Galatians 5.1-15—Freedom in Christ:
Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Yet, our tendency is to make a new formula, a new equation:
Jesus + ________= Everything/What I need/Something better.
The truth is we don’t need to add anything to the gospel. It is enough. It is sufficient. It is complete. Jesus doesn’t need us to change what he has already done. Jesus doesn’t need our help in doing his work. His work is finished, it is complete, it is already done; he said it himself, “it is finished.” So, we can rest in that truth, and we can find peace and freedom in that truth.
What does Paul tell us to do? How do we go after this ‘freedom in Christ?’
1. Stand Firm…
Not a ‘stubborn’ standing firm, like I’m going to dig my heels in and not be moved. Standing firm, not submitting to the ways of this world, but rather submitting to the ways of God.
(look at other verses using Stand Firm..) Ephesians 6.14, put on the armor of God; Exodus 14.13, see the deliverance of the LORD; 1 Corinthians 15.58, give yourself to God’s work; 2 Corinthians 1.21, God makes us stand firm in Christ;
Standing firm is more about letting go of control, putting your trust in God, and it is less about having it all figured out.
Stand firm on the truth and promises of God. If we are standing firm we won’t ADD to Jesus and His gospel.
5.2-4….Paul gives the church a warning….Jesus + ________ = “Christ will be of no value to you at all….you will be alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace…”
When we choose Jesus + _______ = we are in control to set the value system of our world. We assign value to whatever we put in that blank. As we assign that value we take away value from Jesus, we devalue the cross and what Jesus did for us. We are setting up a value system that competes with a value system that has already been established. Jesus already has his own value system, one that he established before the creation of the world, because it is who he is, it is who God is. Paul tells the church of the kingdom values: he writes…
‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11.1 “Faith pleases God.” Hebrews 11.6
Faith is believing in God even when we can’t see God. Faith is believing in the work of God even when we don’t understand it, or can’t see the end result, or don’t know the answer yet.
However, Faith does allow me to walk through those times with hope for something better, something more. Hebrews 11.10-15 says it like this, “people of faith look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. People of faith show that they are looking for a country of their own. They long for a better country—a heavenly one.”
Hebrews 11.39, “these people were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Our role in faith is to daily put our trust in Him, believing He has done what he says he has done, and believing he will do what he said he will do.
Galatians 5.7,The Struggle… “you were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from God.” This is life. We run well for a while, we fall down, we get turned around, we get confused and lost because we listen to things that are not God.
“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
We often ‘quickly desert God’s way and God’s plan’ only to make up and pursue our own plans.
Why do we do this? Why would a person ever choose this ‘yoke of slavery’ according to Galatians 5.1? Do we just get so bored with life, bored with Jesus, that we turn to other things? Do we simply get bored with the gospel so we move on to bigger and better ideas? Do we honestly think we are going to find ‘better’ news than the good news of Jesus?
In Nathan’s opening sermon to this series he shared a few reasons why we add to the gospel:
1. Message is clear: grace alone is messy, but adding to it can bring clarity for us, so we think.
2. Puts us in control: and we like to be in control.
3. Allows us to compare, judge others, feel better about ourselves.
I think of Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were being threatened with the fiery furnace and here is what they said, “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. The God we serve is able to save us and deliver us from the blazing furnace and from your master’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” In the face of death they chose to believe God could save them, but even if he didn’t it was worth dying for their faith. God was that good.
We must continue to preach that gospel to ourselves, to one another, to continue to encourage one another in the Lord, that though life may hurt, it may not make sense right now, it may be a pretty dark place in our journey, yet there is always room for hope because Jesus is always present with us in our circumstances.
Jesus + Nothing= Everything
5.13-15 Use your freedom to love and serve others.
Freedom is found in giving your life away in love and service to others. In humility, Love and Serve others as you want to be loved and served, as Jesus has loved and served you. (Lev. 19.18; Luke 10.25; Mt.7.12)
You cannot walk with Jesus and not change. If you are not changing to be a more compassionate, a more humble, a more gentle, a more patient, a more loving person (the fruit of the spirit) then you need to hear me when I say with all the love and concern for you, and for myself, but you are not walking with Jesus. Jesus changes people.
The Bible says that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Paul warns his readers to stop biting and devouring one another. These are not from God, that’s why Paul is telling people to stop, they are not honoring to God. God doesn’t kill, steal, or destroy, and God is not the biting or devouring type.
The path to freedom is right in front of you for the taking. Freedom is discovered each and every day as you choose to give your life away for the sake of others. Your life is not your own, if you belong to Jesus, then your life was bought with his blood, 1 Corinthians 6.20 says, and his desire is for you to walk in freedom as you give your life away.