Summary: In this world we are told that climbing the ladder, stepping on other people, and even "being served" is a path to greatness - the Bible teaches something entirely different.
Life’s Great Paradox
Galatians 5:1, 13-15
* To define the word “paradox” is an apparently true statement or group of statements that seems to lead to a contradiction or to a situation that defies intuition. Let me give you a couple of examples;
* If a compulsive liar tells you, "I am lying." Is he lying, or is he telling the truth?
* "Always" and "never" always render the statements in which they are contained untrue, & should therefore never be used.
* The statement below is true. The above statement is false.
* For me, “Greek Fire” is a paradox because with its chemical makeup water will make it grow instead of quenching the fire.
* In other words, this thing of a paradox is best seen as expected actions resulting in an unexpected outcome.
* When we come to Christ, we come to ‘know the truth and the truth sets us free.’ And those whom Christ sets free are free indeed.
* Never forget that the potential for a problem exists. Please turn with me to Galatians 5. Paul had visited the churches scattered around southern Galatia twice. First, he planted several of the churches, led many to faith, and on his second journey, he encouraged the brothers by teaching them about the amazing grace of God through Jesus Christ. His message; that Jesus and Jesus only was the source of salvation. This was a huge change from the days of keeping the law and circumcision, but in Christ, there was a new freedom. (READ)
* After Paul had established & left the Galatian churches, some men ‘crept in’ (to borrow the words of Jude) and began perverting the doctrine of salvation. They began to bring up the past and attempt to get the body that had come to a clear understanding of the work of God to return to the way things had been done in the past. In other words, the ‘men’ were leading them back into bondage.
* Paul begins by saying ‘stand firm on your freedom’ because Christ has made you free from the traditions of man. Don’t miss this; Christ has made you free from the traditions of man, the yoke of slavery, and/or adding anything to Jesus for your salvation. (There are many strong applications) which can be gleaned from this truth)
* So now, move to verse 13 and let’s embrace 4 truths which Paul gives in helping us to understand our freedom, how to find it, and why in finding it, it may seem like a paradox.
1. The Calling which tweaks us – Verse 13 says, “you are called to freedom, brothers.” It seems that every word is important.
* ‘You’ ‘are called’ ‘to freedom’ ‘brothers.’ It is obvious from the tone & text that Paul sensed that these ‘born-again’ believers were departing from the truth of Christ into a former way of life & they needed to be reprimanded and possibly reminded. (For those who were misleading this crowd, he had some stunningly harsh words.) For every person who comes to Christ, is admitted into the ‘brotherhood’, and is saved; this person is set free. But what does this freedom really mean? In the scriptures Jesus used the word in His healings. More than one time He said, “Go and be ‘free’ of your sickness.” This means that the sickness is gone and they can live a normal healthy life.
* In the freedom Christ gives His child, no longer does sin have the power to control you, temptations have the power overcome you, and evil does not have the power possess you. Now, ‘greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.’ In Christ, we are released from the bondage of sin.
* Also, before Christ came people lived by a set of rules & regulations. In fact, the Rabbis had taken the 10 commandments and developed what came to be known as the “Rabbinical Law” (Over 600 laws). Of these, 248 were positive commands and 365 were negative. With respect to our Jewish brothers, is it any wonder that Jesus & Paul had so much to say about being free? Jesus sets you free and to the one to whom Christ sets free, He is free indeed. The calling for each believer is to be freed from the past, the pain, & ways of man. The call tweaks us to give us a clear, spiritual, & holy way of life.
* Does this sound good? Yes it does. But it also requires us to grow up or better said, ‘mature.’ When freedom is given there is a corresponding responsibility. In America we have missed this truth.
2. The Carnal which tempts us – Please never forget that, as long as we are in this world, Satan is shooting fiery darts at us to tempt us. Look at the second part of verse 13, “Don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” Does this require us to even make an argument about this? Surely we understand that, as believers, we possess something that is beyond the scope of the human mind to even comprehend. Salvation makes no sense to those outside of Christ. The death of Jesus 2000 years ago is the payment for our sin that we can have life sounds ludicrous to the world’s way of thinking. To possess this unbelievable, indescribable gift can give a sense of ‘superiority’ and nothing is a deadly & dangerous to the believer as is arrogance. Well, I’m saved, sure, and secure, so whatever I do must be right because I am a child of the King.