Called to Freedom
Galatians 5:13-15 ESV
“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.”
What freedom are Christians today called to? Certainly, a part of that freedom is to be free from bondage to man-made religion, to forms of religion, to the doctrines of men, to human traditions, and to thinking that we can earn or deserve our own salvation via our own good works.
But what other freedom are we called to? What is the primary reason for Jesus’ death on that cross? We are called to freedom from bondage to sin and from the control and power of sin and Satan over our lives. And we are free now, in the power of God’s Spirit, to walk by the Spirit in holiness.
A lot of people, though, have the false notion that their freedom is merely freedom from the penalty of sin and that being no longer under the law means that they can continue living in their sin, only now without guilt. But if we are continuing in bondage to sin, that is not freedom.
So, being under grace and not under the law is not freedom to keep on living in sin. If Jesus set us free, we are to no longer live in sin, making sin our practice. For, if we do, Scripture teaches us that we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God.
We are also not free from obeying God’s moral laws or from following Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. For, if we love God, and if we love other people, we are going to obey the Lord, and we are going to treat others with love and respect and not willfully sin against them.
Walk by the Spirit
Galatians 5:16-18 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
The point of Jesus’ death and resurrection was so that we could die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. This is the gospel in a nutshell. When we believe on him with God-persuaded faith, we are crucified with him in death to sin and we are raised with him to new lives in him, not like the old lives, but created to be like God in righteousness and holiness.
Although we don’t have to obey the Old Covenant liturgical and ceremonial laws that the Jews had to obey back then, it doesn’t mean we no longer have to obey God. We do. But it is us in the power of God’s Spirit walking (in conduct, in practice) by the Spirit as we yield control of our lives to God.
It is us surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and to his will for our lives, and in the Spirit, walking in the ways of God and no longer in the ways of the flesh. And this is because we have been reborn of the Spirit of God and made into new creatures in Christ Jesus, not like the old.
So, if we are walking (in conduct) in the ways of the Spirit of God, and we are saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions, and we are saying “Yes!” to living upright, godly, and self-controlled lives, empowered by the Spirit of God, then we won’t live to gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh.
Thus, we can’t continue living in sin, gratifying the desires of the flesh as a matter of habit, and walk by the Spirit at the same time, for the two are opposed to each other. One will end up cancelling out the other and then we will end up doing the opposite of what we thought we wanted to do.
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.”
But we must walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh if we want salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For, if we make these kinds of things our practice, i.e., if we are actively doing these things habitually and regularly, as a matter of life course, heaven will not be what awaits us when we die.
It won’t matter what we confessed with our lips or think we believed in our hearts. For, if we are not crucified with Christ in death to sin, and if we are not walking in his righteousness, then that will not lead to eternal life but to death, unless we repent of our sins and follow Jesus in obedience.
And we need to take this seriously, for far too many people professing faith in Jesus Christ are convinced that they are “saved,” and that heaven is guaranteed them at death, but that holy living is optional, or that it is not required at all, or that it is even discouraged and frowned upon.
So, they are convinced that they can continue living in their sexual immorality, for example, “vegging out” on porn or sexually charged movies, TV shows, music videos, video games, texting, or private conversations. They believe that they can sin in secret and that God will do nothing.
But this Scripture passage, and others like it, make it abundantly clear that we must walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh but after the Spirit, and that we must forsake our former lives of living for sin and self and now follow our Lord in obedience, or we will NOT inherit eternal life with God.
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.”
The fruit that we bear in this life matters for eternity. For if the fruit (outgrowth, results) of how we live our lives on this earth is that we continue living in sin and for self and that God is more of an afterthought, but not central to our lives at all, we will not inherit eternal life with God.
So, instead of bearing the fruit of selfishness, idolatry, adultery, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, hating, slandering, and the like, as a matter of habit (practice), if we are walking by the Spirit, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, faithfulness, and self-control, etc.
And that is because, if we truly belong to Christ, by God-persuaded faith in him, we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires and now we are walking by the Spirit so that we don’t gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh, for it was for this very purpose that Jesus gave his life up for us.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:7]
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you
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