Summary: Right living in the christian life is essential
I don’t know if you like reading biographies or if you like those documentary programmes that show you how other people live. Apparently one of the most popular TV programmes over the past year has been The Osbournes – a reality TV programme which follows Ozzy Osbourne and his family. Now I don’t think they are an example of Right Living. Yet all of us, to some degree or another, are fascinated with how people live. It may only be a fascination with out neighbours or that eccentric family member – but never-the-less we are interested in how someone else lives. So here are a few question for you all this morning:
Is there something or anything distinct about living as a Christian?
How do we live in such a way that we grow spiritually as Christians?
I want to try and give you some answers to those questions this morning.
There was a time in my life as a Christian that I would have stood up here and given you a long list of things which Christians ‘do’ and ‘do not’ do. In fact I would say that very many people today still view Christians and Christianity in such a way. However, Christian living is about ‘life in all its fullness (or abundant life).’ Yes there are certain marks or things which we do and do not do but they are not the basis of our life, nor the reason we are Christians. Turn with me to Galatians 5.1. I want you to listen very closely to these words as I read them. Aren’t they amazing words spoken by God through the apostle Paul. Here is Paul giving Christian people instructions on how to live as Christians in a pagan world and look at how he begins. He speaks about ‘freedom’, He tells them that they have been set free by Christ in order to live a life of freedom.
Terry Waite was held captive for 1763 days. In his book Taken on Trust he describes the conditions in which he was held. He spent many months chained to a radiator. Do you think that after his release if his captors called and asked him to come back into captivity again he would have gone? Imagine they promised ‘new handcuffs, chain and a new radiator.’ Would he have gone back into captivity again? Of course not. Well let me ask you a question this morning: If, as Paul says here, Christ has set us free, then why would any of us go back into slavery/captivity again? ‘Bt, Alan, I am not in slavery/captivity?’
You know it is amazing how many Christians are bound by chains of guilt, of shame, of fear, of anger. It is amazing how many Christians are handcuffed to habits. It is amazing how many Christians are shackled with attitudes that are so unlike that of Christ Jesus. Paul says that ‘it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. . . therefore, stand firm, do not be burdened again with the yoke of slavery.’ This morning if Christ has set you free from sin, from the burden of sin, from the guilt and shame of sin – why are you still walking around with the burden on your back.
In Pilgrim’s Progress Christian carries a heavy burden on his back. But in the book when Christian arrives at the cross the burden falls off his back and rolls down a hill into an empty tomb. He is freed from his burden. Listen to these words from Isaiah 1.18 and 6.7. you have been freed from your burden of sin. Why would you go back and put that burden back on your shoulders again. Jesus said ‘come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you…? Another burden to carry? Another burden of rules and regulations? No, ‘and I will give you rest.’ On another occasion he said that his ‘yoke was easy and light.’ Christ has freed us from the burden of sin and he has freed us from it to live in that freedom. He does not come to weigh us down with another burden of rules and regulations. You see the people to whom Paul was writing were in great danger of putting back on themselves the yoke of the Law. There were some amongst them who were saying that yes they needed Christ for salvation but they also needed to obey the Law. These people were known as the Judaizers – and they wanted the Christians in Galatia to be circumcised. Circumcision in and of itself was a small medical procedure but the theological implications were enormous. Basically what they were saying was that Christ was not enough. If you wanted to be saved you needed to observe the Law also. Paul says that Christ is sufficient and that adding anything else as necessary for salvation is actually a different gospel altogether. He actually deems it going back into slavery again.