Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Galatians 5:1 NIV

“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.”

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, what slavery are we being set free from? We are being set free from our slavery to sin. For, all of us who are now in Christ, by genuine faith in him, were baptized spiritually into Christ and into his death to sin so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom 6:1-4).

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Rom 6:6-7 NIV

So, because of God’s grace to us, and via Jesus’ death and resurrection, we who believe in Jesus with God-given faith die with Christ to our old lives of living to sin and self so that we should no longer be slaves of sin, but so that we might become slaves of his righteousness (Rom 6:17-18). But…

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom 6:16 NIV

Thus, if we don’t die with Christ to sin, then we aren’t raised with Christ to newness of life in him, we aren’t reborn of the Spirit of God, and we don’t have the hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God. We are still in slavery to sin, and that leads to death, not to life everlasting with God.

So, if you are professing faith in Jesus Christ, but you have not surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you have not died to your old life of sin, and you are not presently walking in obedience to the Lord and to his commands (New Covenant), then please know that ends in death, not life.

Or, if you began well with Christ, and you left your life of sin behind you to follow him in obedience, but then at some point you began to slip back into your old ways, this is an exhortation to you repent, to turn back to walking with the Lord, and to not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery to sin. Instead, stand firm in your faith and walk in faithful obedience, and surrender to your Lord from this day forward to the very end.

Galatians 5:13-15 NIV

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Called to Be Free

There are many people today who are teaching our freedom in Christ as though it is carte blanche to continue living in sin, only now guilt free. Thus, by what they teach, they are giving free license to their followers to continue living to indulge the flesh, i.e., to continue doing what their flesh desires, rather than to do what the Spirit of God requires of us.

For, they teach freedom merely as freedom from the punishment of sin so that we can now go on sinning without fear of punishment. And they teach God’s grace as mere forgiveness of sins and as a guarantee of heaven when we die, which they say can never be taken away from us, no matter what we do with Jesus or how we live from this time forward.

So, what they teach is a willful half-truth gospel, which then makes it a lie. For, they don’t teach death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness. And they don’t teach that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And they don’t teach that we must be obeying our Lord if we want eternal life (1 Jn 2:3-6).

So, that leaves the door wide open for many to profess faith in Jesus Christ but to keep on living like they did before they “believed” in Jesus, or worse, for now they can do so without guilt or a feeling of obligation to have to obey the Lord. So, this might lead them even deeper into sin than before.

Love Like Jesus

When the Scriptures teach that the Jews who came to faith in Jesus were no longer under the law but under grace, that did not remove them from the obligation to obey the Lord and his commandments (New Covenant).

What that freed them from was all those Levitical ceremonial and purification laws, but it did not free them from God’s moral laws. It is just that they obey them now in the power of the Spirit as part of walking according to the Spirit.

For, we now have the Spirit of God living within us living Christ’s life out through us as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord and as we walk (in practice) in the power of God’s Spirit according to the Spirit.

And Jesus summed up his laws into two, and here they are summed up into one, and that is the law of love, to (agape) love God and others. And if we love with this love, which comes from God, we won’t live in sin, sinning against others, but we will love as God loves us.

Galatians 5:16-21 NIV

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.”

So, freedom in Christ is not freedom to live however we want, but it is freedom, in the power of God’s Spirit to walk righteously, to live godly, and to love purely as God loves us.

Since we now have God’s Spirit living within us, if truly we are in Christ, and he is in us, we are to walk (live) by the Spirit and not by our flesh, and then we won’t gratify the sinful desires of the flesh.

And this is important that we get this. The Spirit is contrary (opposed to) the flesh and the flesh is opposed to the Spirit, so if we believe in Jesus, it is not going to be freedom to keep on living in sin.

Okay, now this is critical that we grasp this. If we make sin our practice, and we habitually, knowingly, and even premeditatedly engage in such sins as what are listed for us here, we will NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God. God is going to judge us by what we do (Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10).

If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So, make certain you are walking by the Spirit and then you won’t gratify the desires of your sinful flesh (Gal 6:7-8).

My Sheep

An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

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