Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, January 3 2021
  • Because Of Your Love
  • Turn to Galatians 5
    This morning's message is more like an introduction for a theme, if you will for the next several months if not for the year. And that theme this freedom. One of the most basic human desires is freedom. We want to be free of … debt, pain, restrictions, from sin, evil … whatever. Freedom is a part of God’s design - we were never meant to live in captivity, spiritually, emotionally …. Yet, captivity, in its various forms is a very real part of our world. And even in the Church, captivity, in its various forms is a very real issue many Christians struggle with.
    I'll tell you right now that Jesus wants you free.
    As I reflect upon the last few years, I have experienced several freeing moments. And interestingly, very few of them had anything to do with sin but had much to do with either a false belief or believing a lie. To me, there is a difference - it’s subtle - but different. And so I am finding the promise that the truth will set you free - is true. The more truth I can believe about God, about self, others, and life, the freer I become.
    Jesus wants us free - free from captivity in its various forms.
    Galatians 5:1 ESV
    For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    There are 4 truths evident in that verse. All I want to do is expose them. Not going to talk about them in detail this morning - just setting the stage for the next several months.
    1) God desires our freedom.
    2) God, through Christ secured our freedom.
    He took action to set us free. Therefore,
    3) Freedom is possible.
    It is a reality. However,
    4) We have the propensity to return to captivity.
    That’s why it says stand firm, don’t go back. Or in some cases, never fully enjoy freedom.
    Hold onto those truths over the next several months. Before we continue, we need to know the context of Galatians 5. In the opening statement, Paul wrote,
    Galatians 1:6–7 ESV
    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
    False teachers infiltrated the Church. We don't know the extent of the heretical teachings that were being propagated in the churches, but we do know that one of the issues was this false doctrine of what I call, “Jesus plus.” This doctrine said if you want to be saved, yes you must believe in Jesus and in his death and resurrection, but you must also be circumcised. That was a huge part of the Old Testament covenant, therefore we cannot leave that behind. So, they were teaching “Jesus plus something else” equals salvation - and that is heresy.
    Scripture is clear that salvation is by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. The work of Christ on the cross is sufficient to secure our absolute and total salvation. So, this letter is addressing at least that issue. There is no such doctrine as “Jesus plus.”
    Now, just to be clear, our salvation, which is being rescued from the consequences of our sin (the consequences being death in its various forms) and being saved to eternal life is solely dependent upon the work of Christ and believing in His work. Our salvation has nothing to do with behavior, either good or bad. So if you think being a good person and doing good things will earn you a place in heaven, you are sadly mistaken. Our salvation has nothing to do with good or bad behavior but has everything to do with believing in Jesus Christ and His work He accomplished on the cross, that through His blood, death He atoned for our sin and through His resurrection He secured our eternal life. Salvation is through faith alone.
    That’s the primary context of Galatians - that through Jesus Christ we can be free - free from sin, free from the power of sin, freedom from death. Don’t lose that. However, here's my question - is the promise of freedom bigger, more expansive than what we often believe? Again, in my own journey and in my dealings with others, I believe that is the case. Too many Christians have a small and limited view of the freedom that Christ offers.
    In Christ, what are you able to be free from?
    Don’t say everything. I think many have a small and limited view of freedom, and I’ll tell you why - because
    Freedom takes work!
    Sometimes hard, slow and painful work. For example, it’s estimated that 60-80% of human ailments in the Western world can be resolved through diet, exercise and other healthy habits.
    Hebrews 12:1 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
    So this tells me
    Two things that can hinder us from running the race God has laid out for us: sin and anything else that God says, “Don’t carry that.”
    I think there are a lot of Christians still in some form of captivity because they are carrying things we were never meant to carry. Again looking at my own life, I have found that I have carried either a false belief or a lie that has hindered my race.
    Whose responsibility is it to lay aside these two things? Ours. The death and resurrection of Christ took care of the sin issue. Jesus paid it all. In Christ we are no longer guilty before God and we no longer need to live under the power of sin. However, I have a responsibility, through the power of Christ to lay aside sins and anything else that God says, “Don’t carry that.”
    When does Jesus want us free? When we get to heaven? No. Now in this life! Why? Because we’re in the race now. Throw these things off now.
    John 10:10 ESV
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    It’s hard to have abundant life when we’re weighed down by sin and anything else that God does not want us to carry.
    2 Corinthians 3:16–17 ESV
    But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    If you are a believer in Christ and the Spirit of God is living in you - freedom is available.
    But what does freedom really mean? Let's get this out of the way - full freedom in Christ doesn't mean that we're free from everything. For example, we are finite humans. We’re not free from things that happen to finite humans. Humans age - hair turns white, things get stiff, things sag. Accidents happen, mistakes happen etc. etc. - there are things in this life that we are not free from - we need to understand that.
    So, we need a good Biblical understanding of freedom. How do we define freedom? Now, if everyone comes up with their own definition, what do we have? Anarchy, chaos (our world - if that’s true for you …). Hostile to God’s Kingdom … evil and wickedness and fear flourish - no peace, safety ….
    So, doing whatever we want NEVER brings real freedom, so that can’t be the definition. Freedom must be tempered by Truth. Real freedom has boundaries. In John 8, Jesus said if you know the truth, the truth will do what? Set you free. So, real freedom must be tempered by truth. If you want to be free from speeding tickets what’s the truth? Don’t speed.
    Galatians 5:13 ESV
    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
    Don’t use your freedom to do whatever you want. Real freedom must be within the boundaries of truth.
    John 17:17 ESV
    Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
    I think we could push this a little and still be biblically sound. “Sanctify them or set them free in the truth.” There is freedom in the truth - God’s absolute, Divine Truth. Generally speaking, the truth about what God has revealed about Himself, us, life etc.
    Still need to answer the question - how do we define freedom? Next week.
    CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK
    Hebrews 12:1 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
    I challenge you to spend time with the Lord this week and ask two things:
    1) Lord, are there any weights or sins that I need to lay aside so I can run the race?
    2) Lord, what would a fully free me look like?
    Freedom takes work. Sometimes hard, slow and painful work.
    One of my freedom moments - Jr. High ??????
      • Galatians 5:1NLT

      • Galatians 1:6–7ESV

      • Hebrews 12:1ESV

      • John 10:10NLT

      • 2 Corinthians 3:16–17ESV

      • Galatians 5:13NLT

      • John 17:17ESV

      • Hebrews 12:1ESV

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