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Christ hath made us Free

“The doctrine of our freedom to choose is set forth sparsely and is not fully presented in the precious Holy Bible.” Yet, one scripture in particular, properly understood in the context of history and fullness of the gospel liberates our understanding on the subject:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

In short and simple terms, what Christ is saying to us is”

“Agency is doing what you ought, not what you want” Author Unknown

Paul described the old covenant–the law of Moses–as a “yoke of bondage.” Elsewhere in the scriptures, bondage usually described the captivity of sin, but Paul used the word to describe the limitations and burdens of the law of Moses. By contrast, the Savior taught that His yoke was “easy”–a “light” burden–and that those who took His yoke upon them would “find rest unto [their] souls” (Matthew 11:28–30). Paul taught that the liberty of Christ meant that disciples were free to be led by the Spirit and were not constrained by the law (see Galatians 5:22–23).

President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) explained that when our religious observance is not done “mechanically” but “because of our love for the Lord, in complete freedom and faith, we narrow our distance from him and our relationship to him becomes intimate. We are released from the bondage of legalism, and we are touched by the spirit and feel a oneness with God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 36).

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained how the gospel of Jesus Christ makes us spiritually free: “True freedom lies in obedience to the counsels of God. … The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it. It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior. Its fruits are sweet and its rewards are liberal” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 78).

Paul admonished the Galatian Saints not to become “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). While today we do not worry about becoming entangled with the law of Moses, we “sometimes either consciously or unwittingly bind ourselves to the things of the world. As we do so, we place ourselves in a comparable position to Paul’s opponents in Galatia.

Christian liberty does not come from an absence of law; it comes from willingly yoking ourselves to Christ. The difficulty comes when we refuse to give up our other yokes, as did Paul’s opponents in Galatia.

The yoke that they clung to was the law of Moses. “In our day, our yoke, our law of Moses, is anything that prevents or impedes our total commitment to Christ and His gospel” (Gaye Strathearn, “Law and Liberty in Galatians 5–6,” in Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles [2002], 70–71; rsc.byu.edu)

Source: Free to Choose, Neal A. Maxwell

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