we wish, we’ve turned again to let the flesh control us. We put ourselves back on the throne—hardly in a position that allows us to “serve one another through love.”

I suspect that many of us battle at times with both the slavery of legalism and the sinfulness of abused liberty. Sometimes we’re even legalistic about one matter but then libertine about another one.

Thus, we follow God faithfully and fully only when we moment-by-moment, second-by-second lean on Him. Walking on our own, we will fall into a ditch somewhere.


  • Ask God to help you see if you fall into either of these ditches.
  • Make deliberate decisions to serve others through love today.

PRAYER: “Father, help me to lean on You fully today. Keep me out of ditches.”