Summary: Galatians 5:13-15, Freedom to love

Freedom To Love

Galatians 5:13-15

* Paul begins to speak to us about the danger of abusing our Christian liberty.

* To some people to be free from the law meant that there was nothing standing in the way of self-indulgence and a free rein in sin.

-- They understood the law to be the ONLY restraining power of sin in the lives of individuals and the world.

* In salvation, God has brought the believer out from under whatever control divine law had over him and has placed him under a superior control. The Holy Spirit.

-- Out of one control into another

-- from the control of mere legal laws into the control of a person, - the Holy Spirit.

* Note that God ran this world for approx. 2500 years without the Mosaic law; He can run it again without the Mosaic law.

* When a believer places himself under the law, the law is substituted for the restraint of the Holy Spirit.

-- This brings disastrous results.

-- Not only does the law not restrain evil, but on the other had it brings out evil in our life.

Rom 7:7-13 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (8) But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. (9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (10) And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. (12) Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (13) Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

* Last week, we talked about the fact that we can live a higher and holier life under the control of the Holy Spirit than we ever could under the law.

-- It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the freedom and the power to live the life God intended us to live.

* In this passage today, Paul is going to warn us against one of the dangers of Christian liberty.

--The danger of living selfishly instead of selflessly.

I. Our calling v. 13a

Wiersbe – "The Christian is a free man. He is free from the guilt of sin because he has experienced God’s forgiveness. He is free from the penalty of sin because Christ died for him on the cross. And he is, through the Spirit, free from the power of sin in his daily life."

* Free from what? (IFL Bible Study Guide – Swindoll)

A) Free from God’s wrath Rom. 5:9

Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

B) Free from the mastery of sin Rom. 6:14

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

C) Free from the dominion of Satan and his demons Col. 1:13, I John 4:4

Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

1Jn 4:3-4 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

D) Free from living under the curse of the law Gal. 3:13

Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

E) Free from the condemnation the law imposes upon those who disobey Rom. 8:1

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

F) Free from the law as a means of justification Gal. 2:16

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

G) Free from having to approach God with terror and dread Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:15-16

Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Heb 4:15-16 For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

II. A caution v. 13b

* "occasion" - a military term speaking of a base of operations.

* Don’t make your liberty from the law a base of operations from which to serve sin.

* Liberty was not to be used as a spring-board from which to take off with the intention of sinning.

* Paul’s antidote against this is "by love serve one another."

* "love" – is agape,… not human affection, but divine love,… self-sacrificing love

* Christian freedom is not freedom to indulge the flesh and self-centeredness.

* Paul was not saying that not being under the law meant you could live a lawless life.

-- Living free is not ignoring all restraints and fulfilling any and all our desires.

* Liberty doesn’t mean since you’re not going to hell because Jesus paid for your sins, then you can just do all the evil you want to do.

* Judaizers were saying that without the law, people become lawless.

III. Our challenge v. 13c-14

* The believer is no longer under the law of Moses, but the law of love.

* "fulfilled" – Gr. – pleroo – means "to make full" and when used of a task or course of action – "to fully perform"

-- perfect tense - "The whole law stands fully obeyed"

Wiersbe - The amazing thing about love is that it takes the place of all the laws God ever gave. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” solves every problem in human relations (see Rom_13:8-10). If you love people (because you love Christ), you will not steal from them, lie about them, envy them, or try in any way to hurt them. Love in the heart is God’s substitute for laws and threats.

Rom 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

* God has liberated us to serve one another. (v. 13c)

-- Sounds like a contradiction – "liberty & servant"

* God frees us to serve one another.

-- Not to take advantage of one another

-- We are not free to hurt or destroy our brother.

-- God didn’t free us for that.

* He freed us to be servants to Himself and others and that is where we find the greatest fulfillment life has to offer.

* We have not been freed to be self-indulgent, self-centered, nor self-serving.

IV. The contentions v. 15a

* Paul brings into the picture an illustration from the animal world.

* The allusion is to beasts of prey falling upon and devouring one another.

-- It’s a picture of wild animals in a deadly struggle

* Quote - "For wolves or dogs to worry sheep is not strange; but for sheep to distress one another is unnatural."

Wiersbe – "…the Holy Spirit within gives us the love that we need (Rom_5:5; Gal_5:6, Gal_5:22). Apparently the Galatian believers were lacking in this kind of love because they were “biting and devouring one another” and were in danger of destroying one another (Gal_5:15). The picture here is of wild animals attacking each other. This in itself is proof that law cannot force people to get along with each other. No matter how many rules or standards a church may adopt, they are no guarantee of spirituality. Unless the Holy Spirit of God is permitted to fill hearts with His love, selfishness and competition will reign. Both extremes in the Galatian churches — the legalists and the libertines — were actually destroying the fellowship."

* Obviously, this was not a literal "teeth gnashing on flesh" conflict.

- They were not literally biting and eating each others flesh.

* It’s a metaphor for what they were doing to each other with their words and actions against each other.

* There was unforgiveness, malice, gossip, envy, and hatred;… all of it resulted in the Galatians destroying each other.

* Can you imagine; Christians acting like wild beasts?

V. The Consequences v. 15b

* Everyone loses.

* When Christians fight each other, there are no winners!

Matthew Henry – Mutual strifes among brethren, if persisted in, are likely to prove a common ruin; those that devour one another are in a fair way to be consumed one of another. Christian churches cannot be ruined but by their own hands; but if Christians, who should be helps to one another and a joy one to another, be as brute beasts, biting and devouring each other, what can be expected but that the God of love should deny his grace to them, and the Spirit of love should depart from them, and that the evil spirit, who seeks the destruction of them all, should prevail?

Albert Barnes – "As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. Thus, the idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other; their characters would be ruined; and the church be overthrown. The quickest way to destroy the spirituality of a church, and to annihilate the influence of religion, is to excite a spirit of contention."

* Of course, there are times when we should fight. When the fundamentals are at stake, we should be determined to stand and fight to the finish.

* But if it’s an argument over a non-essential issue, we have to learn to be selfless and forgiving.

Illustration - Johnny Meely – sermoncentral – Written in sand or stone?

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE." They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE." The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?" The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."


* They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forgive them.

* A loveless life is a selfish life.

* "Any man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel!" – Quoted by Morris in Galatians p. 166

* We have been freed to serve, not ourselves and our interests, but God and the interest of others.

* By love, serve one another.