Dear Friends,

What is holding you in bondage?  Are you truly free or are you held in bondage to Fear, Pride, Self-image, Worry, Relationships, Money, Sex, Drugs or Alcohol, Lying, Unforgiveness, Bitterness, Anger, Jealousy, or Envy?

Being a Christian is not enough!  First of all, there are many people who call themselves Christians, but do not truly have a relationship with God.

Galatians 4:9a (NLT) “So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you).”

Matthew 7:23a (NLT) “But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me’…”

Secondly, there are Christians who are truly saved, but are not living in FREEDOM.

ARE YOU: Saved but still enslaved?

In the book of Galatians, Paul teaches us about how to overcome bondage.  This book was written shortly after the Jerusalem Counsel determined that Gentile Christians were not obligated to be circumcised and live a kosher lifestyle.  But there were false teachers who were infiltrating the churches in Galatia and teaching that in order to be saved you must keep the Law of Moses.  (Note: in my message from Sunday, June 23rd I will develop what exactly Paul means by “The Law.”  This is a complex subject and needs more explanation.)

Paul was righteously angry over the false teaching that was stealing the freedom Christians have in Christ.  Anyone who ever tells you that in order to be saved you have to trust in Jesus PLUS anything (i.e. be baptized; keep certain rules, etc.) is misrepresenting the Gospel.

Here is a little formula that will help you understand legalism:

Christ + Anything = Nothing

Christ + Nothing = Everything

Paul goes on to explain that:

  1. Legalists Rob You of Freedom

 Galatians 2:4 (NLT) Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations.

  1. You Are Saved by Faith So Live by Faith

 Galatians 2:20 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

  1. Human Effort Does Not Bring Freedom

 Galatians 3:3 (NLT) “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

  1. KEEPING RULES DOES NOT BRING LIFE

 Galatians 3:11–12 (NLT) So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”

  1. Trying to Earn Favor DOES NOT BRING FREEDOM

Galatians 4:10, 5:3 (NLT) You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years….I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses.

So how do we experience real freedom?  There are two components to the answer to this question:

  1. FREEDOM FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN—In order to have freedom, we first must be set free from the penalty of sin.  Paul describes this as the “curse of the law.”  This comes through saving faith in the substitutionary sacrifice provided by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Galatians 3:13a (NLT) But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.

  1. FREEDOM FROM THE POWER OF SIN—But the second component to be truly free is to be set free from the power of sin.  We do that also by faith!  Let me explain…

a)  We are Called to Live in Freedom—That is, freedom from the power of sin.  We aren’t to use our freedom to excuse sinful behavior.

Galatians 5:13 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

b)  We Are Called to be led by the Holy Spirit—The Holy Spirit will always lead us to live righteously.

Galatians 5:18 (ESV) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

c)  We are Given the Power to Live Victoriously—God doesn’t leave us to our own strength to live righteously.  He provides the internal, supernatural power to give us freedom from the power of sin.  The Holy Spirit will set us free from bondage!  God does not want us to be saved, but still enslaved.  So He has provided the power to live truly free…victoriously!

 Galatians 5:22–23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Here is one of the most important aspects of this truth:  when we are under the power of the Holy Spirit we will be experiencing all 9 aspects of “the fruit of the Spirit” simultaneously!  In other words, when the Holy Spirit is in control of your life, you will be experiencing love AND joy AND peace AND patience AND kindness AND goodness AND faithfulness AND gentleness AND self-control…all at the same time!!!  This is incredibly “good news!”

Our only responsibility is to get ourselves under His power…and He even prompts us to do that!!  You will objectively know whether or not you are under His control at any moment of time determined by whether or not you are experiencing the fruit of the Spirit.  Did you understand what I just said?

d)  We Have been set free to obey the Law of Christ—The Law of Christ is the Law of Moses for Jews and Gentiles alike.

Galatians 6:2 (NLT) Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Do you notice that this changes the focus on our lives?  Living in freedom through the Law of Christ changes our focus on others instead of ourselves.  It sets us free from bondage including:

Fear, Pride, Improper Self-image, Worry, Relationships, Money, Sex, Drugs or Alcohol, Lying, Unforgiveness, Bitterness, Anger, Jealousy, and Envy!

What if we as Christians truly lived in the freedom our Lord has provided for us?

Onward in freedom,

Pastor Gary