Galatians 5:13 ends with an exhortation for believers in God’s grace not to use their freedom to sin, but use it to “serve one another through love.” Then in Galatians 5:14, Paul quotes Leviticus, but he quotes it from the way 14 love thy neighborJesus used it himself. Paul wrote, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Paul made it clear that our freedom in Christ is not a license to sin or to wallow in self-indulgence of any kind. The word for “serve” is the word for what a slave does. Interesting that Paul has been preaching freedom on the one had yet “servitude” on the other. Although this probably sounded contradictory to the Galatians, and to us, it is not. Martin Luther captured this contradiction in his famous proposition, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” Paul argues that both statements are correct! They are completely resolved in love.

We often think when we indulge ourselves, our egos, our sexual desires, our hungers, and knowledge, and all other things “human” we are really free! The truth is living according to the desires of the flesh is the exact opposite of freedom. Paul urges believers not to let their fallen human natures (the Flesh) to dominate their lives. By doing so, they simply surrender themselves as slaves to their own lusts and interests. If we give in to our human natures, if we let it have its way with us, it will take over our lives entirely and we will be complete slaves. Leroy Lawson observed, “Historian Edith Hamilton, commenting on the decline of Athens, has written somewhere that when the freedom the Athenians wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. They succumbed to the flesh.”

Freedom to indulge of “selves” only lead to one result and Paul points that out in Galatians 5:15. He writes, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Total self-indulgence is the exact opposite of love. The solution to a meaningful life is not one of self-indulgence at all. It’s one of voluntary service to others. I like the way Jon Courson puts it. He writes, “If I’m not going to party anymore, you say, what am I going to do? Serve one another! But I’m so bored. Serve one another! Pour yourself into people. Get involved in talking to others who are doomed and damned and struggling. You’ll find that talking to them about eternal issues will be more exciting and thrilling than anything you’ve ever done. Get involved in the things of the kingdom, and you won’t miss the old stuff at all.” I would add, you will not only not miss the old life at all, you will be truly free!