…so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:17c).
When I am big I can do what I want. That’s what a child sometimes thinks.
There are those who also do it. The door of the parental home opens, and they fly out into freedom. Now they can do whatever they wish.
Children of God often do not see their freedom. They think that unbelievers can enjoy all kinds of things, but that believers are put under many restrictions. Unbelievers, so the argument goes, can use their free time as they wish but believers are burdened with many obligations. And that’s what happens in the church of Christ and of his Spirit. There’s not enough freedom there – is the complaint.
However, Christ has set us free in order that we should be truly free. That true liberty is proclaimed in Galatians 5:1. The liberty of the children of God, the liberty of the slaves of Christ (which is the same thing). For only those who belong to Christ are children of God.
It seems contradictory – absolute submission, yet true liberty.
We do not find out what liberty is by looking around us. Doing that makes us say: the unbeliever is free, he just does as he pleases.
But the Spirit says: it is a false liberty, the unbeliever is under firm control. He is controlled by his desires, his ambitions, his greed, his self-indulgence. He is under the dominion of the one who feeds his desires and continually entices him with different forms of self-indulgence or ambition – the devil.
Man is not aware of it. He thinks: I am free, I do what I like.
The devil laughs, knowing: he is doing what I want; before long he will reap his reward, death.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Those who are led by the Spirit, who let themselves be guided in obedience to the Lord, are free sons. They are free from the compulsion of desires, free from the power of the devil who seeks to work death through their desires. Free, to stop doing whatever they desire. Free to start doing what their Father in heaven wants them to do. Not under the law, as under compulsion, but according to God’s law, in child-like love through the Spirit.
Rev T Dekker (translated from De Unieke Troost, J Boersma, Enschede, 1971, p. 105.)