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Christian Liberty

by Danny Mihailovic last modified Mar 16, 2014 07:03 PM
God never puts anyone at a crossroads and leaves them to sink.

During the slave trade years in the American South, a genre of music was born known as the “Blues.” This music was a cry for freedom, as much as it was a description of the dysfunctional life of many of the Negro population at that time. Robert Johnson a blues musician with roots deeply entrenched in that dysfunction, wrote a song which was later made popular by Eric Clapton. It was called “Crossroads.”

“The crossroads here, was the decision to run or not run from the law (my interpretation) and drag a woman along with him.”

It was a song about nothing really, but yet, it depicted just how oppressed and lost people were at that time. In essence it was a cry for help. The last line of the song goes like this: “I’m standin’ at the crossroads, I believe I’m sinkin’ down…” For these people, there was no way out of that horrible dilemma of racist oppression and it is expressed in the opening lines of the song: “I went down to the crossroads, went down on my knees, I went down to the crossroads, I went down on my knees, I asked the Lord above for mercy, save me if You please.”

These are not positive cries for salvation, but rather of desperation. That is, if God does or does not save Robert Johnson, it doesn’t matter, because who cares anyway! Their idea of liberty was to be saved from racist oppression.

Liberty is a theme that rings out loud throughout the world. Oppression is slavery in its most hideous form because there seems no end to it. Tyrants always oppress, they never release. Satan, the tyrant extraordinaire has oppressed God’s people like that for centuries through all kinds of maladies.

Paul, having sensed that after his own release from darkness claimed his ministry to be one of setting people free from the slavery of the devil.

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

It was to this slavery that the Galatian people wanted to return. The law, good in itself, also has a dark side. Not because of anything in it but because of what we make of it. We can use the law as a self-justifying regulator to see just how holy we can become.

Circumcision in this case was the point of attack for Paul. To revert back to the Law would be to nullify anything Christ achieved on the cross (v4). It would be like winning a million dollars on the lotto, and then going into debt to buy a house for that amount. No one would ever do that, but this was what the Galatian church effectively did by going back to circumcision. Christ had won their liberty—free, no assessments necessary—in order for them to receive the free gift of eternal life from God. By going backwards, they virtually put themselves under debt to obey the whole law, (which is the obligation of everyone under the law), but the problem was that no one could comply; hence the need for a Saviour.

To revert back to satan’s regime is unthinkable. Yet the flesh (natural man) is so proud of itself that it must find some assurance in its achievements. People who are still under obligation to the law find themselves just like Robert Johnson of old, standing at the crossroads, sinking down. Why? Because our natural self usually chooses the wrong path at a spiritual crossroad; it cannot discern God’s will.

God never puts anyone at a crossroads and leaves them to sink. If He brings you to the narrow road, your feet will enter that gate and walk into freedom, because salvation is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of grace. When we understand our slavery to sin we long for liberty from it. And if we have this longing we will eagerly embrace the life-line that hauls us into safety.

The Galatians, by accepting circumcision again in addition to Christ, were effectively throwing back the life line. That is the analogy Paul makes here of the situation. Their problem was that they were thinking with the “natural cap” on; looking for security in the law. Satan was their former master. This was their former regime: slaves to their own sense of righteousness. The law could not free them. It could only condemn them. There’s no liberty in that.