Summary: Exposition of Gal. 5:1-14
Living in Liberty
On March 23, 1775, a group of men met at St. John’s church in Richmond VA. to figure out some way to avoid war. Many were willing to do almost anything for peace—even compromise with tyranny. But one man stood up and boldly spoke these words: “There is a just God who presides over the destines of nations… The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave…Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” *
These bold words were spoken by a 39 year old son of Scottish immigrants named Patrick Henry. His words have ignited a desire for freedom in the hearts of millions from all over the world. Every year we celebrate Independence Day, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of how precious our freedom truly is, and how many have sacrificed to guarantee this freedom.
But there is more to being free than just being an American. The Bill of Rights guarantees important freedoms, but they cannot free a soul from slavery to sin. Congress may pass good and useful laws every now and then, but they cannot pass a law that frees us from greed, lust, and pride. No president, no matter how powerful or persuasive, has ever found a way to outlaw death. Everybody wants to be free, even those of us who live in the freest nation in the world.
It is this desire for a deeper freedom I want us to talk about tonight. I want to look at a passage which has been called the Bible’s “declaration of independence”---the book of Galatians. In the words of the apostle Paul in Gal. 5:1-15, God invites you and I to experience a freedom which no congress, president, or Supreme Court could ever give, or take away. Paul tells us 3 things we must realize if we want to live in liberty:
I. FREEDOM COMES FROM CHRIST (v. 1-6)
In v. 1 Paul clearly declares the source of our freedom when he writes about …the liberty by which Christ has made us free…Christ bought our freedom by His death on the Cross. It’s a freedom that is like a beautiful many-faceted diamond that shines in so many spectacular ways, according to how you look at it. It’s freedom from the guilt and penalty of sin, a freedom to enjoy peace with God, a freedom to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, a freedom from death and for eternal life.
John 8:34…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
But in the book of Galatians Paul stresses the Christian’s freedom from having to try to earn God’s grace by our works. You see, in the early church, there were some Jews who believed in Christ as the Messiah, but they also thought that in order to be a child of God,
1) if you were male, you had to be circumcised
2) you were responsible for keeping the Law of Moses.
In other words, faith in Christ was not enough to make you right with God. True enough, you have to believe in Jesus, but in addition you have to do these other things. Basically, they were saying you had to become a Jew before you became a true disciple of Christ.
But Paul says Whoa! This will never do! Salvation is not about what we do—it’s about what Christ has done! All we do is respond by faith to His grace! If you add anything else, you are putting people back in slavery! Jesus came to set us free! The principle behind Paul’s words is this: your relationship to God is based on His grace, and your faith in Jesus Christ. Period.
What this means for you and I is that God’s love for us is not based on our performance. God doesn’t love you more when you’ve been good, nor love you less when you’ve been bad. He does discipline His disobedient children, and if you really want to, you can walk away from Him. But you don’t have to be a slave to fear. You don’t have to worry that He’s through with you because you don’t measure up. He treats us as a loving father does, pleased when we do well, punishing us when we do wrong, but always, always loving us, and willing to forgive.
Psalm 103:8-13 8The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.