Freedom Series: What it means to be free
Key Text: Gal 5:1-4
What does it mean to be "free in Christ"? Often our ideas of freedom encompass the idea of doing what we want to do. This thinking generally does not free the human soul but enslaves it to many snares.
In fact someone who strives for freedom in doing whatever he wants is a man that is enslaved by himself.
We generally do things in moderation so that they do not overtake us and become a trap for us later on.
I am often amazed with Nic now that he can talk because; for as he can express himself so he can express his little will (and it is a strong little will); however this little will is bent towards things that are bad for him.
Like the other night I asked what he wanted for supper and gave him two choices. He chose a third; "ticklish" which is how he says liquorice.
Him getting what he wants will not help him, it will be nice for a while but will leave him feeling rather sic if he persists in getting what he wants all the time.
He needs direction and governance to ensure that he grows up healthy.
The problem with age is that we become independent from our parents and fall into the thinking that we are beyond governance.
The reality is that people need boundaries in order to thrive (even adults). The problem is that sin in us causes us to fight against those boundaries.
Paul speaks to this very issue in Galatians 5:1-4.
This week we will be speaking on what it means to be free and next week we will look at how free are we. Letting our freedom be for our good rather than our destruction.
Galatians is one of those books where Paul strongly deals with the issue of grace and freedom in Christ. The irony is that the faith we have is built exclusively through this idea that our salvation is in Christ; that He is the source and sustenance of our salvation; yet as believers we so often fall into the trap of making it about what we can do and our goodness etc.
So this morning we will address this; because it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Let’s read Galatians 5:1-4
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Let me ask you this morning; do you feel free?
What prevents us living lives that are embraced in the freedom of Christ and the peace that he has promised?
We like the Galatians church start our journey in the Christian walk with great passion for the freedom that Christ has won us because it is real to us; we feel a real and immediate freedom from our guilt and our sin.
But we soon discover that there is a nature in us that is against the freedom we have discovered. We find out that the sin nature is still there still ensnaring us at every turn. And so what starts out as freedom soon becomes a battle of wanting to be one thing and falling short.
This is what was happening to the Galatians church. They had started out with great passion and commitment to the cross of Christ.
However, It appears that a Jewish group of professing Christians who claim to have James on their side (2:12) were teaching that it is not enough to trust Christ for righteousness.
They said that if you rely on faith alone you become a "Gentile sinner" and make Christ the agent of sin (2:17). So faith must be supplemented with "works of the law."
Trusting in what Christ did for you has to be supplemented by what you can do for Christ.
God's work plus your work equals justification.
So the Judaizers required circumcision (2:3), dietary restrictions (2:12,13), and the keeping of feasts and holy days (4:10), and at least implied that by these works the Galatians could contribute their part to the transaction of justification.1
To us living in South Africa 2015 this doesn’t connect because we are not at all culturally or ethically convicted by following Jewish customs or laws.
However we are in as much danger as these Galatians in falling into the same trap because all of us have a similar problem:
We desire to be in control of our salvation!
The great problem with this is that it fundamentally robs the cross of its power. As soon as we fall into the trap of thinking that somehow we can add to or supplement our own way to heaven we have completely robbed the Cross of Jesus Christ of its power to save us.
This is because at the core of the idea of the cross is that we are unable to save ourselves and so in dependence and trust we come to the finished work of Christ on the cross and trust Him with our salvation!
It is there that our freedom is found and it is there that our freedom is kept!
You see The core idea of the Cross of Christ is that we are utterly hopeless to save ourselves and Christ’s work is completely sufficient to save us!
The main problem of this is at our core is an arrogance that hates to be shown to be wrong or in need, and an arrogance that refuses to recognise God as the only one who can heal our wrongs and can fulfil our needs.
Guys in particular struggle with this; especially when driving; “I know exactly where I am going; how can the Garmin be wrong!”
But everyone has this tendency; we are caught out or shown up and if you are like me the first reaction is to jump into defence mode.
