This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on April 4th 2021 by Colin D via zoom. For the audio please click here. To listen to the worship please click here.
FREEDOM IN CHRIST
Gal 5:1 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.
This letter is written by the Apostle Paul. Paul establishes and reminds the Galatians that he is an Apostle not chosen by man but by Jesus himself. (Gal1:1)
Unlike his other epistles where after the regular salutations, he would remind them of their salvation, calling etc and then get to why he is writing his letter; we find that here in the third sentence itself he tells them the reason for his letter. He is shocked that they have turned away from grace.
The law came through Moses but Grace through Jesus (John1:17). The Law was put in charge to led us to Christ (Gal3:24)
He reminds them that they are all sons of God through Christ Jesus and not the law. Therefore, ALL are in Jesus – Jew, Greek, Salve and free. (Gal3:28) We are the new vine that has been grafted into Jesus and now because the Holy Spirit dwells in us we can cry Abba Father (Gal4:6-7)
Ch5:1 – JESUS has set us free.
WHAT IS FREEDOM
Freedom is the ability to make choices using the freewill God has given us. When we were slaves to sin in a way we could not really choose. We could not help ourselves from sinful thoughts and actions.
Jesus came to set us free. True freedom is found in the Cross. This is why Jesus’ resurrection is so pivotal to our faith. Your old nature was crucified on the cross along with Jesus. You are made alive and new in Jesus. Your old self is not raised to life. You are Born again – a new creation.
However, there are behaviours, sin habits and lifestyles, thought patterns that we need to work on. This process is called sanctification. Our behaviour is influenced by how we think. How we think is influenced by what we believe.
I’d like to pause and ask a question. What are your core beliefs?
HOW ARE WE SET FREE?
When we say Jesus came to set us free it implies, we were not free before that. We were all therefore under bondage or slavery. To what?
Christ came to set us free from the law: living by rules and regulations which we call a legalistic lifestyle.
We were all slaves to sin. God made a perfect world with Adam and Eve as objects of His love. In that perfect world, there was perfect freedom.
Was there absolute freedom in the Garden? YES. From God’s perspective, YES. The world and the devil would like to tell us otherwise and therein lies the problem. This is what the devil tempted the first couple with – to believe that they were not truly free as long as they obeyed God and lived within the safe boundaries, He gave them.
Adam and Eve fell for this trap and instead of experiencing freedom, they fell into bondage.
True freedom is not without boundaries. Those boundaries keep us from pain, and sadness and misery. When we live by God’s will we are absolutely free.
The cross sets us free from the penalty and the power of sin.
What are we set free from? Old sinful habits, un renewed thought patterns, old identity and the requirement to live under the law.
Many believe that a magic wand is waved over our heads when we are saved and that is why they get disillusioned or do not know how to handle life’s challenges, personal weaknesses etc.
What we know by faith we have to act upon. Our old nature has been crucified on the cross. We still need to deal with the sin habits. We call this the renewing of our minds. We have to unlearn old ways of thinking and replace them with new belief systems.
On the other hand, there are some who do try to live by a whole set of rules – dos and don’ts that are not found in scripture but based on culture and human tradition.
The more dangerous deception is when we use scripture to stay in bondage.
Renewing involves removing and replacing. We have to get rid of old beliefs and thought patterns and replace them with new ones.
What do we replace them with? We replace them with the truth. What is Truth? Truth is the infallible WORD OF GOD.
We read our bibles day in and out yet we do not experience freedom. Why? This knowing is not head knowledge. It's not information. Information that challenges us to change our beliefs and thoughts will lead to transformation. This kind of knowing will set us free.
We need His empowering enabling Grace in our lives that comes by being immersed in the Holy Spirit. Only then can we produce fruit of the Holy Spirit that will last. This new life is not about behaviour modification but heart transformation.
Change your beliefs and your behaviour with automatically change e.g.) Covid has changed how we do life because we believe it can kill us.
BELIEF ABOUT GOD
Do you believe God not just loves you with agape love but He likes you and the way HE made you?. He did not die to give you worth. He has accepted and approved of you from eternity.
But because of our world systems that are controlled by Satan its foundations are in the orphan way of thinking which is this system of performance-based acceptance. And we transfer this to our heavenly Father, the result is legalism. “Legalism is an attitude. It’s a system of thinking in which an individual attempt to gain God’s love and acceptance through good works or service.” Charles Stanley
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THOUGHTS PATTERNS I NEED TO BE SET FREE FROM?
What I have seen in all our years as Christ-followers and in the ministry is that the battle for freedom from wrong beliefs which lead to wrong behaviour is one of the biggest battles, we Christian’s face. This affects our personal holiness, how we view God and relate to Him and how it affects us on a day-to-day basis is in how we relate with others.
