13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
This afternoon, we will be focusing on our “Christian Freedom”. We will be going through part of the book of Galatians starting with these three verses.
Gods Grace gives us freedom to explore creative and helpful ways to encourage and build up one another. Why would anyone who truly loves Jesus want to use their Cross bought freedom to do anything that disgraces His name?
If you have ever been to the circus, you can recall the tightrope walker on the platform high above the crowd, it sometimes seemed that…the person could almost touch the top of the circus tent. In front of that person was this silver strand of thin wire that is barely visible to the naked eye of the crowd below. It almost seemed that this wire was endless. The tightrope walker offers a bow of confidence, takes a deep breath, and slowly begins to walk across the wire one foot in front of the other. With unbroken concentration and focus… reaches the other platform, takes a bow and breathes a sigh of relief.
Talk about taking the “narrow path”, (literally) Like this tightrope walker in a circus, Christians are faced with a similar experience… walking a tightrope trying to avoid two extremes, legalism and licentiousness. For you see as we will examine together this afternoon… God calls us to keep on walking the tight rope of Christian Freedom.
True Christian freedom involves restrains, that helps not to hinder our spiritual growth and service. In fact, in Galatians 5, verses 13-15 gives us three principles to follow concerning our Christian Freedom.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”.
First point is, we are not free to indulge in the flesh. “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh”. Flesh in this passage, doesn’t mean our physical body. It doesn’t mean skin that is stretched over our bones and muscles.
Flesh here refers to our fallen sinful nature. That natural tendency we have within us to sin, In fact, the word flesh is used several times in the course of our passages today. We are not to use our Christian Freedom for opportunities for sin but for Service. In other word…CHRISTIAN FREEDOM, IS FREEDOM FROM SIN…TO SERVE THE LORD AND NOT… FREEDOM TO SIN AND NOT SERVING SELF.
We will also find this same statement made by the Apostle Peter…
1 Peter 2:16
16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
You see church, scripture is clear - WE ARE NOT FREE TO INDULGE THE FLESH, rather we are to use this freedom as servants of God. So…how will all this be possible? The answer is in the next phrase of our opening verse…We are servants of God, and we are also called to, “serve one another humbly in love”.
If last weeks message is still fresh in your minds, let me remind you the second greatest command. Which is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. It’s a command, and it’s not an option!
You see, we are instruments of God’s love to a dying world. We are to take His love and live it out to a Christ-less world. With the hope and desire to see God’s love working in us and develop a desire for God’s great love to give to others.
Serving is a humbling experience, It involves putting others before our own needs. Not only are we to have the right perspective… we are also, to demonstrate the right attitude. WE ARE NOT FREE TO INDULGE IN THE SELFISH DESIRES OF THE FLESH. We are to… “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
25 And behold, a certain [a]lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
How do we treat others? You see church, Christian Freedom was given to us, to share freely, and not greedily. We are not free to exploit others. Using people to get what we want is an act of the flesh not an act of faith, and when we treat others as things, we run the risk of hurting not only them but ourselves. And at the same time, we are breaking Gods second and greatest command!
Notice if you will v15…
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Keep in mind that you and I are saved by Gods grace. We are not saved because we are perfect. Our perfect God is patient and loving to you and I each and everyday. And we should also be the same to each other.
Instead of tearing others down, we should take Solomon’s advice given in…
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
You see, CHRISTIAN FREEDOM TREATS PEOPLE AS PERSONS TO BE SERVED AND LOVED NOT AS THINGS TO BE ABUSED.
Now, we shall continue into the next half of the selected text…
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Verses, 16 to 26, reveals the struggle, the battle that we face each and everyday. FLESH VS SPIRIT!
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Here Paul writes WALK IN THE SPIRIT, IT is an imperative (Command) It is expected, of those who are in the family of God. Remember, those who are saved are meant to be together FOREVER!!! If we can’t get along in the here and now, how about when we get to heaven, where we will all be together FOREVER!!!
But then again, if you know the God of the Bible, you will also know that He does not fail in making one NEW! Those whom He has called will have their lives centered on those two great commands.
Let’s continue…walking in the Spirit, gives victory over the sins of the flesh. Notice if you will the second part of verse 16…
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Here’s an illustration, from Our Daily Bread…
The 19th century French inventor Louis Daguerre was one of the pioneers of photography. In those early days, he could take a picture by exposing a metal plate to light. When the plate was taken out of the camera, however the image soon disappeared. Daguerre tried many ways to keep the image from fading but nothing worked. One day he found a plate that had been left in a closet full of chemicals and to his amazement the image was bright and sharp He took other pictures, put the plates in that closet and got the same result He didn’t know what caused the image to remain, but he was determined to find out. He began by removing things from the closet one by one. Even after everything was removed, the images still remained. How could this be? Daguerre later discovered that some mercury had been spilled in the closet. Further, experiences proved that it is mercury vapor that was keeping the image on the photographic plate.
