Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: While grace sets us free, it carries a lot of hazards. Here are some helps with those hazards

Some dogs chase cars. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a dog ever caught one? What would he do with it?

-This sort of thing actually happened. Imagine, if you will, that you’re a racing greyhound. You have spent your entire life being trained to chase an electric bunny that runs around the inside of a race track, always just ahead of the leading dog. Every race it’s the same thing. You and a dozen other dogs run as fast as you possibly can, just at the prospect of one day actually catching that elusive ball of fur.

Then, one day, it happens. There’s some mechanical failure, and that mach 1 jackrabbit comes to a stop. That object of focus that has dominated every racing dog’s thoughts ever since he first hit the racetrack is suddenly within reach. What would you do? I read an account where this actually did happen. What do you suppose they did? To use a highly technical scientific term, the dogs freaked out. Some turned on each other; one stopped in his tracks and howled; another started running in circles. None of them actually tried to grab Thumper’s mechanical counterpart.

When they suddenly gained the freedom they lusted for, they had no idea what to do with it.

Jesus told the story of a wayward son who lusted for freedom. He didn’t want to wait. He didn’t want the constraints of living at home, so he left with his inheritance early and went to a faraway country. Once he was there, freed from all restraint, he couldn’t handle it. After wasting everything he had, he ended up penniless and feeding pigs.

Their story may be our story. Some day you turned 18, or you will. And when you turn 18, you’re free! You move away and you’re free from all the restraints of home.

You’re free to stay up late, to eat what you want, when you want, how you want. You’re free to vote, free to wear what you want, or to not wear what you want. You’re free to throw your dirty laundry on the floor, to not clean the bathroom.

You’re free to provide your own car, to find your own place to live, to get your own meals, to pay for your own utilities. You’re free to pay your own taxes and insurance; free to sign up with selective services should you ever need to be drafted to fight in a war. Yeah, you’re free alright.

How many of us have had this experience in one form or another? We want freedom from something, then when we get there, we’re not sure what to do with it. Ask any former communist living in much of Russia today – freedom is wonderful, but once you’re there it isn’t easy!

This series through Galatians has been about freedom. Jesus sets us free! Amen? But be conscious as you pass into the corridors of freedom: there’s danger ahead.

Some systems of theology try to teach that there’s no danger in faith. Once you’re saved, that’s it. It can’t be undone. Just make that big decision and you’re home free. But as we approach the end of this letter about our freedom in Jesus, I see some pretty clear warning signs. There’s a danger of falling away.

If there’s no danger, then why words like…

V4 - You have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

V7 - You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying…?

V21 - I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

V26 - Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

6:1 - But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Why this whole letter with all this detail written to people who are already Christians?

The reason is that there are real hazards to being free in Jesus. Our freedom in Jesus a wonderful thing – amen? But that freedom needs to be understood in light of the hazards that go with it.

I see 2 in this text:

1. There are 2 hazards that come with freedom in Jesus:

1. The tendency to return to law (vv1-12)

-Most of this letter has been about this up to this point. We’ve gone over it quite a bit. Paul gets blunt here in v12!

-It’s right to accept Jesus and believe that you have a fresh start in Him – a clean slate. But it’s also easy after a while to start thinking “That’s not enough! I’ll need to make a list of what I have to do and have to not do, just in case.

-Paul says in v11, if I’m still preaching circumcision – that is, if I’m still preaching that you have to keep the OT law as well as being a Christian – then the offense of the cross has been abolished. For some reason, the cross has to bear a certain offensive quality. Paul would later write

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