The Freedom We Have in Christ

Galatians 2:4-5 ESV

“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”

False Christians

In context, the situation being described here was of Judaizers who were trying to convince the Gentile Christians that they had to be circumcised and that they had to hold to some of the Old Covenant ceremonial, liturgical, purification, and/or dietary restrictions and laws, as added on to their faith in Jesus Christ. But their freedom in Christ was not only freedom from slavery to sin but it was also freedom from all the Old Covenant liturgical laws and restrictions. Never once, though, were we ever freed from God’s moral laws.

Now, there are still Judaizers among us who are trying to get Christians to be more like Jews, and to add to their faith Jewish ceremonies and customs, and the like. Not required by God. And we still do have legalists among us who add on to God’s moral laws things of the flesh such as having to dress in a particular way, or having to attend so many institutional church gatherings, and the like. But they are not the big draw today. These are not the most critical false teachings facing the church today.

So, as believers in Jesus, what did Jesus set us free from? He died to set us free from slavery (addiction) to sin. And he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness and that we might live for him and no longer for ourselves. And he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we might now honor God with our lives (Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15,21; 1 Co 6:19-20).

So, when false believers in Jesus infiltrate our ranks to spy on our freedom in Christ and to make us slaves, what does that look like today, in most cases? The freedom they are spying on is our freedom from slavery to sin, and they want to make us slaves again to sin. And they want to lead us away from walks of holiness and righteousness to living more like the people of the world, and to blend in with the world and with the culture of today.

And so they try to convince us that faith in Jesus Christ is a one-time decision in our lives to believe in Jesus, or to receive him into our hearts, but that nothing beyond that is required of us. And yes, they will use passages of Scripture like this to try to convince us that obedience to our Lord, and submission to his will, and repentance (dying with him to sin) are the same as circumcision and Jewish customs being added on to our faith. Not true!

Yes, we are not saved on the basis of our own fleshly good works. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Only by God’s grace through God-given faith in Jesus are any of us saved from our sins. But that faith to believe comes from God, and it is authored and perfected by Jesus, and we can’t even come to faith in Jesus unless God the Father persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to forsake our sins to follow Jesus in obedience. So faith is obedience.

And that faith includes good works, but they are the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10). And he requires submission, repentance and obedience. It is all throughout the New Testament. We can’t miss it. We must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness and we must no longer walk in sin. For, those who continue in deliberate and habitual sin will not inherit eternal life with God. Only those who forsake their sins and who obey the Lord have eternal life.

[Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17; Lu 9:23-26; Matt 7:21-23; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Acts 5:32]

We Did Not Give In

So, what should our response be to those who are trying to convince us that we do not have to repent of our sins or obey the Lord or submit to him as Lord but that we can still be saved from our sins and have the assurance of heaven as our eternal destiny? For one, we need to be those who study the Scriptures in their context so that we know what the Scriptures teach, and then we need to test what we hear against the Scriptures in context.

And I stress context because many false teachings stem from Scriptures taught outside their context and then are being twisted and made to say something the Scriptures do not teach. For example, in Ephesians 2:8-9 we read that by grace we are saved through faith and this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone should boast. And so they use that to teach that no works are required of us and so we do nothing and Jesus does it all.

But they fail to teach what God’s grace means, such as his grace instructs us to renounce (say “No!” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts (passions) and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. And they fail to explain what faith means and where it comes from, and that it, as well, is not of ourselves, of our own making. And then they leave out Ephesians 2:10 which says that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS which God prepared in advance that we should WALK IN THEM (Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:8-10).

And so we are not to give in to those who are perverting the grace of our God into sensuality and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (see Jude 1:4). We are to be diligent in testing everything we hear coming from anyone, even from famous people like Billy Graham and his children and grandchildren, and from famous authors like Rick Warren and Max Lucado and Chuck Swindol and John MacArthur, et al. For they don’t all teach the truth of the gospel or they may teach half-truths which are lies.

And then we are to be making ourselves ready for our wedding to Jesus Christ. We are to be preparing ourselves spiritually, as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 19:7), but not in things physical, but with things of the Spirit of God such as holiness, righteousness, honesty, integrity, obedience to our Lord, faithfulness, moral purity, and uprightness, etc. And we should be running the race our Lord has marked out for us to run, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

For one day Jesus is coming back for his bride, and to judge, and we are all going to be judged by what we do, by our deeds. If we are dying with him to sin and walking in obedience to his commands and walking in holiness and righteousness, in his power and strength, for his glory and honor, we will go to be with him, and our marriage to him will be consummated, and our salvation will be complete. But if we are still walking in habitual and deliberate sin against the Lord, in disobedience to him, we will not inherit eternal life with him and heaven will not be our destiny. Please believe this.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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