Freedom or Slavery
“Taxation without Representation” “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death”
These slogans were taught to me by my history teachers. They were coined during the Revolutionary War when we, as a nation, fought to win our independence from rule by England, who, in essence owned the 13 colonies settled on what is now known as the United States of America.
We fought to gain freedom from oppressive rulers who kept us in bondage. We were in essence slaves to the country who owned the colonies.
Our nation was founded on principles of freedom and rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. There are those today who believe it is time for a new revolution, to correct the wrongs of a government which, at times, seems to be under the control of influences other than the people.
Christianity had a major influence on the ideas and principles that were believed when our nation was founded. The Letter to the Galatians was no small factor in the forming of those ideas. Paul spoke about freedom and slavery to the young churches he had helped to begin in Asia Minor. I pick up this week in the verse I concluded with last week.
5:1 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 shall 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 Would 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. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, " You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. NASB
Come to the light that your deeds be revealed as having been wrought in God. Words of Jesus Christ as shared by the Apostle John in chapter 3 of his gospel.
Men loved darkness instead of light. People prefer to hide from and ignore God. We want to “do it ourselves”; we want to live the way we want to live. The flesh sets its desires against the Spirit.
The Spirit is God in us. He leads us. This relationship is what saves us. This is our connection with God. God wants us to move closer to Him, but too often we spend our days ignoring Him.
Those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and Truth. This is what Jesus told the Samaritan woman he encountered at a well. He is the truth. He is the Spirit. Are you walking by the Spirit? When you walk in the Spirit you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. The flesh is Self on the Throne of your heart. Paul tells us that when we follow the flesh and its desires we are living in slavery. God would set us free. He wants us to freely serve Him. This is the purpose for which we were created.
Who is on the Throne of your heart from day to day, moment by moment. Are you living as if God is present with you each moment, or are you doing your own thing? Giving God the left overs and giving lipservice to His Lordship?
Jesus called it the Kingdom of God. He was calling people to join the Kingdom. We are called to call others to join His kingdom. We are called to walk in the Spirit, to conduct our lives walking with God. This is the purpose of salvation. Heaven will be an extension of God's Presence with us out into eternity. Salvation is living in the presence of God.
Another way of expressing it is to say we are filled with the Spirit. The Spirit is not a thing that God gives us. The Spirit is God Himself coming to live with us.
This was not new with Jesus coming into the world. He just explained it to us. He revealed it to us in a new way. This is God's plan for mankind from the Garden of Eden to the final days of this world when we will be ushered into the full presence of the Holy One.
For now we see through a glass darkly. We still have to contend with the flesh, the world and the devil. We are to set these things aside and love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our strength, with everything that we are.
God loves us and we are called to love Him. God is Lord and we are His bondservants.
In verse 4 of Galatians 5 Paul told the churches he was addressing that they were severed from Christ if they were circumcised. He explained that he meant that if they were seeking to be justified by the law they had fallen from grace.
Paul quotes Jesus in verse 9 as he says, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Jesus had told his disciples to beware of the leaven, or as they came to understand, the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. They were to listen to them as they taught the word of God, but they were not to live as the Scribes and Pharisees lived.
Paul is calling us and his followers to devote themselves to following Christ. Paul and Our Lord call us to put our trust in God.
I heard on K-Love recently that everything that is happening in our lives is being used by God to help us to grow in our faith; to increase our trust in God. I believe that is true.
We are called to live as if we are loved by God. We are to go confidently into the world taking the message of God's love with us. We do not need to listen to the condemning messages that the enemy of our souls would have us believe. When God answers our prayers, saying yes, no, or not at this time we are to trust Him and believe the answer He gives is the best answer for us.
WE are to put our faith in God and when HE tells us to tithe, we should obey because He promises to bless us when we do. WE can put our faith in what He has promised.
When He tells us not to forsake the gathering together of the saints, we must believe that this is what is best for us. When He tells us to take the gospel message to the world, we find ourselves going because we trust Him to lead us and to take that message and build His church through our efforts.
We obey Him. By the laws that HE gave us we come to know Him. We come to recognize the difference between the messages from Him and the messages from our enemies: the flesh, the world and the devil. The law is our tutor that leads us to Christ.
If you are putting your faith in your ability to keep the law you will be disappointed. We were never intended to keep the law on our own. The Law is only truly effective as we listen to God walk with Him.
If you are listening to the messages of condemnation that come from the flesh, the world, or the devil, you must turn to God and allow His love to wash over you. You must put your faith in God's love, in His offer of forgiveness that was purchased for you on the cross of Calvary by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We were created to freely follow God. We were created to glorify Him by freely choosing to trust Him and obey Him. He does not just give us a set of rules to follow. He gives His presence in our lives. He gives His Spirit to lead us, and to help us understand the Word of God that He has preserved down through the ages.
We can walk in freedom instead of slavery because in Christ we are set free from the fear of God's wrath, by the offer of his love and grace.
Are you living in a relationship with God?
Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe that He is in you to lead you and be the Lord of your life?
God loves me. This is our statement of faith. This is our declaration of independence. God loves me and it is a good thing that He is my Lord and I will freely choose to serve Him.
Have you made your declaration of independence? Are you trusting God to love you, to forgive you, and to lead you?
If not, make today your independence day and commit yourself to following God.