Summary: Independence Day sermon about not letting go of the freedom we have in Christ.
Holding On To Freedom
Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law."
Some time later the same man was surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, the thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found himself in the city jail (Oops: The Book of Blunders, 1980).
Having escaped bondage, the thief found himself drawn back into crime and back into bondage.
This week we celebrate freedom as a nation, at the very same time forces in the world are arrayed against us who would draw us into a bondage and oppression far greater than the one that we had escaped. The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. It has also been said that America will be the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.
But of course we don’t gather here to celebrate a nation, no matter how great it may be, we gather to worship a Savior, a savior who has indeed set us free from the most terrible bondage possible the bondage of sin and its penalty, death.
But even as we proclaim and celebrate our freedom and the one who set us free, the enemy of our souls seeks to trap and enslave us once again. This morning I’d like to talk about our freedom and the importance of holding on to our freedom.
I’d like to look at three different aspects of our freedom in Christ that we need to keep a watch on, lest the terrorists strike us while we are asleep.
1. Freedom from Legalism
vv. 8-11 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Throughout the NT when the Scripture speaks about being set free or about having freedom in Christ, it is most often this freedom from the law that is at issue. Paul’s concern is that these gentile believers would loose their freedom and return again to slavery. In the next Chapter Paul says
Galatians 5: 1It 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. 2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
Actually we have a comparison of three states here: The state of these gentile believers before their conversion, as pagans serving other gods; their state after conversion, trusting in Christ for salvation; and their state if they should choose to follow the teaching of the new teachers to follow the Law of Moses.
It’s important that you understand that the occasion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is that a group of Jewish teachers, that we know as the Judaizers, have been telling these non-Jewish Christians that if they really want to be acceptable before God they need to follow the Old Testament teaching of the Law and basically that they must first become Jews to be good Christians.
Paul on the other hand is arguing that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price for their sins and that the only way to be acceptable to God is to accept His sacrifice, to trust in what Jesus did. That is, we are saved by faith alone, we don’t earn it by following any set of rules, it is a gift of God in response to our trust in Jesus Christ.
This is the message that Paul preached when he was in Galatia, the message that the Galatians had received and trusted in. Paul makes it clear that they had left a life of Idolatry. In verse 8 he says "when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods."
But then they accepted the Gospel message and "knew God" or rather were "known by Him" this emphasizes the fact that ultimately their salvation was not by their choice to know God, but by God’s choice to reveal His truth to them.