“Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
In the book of Galatians, Paul places great emphasis on freedom. Why is freedom so important?
Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah to explain that we are “children of promise” (4:28) and not “children of the slave woman” (4:31). We live by faith. Faith that God keeps his promises. Faith that we can rest on the finished work of Christ. Faith that we are made righteous by trusting God. Yet, we find it easier to follow a set of rules than trust God on a daily basis. It’s easier to check “the rules” than to seek God about a particular course of action.
The Galatians had discovered that submitting to Jewish law was an easier, simpler way to live, and it meant less persecution than standing firm in the freedom God had given them. But Paul isn’t pleased, he calls them, “foolish Galatians!” (3:1) because “if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (2:21).
Similarly, Paul wrote to the church in Rome about this explaining how Abraham was credited with righteousness because of faith. “The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone but also for us to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:23).
We are credited with righteousness because of faith, not obedience. This is why freedom is important. We can only live in freedom if we live by faith. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).