It’s hard to fully comprehend the legacy of the apostle Paul. Probably the best way to understand it is to read his 13 letters in the New Testament. They provide the long term legacy as people searching for the truth have read them and had their lives transformed by what he wrote.
In his first letter he wrote, Galatians, he explains the truth he is best known for, “the just shall live by faith.” Being justified the believer is free. This freedom is to be understood as responsible freedom. Paul declares we are created to enjoy spiritual liberty: freedom from legalism, license, and laziness; freedom which expresses itself in loving labor. We are saved to serve, liberated to labor, freed to “fulfill the law of Christ.”
It’s one thing to accept the free gift of eternal life by faith. Then as we live out that new life there is a natural tendency to think we need to work hard to maintain our relationship with Christ. This is what happened to the Christians he addressed in Galatians.
Paul questions them, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?” He continues to point out the principle of faith is key to salvation and also sanctification, that is, your growth as a believer.
He summarizes this truth in 5:13, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” He crystallized this truth by declaring, Christian maturity is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Ask yourself, is your Christian life exhibiting responsible freedom?