Galatians 5:1, 13-15 ESV
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
Freedom in Christ Jesus, our Lord, is not freedom to continue in willful and habitual sin against God. Jesus didn’t die on that cross one day many years ago just to deliver us from the punishment of sin, but he died to deliver us from our slavery to sin, and to empower us to live godly and holy lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23).
When we continue in sinful practices, if that is what we do, not only are we sinning against God, but we are sinning against others, either directly or indirectly. For, how we live our lives day in and day out does impact other people for good or for evil, whether we are willing to acknowledge that or not.
Love is thus not conducive to sinful lifestyles, for living in sin is by nature of the flesh, and it is selfish, and it is self-gratifying, and often it is bent on sin no matter who gets hurt in the process. That is the power of addiction. So, we can’t love others and be addicted to sin at the same time.
So, instead of living to please our flesh, we need to put on God’s love, and love one another as God loves us and gave his life up for our freedom from slavery to sin.
By the Spirit
Galatians 5:16-17 ESV
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
I hear so many people talk about how they continually “struggle” with (consistently give in to) sinful habits, as though Jesus didn’t already die to set them free. It is almost as though it is a badge that they wear.
And, today’s modern church facilitates the continuance of such consistent struggles with sinful practices, for it coddles them in their sin. And, it treats sin like a sickness that has no cure. And, it accepts lame excuses for continued and willful and even premeditated sinful practices which cause much harm to others, which go on sometimes for people’s lifetimes.
And, some churches even provide groups where these addicts can gather together to talk about how they fail continually, but not many of them actually counsel the addicts in how to be fully free from their chains. And, some of these groups actually discourage Bibles and reading scriptures and helping others to freedom in Christ, for they don’t want to offend anyone.
But, Jesus didn’t overly complicate it. He said through Paul that if we walk by the Spirit we will not fulfill (gratify) the lusts (desires) of the flesh. But, we have to walk by the Spirit, which means we have to have the Spirit living within us, and the only way that happens is by God’s grace through God-given faith in Jesus Christ which submits to Christ as Lord, and which forsakes sin and idols, and which follows our Lord in obedience.
It is not as hard to be free from slavery to sin as some people make it out to be. Will we be tempted? Yes! Will Satan “pull out all the stops” to get us to give in to sin? Yes! But greater is HE who is within us than he who is within the world. Satan has no power over us if we are truly in Christ. Jesus already won this battle for us. We just have to believe it, and we just have to put on his armor daily and fight off our enemy, and follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will – ALL IN HIS POWER AT WORK WITHIN US!
Works of the Flesh
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
People who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are still walking according to the flesh, living sinful lifestyles, making sins like these their practice, their habit, their “go to” that they repeat over and over again, are doing so because they are not willing to bow to God in submission to His will. They are not willing to let go of the flesh and to let God be God. They are still holding on to the control of their own lives, and they don’t want to let go. And, so they will make up all kinds of excuses as to why they are still living in bondage to certain sins, some of them after many, many years, too.
And, so they are comforted by the cheap grace gospel which convinces them that they can go on in their sinful practices, and that they can keep making excuses for why they are still there after a lifetime of living that way when they knew better, and when they knew the way to true freedom in Christ. For, the cheap grace gospel says you don’t have to forsake your sinful lifestyles and you can still claim heaven as your eternal destiny.
But, the Bible doesn’t teach that. It says right here that if we practice (habitually) such things, that we will not inherit eternal life with God, no matter what we profess with our lips. For whether we have true faith in Jesus Christ is evidenced by how we live our lives, either for the glory of God or for the glory of our flesh.
So, you say you “believe” in Jesus, but so do the demons, and they aren’t saved. We have to turn away from our sinful lifestyles and walk by the Spirit of God if we want to have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; etc.).
Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
If we have true faith in Jesus Christ it will be evident by what we do. And, that is because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. And, if we are walking according to the Spirit, we are not going to be fulfilling the lusts of our flesh, but instead the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our lives.
Now this is not saying that we will be absolutely perfect. The scriptures make it clear that we may sin sometimes, but that we have been delivered from slavery to sin and from the control of sin and Satan over our lives. Sin is no longer our master, what drives us, but now our Lord is our master, and holiness is our motivation, instead. We want to live lives pleasing to God.
So, what it all comes down to is what we practice and who we obey, for scripture teaches that we are slaves to the one we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (Rom. 6:16).
So, don’t fall into that trap that says God is okay with you continuing in your sinful practices or that heaven is still guaranteed you no matter what. Read what these scriptures teach, believe them, and then obey your Lord.
Forsake your sinful lifestyles, and now walk with him in obedience one day and one situation at a time, saying “NO!” to Satan and the flesh, and saying “YES!” to God and to his righteousness. And, the fruit you will bear will not be of the flesh but will be of the Spirit, and you will have eternal life with God (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17).
And, then proclaim the truth of the gospel of our salvation to your world around you and expose the lies of the enemy for what they are, so that many people will be delivered from their slavery to sin and have eternal life with God.
By Ann Aschauer
So shine on through the darkness;
Be the salt and light for all your world.
Live for Jesus, ’til you see Him,
And your faith has its reward;
Shine on through the darkness;
Let His love shine through you all your days.
Go and win your generation for the Lord.
c 1990 Ann Aschauer