"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in a humble manner."
This was a revolutionary paradigm shift for those hearing this message for the first time. To "live in freedom" meant that the Jews were no longer bound by the law and the Gentiles were free to live and love God without strict regulations.
It reminds me of the scene in Home Alone when the little Kevin finally learns that his parents are gone, "I made my family disappear!" He takes off running through the house, doing everything he was never allowed to do under parental observation. He jumps on the bed, eats junk food, plays with explosives, watches "rubbish" and runs through the house yelling, "I'm freeeeeee!"
But as the movie progresses, Kevin learns that his freedom was a poor substitute for the loneliness he experienced without the love and support of his family. He misses the community, the togetherness, and even the "poundings" from his older brother.
I think what this verse is saying is that we are free from the oppressive law. We are free to jump on the bed and eat junk food as long as it does not hurt our brothers and sisters. Here's an example that I came across recently. I am free to drink alcohol and will drink a glass of wine on occasion. If one of my Christian brothers or sisters does not agree with it or has struggled with alcohol in the past (perhaps they have previously struggled with addiction), it would be wrong of me to drink in front of them or offer them a drink. On the other hand, I have friends that are not believers and they drink alcohol regularly. I had them over the other night and we shared a bottle of wine. I believe that this is using my freedom to serve another in humility. I am free to drink alcohol, or use any freedom, with love and humility.
Alright.. that's it. I need a cigarette.