This morning I want us to think about freedom, what we have freedom from
and what we have the freedom to do.
Christians often talk about something we refer to as the Gospel, the Gospel simply means Good News or glad tidings.
And one of the best ways we can explain the Good News about Jesus Christ is to talk about freedom.
Galatians Chapter 5 verse 1 wrote starts with the words:
“it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”
Throughout the letter to the Galatian Church,
Paul speaks about how Christ’s death takes away fear, he speaks about how God provides lasting forgiveness and restoration,
and He speaks of the truth of knowing that Jesus Christ has set us free not just for a day, but for eternity.
We ARE set free by Jesus.
We HAVE freedom.
But freedom from what?
What are we free from?
Paul continues in Galatians 5:1 and says:
‘It is for freedom Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’
Look at the world today.
Look at the lives of ordinary everyday people.
in the lives of many people
There seems to be slavery and not freedom.
There are people burdened with guilt,
bound by fear,
enslaved to sinful habits,
shackled with bad attitudes...
There are many that are very far from the living in the freedom Christ gives.
There are also too many Christians who seem far from living in the Freedom Christ has died to give them.
Yet Paul says Jesus HAS set us free.
Let me remind you of the words of Jesus recorded in ohn 8 verse 32 - He says the truth shall set you free and four verses later in verse 36 he says ‘if the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed.’
So, Why is it, if Christ HAS already set us free, so many Christians still seem to be in chains and still in bondage?
If Jesus has already set us free why are so many still shackled by fear, by sin, by wrong desires, by the stuff this world offers?
The truth is Christ died to set us free from the burden of sin.
But so often we choose to continue to carry it.
If Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18 the prophet asks: Do you understand you ARE freed from the burden of sin?
Let me remind you what Jesus said ‘come to me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will …’ ...add more weight to your burden?
No, Jesus said come to me ‘and I will give you rest.’
On many occasions Jesus told the people – come to me and I will remove your burden of sin.
We HAVE been freed from the burden of sin.
Jesus HAS died and risen.
Jesus HAS conquered death.
Jesus HAS paid the price for our sins.
Isn’t it time we actually started living in the Freedom that is already ours?
Paul warns the Galatians not to put the yoke of the Law back on themselves again.
Paul told the Galatian church they had rejected the gospel of grace - there were people who had started to say that believing in Jesus was not enough - there were people who were teaching that to really be saved they was still a need to be circumcised and to obey the Letter of the Law.
Paul told them if they believed that circumcision or anything else needed to be added then they did not believe that Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient to save people from their sins.
Living under the Laws of the Old Covenant could never bring freedom it.
The Law brought condemnation and guilt.
It laid a burden on the people.
It held them in bondage.
But when Christ came, He fulfilled the requirements of the Law,
He was the atonement for sin.
The burden was lifted from the people because the requirement of the Law had been met when Jesus perfect life was sacrificed in their (and our) place.
Jesus HAS set us free.
So why would the Galatians go back into slavery when they had been given freedom?
Well you know it was the pattern of their ancestors, and ours.
Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, he led them into freedom, but they were not happy, even hough they were free they begin to moan and complain that life was better back in Egypt.
They complained about so much, they even said “in Egypt we had cucumbers and Garlic!”
The Galatians were doing the same.
They allowed men to come in amongst them and spread heresy.
There is something in the heart of every person that deceives us into thinking we need to earn our salvation, that in some way we can contribute something to it.
Paul is clear when he says we can’t earn our salvation and if we try to earn our salvation we deny the gospel of God’s grace.
Paul says it is Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection which justifies you before God,
His sacrifice that restores you to a right relationship with God.
He says you have been freed from sin
but he does not say you are free to sin.
Do you understand the difference?
You are free from sin but that is not the same as saying you are free to sin.
You are free from the condemnation of the Law but you are not free to disregard or break God’s Law.
Paul tells the Galatians, and us, we are made right with God by grace through faith in Christ – our justification.
That frees us from the burden of sin, from a guilty conscience, from the fear of death.
