Does Jesus’ Death Set Us free from the bondage of Sin?


“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Galatians 4:28).

In his letter to the Church in Galatia, the Apostle Paul compared the old Jewish customs and tradition (Moses law) to a yoke of bondage. He contended that the law was so rigid and burdensome, no man could keep it. According to Paul’s reasoning, (and he would know because he was an enforcer of the law) it was useless to even attempt to keep the law.

“Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.  And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.  You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:2-6)

What is a Yoke?

A Yoke is a bar of wood, so constructed as to unite two animals (usually oxen), enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads, pulling instruments used for farming. The purpose of the yoke is primarily to control the animals. No wonder the Apostle Paul compared the law to a yoke of bondage.

But God is a bondage breaker. He does not want you to be under any law that is outside the law of love. Christ came to set you free from anything that is not in His will or plan for you.

Bondage is any weight that tries to slow you down, pull you down, or keep you down as you seek to walk upon God’s pathway for your life. In Christ, you are no longer a slave to any sin, and fear, or any lie of the enemy. You are a

Oxen Team: getting yoked and prepped for work.

Oxen Team: getting yoked and prepped for work. (Photo credit: Laskaris)

free citizen of God’s Kingdom and you have a rightful claim to all its blessings, freedoms, and privileges. As someone who is free in Christ, there is nothing to prevent you from fully processing and enjoying the life He has given you.

33 comments

  1. Hi Noel

    I was intrigued by your article for several reasons,

    Though what you say is a fair representation of Paul’s views on ‘the old Jewish customs and tradition’, I wonder if God would have agreed with him?

    For what you describe as ‘the old Jewish customs and tradition’ are nothing less that the commandments of God given to his people Israel i.e. the Torah!

    Here is God speaking to Israel about the Law in Deuteronomy 30:11-15

    Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

    So it is not too difficult to obey the Law.

    But you say of Paul, ‘He contended that the law was so rigid and burdensome, no man could keep it. According to Paul’s reasoning, (and he would know because he was an enforcer of the law) it was useless to even attempt to keep the law.’

    So who do we believe Paul or God? But paradoxically elsewhere Paul boasted that he could keep the whole Law – perfectly,

    As to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:6)

    But it is Jesus himself who, far from rejecting the Law (ie the torah consisting of 613 commandments), commanded his followers to obey them all closely,

    Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. (Matthew 23)

    You say ‘No wonder the Apostle Paul compared the law to a yoke of bondage. But God is a bondage breaker’ – so God now becomes a rejector and breaker of the very Law he gave to His people! But according to the Jewish Bible He urges His people to choose Life ie obey the Law – not death – ie reject the Law. So according to God’s own statements Paul becomes an advocate of “death and adversity” and an opponent of God’s will for his people.

    God says Deuteronomy 30

    See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

    1. Thank you very much for your response, Paul. You are very verse in matters of the Bible, so I am not going to attempt to trade Scripture with you.
      Nevertheless, I am sure you are aware that there were certain precepts of the law that were not in line with the law of love.
      For example, if a woman were caught in the act of adultery, her punishment would have been death by stoning. Yet when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He did not attach any punishment. The law was so rigid that Jesus was ridiculed for healing the sick on the Sabbath.
      So, I do not think the Apostle Paul was advocating total abandonment of the law. If anything, he was advocating an end to the method of enforcement. And I am sure Paul had Jesus’ words according to Matthew 5:17, in mind: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

      1. According to the Torah, God ordered the death punishment for adultery:

        ‘If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman and the woman; so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.’ Deuteronomy 22.22

        You said, “I do not think the Apostle Paul was advocating total abandonment of the law.”

        But according tro Ephesians 2:15 Paul said that the Law was “abolished”.

        Contrast this with Jesus teaching about the Law towards the end of his ministry:

        ‘Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.’ (Matthew 23)

        Also, Jesus affirmed the Law in the Sermon on the Mount “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

        So Paul, who told his followers that they could eat pork, would be called ‘least in the kingdom of heaven’!

      2. I agree with you on Matthew 23. Nevertheless, Jesus did not hand down any death penalty. Jesus knew that no man could keep the law in it’s entirety, not even the enforcers of the law.

        2 At dawn He [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

        But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

        9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

        11 “No one, sir,” she said.

        “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:2-11).

      3. the problem is this: how do we know that this story in John’s gospel really happened? It is not contained in the earliest Greek manuscripts:

        The NIV states

        ‘The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11′

        If you agree with me on Matthew 23, then this passage endorses all the commandments of the Law includes the death penalty for adultery, apostasy, homosexuality etc.

        Also Jesus upheld the death penalty for youngsters who curse their parents.

        Matthew 15 reads,

        1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

        3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

        8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
        but their hearts are far from me.
        9 They worship me in vain;
        their teachings are merely human rules.’”

      4. you said ‘Jesus knew that no man could keep the law in it’s entirety, not even the enforcers of the law.’

        But God Himself (and Paul) certainly thought men and women could keep the Law as I have demonstrated:

        Here is God speaking to Israel about the Law in Deuteronomy 30:11-15

        ‘Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.’

        So it is not too difficult to obey the Law.

        And Paul boasted:

        ‘As to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.’ (Philippians 3:6)

    1. ‘…for the freedom we have in Him!’

