The main thing that cheapens liberty is to fail to consider the cost paid for you to receive it.
What price Christ paid for your liberty? Would you set it aside for the approval of men?
This is Paul’s consternation. (To which he also knows and adds the cost he and other men have already paid in addition to that greatest of all price paid by Christ.)
These same Galatian churches which so readily received the love of Christ by faith in the gospel of grace preached by the apostle Paul have recently turned away from the liberty of that grace to attempt to carry the burdens placed upon them by religious practitioners. Paul knows as well as anyone this cannot be done, and even if it could be it would be worth nothing in the eyes of God.
It is exactly backwards from God’s intent for His gospel, provided by the death of His only Son, Jesus Christ. God’s design was for Jesus to pay the debt for sin we could not pay so we may receive the free gift of God in eternal life we do not deserve.
That word “free” implies liberty, but it does not imply liberty without cost.
Knowing the cost paid for your freedom defines how faithfully/diligently you should hold onto it – and even fight for it.
This is the measure of Paul’s faithfulness to Christ. He will not yield his or our liberty to anyone or for anyone, no matter how pious they may appear. The ONLY exception may be on the occasion when his liberty impedes someone else’s – and then Paul has taught us to employ our liberty to yield our liberty so someone else may receive or continue in theirs.
Those who would impose any legal standard in addition to the grace of God, (encapsulated here in Paul’s discussion about circumcision,) do irreparable harm to the liberty of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He ALREADY paid the price of salvation – including the sufferings of the flesh – so we never have to.
Imagine how many grown men may turn away from faith in Christ upon hearing they must reverse course and be circumcised as evidence of their faith by the marks of the flesh.
To which Paul argues the utter stupidity of that logic.
But he also understands the perverse appeal of it. After all, it seems some men HAVE gone through with it, and perhaps now think themselves better for it.
Whatever you take upon yourself as accomplishment takes away from Christ. It is that simple and that plain. Those who would impose ANY sort of standard of righteousness according to the flesh are enemies of Christ.