Summary: In Galatians 5:1-12, Paul makes it clear that we have been set free, but all that is lost if we return to the slavery and yoke of the Law.
A. Last year, a movie called Big Miracle was released. How many of you have seen the movie?
1. It is a movie that told the true story of a 1988 international effort to free 3 gray whales trapped four miles from freedom by early ice formation in Alaska.
2. At first few bothered to notice their plight, except a few compassionate Eskimos who decided the great creatures needed their help and a local news reporter.
3. His news story drew international attention and set into motion a massive, two-week, international effort to free the whales from the ice.
4. Drawn into the collaborative rescue work were several normally hostile factions: Alaskan whale hunters, a Greenpeace environmental activist, an oil executive, ambitious news reporters, the National Guard, the American president and politicians on the state, national and international levels.
5. Also joining in the effort were two entrepreneurs from Minnesota, who provided de-icing machines to help keep the hole open.
6. Finally an enormous Soviet ice-breaker arrived to remove the last barrier before the whales die.
7. The ship's first attempt didn’t work and left only a dent in the massive ice formation.
8. The ice was finally broken and the adult whales, named Bonnet and Crossbeak, escaped to freedom.
9. Sadly, the infant whale, named Bam-Bam, died from injuries and did not surface again.
B. Stories like that one capture our heart and our imagination.
1. Whenever someone or something is trapped or imprisoned, then our natural instincts for survival and the preservation of life kick in.
2. That’s true when the imprisoned ones are whales in Alaska, or miners in Chile in 2010, or a child, like Jessica McClure, who at 18 months old, was trapped in a well, 22 feet in the ground for 58 hours, back in 1987.
3. Whenever someone or something is trapped or imprisoned, we want to help them find freedom – that is true on the physical level, but it is also true on the spiritual level.
C. God wants us to be free and for that reason, God has set us free.
1. God wants us to be free from condemnation, free from sin, and free from bondage to the Law.
2. That’s why God sent Jesus into this world – to purchase and provide a path to freedom.
3. And that’s why Paul was a missionary to the Galatians and later wrote this letter to them.
4. The Galatians had been set free by the Gospel, but they had willingly given up their freedom in Christ and had again become imprisoned and trapped.
5. Paul was not about to leave them stuck in that prison.
D. Throughout this letter to the Galatians, Paul has been making his case that Salvation is a free, grace-gift of God.
1. We are not worthy of it and we cannot earn it.
2. We are justified (made right) with God by God’s grace through the Gospel - Jesus’ redeeming work on the Cross.
3. Paul has spent the first 4 chapters of Galatians expounding on the wonder of salvation by grace and being set free from the Law.
4. Each time he makes that point he basically asks the question: After being set free, why would anyone want to go back into prision?
5. Just like the whales in our opening illustration – after having been set free from their ice-bound prison, no one would expect them to return to it, for returning would mean certain death.
6. The same is spiritually true for us.
E. Today, as we move into chapter 5, we move into the practical section of the book.
1. You might remember how in an earlier lesson I pointed out that the book falls nicely into 3 sections: chapters 1 & 2 were personal, chapters 3 &4 were doctrinal, and the final two are practical.
2. In chapters 5 & 6, Paul addresses the practical implications of the Gospel.
3. Let’s work our way through the first half of chapter five and see what lessons God would have us learn.
F. Look at verse 1: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
1. Verse 1 is the summary of the last 2 chapters of the book, and in a sense, a summary of the whole book.
2. In this verse, Paul declares that we have profound freedom in Christ.
3. The first phrase is even stronger and more emphatic in Greek than how it comes across in English.
a. Paul literally wrote: “For freedom Christ freed you.”
b. Both the noun and the verb are the word “freedom.”
c. We understand from this statement that freedom is both the means and the end of the Christian life.