Liberty and Love

The first Christians were Jews just as Jesus was a Jew and His apostles were Jewish.   Then God gave His Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household to prove that Gentiles were also accepted and could receive forgiveness of their sins through Jesus Christ (Acts 10).  Afterwards, some Jewish Christians insisted that the Gentiles had to keep the Law of Moses to include being circumcised.   The apostles and elders met in Jerusalem (Acts 15) and concluded that the gentiles were not required to keep the Law; they were free from the Law with all of its regulations, commandments and ceremonies.  In discussing this fact, the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13-14 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Today, you have been called to liberty.  You are free from the Law.  You are free to eat all kinds of animals.  1 Timothy 4:4-5 “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”  You are free from being required to offer animal sacrifices for your sins.  You are free from being required to observe the three annual feasts.  You are free from being required to be circumcised.  There are many, many rules and regulations in the Law from which you are free and are not required to know and faithfully observe.  But that doesn’t mean that you are at liberty to indulge in your fleshly desires.  You are not at liberty to be sexual immoral or be a glutton or a drunkard or a greedy person.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  You were washed, sanctified, and justified and you are now a slave to righteousness.  Romans 6:18 “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  In contrast to being required to keep the Law, through love we serve one another.  God the Father and Jesus Christ are examples of serving you through love.  Jesus gave the commandment to love.  John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.   By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  You are also taught to love your neighbor and your enemy.  Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  Husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and wives are to love their husbands (Titus 2:4).  The Christian emphasis is on love.

The Apostle Paul also told the Roman church that love fulfills the Law.  Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  The Ten Commandments are the foundation of the Law.  The first three commandments are to have no other gods before God, to not make and worship any image, and to not take the name of the Lord in vain.  If you love God, you will naturally not do any of these things.  The fifth commandment is to honor your father and mother; if you love them, you will honor them.  The sixth commandment is to not murder; if you love your neighbor and your enemy you will not murder them.  The seventh commandment is to not commit adultery; if you love your spouse you will refrain from adultery.  The eighth commandment is to not steal; if you love your neighbor, you will not take anything that belongs to him.  The ninth commandment is to not bear false witness against your neighbor; again, if you love your neighbor you will only speak truth about him.  The tenth commandment is to not covet anything of your neighbor; again, if you love your neighbor you will be happy that he has whatever possession he has and you will not covet it. 

Interestingly, the fourth commandment is to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; I do not see this commandment to be fulfilled by love.  Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).  Perhaps the Sabbath was given to man as an act of love by God.

You have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  As a Christian, you are commanded to love.  Let love be your emphasis in life – love for God, neighbor, brother and sister in Christ, spouse, and your enemy.