Freed to be Free #13
The Purpose of Freedom
Confusion that’s what had overtaken the Church in Galatia. They knew Christ had set them free but they didn’t know what that meant.
The Judaizers were telling them that the “freedom of Christ was completed in the law.”
There were always those who said “no I have grace, I am free to do anything I want, THAT’s the purpose of freedom.”
But is that it, Legalism or License? Is there any other option?
Is there a greater purpose?
Well, let’s find out. Go back with me to our Text
READ Galatians 5:1-15
Ok before I show you the purpose … I’m going to show you what is NOT the purpose of Liberty.
1. NOT the Bondage of Legalism
That has been the focus of this letter to the Galatians so far.
The Legalist will defend themselves as protecting the integrity of their belief system.
Remember that Legalism is “a strict or excessive conformity to the law or a religious or moral code”
So the legalist finds it easy to defend themselves by the root of truth, adding tradition, teaching their interpretations, enforcing authority, and increasing fear.
The Problem for the legalist is that
A. there are no GOOD legalists.
1. No legalist keeps the whole law and statutes. Legalists keep the things that they deem important. Let me give you some oversimplified examples.
Many a legalist says, any good Christian would never under any circumstance work on the Lord’s Day. The Pharisees called Jesus and the Disciples to task for taking some corn while walking through a cornfield on the Sabbath and accused them for working because the shucked the corn and rubbed off the kernels to eat, because you can’t work on the Lord’s Day. Interestingly, Today many of those that will place the strongest restrictions on Sundays for Christians will themselves go out to eat on Sunday, causing others to work.
3. “Take your hat off, this is God’s house.” Most churches I’ve been in, where this is said, they make this a biblical command but they don’t tell women to COVER their heads, which is the flip side of the same scripture. If you are going to say it, call it what it is, cultural, respect for tradition, but not a spiritual issue.
4. Other says “they shouldn’t play that loud music in the church this is God’s house” (they like to remind us of that) But those same churches often play some of the loudest organs I’ve ever heard. Our organ in college could rattle the windows, so maybe only certain KINDS of loud Christian music aren’t pleasing to the Lord. Some legalists will take it so far as to say that in church music, certain meters or tempos ¾, 6/8, or 4/4 are more spiritual or less so than other.
4. “Shhhh, be quite and reverent, this is God’s house.” Usually this is said by a parent who can’t control their kids so they make God the bad guy. But if it is “God’s House” and this should control our behavior, then how about “stop passing judgment, this is God’s house” or “get rid of your jealousy, this is God’s house.” Or “Put a smile on your face, this is God’s house” or “Love each other, this is God’s house” maybe “don’t critique the sermon, this is God’s House” J …
5. Other legalists say “The KJV is the Only correct translation …” But funny some of those would read from the KJV and then explain it by using different words, the same words I had in my NIV Bible …”
6. They aren’t good legalists … the legalist wants to keep what they like or their version of the law and pass the rest like a Spiritual Pot Luck. “I want some of this … some of this … not this … none of that.” It can’t work that way. If you want the Law you have to take the whole thing and the Spirit and Purpose of the Law, not just the letter of the law.
7. ANY disobedience is sufficient to make us a law breakers. You can’t keep 8/10 of the law or 9/10 or 9.5/10 of the law and still be a law keeper. Jesus taught us we can’t say you are not a murderer, when in your heart you wish someone were dead. That wish, that hatred is the same as the physical act. To mentally break the law is to spiritually break the law.
Look at what Paul showed the Galatians
B. what legalism does …
(3:1) Bewitched into believing lies
(1:6-9) Disobeying the Truth and Removing them from their place
(4:9) led them to Turn Back from the right way
(5:1) Entangled them in bondage
(5:4) Fallen from the Grace they had known
Wow, what a progression. Legalism isn’t a vehicle to lead us into deeper communion with God … on the contrary it leads us into pride and misplaced affections. Instead of it all being about Jesus and our love for him, it leads us into unhealthy self love or affection for an institution or system more than we love the Lord.
From Bewitched to Fallen
C. Fallen from Grace
Let me take just a minute to address this often confusing and misunderstood phrase in verse 4 “fallen from grace.”
Are you paying attention?
