Collect of the Week
Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Galatians 5:1, 13
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery…
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
In the name of + Jesus.
The biblical—Christian—view of freedom does not mean that everything is good and permissible for a Christian, as if, Christ has set you free to do anything your little heart desires. On the contrary, Christian freedom is to gladly do what God desires. As Luther says in his commentary on Galatians: “For it is human freedom when laws are changed without effecting any change in men, but it is Christian freedom when men are changed without changing the Law” (Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love, CPH: St. Louis, 2011 (p. 96)).
Slavery to sin is being mastered by sin, controlled by sin, and not being able to say no to sin. Freedom, then, according to the Gospel, does not mean that the Christian is now allowed to freely sin, as if God’s word of the Law no longer applies. If that is what we mean by freedom, then truly, we are slaves to sin.
On the contrary, when the Holy Spirit, calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies a person—that is, when He converts a sinner to faith in Christ—he actually does convert him. He makes him a new creation, and in Him there is a new man that loves God’s Law, meditates on God’s Law, and sees God’s Law as the thing by which he will be guided in his actions towards others.
And so, as Luther again says so beautifully, “In this freedom, he (the Holy Spirit) teaches us, we must stand strongly and steadfastly, because Christ, who fulfills the Law and overcomes sin for us, sends the spirit of love into the hearts of those who believe in Him. This makes them righteous and lovers of the Law, not because of their own works but freely because it is freely bestowed by Christ” (Ibid, p. 96).
In Christ, our sins cannot damn us. But our good works also do not save us; that is the work of Christ. But in the freedom of the Gospel, our good works surely do benefit our neighbors. In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Lord, as we eagerly await your coming, free us from pettiness and self-indulgence so that we may love one another. Amen (TLSB, p. 2011).