Don’t you hate it when you go into defensive mode and you actually know you are wrong; but now you feel like you have a point to prove so you bolder on through and inevitably have to do double apologising because not only were you wrong but you were being an idiot about being wrong.
The reality is that this attitude that we all have prevents us from taking stock of our need and our sin and falling wholly dependent upon God!
Paul reminds us It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; so do not let yourself be robbed of that freedom because you want to do it on your own.
So many of us rob ourselves of the freedom that Christ has won for us because we are too arrogant to fall on our knees in dependence and trust him to help us!
We in arrogance say I can do it on my own.
We refuse to allow His methods of healing of our sinful patterns; “confess your sins to one another for this is good for the soul.” (Jas 5:16)
Rather we hide behind false perfection and try and prove to people that we are better than we are. And then we wonder why we don’t feel free. We are not free we are enslaved by our own desire to be perfect.
The cross does not call us to be perfect the cross calls us to be dependent!
We take the things that are God’s to sort out and we worry about them.
We live our own life and refuse to walk in the life that Christ has called us to; because the life that Christ has called us to (even though it is a life of freedom) is a life that inconveniences us in the now.
Maybe this is you this morning.
Maybe you have abandoned your freedom for self-control; maybe you have forsaken your freedom by enslaving yourself to your own ambitions.
Maybe you have played the “Christian game” so long that you have forgotten what it is like to actually be honest with people about where you really are and what you really are struggling with.
I want to call you back to freedom; the freedom that Christ won for you; the freedom that cost Him his life on the cross to secure for you.
It is a freedom that will require you to give up on yourself and a freedom that will require you to completely give yourself over to Christ for.
So let me tell you what this freedom looks like:
It is needy
True Christian freedom is found when we are willing to constantly accept our desperate need of salvation. Simply put you cannot save yourself!
There is a freedom found when we are willing to accept that reality. In fact this reality is at the core of our faith and freedom and even salvation is impossible without this acknowledgement!
We start out needy but are so easily tempted into self-sufficiency. True Christian freedom is found by the needy.
Jesus said it better when he said in Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God!”
You cannot enter into God’s kingdom unless you are needy!
The next thing Christian freedom looks like is…
It is dependent
The Christian walk (and subsequently Christian freedom) is only possible by constant dependence upon the one who called you.
Jesus said “I am the vine you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing!”
Every action of our day should be done in dependence on God.
This is not easy because it requires constant acknowledgment of God in your life; a constant seeking after him.
But our freedom is found in following after God; our freedom is found in dependence upon Him. Why because our life is found in Him.
He is the true source of life and so our life and our freedom is found in that life.
The next thing our Christian freedom looks like is
It is trusting
Freedom is found when we take God at His Word! When we trust him to do what he says he will do; a Christian who is truly free is a Christian who trusts what God says.
Again it goes back to the core of what the cross is; God saving us because we cannot save ourselves. The application in our lives is trusting God with everything else.
This is a journey (I must say) and will develop as you learn more about Him and His grace.
But there is no-one as free as someone who is secure in their trust in Jesus.
The next thing our Christian freedom looks like is
It is thankful
The final display of a free Christian is that they are truly thankful. It is as we align our trust and hope in Christ and allow Him to be our everything the natural response of this is a thankful heart!
As we engage the truth of the freedom that Christ has won for us; as we engage His power in our life and as we reflect on his trustworthiness is doing what he says; the constant response is that and thanks.
The truly free person is a truly thankful person.
So this morning as we reflect on what it means to be free it comes down to are you constantly and desperately at the foot of the cross?
Our walk is secured there and secure there.
So I call you again to bring your life your worries your hopes your dream, to that and to walk away free.
We might be concerned about where this country is going etc. I have heard a bit of talk like that lately. Let us not become overly concerned about things that are not ours to concern ourselves about. Let's us come to the cross again in dependence and ask God for His truth in our life and walk in the freedom and hope that he has secured in that act.
We cannot be contributing to the negativity that is around us. Rather we need to be bring hope that is secured through faith in our Saviour Jesus Christ!
Go in freedom this morning. Because it is what you were called to.