Summary: Sermon #18 in Galatians series. What does it mean to be free in Christ. Spiritual maturity is measured not in how many freedoms you take, but in how many you limit or give up for the sake of others.
“Called to be Free” (Gal 5:13-15)
What is freedom, really?
Freedom is power. The idea of freedom includes the power to choose, to make your own decisions.
We know a bit about freedom in this country. Say what you will about America, but it is still the freest country in the world. Here you are allowed to make a lot of your own decisions. There are places in the world where you don’t get to choose who will provide your healthcare. There are places in the world where you don’t get to choose what your occupation will be, where you will live. We have many freedoms in this country that we take for granted that people in other parts of the world do not have.
But freedom is more than just getting to do whatever you want, isn’t it? Have you ever heard freedom defined in this way – “You have the freedom to do whatever you want, as long as you do not interfere with someone else’s freedom in the process.”?
See, since you are not the only person in the universe, we have to include other equally free people in our thought process about freedom.
In the movie Spiderman, Peter Parker gets some special “Spider Powers” because of a mutant spider bite.
At one point his Uncle Ben tells him, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
That is true with freedom also, with freedom comes responsibility:
"Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment he is thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does."
- Jean Paul Sartre
With freedom comes acceptance of the consequences for our choices made in freedom.
You absolutely have the freedom as a person to choose to follow Jesus, or to reject Him
Every choice has consequences, though, and sometimes in making one choice, one decision, you find that once you are on the other side of that decision, once it is in the past and the decision made, you are now limited in what choices you are free to make next.
If you exercise your freedom and choose to reject Jesus Christ for example, you are now free to go to hell and be separated from God forever. You are not free, however, to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.
Think of a free choice as a fork in the road, go this way, and reject Jesus, I have certain freedoms I can take. Now, as long as I am still alive, I can change my course, I can turn around and exercise my freedom to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savoir by faith and a whole new world of freedom will open up to me.
So what does it mean to be “Free in Christ”?
That is what we are going to talk about this morning.
Gal 5: 13-15 (NIV) 13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
In this passage Paul gives us a brief overview of the responsibility that goes along with our freedom in Christ
We can see from this passage that our freedom has to do with more than just ourselves, in fact Paul seems to focus more on other people; “serve on another in love”, “Love you neighbor as yourself.”
This should come as no surprise, as this is a common theme from Paul’s letters
Phil 2: 3-4 (NASB) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
And He seems to be quoting Jesus
Mt 22: 36-40 (NIV) 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
And Love your neighbor as yourself is actually Jesus quoting from Leviticus. So this is a theme that is woven throughout the entire Bible. If We had to sum it all up with one word, it would have to be LOVE.
So we are called to be free, and it has a lot to do with responsibility and loving other people.