Livin' That Free Life

Take your Bibles with me and turn to Galatians 5. Galatians 5. I’m going to be preaching verses 13-16 this morning.

Now, I’m kind of skipping over verses 7-12. I’m not going to preach a whole message on those verses. In verses 7-12 Paul is dealing with these legalistic judiazers and it’s really a continuation of what the entire book of Galatians has been. So look over those verses in your own time and we are going to move on to verses 13-16 this morning.

Let’s read those verses:

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Most of us probably consume a ton of “How To” content. We read books and magazines about how to cook, or how to do woodworking, or how to fix up the car. We read books about how to be better in business or better at marketing or better at parenting. We watch how-to shows on TV or how to videos on YouTube. We like it when its just plain and clear and we have easy instructions to follow.

In this whole book of Galatians, it’s been about an idea: The idea of Grace. The idea that we aren’t saved because of our works but because of Christ’s work on the cross. The idea that we aren’t a slave to religion or to the law anymore.

But there hasn’t been a lot of “how to” kind of content in the book of Galatians. It’s mostly been doctrinal. But that is going to change starting today - because the rest of the book of Galatians is very, very practical. It tells us how to put this great truth of God’s grace into practice in our lives.

I’m going to give you four points this morning from these couple of verses that tell us how God wants us to live the Christian life.

Let’s jump right into it:

Look at verse 13 again:

”For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty”

The first thing we see in this passage is…

1. We have all been called to the free life.

We have been called to liberty. To freedom. God wants every Christian to live a life that is characterized by freedom.

Now, how are we free? A bunch of ways, first…

We are free from sin

Jesus said in John 8:34 that those who commit sin are a slave to sin. Think about that - a slave to sin.

Sin has this way of enslaving us doesn’t it. It starts off innocent enough, it starts off as a thrill, but before long we can hardly help ourselves and we can’t push back and it’s running our lives.

There are people all around us enslaved to lust and pornography, or enlsaved to drunkenness, or enlsaved to anger or enslaved to their ego. They almost can’t even fight against it anymore.

And what hope do they have? What hope do we have? It’s only in Jesus.

Jesus said one of the things he came here to do is ”to preach deliverance to the captives”, He said “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

When you trust Christ as your savior, you become a new creature, you get a new nature and you don’t have to be overpowered by sin anymore. You are free from it.

Turn with me to Romans 6 for a minute. Romans 6. We are going to read verses 11-14.

”[Rom 6:11-14 KJV] 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

If you are saved this morning, you are dead to sin. It might not “feel” like you are dead to sin, but you need to reckon that you are. You now have the power to have victory over sin.

Dr. Flanders gave the best illustration of this I’ve ever heard this year. He said it’s like you work for a restaurant and you have a terrible boss who mistreats you and yells at you and works you too hard and doesn’t pay you. Then you get a job at a different restaurant and your boss is wonderful. But say you go back to the old restaurant, just with your friends to get a hamburger or something and your old boss gets in your face and says “you - mop the floor.” What are you going to say? “I don’t work for you anymore.”

Listen, when the old boss of sin rears it’s ugly head in your life you say “I don’t work for you anymore. My contract has been bought out by the blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t have to listen to and obey you anymore.

We are free from sin.

Do you know what else we are free from as believers?…

We are free from guilt

As a believer in Christ - you have Christ’s righteousness. You have a spotless, white as snow record in the eyes of God.

Romans 8 asks the question ”Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” And the answer is obvious - no one.

I was in Wendy’s the other day and this kid came in with his parents and he had a terrible t-shirt on. The t-shirt said “Only God can judge me.”

You know - I don’t like the sentiment of that t-shirt. Because God has already judged a lot of human behavior and He has already said it’s bad. But there is a truth to it. In the grand scheme of things the only person who can condemn you is God.

And do you know what? God took on human flesh and came down from His courtroom in heaven and paid your penalty for you on the cross.

It’s like you are running in a race and you stumble and get out of your lane on the track. You just know you are going to be disqualified and you are just waiting to hear the whistle. But instead the referee comes and picks you up and runs the rest of the race with you.

You can be free from guilt because your guilt was carried by Jesus on the cross. I don’t care what you have done - Jesus Grace is bigger and His death took care of it.

Listen, that means…

We are free from Hell

If you have put your faith and trust in Christ and what He has done - you don’t have to fear the judgement of God in Hell. You aren’t going to the lake of Fire. Jesus took your punishment and you are wearing His righteousness.

Imagine being in death row for a moment. Knowing that at any moment - the executioner was going to come and judge you and take away your life…and then in comes an official and says “no - his crime has been paid for and he has a spotless record.” That’s what we have in Jesus Christ.

We are free from sin, we are free from guilt, we are free from Hell and lastly…

We are free from the law (as a motivator)

The first verse in this chapter tells us that we should “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.”

I’ve preached to you a bunch about how this means we aren’t under the law anymore. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say if you are trusting the law then Jesus does you no good.

We are free from the law. We are not to live legalistic, letter of the law kind of lives. We don’t live the Christian life tiptoeing around the law of God, afraid we are going to break one of His commandments and end up in Hell. We aren’t going to be judged by the law. That Guillotine is never going to drop. So we don’t have to live by the letter of the law as the jews did, we live by the spirit of the law.

