CALLED TO FREEDOM
Scripture: Galatians 5 Princeton Christian Church 04 July 2021
In the day in which we live, we need to know where our freedom comes from and how to use it properly.
We live in a great country. American citizens have always enjoyed a level of freedom not found in too many places in the world or throughout history.
Today we are celebrating our nation’s independence. The 245th birthday. We are blessed that we get to live it in the United States!
Our Founding Fathers envisioned a country where freedom would reign supreme. The founders of this great nation carved out a plan, a vision. And for this vision, they fought, and many died for the concept in the beginning and countless others have fought and died over these past 245 years to ensure that we retain those freedoms...
Our Constitution guarantees all citizens these freedoms: the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press, the freedom to practice religion, the right to protect oneself, among many other freedoms.
It is significant that Christianity played a role in the establishment and foundation of this nation. John Adams as quoted in a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated June 28, 1813, concerning the role Christianity played in the formation of our nation:
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. Just a note here: there are those in our country today who do not believe that Christian principles are eternal and immutable.
Today we are going to talk about freedom and what it means to be free.
We will be looking in Galatians 5 beginning in verse 1 and see that Paul builds on that first statement throughout the remainder of the chapter.
The overall context of the book of Galatians is Paul trying to convince the people not to be sucked into following the Judaizers. These were Jews who became Christians who then would try to convince the Gentiles who wanted to be or had already, become Christians that they needed to embrace and follow the Law of Moses and as a part of that, They should become circumcised.
Paul fought hard against this false teaching. In Chapter 5, he equates falling for what the Judaizers were teaching to rejecting Jesus. He tells the readers that they will lose what they have in Christ by adopting the old ways.
Now, let’s step back into the 1776 era for a moment. I am sure in our war for Independence that not all citizens of the 13 colonies were for the fight. It is estimated that as many as one-third of the Colonists were Loyalists or Tories. These were folks who remained loyal to the British Crown and did not want freedom from England. In other words, they did not want to cut ties with the old ways.
Even after the war some of these Loyalists wanted things to go back the way they were. They were not much different than the Israelites who Moses led out of slavery in Egypt. There were many who wanted to go back into slavery.
So, Paul is fighting hard to get the folks to realize that going back is no way to live0.
Hear what he says in Galatians 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.
I. Let’s see first of all what does Paul means when he says “For Freedom?”
When you think of the word FREEDOM, what comes to mind? I would imagine over time, how we define freedom changes a bit.
When we were in our teens, we thought freedom was all about doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Many of us had the impression that was what being an adult allowed us to do. I think most of us found out that was not exactly what it meant when Mom and Dad had their say in the matter.
The dictionary defines freedom as, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
A more Biblical definition would be personal freedom from servitude, confinement, or oppression. Within the Biblical definition of FREEDOM, you will find the word LIBERTY used a lot.
We define Liberty as the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.
In the Biblical sense, FREEDOM is more like what we would define LIBERTY. The word in the original text can be defined either way.
The phrase “for freedom” was extremely well known, found in numerous documents for the freeing of slaves in Biblical times. The procedure called for a slave to save up enough money, and then to have the local temple use that money to buy him from the owner. The slave was then the property of the god, and no man could lay any claim against him. On the wall of the temple, it would be recorded that "for freedom" the god had purchased the slave. (NIV College Press Commentary Series- Galatians and Ephesians)
The Judaizers were trying to get those in Christ to go back to the restraints of the Law of Moses.
When our country was formed, the Founders wanted to be free from the restraints of England. They did not want taxation without representation. They wanted the freedom to succeed. The Founders also understood our system of Government would rise or fall based on the morality of the people.
John Adams again stated…”We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
A side note here: There is a whole commentary that could be written about our system of government in 2021 regarding the morality of the people.
The freedom we have as one who is in Christ is more than the freedom of speech; it is freedom from sin and death.
