Summary: Paul preached about God’s grace whereas his opponents preached contrary to Paul’s message arguing that the law required circumcision. Why would a prisoner who has been granted freedom want to return to prison?
FREEDOM AND THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
Text: Galatians 5:1, 13-26
Galatians 5:1, 13-16: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. … (13) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (14) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (15) But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (ESV).
I once had a church member that called the police to come because someone broke in their house. The ironic thing was not that the criminal wanted to steal anything. He just wanted to go back to prison. So what does that have to do with today’s text? There were people who opposed Paul. Someone (Charles B. Cousar) called Paul’s opponents “rival missionaries.” (Charles B. Cousar. Interpretation: Galatians. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982, p. 29). Paul preached about God’s grace whereas his opponents preached contrary to Paul’s message arguing that the law required circumcision.
Why would a prisoner who has been granted freedom want to return to prison?
Paul seems to be addressing three things in today’s text: confusion, community and compassion.
What was the confusion that Paul was trying to clarify?
1.One answer to that question was the confusion that was created by these “rival missionaries” whose message about the law contradicted Paul’s message about grace.
2.A second answer was how Paul tried to clarify the difference between genuine freedom in the Spirit versus counterfeit freedom from the flesh.
3. I Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion (KJV).
Can unbelievers be confused? Of course they can. The more confusion that Satan creates, the more people can be deceived and led astray. There may not be rival missionaries today, but there are rival messengers on a mission. If God is not the author of confusion and exception then who else can be behind it except Satan.
Someone reports: I was an air-traffic controller stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan. One morning we picked up a Montana National Guard passenger aircraft. Instead of identifying the plane by its five-digit tail number, its pilot radioed, "Selfridge Approach, this is Pig Sty One." As we were taught to refer to aircraft by whatever call sign the pilot used, the controller thereafter called the craft "Pig Sty One." Just after touching down, the pilot contacted the tower.
"Selfridge," he said, "our call sign is not “Pig Sty one." It is “Big Sky One,' and we have the governor of Montana on board!"
Can people get confused by distorted things they hear?
Confusion creates delusion and delusion leads to destruction!
Paul clarifies how true liberty comes from having a relationship with God.
What is different about our community? People can live in the same geographical community and yet not have much in common. People can have moral standards of conduct and yet still be lost because they live according to the flesh rather than according to the Spirit.
It is possible for people to have what John Wesley called the “form of godliness but not the power”: “Such is the state of every natural man; whether he be born a gross, scandalous transgressor, or a more reputable decent sinner, having the form, though not the power of godliness.” (Robert W. Burtner & Robert E. Chiles. eds. John Wesley’s Theology. [Wesley’s sermon, “The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption.”] Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1982, p. 128). Without the Spirit there is neither genuine godly influence in love or life! Without the Spirit there is no genuine freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord's Spirit is, there is freedom (ISV).
What is the ideal of the Christian community?
1.The ideals Christian Community are peace, love and being the keepers of our brothers and sisters. Peace is mandatory for the Christian community. Consider Romans 12:18, “ If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”. Only God’s Spirit can give us peace. Consider Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
2.This is where the fruits of the Spirit come in (Galatians 5:22- 23).
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:16-17). ….