Sermon July 05, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1452

July 5, 2020 Galatians 5:1, 13-26

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“Set Free in Christ”

 

1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 

13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

 

  • Free Indeed

 

The one true freedom we have is in Jesus Christ. If you remember nothing else today, make it freedom in Christ alone. This weekend we acknowledge and celebrate our freedom as citizens of our nation. We acknowledge the cost of keeping our republic free and we give thanks to God for the blessings of freedom. We remember that the freedom we have in our country is based on the same freedom given us in Christ as a nation built upon Judeo-Christian worldview. But, as with anything these days, people refuse freedom and settle for lies and false narratives that lead people to sin and death. As the Church, we cannot forget that our one true freedom is in Jesus Christ. Jesus is why we are free and why we will always be free no matter what may occur in the realm of politics and power. We are free in Jesus’ Word and in Jesus Himself. Jesus tells us this truth in John’s gospel.

 

John 8.31-36 31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

 

We are set free when we abide in the Words of Christ, the Words of the Bible, for it is truth. Truth is freedom. Lies are enslavement. The Son of God sets us free by His Truth. We are set free from bondage to sin, to addiction, to the media, to advertisers, to sales pitches. We are set free from the lunacy of far left thinkers, anti-Christ losers, fear of mob mentality, hopelessness of humanist philosophies, and everything else the devil wants to throw at us. We are free to love God and neighbor. Free to speak truth to power and to speak truth to lies.

We know that the ways of the world are opposed to truth. The ways of the world want to follow after darkness and evil. We have worked at making a republic that followed truth in every way possible. But we see that work eroding under the lies of the world. In today's toxic climate of political power and false movements, it appears that everything is up for critique and even the rewriting of history. Facts hold no credibility with various sectors of society and political powers. How one feels about something is the new philosophical lie that is taken as truth. Rational thought is replaced with itching ears only wanting to hear what the world has to say.

We face many issues that seek to destroy the fabric of a free country, the lies include abortion as some form of health care, same sex marriage as marriage, gender confusion, and the lie of systematic racism. None of these narratives are the truth. The truth is in the sanctity of life, marriage between and man and a woman, male and female genders, and character over race. The Scriptures affirm that life is a gift and that life begins at conception. God is at work knitting that life together in the womb from the very beginning. The Scriptures affirm that marriage is designed by God to be between a man and a woman, male and female he created them. This understanding of marriage has been the norm for every civilization until the US Supreme court saw fit to confront God's definition by allowing same sex marriage. The Scriptures affirm that we are created male and female. Gender is a part of the created order and to challenge that truth, even if mandated by government, does not make it true. The race card is pulled out all the time now especially since new elections are coming up soon. But the truth told us through the Scripture is that there are no distinctions between us for we are one in Christ. The only distinction is believer or non-believer.

All of these issues, and any other lies, have come at the expense of biblical authority. The world seeks to strip biblical authority in cultural issues. Few politicians give much consideration to scriptural truth or they try to use the Bible in their horribly shallow understanding of it. When the Bible is abandoned by a nation, there is not much hope left for that nation. But, we are still here, the Church is still here, and the Church is here to stay. We will always have freedom to exercise our faith, not just because the constitution gives that freedom, not just because it has been traditional to our national identity, but because we are always free in Christ. Nothing and no one will be able to take away the freedom we have in Jesus Christ.

 

  • Stand Firm

 

Paul tells us to stand firm in our God given freedom. Christians have true freedom. (Galatians 5:1) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

One of our struggles is how to stand firm in our freedom. Will we have the courage to tell the truth in the midst of all the lies? Will we be willing to suffer for the sake of God’s truth?

For over 200 years Christians and Jews (and other faith traditions) have enjoyed the freedom offered through our US Constitution. It truly is a great gift to be able to exercise our faith as we have for generations, but in reality that is a somewhat superficial level of freedom compared to the freedom we have in Christ. Freedom in Christ goes much deeper than the freedom to worship. Freedom in Christ makes us free even if we have no freedoms from national laws. Christians are free in any situation where freedom does not look like freedom. Civil freedoms may come and go but freedom in Christ is eternal. We are free if jailed, free if told not to worship, free if criticized, free when ridiculed, free if persecuted, free indeed. What we must remember is to not submit to any yoke of slavery, any worldly philosophy, or false narrative. To stand firm is to resist the wiles of the devil. It is to be courageous about telling Truth to liars and nonsensical people. To stand firm is to continue to trust that God’s Word is truth.

 

  • Walk in the Spirit

 

We are taught through the truth of Scripture to live free and stand firm by walking in the Spirit.

 

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

Everything we see happening in the world that is boggling our minds is nothing more than the works of the flesh. It is simply a desire of the flesh to riot and loot, to erase history, to attack other people for no reason. It is a desire of the flesh to believe abortion is good, that same sex relationships are God given, or that you can change from being a man to being a woman. It is a desire of the flesh to keep racism alive when we have come so far in this nation.

But we know better by walking in God’s Holy Spirit. And when we walk in the Spirit we will be seen as a people who are against all those desires of the flesh. The world will hate us because it already hates Jesus. There is no getting around that. There are plenty of so called churches and denominations that are liked by the world and it is precisely because those churches and denominations have left the Word of God and accepted the ways of the world as truth. But those who walk by the Spirit of Truth will not fall victim to the desires of the flesh.

 

  • Set Free in Christ

 

No matter the context, we are always free. Galatians 5 is particularly about freedom to live in a particular way. We are called to live in love, set free to love in Christ, which we can do in any context. We are to live in the Spirit, which we can do in any context. We are called to bring light to darkness, to call out sin for what it is, that is, to tell the truth. Truth is often offensive and, in our world today, the lie is that being offensive is a greater sin. Jesus offended and still offends a lot of people. We live free because we live in Christ and in Christ we are set free to be truth tellers.

The command to love is all over the Bible. Today we read Paul's letter to the Galatians,

13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We know freedom by living in love and service. We know freedom by knowing Jesus Christ and knowing His Word. Paul also calls us to live by the Spirit which includes love and lots of other characteristics,

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Freedom in Christ redefines what it means to be free. We are not free to indulge the flesh, but free to bear the fruit of the Spirit in loving and serving one another. The world would do well to come to the Savior and learn what it means to truly live in love and joy and peace.

With all that we see going on in our nation, it can become easy for us to be discouraged. Paul goes on in Galatians to encourage us to not grow weary of living in this freedom. We cannot lose heart. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9). Set free in Christ means never giving up, never giving up on faith, God's faith and our own. Yes, there are lots of bad things going on, bad for the church and for Christians in general, but our hope is in the Lord and our freedom is also in the Lord. We cannot and we will not give up, for in Christ we have the victory already. As we celebrate freedom in Christ and freedom in our nation, let us also pray for our nation, for leaders, for elections, for freedoms, and pray for those who do not believe that they might be free in Christ in believing. And finally, pray for the church and for all believers that we might walk in God’s Spirit. Amen.

 
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