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Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: Fighting for Our Freedom

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Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:

Fighting for Our Freedom

Galatians 5:1-12

Paul tells us that Christ has set us free but living as free people is not automatic, it is conditional. Our spiritual freedom must be fought for; the Christian life is a fight because we are in a war. Today we want to look at what God says about the freedom we have in Christ and how do we live as free people in the trenches of life. As I read I want you to notice a couple of things. Paul states that it is for freedom that Christ set us free; this is the summary statement of the Hagar and Sarah story that we saw last week. Hagar represents those seeking to obtain righteousness by human efforts which only produce slavery; Sarah represents those seeking to obtain righteousness before God through the Spirit which produces freedom. Then he goes on to tells us that we must stand against anything that attempts to bring us into slavery, giving us three examples of slavery and then how we live as free people

1. We must Fight to Maintain our Freedom (v. 1-4)

The work of Christ on the cross has set us free. My first thought is what has he freed us from? There are several things:

Freed us from Freed us for

Condemnation Justification

Guilt of sin Clear conscience

Power of sin Obedience

Spiritual blindness Spiritual sight

Spiritual death Spiritual life

Paul explained this freedom in 3:3 and 4:5. Freedom is by the power of the Spirit, God working in us and his freeing us from bondage to the law, freedom from the guilt and its power to enslave us. With that freedom comes joy as our hearts are made alive to God. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1Pe 1:8).”

Joy is the fruit of grasping the breadth and depth of his grace – that we are totally unable to make ourselves righteous or acceptable to God; that we stand under his eternal wrath and condemnation, yet because of his great love for us he performs the miracle of new birth, cleansing us, and giving us his Spirit, making us his children, living in us and working in us.

To live in freedom we must refuse to submit to fight yoke of slavery (5:1b). The first word here means to stand your ground and the second means to be actively hostile against an enemy. And the yoke was a wooden frame that was used to put two oxen together at the neck so they work together effectively. Then he gives examples of yoke of slavery that serve as warnings against slavery (ie 2:3-5).

It is interesting that Jesus also talks about us taking his yoke upon ourselves but he describes his yoke being easy and light. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mat 11:28-30).

There is a world of difference between obeying God’s law as a way of seeking his approval and acceptance and obeying the law that flows from faith in Christ. The difference is that the Spirit empowers us to obey Christ when we exercise faith and that is why Jesus’ yoke is light and not a burden.

Paul goes on to give us examples of slavery, which are spiritually fatal. The first is that Christ will be of no benefit to you (2). To trust in anything besides the gospel is rejecting the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross and belittles Christ. Remember that adding any human works to our justification destroys the gospel.

The second reason it is spiritually fatal is that it makes you a debtor to keep the whole law (3). A common way this is expressed among Christians is describing the motivation for obedience as gratitude; have you heard that? We are so grateful that Christ died for me I will obey him. But that puts you in the position of a debtor rather than a son.

The third reason is because severs you from the saving work of Christ (4). If you rely on works of the law, the yoke of the law, and seek to establish your own righteousness before God you are not standing in the freedom Christ offers. What this verse says is that the experience of freedom, including eternal life, can only be enjoyed by faith in the gospel. This warning is one God given means to motivate us not to look to works of the law but God’s grace to find our freedom. The point is not that circumcision is bad and non circumcision is good so I will not get circumcised to please God. That can be just as fatal. The issue is what are we trusting in to please God – the gospel or our own works.

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