1. The legalist who is trying to instill fear and keep you in line will say “you better stay in line or you will fall out of faith with the Lord and lose your grace.”
2. They are teaching that you can lose your position once it has been given to you by God’s grace through faith.
Let me take a minute to explain this phrase that is only here in the whole New Testament.
3. We have just read 4 chapters of this letter. It is very clear that Paul is correcting false teaching, but he is addressing the CHURCH in Galatia. Furthermore it is clear what Paul’s opinion of them is. They ARE believers in a Position of Grace in Christ. Over and again he calls them “brothers” a term only used for fellow Christians. He calls them “we” in 4:28,31. He calls them Sons of God in Christ 4:6. It is clear that Paul believes they are born again. Yet he says they have “fallen from grace”. How can they be believers, children of God, but be OUT of Grace? They can’t. Paul doesn’t mean they fell OUT of Salvation but fell from living in the REALM and influence of Grace.
Grace depends on God right? It is dependant on him giving to us, what we do not deserve and couldn’t provide. It depends solely on Jesus. So, if it depends on Jesus then you can’t fall out of it, because it isn’t up to you. You can’t fall out of it, but you can fall from living according to it.
4. If you put verse 4’s reference to “falling from Grace” together with verse 1 “stand firm then and do not be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” It is like being set free from jail, walking about in freedom, then going back to an unlocked cell and living there by choice.
5. Freedom leads to walking by faith. Legalism is walking by sight. Freedom and faith is based on God. Legalism is based on what I can do. That would be “falling from freedom” That is what Paul means by “Falling from grace”
and that IS Bondage
It is falling from the realm of Freedom
So, what is the purpose of Freedom?
Some would say legalism, but NO
Others would say the purpose of freedom is Indulgence.
Is that the purpose?
Paul asks that question in Romans 6:1-2 – What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means. We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
The Purpose of freedom is NOT legalism and it is
2. Not the Bondage of Indulgence
àSo, let me paint a scenario. A Single guy starts working out. He does it because he wants to get in better shape. He wants to get healthy. He wants to feel better. He wants to live longer, and also he wants to be attractive to find a mate.
Well the more he works out, the more he wants to work out. He forgets why he started working out in the first place. Now, he works out cause he likes the way it makes him feel, and that’s good. But then he begins o become obsessed with the workout. He puts muscle on muscle, as a matter of fact, he no longer can even put on new muscle; until he is controlled by the culture of the workout.
Strangely he doesn’t seem to be attracting any potential mates.
àAnd he no longer feels good about himself because it is never good enough. 30 min cardio 3x a week becomes 60 min 4x a week. 225 max becomes 275, 300, and so on. There always seems to be someone at the gym that is better than you and if you miss a day they look down on you when you return. They call you and ask what happened, “you know we expect you to keep up appearances.” His workout is no longer a good, freeing thing, but has become a yoke, a legalistic bondage.
àUntil, he sees her in the Park. “She must like me because of the way I look” he thinks. She insists that she doesn’t and he believes her. Interest becomes like, like becomes infatuation, infatuations becomes love, and marriage follows. For awhile all is good. But then the gym buddies begin to put the pressure on. “She will leave you, she’ll look elsewhere, she won’t love you” …
àSo, Back to the gym … obsession again, bound again by the legalism of the gym. That’s not too healthy, not even for love, but for the sake of the culture of it. Finally the guy’s wife and love sits him down and finally convinces him that she would not love him any less if he never touched another weight, or never spun another wheel, or stepped another aerobic step. So, finally he gets it. “She loves me for me, because she chooses to.”
àOh the grace of love! It is splendid for awhile, but then he stopped working out all together. He barely walks anymore, let alone run! He doesn’t lift, or spin, or step, his muscles atrophy, and his body changes. She loves him just like he is so why DO anything? She will never leave him so why work so hard or at all for that matter. Bring on the truck load of Krispe Kreme. You name it he will take it. He gets winded going up the stairs so he puts in a lift on his stairs. He doesn’t shave, barely bathes, doesn’t comb his hair, she will still love him. And she does.
àBut before long laziness causes a job loss, then he finds himself in the Dr’s office and he warns him that the overindulgence is endangering his health in a myriad of ways. He is trapped in the bondage of indulgence. She still loves him but his indulgence shows that he is not loving her. She wants better for him and his indulgence may not take away the love for him, but there are still consequences to the bondage.
