Summary: But as noted… we often find ourselves in tensions between two feelings … the tension between a spirit of legalism and a spirit license.
Walking in True Freedom
Part 2 – Walking It Out
Brad Bailey – July 15, 2007
One question I asked last week…Are you free to do anything you want (if within your means)?
Yes… but somehow we sense that’s not the greatest news to hear… it helps us think about
what true freedom is… spiritual freedom… because it helps us realize that freedom to do
whatever we want… doesn’t resolve all that binds us.
Our condition… sense much that is good… but also that our nature doesn’t live out all that we
believe is good… gap… shame. The human condition is one of a self that longs for a good that
eludes us… and a self that tries to cope… and that coping includes the fabrication of a false
self…. that defends itself well from all that would pull it down.
As we face our honest condition… we can understand the nature of what true freedom must
involve… not simply the freedom to do what we want… but the freedom to be all we were
meant to be.
Began last week focusing on the nature of spiritual freedom… the nature of entering into the
true freedom from the destructive tendencies and drives that run through us… and the
consequences they bring. Christ provides freedom from the shame… consequences… and
power of sin.
It’s what makes the good news of Christ truly good.
But as noted… we often find ourselves in tensions between two feelings … the tension between
a spirit of legalism and a spirit license.
We could define these two dynamics as….
Religious spirit of Legalism – In it’s broader use, ‘legalism’ refers to the tendency to try to
control sin through an overly prescribed approach to moral behavior or an inappropriate sense
of controlling such behaviors in others.
Rebellious spirit of License – In it’s spiritual use, license refers to the tendency to control
permission for pursuing the fulfillment of inappropriate or destructive desires for perceived
pleasure… often based upon a limited perspective of pleasure (that ignores one’s ultimate
good) and freedom (that ignores responsibility.)
Often within we swing between the two powers of thought that each of these represent …
a process of reaction… and re-reaction.
It’s like a spiritual schizophrenia… double bind that can make us crazy.
Both the spirit of legalism and the spirit of license are rooted in fear and a
false sense of control.
A part of us wants to do the right thing… but it can become more out of fear of our failures…
and a concern for outward appearance… And then another part wants to be free to do what one
wants… afraid of what one might miss in terms of pleasure and happiness.
> Both of these tendencies reveal how confused our view of sin and salvation are… why
‘religion’ may not always sound so good…. may seem to complicate life.
The Apostle Paul knew both of these all too well…he was the elite of Jewish religious
lawmakers and law keepers…knew the emptiness of legalism… how it was unable to change
lives. But he also sees the utter destruction of Roman paganism and the pursuit of all
pleasure…now that of the Greek world…and knows how deceptive and destructive that which
glorifies sin can be. The poor and weak are trampled down … violence and sexual desires are
ruling and ruining human life. Neither mere duty… nor mere desire… can bring the human
spirit into true freedom. And neither the religious spirit nor the rebellious spirit will ever
lead us to rest.
True freedom comes through the transition from fear to love as the driving
and defining force of our souls.
Galatians 5:6, 13, 16, 22-23
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The
only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to
indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful
nature. ….22 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there
is no law.
1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a
As the Message translation expresses this…
1 Timothy 1:5 (MSG)
The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-
interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.
Today… I want to consider some of the practical implications for walking in freedom as both
individuals and a community when we replace fear and control with the ‘goal of love.’
Practical implications for walking in freedom with the ‘goal of love.’