Summary: Since we are free in Christ we need to make the most of that freedom.
Text: Gal. 5:13-26
1. Illustration: There were many dilemma’s at the end of the Civil War. How do we rebuild the country? How do we heal the deep wounds that tore the nation apart for four bloody years? For the now free slaves the dilemma was now that we are free what do we do with that freedom? Most of them had been slaves all their lives, and now that they were free the question was, "Now what do we do?"
2. As Christians we have a very similar question. Now that we are free from our spiritual bondage what do we do?
3. Paul gives us four keys to living in our freedom...
a. Be good stewards of your freedom
b. Be aware of the battle
c. Be cautious of the acts
d. Be led by the Spirit
4. Read Gal. 5:13-26
Proposition: Since we are free in Christ we need to make the most of that freedom.
Transition: The first thing we need to do is...
I. Be Good Stewards of Your Freedom (13-15).
A. Serve One Another
1. In the first part of this chapter Paul's emphasis was upon the fact that we are free. Now he instructs what we should do with that freedom.
2. He says, "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."
a. The call to freedom (v. 13) restates the earlier call to freedom (v. 1) but takes the implication of freedom now in a different direction.
b. Whereas before freedom did not lead to circumcision, now it does not lead to indulging the flesh.
c. Paul insists that freedom should not be used "to indulge" (Gk. aphormen) the flesh. This Greek expression for "to indulge" is metaphorical and picturesque.
d. It is sometimes translated "an opportunity for" (RSV), "an excuse for" (New Century Version), or "a base of operations for" (The New Translation).
e. The term was originally a military description of the army's "base of operations" or a "starting point" for some kind of military maneuver, but it also acquired a metaphorical sense of "opportunity," "pretext," or "occasion."
f. "Flesh" is not effort necessarily (though that could be involved); rather, "flesh" is unspiritual life.
g. Thus, "flesh" becomes closely attached to living "under the law" because, as Paul explains throughout his letter, allowing one's life to be governed by the law is choosing not to live under the guidance of the Spirit (McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary – Galatians, 266).
h. Christian freedom is freedom to serve one another in love.
i. Love for other believers flows outward from what God has done in each believer’s heart.
j. The Greek word for love (agape) refers to selfless, self-giving love. Christian freedom does not leave believers wandering through life without laws, rules, restraints, or guidelines.
k. Instead, they freely live according to God’s standards and glorify God through loving service to others.(Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 788).
3. Furthermore, Paul says, "The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
a. In our passage, Paul says two things about love: (1) the Galatians are to "serve one another" in love, and (2) the entire law of Moses is summed up in the commandment from Leviticus 19:18: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
b. There is no question about what Paul is doing here: he is taking away the law of Moses in the letter to the Galatians as passé, but he does so by way of fulfillment.
c. He tells the Galatians that their desire for moral guidelines is the best guideline.
d. If you live in the Spirit, he writes to them, you will have love (5:22), and living in love is far better than the law because it is the fulfillment of the law (McKnight, 268).
e. Paul says, "Ok, so you want to live by the law, then do what the law really means and not just keep a bunch of regulations and rituals.
4. However, the Galatians had been doing just the opposite, for Paul says, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
a. The ancients (especially in the Old Testament and Jewish sources, e.g., Proverbs 30:14) used the metaphor of being eaten by others as a grotesque description of a horrible fate or inconceivable wickedness (literal cannibalism horrified ancient sensitivities even more than it does modern ones) (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
b. Paul says literally: "If you keep on biting and devouring each other you, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
c. Technically, Paul could have said: "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, you will be destroyed by each other."