You see church… what the mercury vapor did to that photographic plate, The Holy Spirit does within us. He Helps us keep the image of Christ in focus. As we obey the Holy Spirit, He will keep a sharp image of Christ before us. We can defeat our fleshly desires by continually WALKING IN THE SPIRIT.
This continual battle as mentioned in v17…
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
This is evident, this is our daily lives church… OUR EVERY EMOTION, OUR EVERY CHOICE, OUR EVERY THOUGHT and OUR EVERY ACT. Is affected by the pressure caused by the conflict within.
Thus, it involves a daily commitment to follow the two great commands.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul allures to this spiritually battle that takes place within us. And how we are to deal with it.
2 Corinthians 4:16
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT GIVES US VICTORY OVER THE FLESH. WALKING IN THE SPIRIT INVOLVES A DAILY SURRENDER OF OUR LIVES TO HIM. To be led by the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to Guide and direct us toward that image of Christ.
Back to our text…
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The Jewish religious Law. When we walk in the Spirit, we are in conflict not only with the flesh, but also with the law. As Christians freed from the bondage of sin, we also are free from the bondage of the Law.
In our study of Galatians, we have learned that the law points out our sinful state and need for a savior. The churches of Galatia, struggled with the law and traditions of the Jewish religious
culture. Traditions are not to replace scripture, yet we place them on the same plane or even higher. This is called legalism.
Not only are we in conflict with the flesh but we are in constant battle with Traditions and legalism, that is why we need to allow the Spirit of God to guide us in these matters as well. Hence the tightrope that we must walk to protect our Liberties in Christ.
Remember… CHRISTIAN LIBERTY IS FREEDOM FROM SIN TO SERVE THE LORD, IT IS NOT FREEDOM TO SIN. IT IS NOT FREEDOM TO SERVE SELF.
Characteristics of the FLESH…and the battle with the Spirit:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The works of the flesh - viewed in 4 Categories.
Sexual sins - Adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex, uncleanness, strong sexual desires cause trouble here… challenging the family Structure that God has set from the beginning.
Religious Sins- Idolatry, witchcraft.
Idolatry- worship of anything other than God. This can include Money, fame, social lifestyle, and busyness.
Witchcraft- use of fantasy to satisfy our desire- Drugs, evil spirit, Astrology. It takes our focus away from God. In fact, It’s power and purpose comes from Satan.
Drunkenness- excessive drinker. Which can also fall under witchcraft, since you are no longer the one in control, but the alcohol controls you.
“ I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God”.
Christ has to be first in all things. NOT these things that The Apostle Paul had mentioned.
18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Preeminence: Superior to all others, outstanding. High status.
Is Christ first in our life? Is He the driving force of our life? The works of the Flesh rob us of our motivation towards Godliness. The works of the flesh rob us of our worship to God- giving him our all. The works of the flesh robs us of surrendering all to Jesus. The works of the flesh destroy relationships not only with God but others. It destroys the two greatest commandments.
Church, bitterness and anger, being out of control is of the flesh. We need to avoid them.
Here’s another story from Our Daily Bread
The Fable of the Jealous eagle:
The Great Evangelist DL Moody once told a fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him “I wish you would bring down the eagle up there.” The man said he would, if he had some feathers for his arrow. So... the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another - until he had lost so many feathers that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around and killed the helpless bird. Moody then made this application: IF YOU ARE ENVIOUS OF OTHERS, THE ONE YOU WILL HURT THE MOST BY YOUR ACTIONS IS YOURSELF.
The flesh says look out for number one. God says SERVE OTHERS.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Describe for us the fruits (or work) of the Spirit. They serve as a contrast to the works of the flesh. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us. He produces spiritual fruit that is like a ripe cluster of grapes.
We are not going to spend a lot of time discussing each one of the nine virtues listed. Many of us have heard many sermons, and Bible studies concerning the fruit of the Spirit. But I briefly want to share a few things.
Notice the order:
Love, joy, Peace - Concern our relationship to God. God is our first love and our first joy. When we rest in Him we are at peace.
Forbearance, kindness, goodness- deals with our relationship towards others. Godly characteristics demonstrated on others.
Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - looks at our inward relationship.
I will end this message on verse 24-26…
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This is the resolve. “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires”. We are to be the master over our fleshly desires. And maintain a lifestyle that is pleasing to our Lord. Remember Galatians 2:20?
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Be resolved to walk in the spirit by living a life that is consistent to your confession of faith.
Allow the Spirit of God to guide our actions. Be fully yielded to Him. IS Christ First in our lives, does He have the pre-eminence of our life? If not, let’s make this commitment today. ALL OF US!
From last week’s message, we all know and confessed to love God. Let’s put into practice the lesson we learned today. Gal 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other”. And by doing so, we are being obedient to the second greatest command.
How are we in the area of treating others? Hopefully, we will all heed the Lords commands today. These are His words, each and every verse that you saw, ARE ALL THE WORDS OF GOD!
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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