- Sermon Notes
Love Must be Free
Paul is concerned for these churches in the area of Galatia because some teachers have come from Jerusalem telling them that if they want to be true followers of Jesus they need to take on the aspects of Judaism. They need to become circumcised, they need to observe all the Jewish feasts and they need to come under the Law.
Paul was not just upset with these teachers; he was amazed because the church started going along with the program. He’s writing to get them back on course, saying that these men are distorting the gospel of Christ and that if anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be accursed. Paul is hot!
He then goes into great depth explaining the difference between the Old Testament Law and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No one is justified by the works of the Law, Paul wrote, we are justified by faith in Christ. In other words, a sinner is not made right with God because he’s done some righteous things. Frankly, God is not impressed. “The righteousness of man is like filthy rags before God,” the prophet Isaiah wrote.
The notion that someone can be made right with God by doing some righteous things has several problems. First, God doesn’t just keep track of the few good things a person does; He keeps track of everything. Can you imagine someone following you around with a clipboard and writing down everything you’ve ever done or said or thought? And then can you imagine that your relationship to God is based upon what’s written on the clipboard? That’s not such an encouraging thought.
The problem is that God is holy and that clipboard has recorded some things that are frankly quite embarrassing. A lot of people actually believe that their standing before God is based on what’s written on that clipboard. They believe all their deeds are placed on a scale; the bad things on one side, the good things on the other side. “Let’s see, I’ve told three lies and four truths, that puts me on the plus side. I stole something two times, but I didn’t steal something seven times; man, I’m really doing well.” No, God doesn’t compare the good to the bad, he compares all of it, the entire clipboard, to His own holiness.
If you have a perfectly white dress how many stains would it take before we say that the dress is stained? Only one. Once the dress is stained, how do you remove it?
Jeremiah 2:22, “Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord God.
How many people have ever told a lie? What does that make you? Do liars go to heaven? How many people have ever cheated? Do cheaters go to heaven?
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
We are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. It’s a promise. It’s a promise to hold onto and it’s a promise to live by.
God has set us free, Paul wrote. We’ve been set free from living under the harsh supervision of the Law. We’ve been set free from being judged according to our deeds; and we’ve been set free from the condemnation that came from being sinners. Sin no longer has a claim on us because we have been set free in Christ. And, as Jesus said, “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” But do we know how to live in freedom? That’s what these verses are about.
I. We Were Set Free for Freedom
- Paul wrote that the Law was given because of transgressions. God gave the Law to Israel because He knew that the flesh wanted to sin and so the Law was given to restrain the flesh.
- It was like a guardian watching over a young man to keep him from sinful things. Wealthier Greek and Roman families would assign a trustworthy servant to watch over their children to keep them out of trouble. These servants would have authority over that child to correct them as needed. That’s a picture of the Law, Paul wrote.
- We’ve been set free from that relationship; we no longer have a guardian over us, we are no longer under the strict supervision of the Law.
- But what do we do with that freedom?
- Paul wrote earlier in chapter 4 that God sent His Son to redeem, or set free, those under the Law and those who were slaves to sin that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:7, Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
- That completely changes our relationship to God. To call God your “Abba” Father is an honor and a privilege because it’s a term of close relationship.
- But it also suggests a relationship where there is freedom in that love. Love must be free; it must be freely given and must be freely received.
Illus - Valentine’s Day; do you get to bring flowers or do you have to bring flowers? Is it an obligation or an opportunity?
- Several times we’ve asked the question, ‘where does evil come from?’ When God created man He created him with the ability to choose; to either accept God or reject Him. Love must be free. If a person rejects God what are they left with? They are left with the nature of man and all the emptiness that comes with it.
- But when you love God as your “Abba” ather, it suggests a love that is freely given. It suggests a relationship where you completely trust His love.
- Verse 6 – faith working through love defines our relationship to God when we’re in Christ.
