Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Freedom vs. Moralism (Galations 5:1)

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1, New Revised Standard Version).

Paul's whole letter to the Galatians is an argument against moralism or conformity to a moral code, any moral code. Moral codes come from the six Olympian gods. Their whole unspoken purpose is to justify power, falsehood, indifference, and death. In pleasant contrast, Jesus frees us from such foolishness.

The psalmist tells us that we are blessed if we meditate on the law or word of Yahweh day and night (Psalm 1:2). To do that kind of meditation, we need to get God's words into our heads and start making them a vital part of our Christian personalities. For that to happen, we need to develop the habit of daily Bible reading.

We may rightly hope that Jesus will speak to us words of truth each day that will free us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to read the Bible each day. We may witness to this freedom if we read it daily to live it better. We would, however, witness to our continued slavish conformity to the gods if we read it daily to justify ourselves in our own eyes and in the eyes of others.

Moralism is just this attempt to justify ourselves by conformity to a moral code. Our Olympian personality seeks constantly to rank itself higher than others so that it can make stronger claims on God and enjoy treating those below it with contempt. What better way to disguise our Olympian personality than to have it conform to a moral code based on the Bible? Then it can be ever so Olympian but understand itself, and be understood by others, as being Christian.

So reading the Bible may be good, but we can make it evil; it may be Christian, but we can make it Olympian quite easily. To make it Olympian, we only need to imagine that if we read the Bible daily, we are better than all those lazy Christians who don't. If we read it for an hour a day, we only need to imagine that we are twice as good as those who only read it for half that time.

You see how easy this is? Very easy. There is not a moral code devised by human beings, no matter how biblically based or Christian in purpose, that cannot be subverted by our Olympian personalities and cultures and thereby made a tool by the Olympian gods for our destruction.

The psalmist tells us that we are blessed if we meditate on Yahweh's words all the time. Through that truth, Jesus frees us today and tomorrow to embrace the commitment, responsibility, and nonconformity of reading the Bible each day.

May he further bless our reading with the needed transformation of personality and community that will allow us to witness to him with the clarity he deserves—for his glory and our good.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.