[“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV]
The Need for Liberty
Bondage and liberty are figures very frequently used in the Word of God. By nature, man, created in the image of God, enjoyed the liberty of a creature in the presence of his God; but when sin came into the world by man’s disobedience, he passed under “the bondage of corruption.” He was free no longer. Sin was
the master; he was the slave. Death was the tyrant; he was the bondsman. Satan was the murderer; he was the victim.
Man of himself never learns this. The Holy Spirit alone reveals it; and when it is revealed, the sinner knows what it is to be lost. Satan’s grand deception is to make man think he is free. This flatters his vanity; but behind self, Satan is ever hid. He has usurped God’s place, and reigns, perhaps unsuspectedly, in a corrupted will and depraved affections.
Liberty through Redemption
In order to break this bondage, the Son of God has come, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem from the bondage of Satan, to save from the power of sin, and to deliver from the fear of death. Christ has come to destroy (literally, unloose or untie) the works of the devil, which, in man, have resulted in a threefold bondage; viz., of the will, of the mind (which includes the intellectual faculties), and of the affections.
The Lord says, in Jeremiah:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
neither let the mighty man glory in his might,
let not the rich man glory in his riches:
but let him that glorieth glory in this,
that he understandeth and knoweth Me,
that I am the Lord which executeth loving-kindness, judgment,
and righteousness, in the earth.” [3 ]
Jehovah has provided a remedy from this threefold bondage and threefold apostasy. Freedom has been procured by the Son, Who says: “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed ” (John 8:36). This is “the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1), in which we are told to “stand fast,” that we “be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.”
The old nature, the flesh, loves its chains still; “it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be;” and therefore, as long as we carry about
“the body of death,” we shall need the redemption power of the Son of God, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to be continually exercised on
our behalf … . Yet, though groaning within ourselves, we are the sons of God, and it will soon be manifested that we are such; but in the meantime redemption
must be laid hold on with a firm grasp, if we would really and practically know what LIBERTY means, and what it involves. Redemption price is the
precious blood, and redemption power is the Holy Spirit….
The Gospel proclaims liberty to the captive, to whom God would give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Yes, truly the liberty of Christ gives beauty, joy, and praise; and, whether we have stood fast in our liberty or not, it is our portion—the very first-fruits of the Gospel to every one that believes; for “all things are ours,” because we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.  The ashes, the mourning, the heaviness, belonged to us, as convicted sinners under the teaching of the Spirit of God. They were our proper portion while in the flesh [unsaved], and again become our practical condition when we fall under the power of the flesh. Then the fallen one [backslidden Christian] needs again the Gospel of liberty to be re-echoed in his hearing, and the presence of the mighty Advocate again to proclaim liberty.
The Scope of this Liberty
This liberty is not only deliverance from “the corruption that is in the world”—from which the Cross once and for ever has separated those who are “partakers of a Divine nature “—but also from “the pollutions of the world” in daily life (compare 2 Peter 1:1-4, with 2:18-22)…
We have observed that in a threefold sense the Son of God is proclaiming liberty from the thraldom of sin over the will, the mind, and the affections. This He accomplishes by making God the Centre of all three, giving to
- our will His law,
- to our mind His wisdom,
- and to our affections His love;
and this law, wisdom, and love, find their embodiment in Christ, and their communication in the Holy Spirit.  They are objectively presented to us in Christ, and they are subjectively wrought out in us by the Holy Spirit.
- In God is the essence;
- in Christ is the manifestation; and
- in the Holy Spirit is the impartation.
The Father gives the Son to reveal Himself, and the Son gives the Holy Spirit (Who proceeds from the Father and the Son), to communicate Himself; and thereby He brings many sons unto “the liberty of the glory” of the family of God.
Liberty knows of no external coercion. Where that is, there can be no real liberty. All its restraints and constraints are with its full consent. Of His own will, God loved us, and begat us through the Word of truth; and when begotten again, we love Him, because He first loved us. There is no fear in that love, for there is no
bondage in it. We love, not because we ought to love, not because it is consistent with law and right, but because we cannot help loving. It is the intuition of the new life. It needs no law, for it is a law unto itself, just as wives are not commanded to love their husbands. Love must flow down before it can flow back; and the way to
increase our love to our God and Father, is to remove the hindrances to the inflow of His love into our hearts, and then it will of necessity rise again to Himself, whence it sprang.
This is the liberty of Christ that influences the whole man, and sanctifies wholly spirit, soul, and body. Sin brought in fear, and fear truly has torment. Love drives away fear, and fills the soul of him who loves, with joy and peace.
Henry Groves (1818-1890) was a British pastor and author.
From Paths of Righteousness for Pilgrims Heavenward, pp 21-26. 22. The scanned book is at www.brethrenarchive.org
1. Rom. 8:21
2. 1 John 3:18
3. Jer. 9:23,24
4. Rom. 8:7; 7:24
5. 1 Cor. 3:21-23
6. “Giving His law as our will” Law in this context is the revelation of God’s good, righteous will: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man…” Rom 7:22; 12:2
7. Rom. 8:21
8. James 1:18; 1 John 4:19
Bracketed content, headings, italics and footnoted Bible references added – JBW
For precise definitions about the old man, flesh, old nature, etc, see gracenotebook.com/definitions/