Summary: This message seeks to free believers from a performance mentality in their relationship with God. We are free, because we are loved. We are free from the pressure to perform, because God already accepts us as His full, adult sons and daughters in Christ
Freedom’s Relationships (Galatians 3:23-29)
Danny Cox, a former jet pilot turned business leader, tells his readers in Seize the Day that when jet fighters were first invented, they “flew much faster than their propeller predecessors. So pilot ejection became a more sophisticated process. Theoretically of course, all a pilot needed to do was push a button, clear the plane, then roll forward out of the seat so the parachute would open.”
But there was a problem that popped up during testing. Some pilots, instead of letting go, would keep a grip on the seat. The parachute would remain trapped between the seat and the pilot’s back.
The engineers went back to the drawing board and came up with a solution. Cox writes:
“The new design called for a two-inch webbed strap. One end attached to the front edge of the seat, under the pilot. The other end attached to an electronic take-up reel behind the headrest. Two seconds after ejection, the electronic take-up reel would immediately take up the slack, and force the pilot forward out of his seat, thus freeing the parachute.” (Danny Cox, Seize the Day: Seven Steps to Achieving the Extraordinary in an Ordinary World, Career Press, 1994; www.PreachingToday.com)
The pilots needed that device to launch them out of their chairs. Question is, what will it take to launch us out of ours? We get so comfortable with our traditions. We get so comfortable with our rules and regulations that we hang onto them long after they are of any use. What will it take to launch us out of our legalistic systems, which can only take us down?
Galatians 3:23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. (NIV)
I.e., faith in Christ. You see, there was a time when all of us believers were in prison with the Law as our prison guard, keeping us under lock and key. Oh, it was not a prison with bars and barbed wire, but It was a prison of do’s and don’ts. It was a prison of expectations placed upon us that we could never meet. It was a prison of trying to measure up to someone’s external standard in order to feel accepted and loved.
But now, because of our faith in Christ, we are no longer in that kind of a prison. WE ARE FREE! When we trusted Christ, GOD FREED US FROM THE NEED TO PERFORM. GOD FREED US FROM THE DEMANDS OF THE LAW. GOD OPENED THE DOORS TO ANY SUCH PRISON AND REMOVED THE PRISON GUARDS.
So please, don’t stay in your prison cell any longer. Instead, walk out of that prison of perfectionism. Get out from under those unrealistic expectations, which can only lock you down, and enjoy your freedom.
In the film The Shawshank Redemption, Ellis "Red" Redding spent his prime wasting away in prison because of a reckless act of violence he had committed as a teenager. After 40 years of imprisonment, Red was finally released to enjoy the long awaited freedom he wanted so desperately.
However, he couldn’t free himself from the habit of asking for permission each time he wished to use the men’s room. He had become “institutionalized.” His new life scared him, because he’d grown accustomed to the structure behind bars. Imprisonment had become safe for Red. He didn’t have to exercise his own decision-making. Someone else did the thinking for him, and now, on the outside, he faced a prospect more daunting and terrifying than incarceration: freedom.
At one point, Red contemplated various ways to break his parole and return to the security of his prison cell. He summed up his dilemma in one line: “It is a terrible thing to live in fear.” (Graham Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-First Century Listeners, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001, pp. 126-27; www.PreachingToday.com)
People caught in the trap of legalism are no different than Red. They are scared to death of the freedom grace brings, because it is much easier to retreat to our cells of dos and don’ts. It is much easier just to have somebody tell us what to do than it is to make decisions for ourselves.
But that’s not what God wants for us. God has freed us from all that. So get out of prison, and stop listening to your babysitter. That’s right. That’s how the next verse describes the law. It is not only a prison guard. It is a baby-sitter. Look at it.
Galatians 3:24 “So the law was put in charge” – Literally, the law became our pedagogue, our child-conductor, or baby-sitter – “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (NIV)