Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 2, Lesson 10

Lesson Ten

Do Not Misuse Christian Freedom

Texts: 1 Peter 2:11-17; Galatians 5:13-15

Jesus was a paradox. A paradox exists when the truth appears to contradict itself. In many matters, Jesus was a paradox. The specific paradox that underlies this lesson: Jesus was God's perfect servant, but Jesus was also free. Both statements about Jesus are true. Yet, how could he be God's servant (slave) and at the same moment be free?

Perhaps this paradox can be seen prior to Jesus' execution. As God's servant, Jesus committed himself to die on the cross because it was God's will. Yet, he wanted his disciples and the arresting soldiers to realize that human force did not "capture" him (Matthew 26:53). Jesus surrendered himself. Had Jesus requested help, twelve legions of angels would have defended him. A Roman legion was 6,000 men. God would send him 72,000 angels upon request. As Jesus said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down on my own initiative" (John 10:17,18). God's perfect servant surrendered to execution, but he was free.

Enormous differences exist between Jesus and us. One of those differences is seen in this paradox. Jesus was free, but Jesus made himself God's servant. He was never captured by evil. He did not need God to ransom him from his mistakes and failures.

We were not free. We were captured by evil. Our own mistakes and failures imprisoned us to evil. The Christian was a slave to evil. The Christian is free only by an act of God. God's grace expressed through His forgiveness frees us.

In one matter concerning freedom, we are like Jesus. Jesus had to decide how to use his freedom. As Christians, we have to decide how to use our freedom. Jesus did not use freedom to escape God's will. He used freedom to do God's will. God freed us to enable us to do His will. Only the deceived Christian tries to use freedom to escape servitude. That deceit destroys his or her freedom. God did not free us to indulge ourselves. God freed us to serve.

1 Peter 2:11-17

  1. How did Peter address the Christians to whom he wrote (verse 11)?

    1. From what were they to abstain (to refuse involvement)?

    2. Why?

  2. What kind of behavior were they to have among the people who did not follow the living God (verse 12)?

    1. How would these people initially react to their Christian behavior?

    2. What influence would their Christian behavior ultimately have on them?

  3. How did he want those Christians in their circumstances to respond to governmental institutions (verse 13, 14)?

  4. In this situation, what was the will of God (verse 15)?

  5. How were they to act (verse 16)?

    1. In what way were they not to use their freedom?

    2. How were they to use their freedom?

    3. What did that mean?

  6. How were they to react to (verse 17):

    1. All men?

    2. Fellow Christians?

    3. God?

    4. The king (emperor)?

Galatians 5:13-15

  1. To what were Christians called (verse 13)?

    1. They should not turn their freedom into an opportunity for what? Explain what Paul meant by that statement.

    2. They should use their freedom to do what for each other?

  2. The law is fulfilled in what one word (verse 14)?

    1. Give the statement Paul quoted to verify that love fulfilled the law.

    2. Read what Paul said in Romans 13:8-10 and explain how the commitment to love our fellow man fulfills God's law given in the Old Testament.

  3. What commonly happens when Christians bite and devour each other (verse 15)?

    1. Is that good or bad?

    2. Explain your answer.

Why did God provide us release from evil through propitiation, atonement, redemption, and forgiveness? In propitiation, Jesus took our place to pay the consequences for our evil. In atonement, Jesus' blood satisfied justice for our injustices. In redemption, God used Jesus to buy us back from Satan and evil. In forgiveness, God used Jesus' blood to destroy our sins. Why? God did all this to free us and to allow us to live in freedom.

Did God give us freedom so we could live selfishly in any way we wished? No. God gave us freedom so that (a) we could fashion our behavior on God's purity and (b) we could treat other people in ways not possible when we were enslaved to evil. God freed us so that our behavior would be guided by love. God freed us so that we could serve people in love. God freed us to love with His love. God freed us to love with the love that guided and controlled Jesus.

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 2, Lesson 10

Copyright © 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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