The first time I sat down to write about Galatians, I did so for my own benefit. I did it because I felt drained. I felt locked up by time, by wantonness, and by contentment that felt just out of reach.
Somehow, somewhere, God led me to Galatians 5:1. I encourage you to write it out somewhere, anywhere, and let it be the song of your breath for the next six weeks as we study:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
I began writing out the truth of God for myself, asking questions like:
What does God think about freedom?
Why does He value it enough to sacrifice for it?
Where do I get it?
What makes us feel so enslaved even when we’re free?
And finally, the words that are still written across the pages of my Bible to this day,
In what ways are we held captive that God never intended?
The Apostle Paul knew freedom. He tasted it for the first time on the road to Damascus. Read Acts 9:1-5:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
Who are You, Lord?
Doesn’t that just change everything?
To understand freedom, real freedom…not this freedom that the world offers, that feels amazing for a second and then disappears like cotton candy does the moment it first touches your tongue, but freedom that settles deep, that endures through the struggle, and raises its fists with you on the mountaintop – that freedom, from God alone, seeping into our lives, begins with this question:
Who are You, Lord?
With Paul, in this study we’ll come head to head with our search for freedom, particularly in six shapes:
Chasing approval – we want people to like us, we want to be seen as ok, good enough, worthwhile
Chasing unity – we want to get along, avoid conflict, for everyone to have the same opinion, wouldn’t that be easier? Freeing?
Chasing foolish – we want to feel good for the moment, we like our plans, our ideas, and we chase after them even if it hurts, we try to meet expectations for ourselves that we would never apply to anyone else
Chasing knowledge – we give half our hearts so we don’t get hurt, we muscle through changes by the skin of our teeth, we seek to know more, but miss being known
Chasing self – we try to do it our way, handle it all ourselves…if we let the Spirit lead, we might step into a pit; love, joy, peace, and all that sound great, but we feel vaguely uncertain how they ever work in our actual lives
Chasing “a little bit better” – we thank God for redemption, but wonder if He’s actually capable of restoration
These may seem harsh. There will be some that you don’t struggle with. Some you struggle with more than others. Some you don’t even know what in the world I’m talking about yet. It’s cool, because we aren’t chasing freedom. Instead, we’re asking the question:
Who are You, Lord?
alongside Paul and letting God bring the freedom to us.
In fact, this is Paul’s entire argument for the book of Galatians. When Paul planted a church in Galatia, in the middle of modern day Turkey, and then was called to move on, I’m sure he prayed over those believers like nobody’s business. I’m sure he poured his heart into them, because that was what Paul did. Take a peek into the character of his ministry in 2 Corinthians 6:11-12:
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.
Paul knew free. Note, he spoke the Gospel in freedom. He loved affectionately in freedom. He suggested that freedom was a little bit brighter in affection together.
So when the Galatians were giving up their freedom, handing it over on a platter to some people who thought they needed to do more, be more, Paul began a letter to tell them a little more about freedom, to outline it for them. From justification to sanctification, I love that my study Bible points out that the book of Galatians is about finding a solution. Don’t we all just need a few more solutions in life, rather than rolling around in the problem?
Everything Paul presents, he presents so that the Galatians remain in the only thing that ever offers freedom, the foundation of all freedom we find in our life – from relationships, to expectations, to planning, to walking, running, or crawling in faith and life.
We can trust and believe in God’s Word, through Paul. Galatians 1:1-2 presents to the church in Galatia why they should listen to Paul and where his authority comes from, and these are the same reasons we are going to trust this book for the next six weeks of our lives, why we’re going to let Paul’s/God’s Word work in our hearts and our minds also. Read Galatians 1:1-2 below:
Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Who is Paul sent by? Who does Paul’s Word belong to in inerrant Scripture?
Yep. Jesus Christ. Son of God. Winner of our freedom. Lover of our hearts and souls.
Paul doesn’t need any other credentials to teach the Galatians, or us. Jesus lives and speaks through His Word and His people.
Paul has been there. He chased freedom on the Damascus road, thinking he could find it in success, in reputation, in ambition, in man’s approval.
What did he find?
Only Jesus frees.
He frees Paul. He frees you. He frees me.
I’m so excited to learn and grow with you all over the next six weeks! I’m excited to hear more from Paul, more from our Lord, and to open many pages and passages across the Scriptures these next weeks to sit in the freedom won for us.
Who are You, Lord?
I am your freedom.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
Discussion Questions- if you feel so led, answer one or more of the questions in the comments, or use with your group:
What do you “do” in any given day? How do you share the Gospel in the daily places and pieces of your life?
If someone asked you “Who is the Lord?” how would you answer?
Look up the following three passages and note: Who was called? by whom? What were they doing when they were called?