Free to Become a Slave

Galatians #10 – An exposition of Galatians 5:13-15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, March 15, 2009.

It just didn’t make sense to me.  I know that everybody said the same thing.  I know that was the conventional wisdom but it just sounded so dumb!  I didn’t just ride into town on a turnip truck you know.  So when my pickup hit that ice and started into a skid – I wasn’t “dumb enough” to turn into the skid…I turned it hard away from it.  Turn into a skid?  Oh, and I suppose you lean into a left hook!  The next few seconds were a blur, literally.  When the truck stopped I was sitting between a telephone pole and a bridge rail.  Not a scratch on me or the truck.  I remember thinking, “Maybe you do turn into a skid.”  Life is often paradoxical.  A paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is true.  Often in the Scripture we find paradoxical statements.  Jesus said if you want to lose your life hold on to it tightly.  If you want to find it – give it away.  He also said the way up is down.  If you want to be great become the servant of all.  That doesn’t make sense.  It is contrary to our way of thinking.  But then the writer of Proverbs warns that there is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is destruction.  We find one of those paradoxical passages in the 5th chapter of Galatians.

Paul is writing to the churches of the Roman Province of Galatia, the churches visited on the first missionary journey.  He is writing because false teachers have come into the fellowship and perverted the true gospel.  These “legalists” were preaching a “Jesus plus” theology.  Belief in Jesus was necessary but not enough.  You need to follow the rules of Judaism – the dietary laws, the days and festivals and of course circumcision.  It was a system of rules and regulations.  It is was faith of dos and don’ts that enslaved rather than liberated those who believed.  Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free don’t be enslaved again to rules.”  We are saved by grace and we grow in holiness by that same grace.  The Christian faith is about grace and relationship.  The whole purpose in Christ’s coming was to set you free so don’t be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  The dominant note throughout the book of Galatians is freedom.  Paul has referenced freedom several times but it isn’t until chapter 5:13 and following that he defines what he means by freedom.  Most of us, when thinking about freedom, think about ourselves and what we are able to do.  “I’m free, nobody is going to tell me what to do.  I can do as I please.”  That is not liberty that is license.  That is not enjoying the grace of God, that is presuming upon God’s grace.  Genuine freedom always comes with a corresponding responsibility.  That is what Paul deals with in our text this morning.

Text: Galatians 5:13-15
Paul with the skill and passion of an artist paints a portrait of genuine Christian freedom in these three verses.  I would suggest that it looks very different fro the world’s picture of freedom.  Because from Paul’s perspective…

Thesis: Genuine freedom releases you to a life of service to others.

Rather than self-centered, it is other-centered.  Rather than emphasizing rights it focuses on responsibilities.  There are three things to note in our text.

  1. Genuine freedom clears the way for total surrender.  (5:13)
  2. Genuine freedom enables fulfillment of the law.  (5:14)
  3. Genuine freedom results in honest concern for others.  (5:15)

A divided church has nothing to say to a fragmented society.  If we evidence more of the world’s power to divide than the gospel’s power to make whole we have nothing of value to say.  Our message has lost its power and authority.  Genuine freedom, biblical freedom is not about rights it is about responsibility.  It is not about being served it is about serving.

Child of God is it for the sake of freedom that Christ set you free.  Stand firm in that freedom.  Do not be burdened or bound by rules.  But understand that freedom releases you to a life of service to others.  It clears the way for total surrender.  It enables fulfillment of the law and results in honest concern for others.  Are you free?  Are you walking in biblical freedom today?

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