1 Peter 1 v18-19 tells us Therefore ‘stand firm’ in the freedom which Christ brings, and Christ alone brings. Do not go back into the old way of trying to earn or win God’s favour by obedience to the Law. The Law condemns. The Law convicts and brings a guilty conscience but God has cleansed that conscience by the precious blood of Christ
(1 Peter 1 v18-19)
If God has freed us from the burden from the punishment of sin but we are not free to sin,
then what exactly are we free to do?
We have the freedom to enjoy a relationship with God that was once denied to us because of our sin.
You have the Freedom to be in a real relationship with a God who loves you....
Let me ask you a very serious question:
Is it a joy to you to be a Christian?
I don’t mean are you always happy...
I don’t mean are you always smiling...
Is being a Christian a joy or a burden to you?
Some people may see it is a burden,
they may think being a Christian is more about what we do not do - instead of what we do, do.
If you are a Christian this morning,
God loves you unconditionally.
You cannot make him love you more,
there is nothing you can do to make him love you less.
Your salvation is in Christ – not in your obedience.
Your Freedom is in Christ - but your sanctification is in your obedience.
Ah – that is the key....
Your holiness, your personal godliness,
your witness before God and others,
depends on your obedience.
But your salvation is all of Christ.
Your sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit - every day leading you to obey God’s Word and will so you might become a little more like Christ each day.
We are free to be obedient,
obedience leads to godliness,
holiness and Christlikeness.
So, What do you have freedom to do?
You have freedom to serve your neighbour.
Paul says in Galatians Chapter 5 verses 13-15 that we have been freed to serve others, not exploit them.
The mark of freedom is service.
Sounds strange, but we are told we are no longer our own - we have been bought with the blood of Christ.
When we are freed from the slavery of sin, we become servants of Christ.
We display our freedom in Christ by serving others in the name of Jesus.
It is out of our freedom that we serve.
It is an expression of our love towards Jesus who has set us free that we serve others in his name.
We are freed from self-indulgence and from the slavery of our sinful nature.
We are being freed from the power of sin in our lives and in its place comes the fruit of the Spirit.
Freedom in Christ comes by being filled by the Holy Spirit so that there is no room for sin.
The fruit of the Spirit in your life brings freedom – against such things Paul says there is no law, nothing to condemn, nothing to convict and therefore no guilt.
We are free to be filled with the Spirit, which brings freedom not bondage.
We are free to live without condemnation of the past or fear of the future.
God does not wipe away your sin,
give you salvation and then put on handcuffs of past memories to hinder your Christian life.
Handcuffs are self-imposed.
You are free from your past – he has wiped it clean.
It no longer imprisons you – the debt has been paid.
Listen to these words spoken by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 3 v19) ‘Repent, then, turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.’
Jesus sets you free from your past – Don’t go back and put on the burden he has removed.
Maybe, this morning, right here, right now,
some of us need to accept God’s forgiveness,
some of us may need to repent,
some of us need to start living in the Freedom Christ HAS already given us.
Has anyone ever done a parachute jump?
Imagine that it is your hobby and you just love the freedom that gliding down to earth under the canopy of a parachute gives.
You have the freedom of the skies within the parameters or boundaries of the parachute.
But say one day you decide you do not want the boundaries of the parachute, you want total freedom.
So you jump out without your chute.
You have total freedom for a while but suddenly the ground looms and now without a parachute disaster also looms, in fact death is certain.
You see freedom has boundaries in order to keep us safe.
John 8:36 says
The Son shall set you free and you shall be free indeed.
In Christ we have freedom – within the boundaries of God’s Word.
We are free from the punishment of sin,
from eternal death,
from the past,
from fear of the future,
but we are not autonomous.
We are not free to do our own thing.
We are not free from responsibility.
We are not free to sin.
We are not freed from love and concern for others.
Galatians Chapter 5 verse 1 says this:
“it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”
Be encouraged this morning by the Freedom YOU already have in Christ.