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A Freedom-filled

Life in Christ
“It is for freedom…”
 “It is for freedom that Christ has set
us free. Stand firm, then, and do not
let yourselves be burdened again by a
yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
 Does this sound like it was written by
someone who had been shipwrecked,
publicly flogged, imprisoned, slandered,
maligned by people he converted, and
deserted by friends?
 “Free” probably isn’t the first word that
comes to mind.
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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the need to justify himself to his critics.

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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the need to hide his dealings and motives from
God or man.

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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the harsh realities of life. (Free, but not
exempt!)

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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the harsh realities of life.
 To throw himself in utter dependence upon God.

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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the harsh realities of life.
 To throw himself in utter dependence upon God.

 To admit he was weak and inadequate for the job he

was called to do.

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Just Like Us
 Yet Paul was just like us.
 When he came to Christ, he was made free.
 Is that “freedom from” or “freedom to”?
 It’s a little of both:
 From the harsh realities of life.
 To throw himself in utter dependence upon God.

 To admit he was weak and inadequate for the job he

was called to do.


 To relinquish his freedom in many things.

 It also means a few other things we’ll discuss


during the course of this lesson.
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Freedom in Christ
 Let's look for just a moment or two at the
scriptural presentation of freedom in
Christ.
 As believers, we are free in Christ. We
"have been called unto liberty," and
we are warned, even commanded, not to
give that up.
 We are to "stand fast" in it. It is
important to the Lord that we do not give
that up.
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Freedom in Christ
 We start with the passage in Galatians 5,
because it emphasizes the importance of
the liberty that Christ has given to us.
 In addition to what Paul said in Galatians
5:1 which we read previously, he also
added this in verse 13:
 “For you, brethren, were called for
freedom; only use not your freedom
for an occasion to the flesh, but
through love be servants one to
another.” 10
Freedom in Christ
 We could also point to the book of
Colossians, where the Lord tells us, "Let
no man therefore judge you in meat
or in drink or in respect of an holy
day, or of the new moon, or of
sabbath days, which are a shadow of
things to come, but the body is of
Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17).
 Again, we have a positive command not
to give up our liberty in Christ.
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Freedom in Christ
 And so we have what we'll call the first
principle of liberty in Christ: Freedom in
Christ is not optional: we are
commanded not to give it up. We do
not have the option to give up our
freedom in Christ: Galatians makes it clear
that "we have been called unto
liberty." It is not something that we can
choose not to have. Christ has made us
free, and to abdicate that freedom is really
to deny the work He has done for us. 12
Freedom in Christ
 Now let's make it clear that in the early
days of Christianity, there was a lot of
opposition to the teachings of the Apostles
by Judaizers: converted Jews who taught
that Christianity was incomplete without
respect to the Old Testament Law. The
entire thrust of Galatians is on this point.
Christianity needs nothing of the Old
Testament Law. There is no need for that
law either to accomplish salvation or to act
as a rule of life for the believer. 13
Freedom in Christ
 This is in itself an interesting study, but for
the sake of time and space, we'll
summarize the Apostle's argument as this:
God called Abraham and made promises
to him. It is an unrighteous thing to make
a promise and then append conditions to it
later, and so when the Law was given
around 400 years later, it could not have
been said to be a condition on which the
fulfillment of promises would rest.
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Freedom in Christ
 In fact, he argues, the Law was given not
to bring salvation, but to demonstrate the
need of a Savior.
 Further, the Galatians (who were never
under the Law at all, being Gentiles) were
actually moving backwards from the
truth in teaching and practicing the Law,
since Christ came to complete the Law.
To teach the Law, he concludes, is really
to deny the Lord Jesus Christ, by denying
the sufficiency of His work. 15
Freedom in Christ
 So it is against this backdrop of the Old
Testament Law that the commandment to
"stand fast" in our liberty was given.
And don't make any mistake: it is
definitely a commandment!
 But in Colossians we have a similar
commandment given (Colossians 2:16-
17), and in Colossians, the issue is not the
Old Testament Law, but "voluntary
humility, and worshipping of angels",
and "will worship, and humility and
neglecting of the body" (Colossians
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Freedom in Christ
 The teachings in Colossae may well have
included Judaism, or at least come aspects
of it, but that is not something that we are
actually told in Scripture.
 And so the Colossians are also warned
against giving up their freedom in Christ,
only they are not specifically warned
against the Old Testament Law like the
Galatians. Therefore, we can begin to look
at freedom in Christ in more general terms
than "freedom vs. the Mosiac Law". 17
Freedom in Christ
 Now the second principle that we'll see in
regard to our freedom in Christ is found in
Romans 14.
 Romans 14 is a great "proof text" that is
used on this whole question.
 It should give us a few thoughts in the
question of our liberty in Christ.
 The second principle we'll bring out is
found in verse 3:
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Freedom in Christ
 Let not him that eats despise him
that eats not, and let not him that
eats not judge him that eats: for
God has received him…. Let every
man be fully persuaded in his own
mind…. I know and, am persuaded
by the Lord Jesus, that there is
nothing unclean of itself: but to him
that esteems any thing to be
unclean, to him it is unclean.
(Romans 14: 3, 5, 14) 19
Freedom in Christ
 There are a number of issues that we need
to deal with here, and we'll try to hit them
sequentially.
 The first we need to hit is introduced in
verse 1: a believer that does not feel right
doing certain things. This believer is
called "weak in faith" in verse 1. Let's
be careful to say that this is not
necessarily a "new Christian", but is a
believer whose faith is weak (literally,
whose faith is "sick" or "defective"). 20
Freedom in Christ
 So the second principle is that there are
believers who have defective faith
and cannot in conscience practice the
same things that another believer can
do.
 These believers are characterized by a
"sick" or "defective" faith which is too
weak to allow them to enjoy the freedom
they have in Christ. However, there is a
directive given for this circumstance in the
verses quoted above. 21
Freedom in Christ
 First, the weak brother is not to judge
those who are not weak in the same way
(notice that the issue is not presented in
Scripture as "weak vs. strong": the idea is
that the weakness is an exceptional case),
and the rest of us are not to despise the
weak. We say "in the same way" because
the weak brother is gifted of the Lord and
may be powerfully used in another role.
But the issue here is freedom, not
service. 22
Freedom in Christ
 So in regard to Christian liberty, we know
we are free. This is the clear teaching of
the New Testament, and no Christian can
call it into question. However, the faith
part comes in when we are persuaded of
the truth; when we see that it intimately
involves us.
 I think the thrust of verse 3 is found in
verse 14: the one weak in faith is the one
who knows he is free, but his conscience
will not allow him to practice that freedom.
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Freedom in Christ
 This is not a state of Christian maturity:
this is not something to boast about. This
is a believer whose faith is failing him.
 So we have a dichotomy drawn up for us:
there is no excuse for a believer not to
know, but there is provision for the
believer who is not persuaded.
 We must walk gently and lovingly with
those believers.

