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Galatians 5:13

ESV 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.
NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
NASB For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
CSB For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
NLT For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
KJV For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

What does Galatians 5:13 mean?

Paul has spent most of this letter to the Galatians calling them to live in the freedom that comes with faith in Christ. With His own blood, Christ has purchased for those who trust Him a freedom from slavery to our sinfulness under the law. We are forgiven. We don't need to toil under the harsh burdens of the law (Galatians 3:23–29). In his letter to the Romans, expanding on these same ideas, Paul put it this way: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

This raises a new question, though, one that Paul's enemies surely asked: If there is no threat of condemnation for sinning, what is to keep people from sinning more and more? Without a consequence, won't people just indulge in every kind of evil practice? Now Paul confronts that idea, too. He warns the Galatians not to use their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to selfishly serve the flesh by only doing what feels good. Instead, they should selflessly serve each other in love.

Again, whether or not we live in Christ is all about where we place our focus. Living under the law, by definition, is about trying to justify ourselves before God, by my own effort, through my own works. We focus on ourselves, and are really seeking our own glory as a result. Salvation by faith in Christ is about what He did, through His works. It's not about us, at all.

In a similar way, living in the freedom Christ purchased should not be about focusing on ourselves. It is about seeing God's love for us and striving to serve each other with that same love.
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