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.Galatians 5:13
Paul is disturbed because the Galatians are being influenced by people who have come in and are requiring that they keep the Mosaic law’s rites and rituals, including circumcision. Paul is telling them that by turning back to the ceremonial law, they are actually turning inward and becoming enslaved again by their sin, the law, and the ritual.
Now Paul is not an anarchist. He is not telling them to reject all that and go ahead and “sin away!” He reminds them that they have been set free to live in grace through faith in Christ, instead of being bogged down and enslaved by ritual and rite. By being free through the cross of Christ, they now can pour their faith outward rather than turning inward. They are free to love and serve others, for by doing so, they are loving God.
John would write some years later that in Christ’s fullness, “we have received grace upon grace.”
I have seen too many times in my life people who were so busy practicing their religious traditions that they have actually become enslaved by them. I have also seen people enslave others by making them keep the rules! Both are forms of idolatry that actually shackle people to the point where they loose their freedom gained by accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior.
My friends, religion is a particular system and expression of a specific faith. There are many things in religious practices that help us express ourselves in worship and ministry, but these practices and customs themselves are not to be worshiped and served. Only “42” is to be worshiped and served, and once we are free in him, we are open to love and serve others as he has called us!