      Are you expressing gratitude for being ‘free’ from God’s Law that he gave to his people so that they may have “life and prosperity” rather than “death and adversity”?

    2. Thanks a lot for your encouragement, Minister Glenda. We are free citizens indeed–no longer burdened by a yoke of bondage–no longer do we have to offer up sacrifices of ram and turtledove. I thank God for the opportunity.

      May God blessing be with you alays

  2. I have been writing about this very thing for days now. Yes, it takes me that long to pull my thoughts together.
    What tickles me, is that the spirit of God speaks the same thing across the earth. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this happen. What seems important, suddenly, to me, is being said by others.
    Not a coincidence.

    Romans 6:1-7 KJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.

    He is jealous for me, he loves like a hurricane and I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his love and mercy. What better place to be.

    Oz

    1. You are exactly right Ozzie. God is speaking to us and we should listen. It seems He wanted me to publish this post.

      Thanks for stopping by. God bless you.

    1. Thank you KlarionKall, for your comment. Because Christ died I can have victory over sin. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

      May God bless you.

  3. Excellent post! Thanks for the picture of the yoke. It really helps me visualize the meaning. Thanks for taking the time to write inspirational posts. I love your blog!

  4. I thank you very much for your comment, MainWriters. To God be the glory! “When I think of the goodness of Jesus, and all he has done for me. my soul cries out halelujah. I thank God for saving me.”

    Thanks for stopping by. May God bless you abundantly.

  5. Hi Noel,

    it occurred to me that you might like to watch this lecture. It develops further the issues we have been discussing above. If you watch it I would love to have your feedback!

    Rabbi Michael Skobac takes us on a fascinating exploration of how a small Messianic movement within Judaism, 2,000 years ago, transformed into a radically non-Jewish world religion. In this lecture, we learn about the Jewish roots of Christianity, how those roots became obscured over the course of time and what surprising developments may lie ahead.

  6. Hi again,

    you wrote above that ‘Paul compared the old Jewish customs and tradition (Moses law) to a yoke of bondage. He contended that the law was so rigid and burdensome, no man could keep it. According to Paul’s reasoning, (and he would know because he was an enforcer of the law) it was useless to even attempt to keep the law.’

    Compare this negative assessment with David’s Psalm number 119. It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law.

    Here are some choice quotes of King David:

    How can young people keep their way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
    With my whole heart I seek you;
    do not let me stray from your commandments.
    I treasure your word in my heart,
    so that I may not sin against you.
    Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes.
    With my lips I declare
    all the ordinances of your mouth.
    I delight in the way of your decrees
    as much as in all riches.
    I will meditate on your precepts,
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
    I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word

    Oh, how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all day long.

    The whole chapter, the longest chapter in the entire Bible, is a hymn of praise and love of God’s Torah. How this contrasts with Paul’s view!!

    1. I thank you very much for your comment, Paul. I am fully aware Psalm 119. The law still matters but we are under a new dispensation–grace. No longer are we required to offer up sacrifices of lamb, ram, and turtle dove, for the atonement of sins.

      But I agree with you! The contrast between Paul’s teaching in Galatians 5:2-6 and Psalm 119 is startling.

      1. So God’s grace and Torah observance are incompatible? Then why did Jesus’ Jerusalem followers (Peter and James, the head of the Church) continue to attend the Temple and apparently offer sacrifices there? The video above has the references.

        “No longer are we required to offer up sacrifices of lamb, ram, and turtle dove, for the atonement of sins.”

        I am not aware that the Jewish Bible teaches that. Could you kindly refer me to a passage in the Torah where it says ‘we are required to offer up sacrifices of lamb, ram, and turtle dove, for the atonement of sins’, please?

      2. Peter was a true blue Jew, who never fully come around to the gospel of Jesus Christ until later on in his missionary life. Had a difficult time giving up his Jewish customs. He hated Gentiles; and he refused to preach the gospel to them.

        I am sure you are aware that repentance takes time, so that could have been the reason these men continued going back to the temple to worship

      3. that’s a possibility Noel, or alternatively he was just obeying his master’s orders when Jesus told him towards the end of his ministry:

        ‘Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.’ (Matthew 23)

        in other words Jesus told Peter to obey the Torah in its entirety. So I wonder where Paul got the idea that Jesus “abolished” the law Ephesians 2:15:

        ‘He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances”

  7. Great post Noel. Next week, in part 4 of my series on Christians and Sin, I write:

    “Before a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, they are slaves to the power of sin. At their conversion, the Holy Spirit indwells the individual and becomes that person’s power against sin. The believer is not a slave to his old sinful nature and has power over it in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We will be able to resist the temptations of the flesh if we walk by the Spirit and yield to His leading, and live in His power. ……. I’ve heard it said that a sign of spiritual maturity is the lessoning frequency of sin. Having Jesus as our Savior should give us the strength and conviction to not sin. The sign of a life truly dedicated to the Lord is that sin ceases to have power over the believer, making it easier not to sin.”

    John 8:31,32,36 — “31….If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

    That ‘free’ is freedom from the bondage of sin. If we obey Him, we will have fellowship with Him and protection from sin. Jesus’ death on the cross gave us eternal life in Heaven, forgiveness of sin, and freedom from the bondage of sin.

    Thank you, Noel, for this article.

    1. Thanks a lot for your comment Scott. I really appreciate your visit and your continued support.

      I pray that God will continue to bless you richly

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