Paul has led the Galatians to understand that when they are freed from the bondage of legalism, they have entered into the liberty of Christ. But how do they live out that freedom?
Christ liberated us from self-centredness so that we can willingly love others.
Firstly, Paul states, do not let your freedom be hijacked by the flesh (Galatians 5:13), that old sinful, self-centred nature that is still in you. Know that the flesh always seeks to promote not God's will but itself as the norm of life. The flesh takes pride in human effort. And now that the Galatians are free, it intentionally misleads them into believing that they can do anything they want. If we are not careful, it will use our freedom to satisfy its base desires. That is why it must be stopped from the start, as it perverts the purpose of freedom to which we were called. How, then, should we use our liberty?
In short, we are to ″serve one another humbly in love″ (v. 13). Paul is not referring to our notion of freedom, but to Christ's perspective on it. Christ liberated us from self-centredness so that we can willingly love others. And we will truly be free when we follow His example of love and serve one another in accordance with God's will. That is how we stop the flesh.
The Old Testament law reflects God's moral obligations for mankind. Paul points out that everything really boils down to just one commandment: love your neighbour as yourself (v. 14). If we carry this out, Paul notes, we would have fulfilled the law, having satisfied its spirit and intention. Therefore, reaching out in love to one another is not only the right use of Christian freedom, but is also the fulfilment of the ultimate moral duty that God places on all who are saved. The children of God seek wholeheartedly to love their neighbour as themselves, and this is what sets them apart.
This commandment must be observed now, Paul demands. It seems that there has been some sharp disagreement among the Galatians, due perhaps to the divisive false teachings. At any rate, it is serious enough for Paul to warn: ″Watch out or you will be destroyed by each other″ (v. 15). The infighting, if left unchecked, will lead to disunity and a breakdown of fellowship. And that would be disastrous-it would be an abuse of our freedom by the flesh and this conduct is unbecoming of the free children of God.
The liberty of Christ has an immense practical implication: it must be lived out in the way we treat one another-with love.