“Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
Though I have been unable to say very much lately, my research has continued to grow on the subject of freedom in Christ. I find today’s text to be worth contemplating.
The following illustration is titled Personal Liberty of the Christian, by H. W. Beecher:
The doctrine of St. Paul is not that a Christian man has a right to liberty in conduct, thought, and speech in and of himself, without regard to external circumstances, interests, organizations, and without reference to his own condition.
Paul's conception of the rights and liberties of men stands on the philosophical ground underneath all those things. Rights and liberties belong to stages or states of condition. The inferior has not the right of the superior.
A stupid man has not the right of an educated or intelligent man. He may have the legal rights; but the higher ones, that spring out of the condition of the soul, must stand on the conditions to which they belong.
A refined man has rights and joys that an unrefined man has not and cannot have, because he cannot understand them, does not want them, could not use them.
Rights increase as the man increases — increases, that is, not merely in physical stature, or in skill of manual employment or material strength, but in character.
So, as men work up higher and higher towards the Divine standard of character, their rights and liberties increase. The direct influence of Christ is to bring the human mind into its highest elements.
The power of the Divine nature upon the human soul is to lift it steadily away from animalism or from the flesh — the under-man — up through the realm of mere material wisdom and accomplishment, in the direction of soul-power, reason, rectitude — such reason and such rectitude as grow up under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
When love has permeated the whole man, he then has perfect liberty — liberty of thought, liberty of speech, liberty of conduct. A perfect Christian is the one and only creature that has absolute liberty unchecked by law, by institution, by foregoing thoughts of men, by public sentiment.
Because a perfect man is in unison with the Divine soul, he has the whole liberty of God in himself, according to the measure of his manhood. But he has liberty to do only what he wants to do, and he wants to do nothing that is not within the bounds and benefit of a pure and true love.
He becomes a law to himself; that is, he carries in himself that inspiration of love which is the mother of all good law. He is higher than any law. His will is with God's will. He thinks what is true; he does what is benevolent.