We love because He (Jesus) first loved us.- 1 John 4:19 (ESV)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery….For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:1,13-15 (ESV)
“Don’t go by your feelings, but go by the doctrine of faith, which pledges Christ to you.”– Martin Luther from the Commentary on Galatians, 1535.
Freedom in Christ does not mean we are set free from the law of love. It means that because of Jesus’ love for us we are set free to love each other.
The Law is a good thing. It shows us God’s will for our behavior toward Him and toward our neighbors. The Law was given to maintain good order.
The Law also shows us our desperate need for a Savior. None of us can follow the Ten Commandments (let alone the whole of the Mosaic Law) perfectly for even a day.
Our freedom in Christ does set us free from the penalty of the Law (which is death) but our freedom is not a license for “anything goes.” It is empowerment from Jesus Himself to love as He first loved us. No, we are not going to love one another perfectly.
Feelings are not good indicators of where we stand spiritually. One day one might feel as if, “Hey, I am doing a really good job. I haven’t murdered anyone, I do my Bible study and devotions, I am faithful to my partner, etc.” But the next day, one might feel as if all is lost and God is far away. Feelings are mercurial at best, and following our fickle feelings will only lead us to despair.
The fact is that no person is able to justify him or herself. Regardless of our feelings or how bad or good we think we are at any given moment, the reality is that justification and salvation is found in Jesus alone.
We are not set free because of our feelings. We are set free of the curse of sin and set free to live out the Law of love because Jesus became the curse for us. Because Jesus died on the Cross and put death to death our freedom is in Him no matter how we feel. When we come to the font in Baptism we are washed clean of our sins, we are buried with Jesus in His death, and we are named and claimed as His own. When we come to the Communion table, we share in His body and blood. We can taste and see that He is good, He is there, and He is enough.
We are free because of Jesus, no matter what we feel. It is in Him we have our life and strength and hope.