Summary: What is Christian freedom?
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“It’s a free country!”
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”—Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
F. D. Roosevelt’s four freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
“Live free or die.”—the official motto of New Hampshire
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”—Martin Luther King Jr.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (v. 1a).
• Freedom should be VALUED.
• Freedom can be COSTLY.
• Freedom is often ABUSED.
What is Christian freedom? Three facts about Christian freedom:
1. I am free from the law’s CURSE.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (v. 1b).
The law was given for a limited time (until Christ came) for a limited purpose (to reveal sin). We cannot be justified by obeying the law, no matter how hard we try. This is the law’s curse.
A minor surgery (circumcision) had become a major issue (Acts 15:1, 6-11).
“You have fallen away from grace” (v. 4). Paul is not saying that salvation can be lost. He is saying that the Galatians have moved from enjoying God’s grace to trying to earn God’s favor by observing the law.
“But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope” (v. 5). This “righteousness” is actual righteousness, not imputed righteousness. We don’t work for it; we wait for it. “Hope” refers to that which, though certain, is not yet fully realized.
“The offense of the cross” (v. 11). The cross is offensive because it shows that we are incapable of earning justification.
2. I am not free to EXCUSE my sin.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature (v. 13a).
We are free from the curse of the law, but we are not free from the morality of the law. Freedom in Christ is not a license to sin. “They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4).
Canada is a free country, but we are not free to do whatever we want. “Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought.”—Abraham Lincoln
To be free in Christ means to be free to live as God wants me to live.
3. I am free to SERVE others.
Rather, serve one another in love (v. 13b).
Christian freedom is voluntary slavery. The Greek word for “serve” (douleuo) means “to be a slave.” “He who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave” (1 Corinthians 7:22). “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God” (Romans 6:22).
Our freedom is not self-seeking; it is self-sacrificing. “The only things that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (v. 6). “Serve one another in love” (v. 13b).
Love is defined by Christ. He “loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20). Love is inspired by the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (5:22). Love is expressed by serving others. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of God” (6:10).
Two incentives to love:
• Love is the essence of the law.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 14; cf. Leviticus 19:18).
The Greek word for “summed up” (pleroo) can be translated two ways. (1) “Summarized”: “ ‘Love the Lord you God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). (2) “Fulfilled”: “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). The law can be boiled down to a one-word command: “Love.”
• Love is the eliminator of discord.
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other (v. 15).
Don’t say, “I can do whatever I WANT.”
Say, “I can do whatever YOU NEED.”
Don’t ask, “What MUST I do?”
Ask, “What CAN I do?”