For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
I. THE NATURE OF THIS LIBERTY.
1. This liberty is freedom from the burden of a religion of ordinances.
2. It is liberty from the moral law as the awakener of sin, and from the fear of its punishment, which is death.
II. TO KEEP THIS LIBERTY PURE, WE SHOULD KNOW ITS DANGERS, AND AVOID THEM.
1. It may be so used as, to allow the lower nature to rule — as "an occasion to the flesh."(1) We are freed from ceremonies, but we cannot live without some forms. Spiritual life, left to silence, unsymbolized, unused, fades away.
(2) We err if we use liberty to despise those who love ceremonial; or if we bind ourselves never to use it.
2. Our liberty from coercive law is produced in us by a love which obeys the law. If we do not love to obey, we are not in Christian liberty at all. St. Paul calls such despisers of law the servants of sin.
3. The use of freedom must be in subordination to love. It is the habit of many to placard their freedom; to violate the scruples of others. What sort of Christianity is that which uses the freedom of Christ to do violence to the love of Christ? The rule is — Use your liberty, not for your own gratification, but for the good of others. Liberty is not a principle of action; it is a mode of action. Love is its principle, and love is the test which tells whether we are free or enslaved.
(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.