B. Do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery
- Paul is amazed that they would want to be under the strict supervision of the Law. Would you use your freedom to be subject again to a yoke of slavery?
- It’s true that some people actually prefer having someone telling them what to do at all times. It’s sort of like living in the military, you don’t have to make a lot of decisions, they’re made for you.
Romans 8:15, You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
- When Paul speaks of the ‘yoke of slavery,’ it shows the burden of being under that yoke. Those under the law were under the yoke of its harsh supervision.
- Those in the world, living worldly lives, were slaves to their own passion and were under the heavy yoke of an empty soul and harsh consequences.
Illus - There are many, many people that are under the yoke of their own passions. Many people who are in sexual addiction want to be set free.
Romans 6:12, 14, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts… For sin shall not be master over you…
Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
II. Walk by the Spirit
- This is the key to victory. This is the key to walking by faith. God redeemed those who were under the Law, God redeemed those who were held captive by sin so that we might receive the adoption as sons.
- And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” We have the Spirit of Christ in us.
- Why was the Law given? Because of transgressions. So if we are no longer under the Law, then what about those transgressions?
A. The flesh has strong desires
- If you walk by the Spirit, you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. The flesh still has desires, or cravings, which is the more literal word.
- But you don’t have to “carry out” those desires, those cravings. The word in the Greek carries the meaning; to fulfill, complete, or accomplish.
Illus - When my wife was pregnant, she would have the desires, the cravings, and I would carry them out.
- Under the Law there was a guardian to give strict supervision so those desires would not be carried out, but what happens when there is no longer a guardian?
Illus - When a teenager moves out on his own there are many who find that freedom intoxicating and they find themselves in deep trouble.
- Verse 13 - do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, Paul wrote.
Illus - The first years of a child’s life are often centered on candy; a great picture of the desires of the flesh. What would happen if there was no guardian or parent? How much candy would a child eat? They would eat till they got sick and without any constraint at all it would get serious; diabetes, malnutrition, etc.
Couldn’t that also apply spiritually?
- The problem with the flesh is that it just simply wants. It lives only in the moment. “Me want stew.” “Me want woman.” It gives no thought to the consequences. It just wants.
- It has the cravings and demands that you carry it out. It wants to be the master and you be the servant. Just like a child would like to be the master and have the parents do whatever he/she wants.
- But that’s why they need a parent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my kids, “And that right there is why you need a parent.”
- The Spirit is the life of God within us. No man can say “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
- The desire of the Spirit within us stands in opposition to the desires of the flesh.
Illus - When Joseph stood firm against Potiphar’s wife, he was desiring spiritual things and she was desiring fleshly things and they were in opposition.
Genesis 39:9, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
- Verse 17 - “these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” We must therefore ask; what is it that you truly desire?
- We have both, the flesh and the Spirit. They both have desires that are very opposed to each other. Which one is stronger depends on that which fills the heart.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Ephesians 5:18, Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
- That’s a great verse because it shows the contrast of what you pour into your life. Interestingly, another word for alcohol is “spirits.”
- People often drink because it loosens them up, but it can also take away self-control.
Illus - In college, I decided to never drink again - because it took away my self-control and I realized it had far too much power over me. Others may; I may not.
C. Be led by the Spirit
- Instead of being under the strict supervision of the law, Paul tells us to be led by the Spirit. The Spirit warns us in advance, the Spirit convicts, and the Spirit ignites.
- You’re no longer under a guardian, you’ve been set free; so what are you under now? Who are you under?
- We’ve been redeemed from being slaves of sin and we’ve been redeemed from the supervision of the law, so that we could be adopted as sons. That puts us under the authority of the Father in heaven.
Illus - Jesus was under the authority of the Father and because of that God gave Him authority.
Psalm 91:1-2, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High with abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
- One of the most powerful examples of the importance of staying under the authority of our Father is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
Luke 15:17-19, “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’”
Galatians 5:1-13 NASB
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.