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Freedom in Christ
 Which brings us to the third principle: that
having freedom and practicing
freedom are two separate things.
 If we are free to eat meat, then we are
equally free to not eat meat.
 If we are free to drink wine, then we are
free to not drink wine.
 If we are free to esteem a day, then we
are free to not esteem a day.
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Freedom in Christ
 And this is the most important point on
this whole issue of freedom in Christ: that
we are free to not practice our freedom,
just as we are free to practice it.
 This is seen in Romans 14:21: "It is good
neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine,
nor to do anything whereby your
brother stumbles, or is offended, or is
made weak." As believers in Christ we
have the freedom to not practice those
things that may cause a problem. 26
Freedom in Christ
 Two more short principles that follow from
the third principle: there are two valid
reasons to practice our freedom not to do
something. The first reason is that we
are to by love serve one another. This
is found in Romans 14:20-21 as well as in
Galatians 5:13.
 We have freedom to refrain from certain
practices and things that would cause
damage to the other believers around us.
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Freedom in Christ
 A variation of the theme is found in 1
Corinthians 8, where we do not eat food
sacrificed to idols, because it may destroy
our testimony to the unbelievers around us.
 The second valid reason not to practice our
freedom is that we are not to use our
liberty for an occasion to the flesh.

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Freedom in Christ
 There may be a brother who knows and is
persuaded that something is all right and
he is free in Christ to do it: but he finds
that that thing is an occasion to the flesh,
that he cannot be trusted in that thing.
 Then, he is free to not practice it.
 Once again, he may not give up his
freedom, but he is perfectly free to not do
that thing.

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Free!
 We are free because we’re forgiven.
 We are free to say “no” to legalism.
 We are free to say “no” to freedom.
 We are free from abusive emotions and
anxiety.
 We are free to do what we want to do.

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Free because we’re
forgiven
 “forgiven much” = “loves much”
“forgiven little” = “loves little”
 Does that make any sense?
 You mean just because I grew up with parents
who were Christians, just because I went to
church 3 times a week as a kid, just because I
never did drugs or ran around with the wrong
crowd – just because I didn’t have a
“conversion experience”, I don’t love Jesus as
much as someone who did have “the
experience”?
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Free because we’re
forgiven
 “forgiven much” = “loves much”
“forgiven little” = “loves little”
 Does that make any sense?
 “There is no difference, for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of
God, and are justified freely by His
grace through the redemption that
came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV)

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Free because we’re
forgiven
 “forgiven much” = “loves much”
“forgiven little” = “loves little”
 Does that make any sense?
 “…all have sinned and fall short…”
 Did you ever consider the fact that part of
God’s forgiving us is his trusting us?
 Isaiah
 Moses
 Peter

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 “Strict, literal adherence to the law or to a
particular code, as of religion or morality.” (The
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 “…literal adherence to the law…”
 “Keeping rules for rules’ sake.” (The Holman
Bible Dictionary)

