Summary: Contrast Liberty and License and to show the parameters of liberty

Liberty Is not License

Galatians 5:13-26

David P. Nolte

An old song by Billy Joel says, quite stubbornly,

“I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm alright.

I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home.

I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life.

Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone.”

Another, written by Paul Anka and sung by Frank Sinatra, is equally expressive of autonomy:

“And now, the end is near,

And so I face the final curtain.

My friend, I'll say it clear,

I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full;

I traveled each and every highway.

And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

How different than the attitude of Jesus Who cared deeply what God had to say and did it God’s way. After requesting relief from the ordeal of the cross, He summed up the essence of submission to the Father, saying, “Not My will but Yours be done.” That submission plunged Him into the abyss of suffering.

People seem to naturally want to be autonomous and self-directed. Unless they are crackpots, people don’t intentionally plunge into pain and suffering without a noble purpose. People tend to want the kind of autonomy that precludes discomfort or pain. People seek personal freedom to take the way of least resistance or inconvenience.

When we think about freedom, we include the wonderful freedom for which we are grateful and which we enjoy as Americans. But though I am an American, and grateful and proud to be one, I want to talk about personal freedom. And prior to doing that let me differentiate between Liberty and License.

Liberty is freedom within limits; there are parameters in true liberty Example: liberty is swinging your arms as much as you want to – but liberty ends where my nose begins. Liberty is fire in the stove but license is fire burning down the house. Liberty is a river flowing down its bed. License is a flood. Liberty is driving the carl. License is running over people.

For a good view of responsible personal liberty, look to God’s Word: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:13-26 (NASB).

We are free within limits:


A. Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

1. The flesh is the innate sum of human desires which we must control or they will control us which is sin.

2. Paul warned, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 (NASB) .

3. The choices of activity really boil down to this: Sin or righteousness. Life or death. One or the other will issue from the choices we make.

a.God gives us freedom to choose between the two but reserves the right to determine consequences.

b.He said, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, ....” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB).

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