Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 6:1-7:9; 1 Peter 2:13-25
“Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but as bond-slaves of God…” (1 Peter 2:16)
Christian liberty is a wonderful thing. To corrupt mankind, the Law of God’s commandments offered nothing but sin and death. So Christ Jesus came to free us from this Law, by keeping it in our place, perfectly. He set us free from that task which we could not possibly do, so that we no longer have to live under the Law and all its burdens and demands.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Okay, now wait a minute. Paul is inspired to tell us to avoid becoming slaves, while Peter is inspired to tell us we should become slaves of God. Which is it?
It is both. To become a modern-day Pharisee who willingly takes back the burden of the Law is not the kind of slavery that is desired. That burden of the Law comes with all its guilt and all its consequences when it isn’t kept perfectly. But to become a bond-slave of God is not cumbersome at all! “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest… for My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (Matthew 11:28,30)
So the Christian liberty we have is in God, as His bond-slaves. What do we have to do to save ourselves as slaves of the LORD? Nothing! Jesus makes it clear to us with these words from the cross: “It is finished!” (John 19:30) The requirements of the Law are fulfilled perfectly already for us by Jesus, who became a perfect, holy sacrifice for us all on the hill of Calvary.
We rejoice, therefore, that we may confess our Christian liberty as the Corinthians did, “All things are lawful for me!” (1Corinthians 6 & 10) Yet we must confess this carefully and cautiously, as Peter, as well as Paul, is inspired to forewarn us not to abuse our freedom as a covering for evil. Not all things are beneficial. Not all things are helpful. Some things bind consciences unnecessarily, or may scandalize the weak. Not all things are profitable. Not all things edify.
So how should we exercise our Christian liberty in the best fashion as bond-slaves of God? We do this by following a new ”law” in place of the old law. This new law is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:2) Yet it is a law that doesn’t seem like a law at all, for this new law is not about what we do. It is about God and His love, and what He does!
This Law is of the Spirit of life is the very Spirit of Christ Jesus, your Savior. His Spirit dwells in you that you now “belong to Him” (Romans 8:9) as His bond-slaves. And this same Spirit uses you as God’s own instrument or tool through which He does His loving work toward others. He loves others through you with God’s own agape (unconditional) love. The work He gives you as bond-slaves is not your own to accomplish (which would be of the old law); rather, it is of His own labor of love through you to your neighbor.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.