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 “…literal adherence to the law…”
 “Keeping rules for rules’ sake.”
 Seeking justification by observing the law.
“We being Jews by nature, and not
sinners of the Gentiles, yet knowing that a
man is not justified by the works of the
law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even
we believed on Christ Jesus, that we
might be justified by faith in Christ, and
not by the works of the law: because by
the works of the law shall no flesh be
justified.” (Galatians 2:15-16) 36
Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 “…literal adherence to the law…”
 “Keeping rules for rules’ sake.”
 Seeking justification by observing the law.
 “An attitude of strict and rigid adherence to
Mosaic Law, expressed in Scripture as reliance
on observing the law…” (Revell Bible Dictionary)

 …as a means to salvation, (Romans 10:2-3)


 …as a means of spiritual growth, (Galatians 3:1-3)

 …as a criterion of acceptance in the Christian

community, (Galatians 2:11-14)


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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 “Legalism is an unhealthy stress – an emphasis
– rather than a carefully defined position with a
given number of creedal points.” Jim McGuiggan

 No one teaches that we will get to Heaven


based on strict law-keeping.
 Yet by our actions we sometimes practice legalism
without preaching it.
 It’s easy to do – our own U.S. legal system is based

on strict law-keeping, so that’s what we see day-to-


day.
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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 So, other than the fact that it’s not a
scriptural concept, what’s wrong with
legalism?

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 So…what’s wrong with legalism?
 Legalism nurtures the view that God’s kindness
toward people hinges on their worthiness,
while the gospel insists that God’s kindness
hinges on His own gracious character, despite
the fact that humans are unworthy.

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 So…what’s wrong with legalism?
 Emphasizes our own worthiness
 Legalism abuses and perverts God’s law by
exalting it to central place. In other words,
God is taken away and replaced by a code.

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 What is legalism?
 So…what’s wrong with legalism?
 Emphasizes our own worthiness
 Exalts law over God
 Legalists are characterized by their devotion to
a God who has a profound difficulty in
forgiving, rather than a God who is patient
with us and anxious to forgive. (Micah 7:18; 2
Peter 3:9)

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 “Who is a God like unto You, that
pardons iniquity, and passes over the
transgression of the remnant of His
heritage? He retains not His anger
forever, because He delights in
lovingkindness.” (Micah 7:18)

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Free to say “no” to
legalism
 “The Lord is not slack concerning His
promise, as some count slackness;
but is longsuffering to you-ward, not
wishing that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance.”
(2 Peter 3:9)

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Free to say “no” to
freedom
 The same man of God who wrote, “where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”
also wrote, “I make myself a slave to
everyone” and “It is better not to eat meat
or drink wine or to do anything else that
will cause your brother to fall.”
 Just because we have a freedom doesn’t
mean we have to exercise it.

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Free from abusive emotions
and anxiety
 This is distinctly different from being “free
from abuse”.
 “I’ll never be good enough to go to Heaven.”
 “I can’t talk to my friends about Christ because
they know how I really am and they’ll think I’m a
hypocrite.”
 “After what I’ve done, I just can’t go to church this
week. I don’t know when I’ll be able to show my
face there again!”
 “I’m so frustrated; every time I pray for
forgiveness for __________, I go and do it again!”

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Free from abusive emotions
and anxiety
 This is distinctly different from being “free
from abuse.”
 Five times in Luke 12 Jesus says, “do not
be afraid.”
 And this is in the same chapter that He tells
His disciples that men will plot to kill them, and
will drag them before the “synagogues,
rulers, and authorities.”
 He also tells them “your Father has been
pleased to give you the kingdom.”

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Free to do what we want
to do
 The God Who gave Adam and Eve the
choice of whether or not to eat the
forbidden fruit gives us the same choice.
 BUT Adam and Eve paid the price for their
disobedience.
 We can choose to be disobedient as well.
Some of our sins will have physical
consequences, even though we may have
repented and received forgiveness.

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Free to do what we want
to do
 The God Who gave Adam and Eve the
choice of whether or not to eat the
forbidden fruit gives us the same choice.
 We can also do whatever we want to do,
and as Christians, we should do what we
want to do.
 Paul wrote to the Romans that he wasn’t
always able to do that. (Romans 7:15-21)

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Romans 7:15-21
 “For that which I do I know not: for
not what I would, that do I practice;
but what I hate, that I do.
 “But if what I would not, that I do, I
consent unto the law that it is good.
So now it is no more I that do it, but
sin which dwells in me.

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Romans 7:15-21
 “For I know that in me, that is, in my
flesh, dwells no good thing: for to will is
present with me, but to do that which is
good is not.
 “For the good which I would I do not: but
the evil which I would not, that I
practice.
 “But if what I would not, that I do, it is
no more I that do it, but sin which dwells
in me.
 “I find then the law, that, to me who
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would do good, evil is present.”


“It is for freedom…”

“It is for freedom that


Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do
not let yourselves be
burdened again by a
yoke of slavery.”
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