A Short Study of Galatians 5:1
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made is free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
I have felt so much of the spirit of legal bondage since I could call Jesus my Lord and my God, that I declare in the presence of God, I would not go through it again for a thousand worlds. Paul knew what it was to be made “all things to all men; as under the law to them that were under the law.” And I much question that there is one child, twenty years old in grace, that has not felt this yoke or at some time been influenced with this spieit of bondage.
I shall mention a few things that generally proceed this yoke of bondage, as procuring causes of it.
1. One is an itching ear. The Galatians and the Corinthians were not satisfied with the truth, nor yet with the apostle; and therefore got this legal leaven by the ministers of Satan. They turned their ears from the truth and got the law that genders to bondage.
2. Rash and unrighteous censuring and judging the Lord’s people, making His preachers offenders for a word, or for condemning what they never felt, what they never understood, and what they cannot disprove, is most sure in the end to bring in this yoke, and themselves to the bar of judgment; for to condemn the just is an abomination to God. A man who judges in spiritual matters must be a person in good experience of church authority and of good discernment; and one who has truth in the root, truth in view, and the honour of God, and not his own, at heart.
3. Prejudice conceived and enmity cherished against the heart in the preacher, or against a brother without just cause (or even if there be real cause), is sure sooner or later to bring on this legal bondage. The servant that obtained forgiveness for ten thousand talents could not forgive his brother a debt of five-hundred pence; he was therefore delivered to the bondage of the law, the wrath of God, the lashes of conscience and the darts of Satan; all of which tormented him till he could yield that submission and resignation to God, and that affection for his brother that is due unto God and his brother for God’s sake. “Never,” says the wise man, “judge another person till thou hast put thyself in his place”
“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself…And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1; Romans 2:8)
4. Reading erroneous books and attempting to be “wise above what is written” has betrayed many into the entanglements of this yoke of bondage. When a false fire, and fresh views of things, have wonderfully enamoured them, bringing forth fresh sparks of light and heat, whilst the old fire of the altar and the good old wine have been uninflaming and unpalatable to them, they have been charmed till they were poisoned, and have been like Ephraim, “broken in judgment,” by “willingly following the commandment.” (Hosea 5:11); and after the doctrines and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
If God’s children abuse, slight, misuse their glorious liberty, He will bow their necks, scourge their backs, and lay them by the heels, till they know the worth of their liberty, how to use it, and how to prize it, and with the most piteous moan cries out, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.”