Summary: This message encourages believers to stand firm in their freedom by staying away from the law and the legalist who would take it away
Freedom’s Enemies (Galatians 5:1-12)
One morning, during an adult Sunday school class, a pastor in San Angelo, Texas, picked up the podium and walked back and forth with it. When someone asked, “What are you doing?” he replied, “Well, sometimes you just need to take a stand.” (Rebecca Livermore, San Angelo, Texas, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader)
That’s where we’ve come this morning in our study of Galatians. We’ve talked theology through the first four chapters. & It’s become very clear in our minds that we are free from the Law; we are free from the pressure to perform in order to find acceptance with God; we are free to enjoy the unconditional love and blessing of our Lord.
We know all this in our minds, but now its time to take a stand on it in our hearts, because there are those who would try to convince us otherwise; there are those who would try to knock us down; & there are those who would try to enslave us all over again to their religious rituals and legalistic systems.
Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
In other words, Christ set you free, so STAY FREE! DON’T LET YOURSELF BE ENSLAVED ALL OVER AGAIN. DON’T LET ANYBODY OR ANYTHING PUT YOU IN BONDAGE AGAIN.
A man robbed a bank 12 years ago (1997) and was sentenced to 70 months in a federal penitentiary. After he got out, he decided he liked prison life so much that he committed another crime, just so he could return! Danny Villegas walked inside a Federal Credit Union in Florida and told the teller he was robbing her, adding, “You might as well call the police right now.”
Villegas then sat down on a couch in the lobby and waited for police to arrive. According to Lt. Ron Wright of the South Daytona Police Department, “[Vellegas] said he wanted to rob a federal bank because he wanted to go back to a federal penitentiary.”
Villegas had worked in construction in Texas for five years, but had grown tired of the work. “Apparently,” added Wright, “he robbed a bank in Fresno, California… was sentenced to 70 months in a federal penitentiary in Phoenix, and enjoyed his time there.” (Associated Press, “Police Say Man Staged Florida Robbery to Go Back to Prison,” Houston Chronicle, 1-9-07; www.PreachingToday.com)
That sad story describes a lot of believers. Even though Christ has set them free, they want to go back to prison; they want to put themselves in bondage again; they want to try and earn God’s favor and blessing when all they have to do is enjoy it, because they already have it.
My friends, don’t do it! Christ has set you free; stay free!
STAY FREE FROM THE LAW. STAY FREE FROM ANY SCHEME THAT SAYS YOU MUST EARN GOD’S FAVOR AND BLESSING. STAY FREE FROM ANY SYSTEM THAT FORCES YOU TO CONFORM IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTED.
Why? Because such systems rob us of any spiritual vitality. The law bankrupts us spiritually. First of all, it takes away any value Christ has for us.
Galatians 5:2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. (NIV)
When we conform to a legalistic standard, then Christ is of no benefit to us. The standard in Paul’s day was circumcision. Back then, people were saying, “You have to be circumcised in order for God to accept you.” Today, people might say, “You have to go to church every time the doors are open;” or “You have to speak in tongues, or give a tithe, or be baptized;" “You have to lose weight or dress just right in order to be on God’s good side and experience His richest blessings."
Now, there is nothing wrong with these things except when they become conditions for acceptance and favor with God. Then they become a source of legalistic bondage, which ignores the work Christ already did for us on the cross. The law takes away any value Christ has for us.
More than that, the law puts us in great debt. If we insist on keeping part of the law to find acceptance, then we have to keep the whole thing.
Galatians 5:3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. (NIV)
The law is not a buffet or smorgasbord. You cannot pick and choose the parts you like and leave the rest. If you’re going to insist on circumcision, then you better keep the other 612 commands as well. If you’re going to insist on keeping the Sabbath, then you better also keep the sacrifices. To put yourself under one part of the law, obligates you to the whole thing.