What Is The Meaning Of Galatians 5:1? (living in freedom)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Freedom is a common theme throughout the Bible. Particularly in the New Testament we are told time and time again about the freedom we can have in Christ. In contrast, we are warned about the things that entrap and enslave us. This is what the meaning of Galatians 5:1 is doing, pointing us to the freedom we can have in Jesus. 

This is a powerful message that rings true for us today. It’s easy to get entangled in something less than what God has for us. And this passage invites us to step into the freedom that God has for us. Wherever you are at in your faith this verse has something for you. 

The Context Of Galatians 5:1 

To understand the Galatians 5:1 meaning we first need to understand the context in which it was written. 

Galatians isn’t a book as much as it’s a letter. It was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Galatia. Prior to this letter Paul had visited the area and preached the Gospel to them. They had turned from their old lives and started following Jesus. (Galatians 1:6-11)

After Paul left a group of Jewish religious leaders came to town and added rules to what Paul taught them. They claimed following Jesus was good, but the Mosaic law also needed to be followed to be saved. One of the big teachings of these false teachers was that you needed to be circumcised to be truly acceptable to God. 

Some in the church started turning to this teaching and in doing so they were leaving the freedom they had in Christ. In essence, they were returning to slavery, but not the slavery of their past sinful lives rather the slavery of the Law. They were heading toward legalism. 

Paul wrote this letter to encourage them to pursue the freedom they have in Jesus. Paul refutes the claims of the false teachers that following the law gives you a superior spiritual status. He reminds this church that they are justified, or made right, by what Jesus has done for them. Faith in Jesus is what makes us righteous, not adherence to the law. 

This is what leads us to Galatians 5:1. It is the key verse and a summary for the entire letter. Let’s dive into the meaning of Galatians 5:1 to see what it holds for us today. 

The Meaning Of Galatians 5:1

To help us fully see what Paul is saying and how it applies to our life, we are going to break down this verse into several sections. This will help us better understand the Galatians 5:1 meaning. 

It Is For Freedom That Christ Has Set Us Free

We tend to think freedom is being able to do whatever we want. But that kind of life doesn’t lead to what we hope it will. It doesn’t produce freedom, rather it enslaves us to our desires. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, others try to earn their freedom. They enslave themselves to rigorous adherence to religious rules, resulting in legalism.

Both of these pursuits enslave us and do not provide freedom. True freedom is found in Jesus and when we follow him. Freedom is found when we live in the purpose that God has created us for.

Paul is reminding them of what Jesus has done for them that has allowed them to experience this freedom. Jesus paid the price for our sins and freed us from condemnation and death. We were incapable of living up to the requirements of the law; we couldn’t save ourselves. So Jesus did for us what we were incapable of doing for ourselves. 

Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law and paid for our freedom. Therefore we can experience freedom because of what he has done. Our righteousness isn’t dependent on our actions, but rather the actions of Jesus. 

Stand Firm Then

Because of this, because of what Jesus has done for us, we stand firm in this freedom. 

The temptation of many Christians is to return to one of the extremes we talked about above. Some choose legalism and start trying to earn their salvation while forcing others to do the same. Others take a flippant view of sin and live however they choose because God will just forgive them. 

Neither of those paths leads to the life Jesus promised. Paul is reminding his readers to stand firm in Jesus. Only he can provide true freedom. 

Do Not Let Yourselves Be Burdened Again By A Yoke Of Slavery

Paul is abundantly clear, don’t go back to what Jesus saved you from; don’t go back to slavery. Stand firm in Christ. 

The church in Galatia was once enslaved by their sin and now they were on the path to being enslaved by the law, legalism. Paul is encouraging them to instead go to the freedom Jesus has provided. 

Jesus has freed us from those obligations but we must pay close attention so that we do not slip back into bondage.  

Rather than being yoked to the things that enslave us we should be yoked to Christ. His yoke is light and is where we can find rest. All the other things we can yoke ourselves to burn us and weigh us down. 

Galatians 5:1 challenges us to go to Jesus to find freedom and remain in him. 

How Galatians 5:1 Applies To Your Life 

This temptation that the church in Galatia had is still one that the modern church faces today. Many Christians turn to legalism thinking they can earn their salvation or at least earn special righteous status because they are better than “those” people. Others take Jesus’ sacrifice as a get-out-of-hell-free card and do whatever they want because Jesus will forgive them. 

But those ways of thinking don’t provide what we think. They entrap us and enslave us. Jesus came to set us free and we ran back to the bondage he freed us from. 

The meaning of Galatians 5:1 is an incredible verse that has a powerful lesson for us today. Jesus has something incredible for you. When we look elsewhere we end up enslaved. But when we look toward Jesus we can find freedom. 

So, step into the life that Jesus has provided. Don’t go back to what once entrapped you. Stand firm and don’t move. 

Looking for a great way to grow your faith and live in the freedom God has for you? I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s Core 52. With these simple 15-minute readings you will gain the tools to grow your faith. Check it out here: Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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