“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. . . But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:13,16
Salvation is freedom. Freedom from the slavery to sin. Freedom from the ultimate consequences of our flesh.
However, salvation is not freedom from the flesh (at least not right away). Otherwise it would be meaningless for Paul to tell the Galatians they should not use their freedom as “an opportunity for the flesh”. And what a sad prospect, that we could be given such a great gift in the freedom of salvation and abuse it for the desires of the flesh. Yet this is the daily battle that every Christian finds themselves in.
The desires of the Spirit are set against the desires of the flesh. And Paul calls the Galatians to gratify one and starve the other. And what are the desires of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
This is certainly counter-intuitive, since freedom usually means getting to do what I want to do. Not using my freedom to serve others. Yet, much like giving the perfect gift on Christmas is somehow more satisfying than getting the perfect gift, using our freedom to serve is more satisfying that gratifying the flesh.
And that’s what Christian freedom is about. The counter-intuitive. Freedom in service.