Summary: Christians cannot allow their freedom to turn into permssion to lives anyway they’d like.
Freedom Is Not License, Galatians 5:13
Pastor Trey Rhodes
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. (Galatians 5:13)
"Everybody looks for different things in the Ten Commandments. Some look for Divine guidance, some look for a code to live by, but most of us are looking for loopholes." Hewitt
Open Illustration: In 1982, "ABC Evening News" reported on an unusual work of modern art: a chair affixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gun barrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at a undetermined moment within the next hundred years.
The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell’s path! They all knew that the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn’t happen during their minute in the chair.
Yes, it was foolhardy, yet many people who wouldn’t dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling that they can get away with sin. Foolishly they ignore the risk until the inevitable self-destruction.
Background: We are prone to go to extremes. One believer interprets liberty as license and thinks he can do whatever he wants to do. Another believer, seeing this error, goes to an opposite extreme and imposes Law on everybody. Somewhere between license on the one hand and legalism on the other hand is true Christian liberty.
Paul then issues a caution: “Don’t allow your liberty to degenerate into license!”
This, of course, is the fear of all people who do not understand the true meaning of the grace of God. “If you do away with rules and regulations,” they say, “you will create chaos and anarchy.”
Of course, that danger is real, not because God’s grace fails, but because men fail of the grace of God (Heb. 12:15). If there is a “true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12), then there is also a false grace of God; and there are false teachers who “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4, NIV). So, Paul’s caution is a valid one. Christian liberty is not a license to sin but an opportunity to serve.
This leads to a commandment: “By love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). The key word, of course, is love. The formula looks something like this:
liberty + love = service to others
liberty — love = license (slavery to sin)
1. Freedom Does Not Allow You to Run Away from God’s Laws (Psalm 119:32)
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. (Ps. 119:32)
Explanation: Sinners have feet that are swift in running to mischief [evil] because they want to fulfill their schemes quickly and enjoy their pleasures immediately. God’s people should have cleansed feet (John 13:1-17; 1 John 1:9), beautiful feet (Rom. 10:14-15), prepared feet (Eph. 6:15), and obedient feet (Gen. 13:17; Josh. 1:3; 3:15). If we do, we’ll bring blessing. But the wicked use their feet to get involved in sin: meddling as busybodies (2 Thes. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13), tempting others into sin (Prov. 5:5 and 7:11), and breaking God’s laws (1:10-16). If the saints were “on their feet” and as eager to obey the Lord as sinners are to disobey, the lost world would soon be evangelized!
A Fleeing Believer?
2. Freedom Does Not Make It So You Can Lie Easily (Proverbs 19:5)
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.
Explanation: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Prov. 12:19, NIV). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but they that deal truly are His delight” (12:22; and see 6:16-17). Solomon warns us against bearing false witness and violating the Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20:16). See Proverbs 14:5, 25; 19:5, 9, 28; 21:28; 24:28. When words can’t be trusted, then society starts to fall apart. Contracts are useless, promises are vain, the judicial system becomes a farce, and all personal relationships are suspect. “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor” (25:18, NIV).
One of the marks of liars is that they enjoy listening to lies. “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue” (17:4, NIV). It’s a basic rule of life that the ears hear what the heart loves, so beware of people who have an appetite for gossip and lies.
“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (24:26, NIV; see 27:6). A kiss is a sign of affection and trust, and God wants His people to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). It has well been said that love without truth is hypocrisy and truth without love is brutality, and we don’t want to be guilty of either sin. The world affirms, “Honesty is the best policy,” but as the British prelate Richard Whateley said, “He who acts on that principle is not an honest man.” We should be honest because we’re honest people in our hearts, walking in the fear of the Lord, and not because we’re shrewd bargainers who follow a successful policy.