Summary: Through Christ we are free, not to indulge our sinful nature, but to willingly lay down our lives in service to our King.
Freed To Serve
It is time that we get back to our old friend, the book of Galatians, and pray that we might glean from this powerful little book the lessons the Lord has for us this morning. We’ve taken a four week break from our study of Galatians as we journeyed through the Christmas season with the prophet Isaiah. I hope all of you had the opportunity to study Isaiah 9 with us during the month of December. It was a wonderful four weeks for me as I had the opportunity to come to know the real Gift of Christmas in a deeper and more comprehensive way. Jesus is the gift that endures throughout the ages, the One who transcends all Christmas fads, the Gift that outlasts all of the greenery, tinsel, and bows. He is the Gift that truly keeps on giving and the One who is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” He has come to free us from the bondage of the Law and break the shackles of sin that have held us captive.
Jesus has not only come to set us free from the taskmaster of the Law, but He has come to free us from ourselves and our propensity to seek “self” first. He has come to transform us from people whose predisposition is selfishness and greed so that our greatest desire is to bless the Lord as we live our lives in service to the Lord and others. He has come to free us from our wants, to loose the chains of envy, and to stir within us a passion to become a servant. In our Scripture for today we are going to take a look at Galatians 5:13-15. Won’t you turn there and let’s begin our study.
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:13-15 NIV)
Freedom is a word that is understood by different people in different ways. Some understand freedom to be the absence of government oppression. You can visit countries like the Sudan where religious oppression keeps Christians looking over their shoulder throughout the day and sleeping with one eye open through the watches of the night. You can travel to Libya and see the consequences of living under the rule of the strong arm dictator Muamar Ghadaffi. In looking at the plights of those in countries such as these you and I can understand why their definition of “freedom” would reflect their heart’s desire to be free from their government’s stranglehold.
For many people in our country “freedom” means the ability to do whatever they wish to do. For these folks freedom is the absence of all constraints and the opportunity to fully express themselves in any way that they want. This desire to be free from all moral constraints is being lived out before our eyes today. I need to mention that this is not simply the mindset of those who run the streets, of swindlers, and scam artists, and crooks. There are many professing Christians who use their freedom in Christ as an excuse to live any way they desire to live. Just this past week I read an article detailing a recent survey by George Barna in which he polled 10,000 Christians about their beliefs and practices. Let me share it with you. Barna says,
While 84% of U.S. adults interviewed by Barna called themselves Christian, people termed the following actions "morally acceptable":
• cohabitation (60%)
• adultery (42%)
• sexual relations between homosexuals (30%)
• abortion (45%)
• pornography (38%)
• the use of profanity (36%)
• gambling (61%)
Generation X (people in their 20s to mid30s) is the "the most likely to hold theological views that conflict with the Bible." Known also as "Busters," these adults are least likely "to maintain views related to moral behavior that are consistent with the Bible." They are the least likely to read the Bible, go to church and religious education classes, and pray. They are least likely to serve others, and to tithe to a church. They are the least likely to believe in life after death and most likely to believe we can communicate with dead people. They are far more likely to agree with postmodern lifestyle perspectives. They are the adults most likely to engage in sex without being married. Generation X views are likely to have a tremendous impact on future generations’ beliefs and practices. ("Spiritual Progress Hard to Find in 2003" by George Barna. Barna Update, Dec 22, 2003.)