àCan you see in my over exaggerated and simplified illustration that BOTH Legalism AND Indulgence are bondage?
Love set you free, but both legalism and indulgence cause you to fall away from the gracious effect of love.
Now, don’t dwell on the illustration, dwell on the teaching behind it
V13 – “you were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature”
If we indulge and return to where we were before … we deal with the consequences and again we find ourselves back in an unlocked cell.
àBut the purpose of freedom was not ONLY to save you FROM something but also FOR something
If you go back to Paul’s Treatise on Salvation, the book of Romans, Paul teaches us about the Purpose of his Salvation offered by Grace through Faith and his work on the Cross.
àRomans chs 3-5 teach us
He was our Substitution on the cross dying for us
He died for my Sin
He died to free me from the penalty of sin.
He justified me, imputing righteousness to my account
àThen I read chs 6-8 and see that
We are Identified with him as we died WITH him, I am crucified with Christ
He died UNTO Sin
He took away the Power of Sin
In Him we are being sanctified as his righteousness is imparted and incorporated into my life
àSo, I don’t keep trying to EARN my relationship with spiritual self-mutilization or self-denial to earn the grace I can never afford or repay.
It is grace before, during, and always. I was freed, not to be returned to the bondage of trying.
Nor do I descend into the bondage of indulgence, thinking that he picked me up, turned me around, set my feet on solid ground, saved me changed me, healed me from the sickness of sin and death, filled me with the Holy Spirit, and clothed me with clean white garments so that I could cover them with tattered rags and play in a mud puddle.
No, that is bondage, not freedom
Paul goes to the radical extreme to say in verse 12 that the effects of that kind of teaching makes him wish that those teaching this would become spiritually sterile than continue to reproduce.
Because that is NOT the purpose of freedom
The purpose of freedom is freedom
The purpose of Liberty is to live Free
The purpose of Grace is to live graciously
3. But Grace / Liberty Paid Forward
I have been freed for the purpose of spreading freedom
I have been freed to go to the legalist and say “don’t you know that you will never attain righteousness or earn love but Jesus offers it freely to you because HE is Righteous and he is Love”
I have been freed to go to the one lost in the quagmire of indulgence and ask “have you been satisfied yet? You’re pouring but are you full yet? No? That’s because you well is rancid and your container is broken. But I know a well that is full of living water that will never run dry. You can have that spring within you. Jesus love you just as you are but he loves you too much to leave you that way.”
The purpose of freedom is to Be Free and to Advance Freedom
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NIV)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
HOW? How does he spread the fragrance of God to the world that is perishing?
A. Serve Out of Love v13
1. The scripture often shows us opposites to make a point.
Ephesians 5:17-18 (NIV)
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
God’s will for you is the opposite of drunkenness.
A drunk is out of control, out of their mind, and of no use to God. But INSTEAD, RATHER … be FILLED with the Spirit which produces someone under control, in their right mind, and useful to the Kingdom.
2. Paul uses the same technique here in verse 13 of Galatians 5. Don’t be over indulgent because that is bondage instead, rather, Freedom comes as we “Serve one another in love”
3. We are the most free when we take HIS yoke on us and learn from him, that is we become imitators of Christ as dearly loved children (eph 5:1)
4. Speaking about verse 13 here, Warren Wiersbe says “one believer interprets liberty as license and then he can do whatever he wants to do. Another believer, seeing this error, goes to the opposite extreme and imposes the law on everybody. Somewhere between license and legalism is true Christian liberty”
4. And how does true liberty manifest itself? In love lived out.
“But they don’t deserve my love” – really well, that’s who Jesus would love
“But they won’t love me back” – hmm that’s who Jesus would love.
And Jesus doesn’t love from a distance, he is up close and personal he served us. Then Jesus said
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1. Commandment? – YES … entole /en-tol-ay/ commandment or precept; a prescribed rule
When a lawyer came to Jesus and asked what is the greatest commandment, he used the same word.
