Commentary on "Freedom in Christ"
Day 3: Monday, December 5, 2011 - The Nature of Christian Freedom
Overview: Gal 5:1 (continued)
This verse was already read and discussed on the prior day. The emphasis on Sunday was that Christ set us free. The emphasis today is placed on "from what has Christ freed us".
The opening statement of the lesson has an insightful comment, "The ethical life of the gospel does not present the burden of trying to do things in order to prove that we are God's children. Rather, we do what we do because we already are His children." This statement could have been even more powerful had it also included the truth that we don't remain children or run the risk of being removed from the family of God based on the quantity or quality of our works. There is no burden at all attached to our adoption as His children.
In asking the question about what we have been freed from, the lesson tries to lead the reader to conclude that the freedom is from the condemnation of law-driven Christianity. This is a blatantly false and misleading statement. The "condemnation of law-driven Christianity" would only be a self-condemnation or the condemnation of other legalistic believers. The condemnation that Christ freed us from is the condemnation that comes as a result of breaking the Law. The Law has condemned us to suffer death because of our sin. But Christ died in our place in order to free us that condemnation. This is the heart of the Gospel.
The lesson goes beyond the truth of the Gospel, and proclaims that our freedom "includes much more". One may speak of additional benefits of being freed, but calling this "much more" than the Gospel relegates the Gift of God given on the cross to a secondary status. But that is the fundamental problem facing the Galatians, they were not satisfied with the simple truth of the Gospel and looked towards false teachers telling them what else they could do above and beyond the basic Gospel.
Interestingly, the lesson insists that one of the freedoms gained by Christ is freedom from "eternal death". This is a particularly misleading phrase. Despite quoting multiple verses above, none of these verses speak of a freedom from "eternal death". In fact, the phrase "eternal death" is not found in all of Scripture. This is another example of how SDAism reinforces a key doctrinal position by repeating the concept and inserting it, unsupported, into common readings so that over time the phrase and concept seem to be Biblical.
This week's lesson spent two days looking at a single verse without ever touching the warning about becoming "entangled again with the yoke of bondage". There was certainly plenty of time to address this one small point. The obvious conclusion is that the authors purposefully avoided this phrase because answering what the yoke of bondage is would be damaging to SDA doctrine. It is a classic magician's sleight of hand. Keep the audience occupied with one small element so they don't see what else is going on.
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