We don’t live in fear of the law of God. We don’t live in fear of the “thou shalt nots” - that’s not our motivator for following God’s way anymore.

So we are free. Now. Before I go any further…are you free? Have you trusted Christ as your savior?

Can you sing “Thank God I am free, free free from this world of sin, been washed in the blood of Jesus, I’ve been born again. Hallelujah I’m saved, saved saved by his wonderful Grace. I’m so glad that I found out, He would take me out and show me the way.”

So listen, if you are a Christian this morning, you have been called to live free. People out to be able to see that freedom in your life. You aren’t a slave anymore. You aren’t shackled anymore. You are free.

But what does that mean? Does that mean because we are free from the law we can do whatever we want? Do we take this liberty and make it mean that we have liberty to go out and get drunk, or liberty to fill our minds with pornography, or liberty to do whatever we want?

A lot of Christians are afraid of this idea of Christian liberty because they think it means “do whatever you want” and to be honest, there are many, many Christians who abuse this idea of liberty to do whatever they want. But that isn’t what Paul is talking about here.

You see, not only does this passage teach us that the every Christian is called to the free life, it also teaches us that…

2. The free life is not the flesh life.

Again, verse 13 says:

”For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,”

We have this awesome freedom. Freedom from sin, from guilt, from Hell and from the letter of the law. And we could take that freedom and spin it and use it to do whatever we want but we can’t do that.

We are commanded here not to use our freedom to live fleshly lives.

The word “flesh” here, it doesn’t mean skin. It doesn’t refer to our body. It refers to our inclination to sin. To live sinful lives. To live for us.

Every one of us wants what we want. We have this innate desire to be selfish and to put our wants over everyone else. We have this desire to eat what we want to eat and drink what we want to drink and sleep when we want to sleep and wake up when we want to wake up.

That’s the flesh. This selfish, sinful desire that is inside of us. You may not be a drunkard, but you’ve probably felt pulled in that direction. You may not be an adulterer, but you’ve probably been pulled in that direction. You may not lie all the time, but you have that inclination. All of us fight lust and anger and bitterness and cruelty. That’s the flesh.

”only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,”

That word “Occasion” is a military word. It’s a word that means “Base of operations.”

Now we have this freedom - but if we take that freedom and use it as an excuse to live as a slave to our sinful inclinations. We are abusing that freedom. Our freedom shouldn’t be a base for our flesh.

So we have to understand that the free life is not the flesh life. A third thing we see in these verses is…

3. The free life is the love life.

Look at the verses again…

”For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

Do you know how we are to live the free life? We aren’t to use it selfishly in our flesh but we are to use it in love and in service to others.

Really - that is the spirit of the law. That’s what verse 14 is telling us. God’s heart with his commandments isn’t to put us in a restrictive box. God wants us to be free. But God also wants us to not hurt each other and to not be shackled to selfishness or to be a stumbling block for other people.

Listen, let me give you some examples of this in action ok?

God wants us to dress modestly. That’s a New Testament principle. But do you know, we don’t dress modestly because God wants to put us in a box. We don’t dress modestly because God is trying to restrict us. We dress modestly because we don’t want to be a stumbling block to our brothers.

If we are showing off our bodies we might be a stumbling block to a brother or sister in Christ. If we are showing off our wealth with our fancy clothes we might hurt one of our brothers and sisters who could never afford to dress that way. If we are trying to be super hip we might encourage one of our impressionable young teenagers to be really worldly. That’s why we dress modestly. The motivation isn’t some “letter of the law” legalism. We’ve been set free from that. The motivation is love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The New Testament says we are to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.”. In other words, God wants us to be faithful in our church attendance. We don’t go to church out of some legalistic fear that we are going to make God mad and he isn’t going to be happy with us. We go to church out of love. We do it because we love God and we do it because it gives us an opportunity to love each other and encourage each other.

And we could go through almost every command in the New Testament and say the same thing. They aren’t given to put us in a box. They are given to guide us so we don’t hurt each other and so that we can live in love.

And listen, if you ever find yourself “biting and devouring one another” as this passage says - that’s a good sign that you are in bondage to some kind of selfishness and pride. The Bible says “only by pride cometh contention.”

So we are to live the free life and that isn’t a life of flesh it’s a life of love. There is one more piece of this. One more point…

4. The free life is the spirit led life.

Verse 16 says ”This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

I’m not going to fully develop this point, because we are going to look at this a lot next week. But here is what this is saying:

When you trusted Christ, you were given the Holy Spirit. He lives inside of you. He indwells you. He is the one who sets you free from sin and gives you a desire to serve God. And the Holy Spirit wants to lead you.

Now how does the Holy Spirit speak to you? I think the main way the Holy Spirit speaks to you is through the Bible. After all, the Bible is written by the Holy Spirit. If you have the Bible in you - the Holy Spirit is going to use it to speak to you on a regular basis.

The Holy Spirit speaks to us through prayer. When we pray the Holy Spirit is in on that and speaking to us and leading us.

And sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes the Holy Spirit very plainly leads us to do something. Maybe it’s go down the altar, maybe it’s to witness to someone or to give some special gift. Maybe it’s to make some big decision.

But if you are saved this morning you have the Holy Spirit and He should be leading you and you should be looking for and following His leading.

We are going to talk about that more next week.