Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: Freed to Love and Service
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
Freed to Love and Service
Thesis – The freedom Christ Promises is the freedom to love and serve others/Spirit empower serving. The Christina concept of freedom is not the freedom to do anything you want or desire to do. True freedom is not doing whatever you want without restraints. On the other hand you may not feel much freedom. You have habits, hang ups, and hurts that seem to plague you and control you! Maybe you feel or have felt that way?
The bible promises us on multiple levels in in multiple ways. Paul tells us here that freedom is the ability to joyfully and freely serve others out of love. Before we read this passage, let me give review it with you so you can see it clearly. He starts by stating that freedom is our destiny, freedom is defined as serving others, which is an expression of loving your neighbor. The opposite of loving others is destroying others. The freedom to love and serve others comes as we submit and follow leading and impulses of the Spirit in our selves.
1. True Freedom is being Freed to Serve Others (vs. 13-15)
Paul says we were called to freedom. We have seen that Gods call began in eternity past when he chose us in Christ, became effective when he drew us to himself in the gospel, called us to have the character of Christ, and climaxes in our glorification in the age to come. His point is that freedom is our destiny. Freedom from the guilt of our sin and the curse and condemnation the law brings. Then he qualifies this statement two ways; first negatively, then positively.
Negatively we are not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. The flesh is not the skin on our bones but rather broadly speaking the flesh is the fallen human nature outside of Christ that is empty and seeks only to meets its own needs sinfully and selfishly any way it wants. All the evils of our world attribute to this problem. The word opportunity is a military term for a base of operations. True freedom liberates us from our sinful desires because we are now found in Christ. It has a base of operation still within us, looking and lurking to gain ground on us. It will do that through outright sin and rebellion, or mask its rebellion through religious activity, moralism, and legalism. The flesh is your relentless adversary in living a life of holiness.
Then positively he tells us that freedom is through love serving others (5:6). Genuine faith leads to love, relationally serving others. Love and service towards others – from a soft touch on the shoulder, to helping others move, to praying for others, to meeting a need you see in another’s life is giving them in need. That word serve is the same word that Paul used of being enslaved to the law and sin. Here he tells us that true freedom rescues us from slavery to sin and the law liberating us to be slaves to loving service. It frees us from our preoccupation with ourselves, our needs, our desires to meet the needs of others because true joy and happiness in life is found in serving others.
In verse 14 he tells us that the reason of this serving love is that loving service fulfills the whole law, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Who is our neighbor – parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that it is anyone who comes across our path that needs help.
Then he gives them a warning, biting and devouring each other will destroy each other and destroy the church. Why does he throw that in there. Well there was some conflicts going on in the church. He uses this metaphor of hungry empty animal who bites and then devours its prey. That is a work of the self, the flesh, which destroys relationships, and community. He is addressing relational problems in the church (19-21). Christian freedom does not have as much to do with my personal life, me and Jesus as much as it does life in community, in relationship. It is easy to say I am loving when I am by myself, living in isolation. I thought I was a loving person until I got married. IU thought I was a other centered until I had children.
How do we do this? I don’t know about you but there are lots of times that I am not a every loving person? Freedom does not come by rules, following the law. Freedom comes by one key factor in our lives and if that is missing, you will never be a loving and service person – the Holy Spirit.