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Americans are passionate about the concept of freedom. Freedom and independence define our experience. Many of know that freedom comes with a price freedom is not free. Thats why we cringe at the thought of squandering freedom. Giving up precious freedom simply to avoid struggle or to gain something as simple as comfort strikes us as a losing bargain. Statements like give me liberty or give me death are written deeply into our history. We arent always sure that our nation will live up to that spirit, but it is still there.
If we can be so passionate about political freedom and if we can understand the spirit of freedom that is a part of the legends and history of our nation, then we ought to be even more passionate about freedom in Christ. We really need to understand how the Spirit of God is the foundation of this freedom. Read Galatians 5 ...
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and dont get tied up again in slavery to the law ...
- Paul is greatly discouraged that the Galatian Christians have given up their freedom and submitted themselves to systems of rules and beliefs.
- Instead of trusting in the grace of God, they have decided to make themselves right with God based on what they can do.
- Some of it probably seems harmless: observing special rituals, following certain rules and customs, nothing too extreme ... but Pauls warning is that grace plus anything else really isnt grace.
- What concerns me is our fascination with lists five acts of worship, five steps/six steps of salvation, threefold patterns of interpretation: Yes, these can be helpful, but when observance or adherence to these lists become a test of fellowship and/or become the sign of faithfulness, then we are getting bound up into a type slavery.
- There is a dangerous temptation to view our salvation in terms of a knowledge that we must have and a work that we must do that secures that salvation. We are not dependent on our own efforts. Our faith is not measured by our accomplishments.
- Our faith, our life isnt the sum total of keeping a list of requirements and commands.
- We are free from religious law.
v 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.
- What does it mean to be called to live in freedom? Do we grasp the importance of this statement?
- We are free in Christ which means ...
- We are free to love. We do not love God and love others because we are coerced. Not because there is some legal obligation. We are free to serve.
- I can understand why Paul would find it disappointing that the Christians in Galatia were giving up on faith and freedom and substituting it with commands and obligations.
- We have not fully matured if our only motivation for following Gods ways is because he commanded it.
- When we live in freedom we are free to serve God and serve others or not.
So if we are free not to serve God and others, why would we?
Its sort of a shame that Americans who understand that freedom isnt free have to ask this. Freedom demands certain responsibilities. Those who seek freedom are filled with a certain spirit of responsibility and maturity.
Much more so, in Christ, we are filled with Gods Holy Spirit when we live in freedom.
But dont use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
v 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you wont be doing what your sinful nature craves.
- Those who live in Christs freedom do not act in ways that are determined by others.
- We are free from the reaction and response of others.
- We are also free to act in a way that reflects the spirit rather than act in a way that is defensive or reactive to others.
- Think about it, such defensive and reactive behavior is childish. I acted this way, because she did this or that.
- Paul is pushing the Galatians to be guided by the Holy Spirit because they are being guided by other spirits. How often are we guided by other spirits, other attitudes, other expectations.
- We are often so worried about what others think and what others do, and we become less interested in what God thinks, what he is able to do and we are less interested in what we are thinking and especially what we are doing.
- Because we are free ...
- We are free from manipulation by others
- We are free from the temptation to control others
- We are free from the need to feel like we must know better than others.
- We are free to do good always (Galatians 6:10)
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 July 2009
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