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Freedom In Christ

Galatians 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.

Freedom from what? Freedom from the Law.

Galatians 2:17-3:5
17 "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!
18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.
19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
4 Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing?
5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

The whole essence of what we are reading is in this question that Paul asks, 'After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort'? When we all got baptized, we were so convicted. After we saw and realized our sins we repented. We were so convicted. At that time we never knew how to change. We never knew whether we would change. We never knew where we would be few years from that time. All we knew was that we were sinners and we needed the grace of God. We began with the Spirit. We began our journey completely relying on God. We began our journey by faith.

We got baptized by faith. We all entered this Christian life with faith. We had no strength of our own to be righteous and we still don't have the strength to be righteous. With faith we started this journey. What we need today as Christians is faith. It is totally depending on God. Total reliance on God is what we need because we can never attain righteousness by obeying the Law. It is not by our own hard-line-ness that we attain righteousness. It is by being broken and going to God desperately that God saves us. He pulls us out and gives us the strength.

One danger that as Christians we can fall into is becoming self-reliant.

What does that mean? It means we become very good, legalistic Christians. God is asking us, 'After beginning with the Spirit are you trying to attain your goal by human effort? Are we trying to become more and more rigid in what we believe and holding on to it? In our mind we have a set of rules and regulations that we like and we think that if we keep them we are good Christians. Like if we come to all the meetings, if we pay our contribution regularly, if we actively involve ourselves in the church, if we pray every day, if we read our Bible every day then we are good Christians. Depending on our own obedience is not what is going to save us. It is depending on the work of Christ that is going to save us.

When we go to the Cross it is the grace of God that is going to save us. It is not how much we are keeping the law that is going to save us. It is actually the other way around. We do those things because we are saved and not to be saved. We come to the meetings because we are saved and we want to enjoy the fellowship of one another. We give our contributions because we are grateful that God has already saved us and given us a lot. We pray because we enjoy a relationship with God. We read our Bibles because we want to know God. It is because we are saved that we do things and not for salvation. Only one thing we can do for salvation and that is to go to Christ. Go to God and it is by faith that God saves us by his grace.

The second danger we can fall into is becoming sinful.

Galatians 5:16-21
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The danger we can fall into as Christians is living to gratify our own sinful desires. Paul says that we need to live by the Spirit (or in other words to live in the light) and not go back to the sins we used to commit once upon a time. Paul says the acts of the sinful nature are very obvious and that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Many of us have changed our lives but the question is: have we changed or have we gone back to being the way we used to be before? The Bible calls us to live by the Spirit and not by our sinful nature.

What is the sign of a good Christian?

The life of a good Christian is definitely pure and not sinful. On the other hand he is not legalistic. So what is the sign of a good Christian? That's what we read in Galatians 5:22-26.

Galatians 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

It says 'the fruit of the Spirit'. Mind you it says 'fruit' and not 'fruits' even though there are 9 different qualities. Paul doesn't call them the 'fruits' of the Spirit. What is the meaning of the word 'fruit'? It comes from the plant, from within. What Paul is saying is that if we live by the Spirit the result or what comes out, is the fruit of the Spirit. It has all these things - love, peace, joy etc- totally as one fruit. How good a Christian we are can be figured out by comparing what we have with the fruit of the Spirit. It is actually easier to say how good we are NOT doing than to say how good we are doing. God is always calling us is to submit to the Spirit and to be broken so that the Spirit can take control of our lives and change and transform us into the likeness of Christ.

So, how much the Church of Christ are we? How much love and joy there is in our Church?. How much peace is there with one another. How much patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That will show how much we are walking in the light, in the truth. We have the gospel that saved us. It is the good news that saves us and saves the world. The gospel brings us into freedom in Christ. First of all freedom from the Law. That means freedom from attaining salvation by our own efforts.

We are saved by the grace of God by having faith in Christ. Secondly, freedom from sin. Sin is another extreme that takes us away from Christ and we get freedom from sin through the gospel. We might ask? How should we live as Christians? Let us live by the Spirit, surrender to the Spirit, trust God and submit ourselves to God completely. Then God takes control of our lives and changes and transforms us into the image of Christ. What is the result? We see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We don't see sin and the acts of the sinful nature nor do we see the strict rules and regulations of the legalistic nature but we will see the fruit of the Spirit.