We have the freedom to live as Jesus has called us to live! The other thing we need to understand concerning freedom is “Freedom is not the absence of something; it is the Presence of Someone” (Bob Hamp, in his article “Fear and Lust,” July 27, 2012,
If we are without Jesus, we are not free. We are slaves to sin. We are doomed to separation from God. Death will have victory over us.
Let’s look at verse 1 again. Galatians 5:1 –“For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
II. Who gives us true freedom?
One thing we need to understand as Christians is where our freedom is derived. It does not come from the Government; it comes from Jesus! The next four words in verse one says…
Christ set us free. And our Founders understood this, and they knew the government was not the giver of Freedom, but rather the protector of the freedoms God has given to us in Christ.
John Quincy Adams stated: “In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”
Paul says it simply and makes it very clear to us as he reminds us that Jesus set us free in Him.
So, then the question we face is this: what are we to do with our freedom?
Paul tells us in verses 5-6 that we are all equal in Christ and what matters is faith working through love.
Our freedom in Christ should be used to love others and look out for what is best for others. We are not called to be selfish.
We are also not to abuse our freedom. Galatians 5:13–14 says: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only don’t turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
There is where we see the theme of love in our freedom. Our freedom is not handed out to us merely for our self-gratification, it to be used to serve others.
Benjamin Franklin said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. (Source: Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 297, April 17, 1787.)
Why would Ben Franklin say this? It is because folks who are unrestrained will bite and devour one another. I think maybe Ben had read Galatians 5:15 which says: “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
This is likely one of the major problems in our country today. Many folks are just looking out for number one. We have many social programs that were put in place with good intentions, only to become filled with fraud and abuse.
People who are in Christ would never do such things. A REAL Christian nation would not face such issues. A government should only protect the freedoms we have in Christ, once we see Him as the giver of freedom, what they give, they can take away.
Let’s look at one final observation.
III. Maintaining freedom requires a strong backbone.
Verse 1 tells us to Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.
We are at war personally and as a nation. As a nation, we are in a cultural war, a war that will not be won unless we win the personal battle. We are at war over many of the social issues, but those issues are a symptom of a deeper problem.
People are enslaved by sin, or they are allowing themselves to be pulled back into sin. We have to have a strong backbone to be able to stay free; there are a significant number of things trying to drag us back to where we were. The Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt when things looked tough because we find comfort in what we know.
Paul encourages us in Galatians 5:16–18: “But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desires 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. But, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
We cannot quit the fight, and we must stand firm in our faith no matter what the circumstances. The founders of this great nation overcame overwhelming obstacles as they fought for this nation to stand for freedom.
We cannot let our freedom in Christ be taken away by allowing ourselves to go back to the old self, and we need to press forward and trust God. As a nation, Christians cannot back down, and we must defend and stand firm for what we believe in.
In today’s America people are easily offended for a multitude of reasons. But, it cannot be OK to try to silence our voice for Christ in the public arena just because our voice will offend those enslaved to sin.
A word of caution, however: For our voices to be heard, our life has to reflect the God we serve. And in truth, it does. Our voices will never overcome our actions!
It should be no surprise to us that in all this talk about not going back to their days without Christ, this significant passage is included in Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23, that we know as the fruit if the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
Notice there is no law against such things. Laws are meant to restrain evil. The fruit of the Spirit is a fruit that must be prevalent in our lives if we ever want our voices to be taken seriously for Jesus.
We so often hear and say that freedom is not free. Someone paid the price. To those who have died defending our freedoms, and their loved ones who gave them up for the cause of freedom, we owe you a debt we can never repay. All we can do is honor them by being the kind of good citizens by upholding the principles for which they died.
There is One, who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Jesus Christ laid down His life to purchase our freedom from sin and death. It is crucial that we, as Christians, where your freedom comes from. Do that by standing firm for Jesus and make sure you use the freedom you have in Christ to be a blessing to others!