Let us look at only 3 patterns today (Idols of the heart that become strongholds of thinking):
LOOK GOOD – This is all about outward appearances. This is marked by insecurity and you hide who you really are. You live life pretending to be someone else. It’s bondage. This happens when we do not live out of our identity in Christ. We look for other people and things to prop up our good looks.
So, you lie, cheat, deceive and create false impressions.
Here we will want people’s approval. The person will perform to gain approval and attention. A test is how you react when people do not appreciate you or you get overlooked. Will you continue to serve with the same faithfulness and fervour?
People-pleasing behaviour patterns are developed to feed this need. You find it difficult to say “NO” because you want the maintain the image of the ‘nice guy.
It will mask itself in good works.
Because I want to feel good about myself, I indulge in comparison and unhealthy competition.
They are jealous of others blessings and success. Because they can have a superiority complex, they can be critical, judgemental, and gossip.
Inwardly some can suffer from an inferiority complex where they don’t feel good enough about themselves and often feel guilty for not measuring up to their own standards.
They will manipulate people and situations for their personal gain and advantage.
They are opportunity-driven and not value-driven.
They fear failure. They have personal agendas well masked.
Life in God is about being authentic and real. It is about living from the Father’s approval and knowing that you are already loved and accepted.
We live in a very sensuous world. Everything is about making you feel good and this has led to lifestyle choices that are harmful.
You can’t always feel good. God has given us a lot of emotions. God feels angry, grieved, jealous, sad, happy, joyful etc. Emotions tell us what is going on inside of us and what and how we need to respond.
So, while we are NOT ruled by our emotions, they are markers about how we are experiencing the world around us.
Our feelings are a response to our thoughts which are dictated by our beliefs. If we believe that all negative emotions are from the devil or an indication that we do not have faith; the result will be that I deny those emotions and live with unreality.
We do not deny facts. We also declare the truth. E.g.) I am sad that my daughter is unwell (FACT) but I know God can and will heal her (TRUTH). I am sad I lost my job (FACT) but I know God is my provider (TRUTH)
They don’t like to move out of their comfort zone. They do not want their life challenged. Comfort is an idol and they will cloak it in spiritual language of grace and God’s will.
The need to feel good can also result in self-medicating addictive behaviours that give you that constant “high”. For some it is religion.
A test would be: how do you react when sad things happen in your life? Are you able to acknowledge the pain and still confess the truth found in God’s word? Look at the psalms – they are full of raw admission of reality and confessions of faith. Even Jesus said He was greatly distressed. Did He not trust in God? Of course, HE did.
This behaviour is fuelled by the belief that I need to be perfect. Perfectionism drives what I do and how I relate with people. Therefore, because I expect people to be perfect, when I fail, I think that now “people will reject me, are think I am a let-down, a disappointment, a waste of time “etc.
So, we need to be right at any cost. This leads to lying, cover-up, deceitful behaviour, rationalizing our faults, blaming others, inability to take responsibility for our behaviour.
These people find it difficult to share weaknesses, be vulnerable or authentic. Apologizing and owing up is the hardest thing for them to do
They are unable to show grace to others. These people forget that they too are flawed and full of weakness.
To be right they will exercise control though driving the narrative of what is going on in their life. They create a reality that suits them.
A test would be how quick are you to admit your fault? How quick are you to repent and seek forgiveness? Or do you find yourself arguing, explaining, rationalizing, blaming others for what you need to take responsibility for? Are you able to overlook other people’s weakness and give grace? Remember 70 times 7.
ALL of us have elements of all 3 of these wrong belief systems. But as we renew our minds, we will get healthier and learn to walk in true freedom.
WHAT IS MY RESPONSE?
“Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
While Paul was talking about legalism and going back to Old covenant rules of circumcision etc. There is a principle here that applies to anything belief or behaviour that is not in line with the freedom Christ has won for us.
How do I respond? I respond by changing my beliefs.
Know that God approves of you and gives you unconditional worth. He delights over you. He does not think badly about you when you fail. I am already declared righteous and I have nothing to prove to anyone.
Know that God will not leave you alone. He is always with you in your highs and lows. He does not reject us when we are having a bad day. He is close to the brokenhearted. He knows all your thoughts even before you can speak of them. You are fully accepted and eternally loved.
We transform our beliefs by taking thoughts captive and subjecting them to the Truth found in the Word of God and make them obedient to that truth but meditating on it and replace our convictions/beliefs.
This will release me from wanting to create an impression that everything is always honky dory and fine. I will have an accurate assessment of where I am right now and how I am feeling.
Know that God loves and accepts me despite my weakness, sins and failings. He does not punish me as my sins deserve but His grace comes rushing in when I acknowledge my wrongdoings and repent. He is for me and not against me. He loves me completely and will never reject me.