Christian Liberty

Father Tadros Yacoub Malaty

Christian liberty is an outgrowth of salvation by grace and is realized by the believer in and through our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:3-5). Through grace we attained freedom from the yoke of the Mosaic Law in its literal dress; but it does not mean freedom to break the Law or to commit sins. Lord Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sins (John 1:29). Through grace, the believer becomes “inlawed to Christ” and is initiated and delighted into “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). As a Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-empowered son has the inner desire and power to live out the moral law of God (Galatians 4:1-7). Under the New Covenant of grace, the Holy Spirit works in the new nature of the believer, making him willing to obey God’s will and to comply with his moral law (Hebrew 10:16).

The believer realizes, too, that he will be judged for his works as a prelude to heaven. He must constantly keep in mind that his very freedom has brought him into total subjection to Christ, whose bond servant he is and whom he must always obey (Romans12:1). This is a paradox. But the Christian discovers that he enjoys his greatest liberty when he is most completely enslaved to our Lord Jesus Christ “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Observe in how many ways he leads them away from the error of Judaism; by showing , first, that it was the extreme of folly of those, who had became free instead of slaves, to desire to become slaves instead of free; secondly, that they would be convicted of neglect and ingratitude to their Benefactor, in despising Him who had delivered them, and loving him who had enslaved them…; thirdly by the word, “stand fast,” he indicates their vacillation.

Saint John Chrysostom said:-
“that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing”
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, “which is the expression of one who has confidence in what he asserts…

He that is circumcised is circumcised for fear of the law, and he who fears the law, distrusts the power of grace, and he who distrusts can receive no benefit from that which is distrusted.

If one may say what seems a paradox, such an one believes neither Christ nor the law, but stands between them, desiring to benefit both by one and the other, whereas he will reap fruit from neither…(Saint John Chrysostom)

The parts of the law are linked one to the other… In the case of the Law, if you take upon you a small portion of it, and submit to the yoke, you draw down upon yourself its whole domination…

For example; Circumcision has sacrifice connected with it, and the observance of days; sacrifice again has the observance both of day and of place and involves the details of endless purifications including a perfect swarm of manifold observances…

If then you are circumcised, but not on the eighth day, or on the eighth day, but no sacrifice is offered, or a sacrifice is offered, but not in the prescribed place, or in the prescribed place, but not the accustomed objects, or if the accustomed objects, but not you be unclean, or if clean yet not purified by proper rules, everything is frustrated. Wherefore he says, “That he is a debater to the whole Law.”

If the law is needed, it is so as a whole, not in a part, not in one commandment only; and if as a whole, the righteousness which is by faith is little by little shut out. If you keep the Sabbath, why not also be circumcised? and if circumcised, why not also offer sacrifices? If the law is to be observed, it must be observed as a whole, or not at all.

He at length declares the danger of the severest punishment. When a man recurs to the Law, which cannot save him, and falls from grace, what remains but an inexorretribution, the Law being powerless, and grace rejecting him? (Saint John Chrysostom)

People these days seem not to realize the meaning of liberty and one indication is the globalized world imitating liberty as equated with ignorance. But, As Apostles Saint Paul Said, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only does not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13) Liberty is not to articulate, or act out our inner desire, express or write our thoughts and be how ever we covet; Nor Liberty is embracing power, money, influence or elite people in the community. But it is the freedom from all forms of thoughts, influence, pressure, and domination of dissent. It is to live within the kingdom of God, as He is our liberator since our liberty is through the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ.

Source: A Patristic Commentary on “The Epistle of Saint Paul; the Apostle to the Galatians” by Father Tadros Yacoub Malaty