Summary: This sermon is about Jesus and how he has set us free from legalism, guilt and sin.
Christ Has Set Us Free
Primary Purpose: To stress that the purpose of the law was to condemn, while Christ has set us free and justified the believer
The story is told some years ago of a pastor who found the roads blocked one Sunday morning and was forced to skate on the river to get to church, which he did. When he arrived the elders of the church were horrified to learn that their preacher had skated on the river on the Lord’s Day. After the service, they held a meeting where the pastor explained it was either skate to church or not to go at all. Finally one elder asked, “Did you enjoy it?” When the preacher answered “No”, the board decided it was all right! (Illustration from Today in the Word, December, 1989, pg.12). This illustration points to the fact that though we are in a free country, many people today still are not free. Many christians are not free today from shackles of legalism. Paul was emphatic about the fact that Christ came to set us free from law and from accusation.We have been hearing a lot lately about freedom with all that has been happening in Iraq and with our own Independence Day here. As important as religious freedom and political freedom are there is another kind of freedom- spiritual freedom. (Read Scripture)
In this book of Galatians, chapter 5:1 is the key verse of this letter. The churches in this region of Galatia were in danger of adding to the gosple with the law of Moses. Paul was arguing that the law frees no one. (Gal 3:23). Rather, the duty of the law is to convict us concerning guilt, sin and a coming judgment. Paul says the law was “put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” The law does this by showing us how much we fall short of God’s standards. It doesn’t justify anyone, but rather it convicts.
I’ve told you before how I struggled in school with math. I had a tutor one time for algebra in college. She would lead me through a problem and give me examples of how to deal with that problem. I felt some level of confidence when she was there and could help me. A tutor is a instructor. The tutor shows us what we need to know and helps to open our eyes to truth. The law does the same thing- only it’s message is in essence- your guilty, you shall short.
Evangelist Fred Brown used three images to describe the purpose of the law. First he likened it to a dentist’s little mirror, which he sticks into the patient’s mouth. With the mirror he can detect any cavities. But he doesn’t drill with it or use it to pull teeth. It can show him the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can’t provide the solution. Brown then drew another analogy. He said that the law is also like a flashlight. If suddenly at night the lights go out, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement stairs to the electrical box When you point it toward the fuses, it helps you see the one that is burned out. But after you’ve removed the bad fuse, you don’t try to insert the flashlight in its place. You put in a new fuse to restore electricity. In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumbline. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it’s true to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn’t use the plumbline to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw. The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn’t provide a solution. (from Fred Brown, www.sermonillustrations.com)
The law shows me then that I am enslaved to sin. Romans 6:15-18,22 when it says “you are slaves to the one whom you obey”. The good news of the gospel is that what the law couldn’t do- Jesus did. He set us free from the performance trap. This is what Paul meant when he says in Romans 7:24-25 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death. Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Because we are in Christ- he has cancelled out the debt that was over you. He nailed it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14). It is interesting that Paul uses this word rescue or to be set free several times. Here in Gal 5:1 he uses the term “set us free” which is the greek word ELEUTHEROO- which means to deliver. The stress is upon Christ who set us free. We did not set ourselves free. The same idea is mentioned in Colossians 1:13 where it says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. . . .” The emphasis is on what he is, not on us.