Summary: The "free-est" person in the world isn’t an American. It’s a Christian! How to live your freedom.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25: LIVE YOUR FREEDOM
Today is Independence Day, the day that we as a country celebrate the fact that we are free. Freedom is such a great blessing, but unless you’ve been a slave, or you’ve been in jail, you’ll probably never really know just how great it is to be free. What do you think is the biggest symbol of freedom in our country? Some might say the Statue of Liberty, standing in New York, welcoming all those who come to our country looking for freedom. Or maybe the biggest symbol of freedom is the flag. Maybe you have one in your front yard today.
Of all the people in the world, what group of people enjoy the greatest amount of freedom? Strangely, the answer is not Americans. Of al the people in the world, the people who enjoy the greatest amount of freedom are Christians. Did you know that? Christians are the free-est people in the world. Many people would say that Christians aren’t free – they’re bound by all kinds of rules to live by. But that’s not true. Christians are free. In fact, a Christian living in communist China enjoys more freedom than an unbeliever living in America.
How is that possible? Today, we’re going to spend some time with God as he speaks to us through the book of Galatians, and he teaches us about greatest kind of freedom that there is. For a Christian, every Sunday worship service is a celebration of freedom, and every day is Independence Day. Today we’re going to ponder our Christian freedom, and as we do, God is going to encourage us to live our freedom every day.
The freedom that God talks about in the Bible is a special kind of freedom. In the first verse of our section, God speaks through the Apostle Paul, and says, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery.” That yoke of slavery Paul was talking about here was the pressure of trying to earn your way to heaven. Every day, trying to be a perfect person, hoping to please God enough to someday earn your way into heaven – that’s slavery in the Bible. And Paul here tells the Galatians, “Christ has set you free from that. Christ has earned salvation for you. You are free from trying to earn your way to heaven, from frustration, from guilt, from fear. You’re free!” That’s the special kind of freedom God talks about here in the Bible.
Now in our country, we enjoy a great deal of political freedom. As Americans, we are free to believe whatever we want, to say whatever we want, and to do whatever we want, as long as we don’t break the law. And all of that is good. But sometimes people use their American freedom in a way that doesn’t please God. People use foul language, promote immorality, or say hurtful things about other people – we can do that in our country, because we have freedom of speech. People live immoral lifestyles, focus their entire lives on money, eat and drink excessively, live incredibly self-centered lives – once again, we can do that in our country, because we are free.
Now, a person that lives that way may look free, but, according to the Bible, that person is really a slave. A person who speaks crudely, or lives immorally, is a slave to his sinful nature. That person may feel free, and he may look free on the outside, but on the inside, he’s being held captive by his sinful desires. What Paul told the Galatians, he also says to us. Look at verse 13: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” Jump ahead to verse 16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” You and I have been freed from our sins by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But we are surrounded by people who indulge their sinful desires, and that’s slavery. And that’s our temptation too, to go along with everyone else, to gratify the desires of our sinful nature.
Today we have a banner up, and that banner is based on this section of the Bible – it describes the fruit of the Spirit – what Christian freedom really looks like. Can you imagine if we had a banner up, that describes the sinful nature? It wouldn’t be a pretty banner. Verse 19 describes the sinful nature that lives inside each one of us. As we read through this list, ask yourself, “Have I ever done these things?” Look at the list, verse 19: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity (even in your thoughts), and debauchery; idolatry (that means loving anything more than God) and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage (we’ve all had our moments, haven’t we), selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”