So here, Jesus said “I have a precept, a commandment, a rule for life”
2. NEW commandment - kainos / kahnee-nos / new unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of
Jesus is saying “I have an unprecedented, uncommon, unheard of command for you …
3. LOVE – agapao / ag-a-ah-o / to welcome, entertain, be fond of, love dearly
He didn’t say “I command you to HAVE love” (agape) a noun … but he says to LOVE (agapao) a verb. Don’t wait for them to come to you and ask for love and then accept and love them, but LOVE them … Love is an ACTION Command,
4. SERVE – Paul teaches the Galatians … “Serve One Another in Love” - this is a Verb too … it is the verb form of the noun doulos – which is a bond slave or one who when set free from bondage chooses to bind themselves in service to one another.
SERVE – douleuo / dool-yoo-o / to be a slave, to do service, make yourself a slave …
A Slave … Not to legalism, not to license, but to one another out of love, agape, of God within you
When pride says “I’m not going to serve anyone?” or “what’s in it for me?”
Love says “What’s in it for them?” or “what’s in it for the Kingdom?”
And you know what happens along the way as you enslave yourself to loving service to others?
You look up and realize that the law, which you couldn’t fulfill because you were a slave to sin, is fulfilled as you Love God and Love Others.
B. Fulfilling the Law Is Found in Love Unbridled vv5,6; 14
Not bridled by pride
Not bridled by selfishness
Not bridled by indulgence
Not bridled by restriction for control
But Love Unbridled
1. Go to the 10 Commandments make a list
1) Love God
2) No Idols
3) Don’t take his name in Vain
4) Keep the Sabbath
5) Honor Father and Mother
6) Don’t Murder
7) Don’t Commit Adultery
8) Don’t Steal
9) Don’t Lie
10) Don’t Covet
2. What’s the point behind EVERY commandment? LOVE Pure Love
When we truly understand and express love we will be free
When we fully understand the way we are loved, then we will exercise our freedom correctly
Vv5-6 – fighting, biting at each other, taking down the wounded will not get you ahead but will destroy
3. Fulfillment is found in LOVE
4. When we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and learn how to love, it is the perfect governor for our lives
go through the List whether it is toward God or in regards to people, if love drives me to enslave myself to loving them in action, then I will fulfill the law.
Romans 13:8 (NIV)
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
This verse is sometimes quoted by people who oppose debt of any kind when they pull the 1st 5 words out of context saying “you should have no debt”
Well, I’m not going to argue finances and debt with you, but this verse is not in a fiscal context. It is in a relational context.
It is saying that debbt will come and when it does pay it off as quickly as you can … BUT you will always be indebted to one another to love each other. You will never be able to say “there, I’ve paid my love debt, I can tear up my papers”
5. What is the purpose of freedom?
It is that we might really be free and as truly free ones who understand their freedom, we will become slaves to one another grounded in love and fulfill the law through LOVE
6. Go back to Romans 13:10-12
“Do this (Love) Understanding the Present Time … The Night is nearly over, the day is almost here”
Oh Precious Saint, have you had some rough nights? But you know you can make it because you know that the day is coming it is almost here
7. Wrap the towel of a servant around you.
Let the smile of God’s love beam across your face.
I know it may be the 3rd shift,
I know you are tired …
but the night is almost over
The Day is almost here
When dawn breaks, rest is coming, reward is coming,
Don’t you want someone else to go with you?
Freedom = Love
Love = Slavery
Slavery = Freedom and Fulfillment
The Purpose of Freedom is Love!
I may have told you the story before, but in 1875 French Painter Marcel de Leclure sent a simple but massive love letter to the one he loved. He decided the letter would contain the words “je vous aime” “I love you” 1000 times for every year of the date. That is 1,875,000. He hired a scribe. He could have just said “write it for me 1,875,000 times.” But instead he said it himself 1,875,000 times, he had the scribe repeat it 1,875,000 and then he wrote it 1,875,000 times. All total 5,625,000 times “Je vous aime” … I Love you, I love you, I love you
Quoted, Repeated, Written
Every day over and again Jesus says to us, “I Love you”
We are to repeat it every time to a world that is perishing, and our brothers who are being saved “Jesus Loves you”
And then we are to write it on their heart with loving service “Jesus Loves you, Jesus Loves you, Jesus Loves you”
That is the purpose of Freedom