Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Note 1 at Ga 5:1: "Stand fast" is an expression of the Greek word "STEKO." STEKO means "to stand firm...persevere...to hold one's ground" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon). Just as countries must persevere to maintain freedom and protection of their rights, so also must we stand fast in protecting our spiritual freedom.
Paul's admonition to "stand fast" also reveals that our freedom in Christ doesn't function automatically. We have a part to play. Our adversary, the devil, is always seeking whom he may devour (1Pe 5:8). Legalism is one of his greatest weapons, and we must resist every attempt he makes to draw us back into self-effort (1Pe 5:9).
Note 2 at Ga 5:1: When you see the word "therefore," you need to stop and think what that word is there for. The word links what Paul was saying here with what he said in the previous verses.
Paul had just compared being under the Law to being a descendant of the slave woman, Hagar, and therefore not an heir of the promises of God (see note 3 at Ga 4:22). Therefore, since none of us want to be cast out from the inheritance of God, we need to steadfastly defend our liberty that we have received through faith in Christ.
Note 3 at Ga 5:1: The word "liberty" means "1.a. The condition of being free from restriction or control. b. The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing. c. The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor" (American Heritage Dictionary). The liberty that Paul was speaking of is specifically the freedom from the oppression of the Old Testament Law (see note 4 at Ro 3:19).
Of course, Paul was not out of control. He was controlled by his love for the Lord instead of his fear of punishment for breaking the O.T. Law. Paul made it clear in Ga 5:13-15 that this liberty is not freedom to sin but freedom from sin. If we use our freedom in Christ to indulge our sinful passions, we will pay a price (see note 5 at Ga 5:15).
Note 4 at Ga 5:1: The word "entangled" in Greek carries the idea of being "ensnared or held in a net" (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament). The bondage that had ensnared the Galatians was the Law's demands in which they were trying to find God's favor or acceptance through performance.
God paid the ultimate price for our liberty. Freedom from self-justification through the Law was purchased by Christ upon the cross. We must never let anything or anyone bring us back into bondage again.
Note 5 at Ga 5:1: The context makes it very clear that this "yoke of bondage" that Paul was speaking of is the Old Testament Law. This is a strong statement and leaves no doubt that the Law was not for the purpose of liberty but bondage (see note 4 at Ro 3:19 and note 5 at Ro 7:11).
Contrast the Law's "yoke of bondage" with what Christ said in Mt 11:29-30: "Take my yoke upon you...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (see note 2 at Mt 11:29).
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