Free, But Not Free to Sin

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.”

In context, the freedom being spoken of here is freedom from the ceremonial, sacrificial, purification, liturgical, and dietary restrictions and laws of the Old Covenant, which included circumcision. Yet, we were never set free from God’s moral laws, for Jesus summarized the law and the prophets into two commands, which is to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).

And Paul made it quite clear here that their freedom from “the law” was not freedom to become lawless or to take an opportunity for the flesh, to do what ought not to be done. We still have to obey our Lord’s commandments, but they are the ones under the New Covenant, and which are written down for us all throughout the New Testament. And most all of them are about not making sin our practice but making righteousness our practice.

But obedience to the Lord is not about just following another set of rules. His law is to be written in our hearts now, and obedience to the Lord should be something we do because we love the Lord and because we have been regenerated of the Spirit of God, and because God’s Spirit is living within us living the life of Christ in us and out through us. For Jesus set us free from our slavery to sin so we would become slaves of his righteousness.

So many people today are twisting the Scriptures and they are not teaching them in their context but they are teaching a lawless gospel which makes no requirements for repentance (dying with Christ to sin) and for obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). And so they feel they have the freedom to keep on in their sins without conscience, but that is not what the Scriptures teach, which Paul makes abundantly clear.

And so we should never view our freedom in Christ as freedom to sin against the Lord deliberately and habitually and as freedom to sin against other humans, to willfully and deliberately do them harm. That doesn’t even make sense from a worldly point of view. Honestly, sometimes non-Christians act more “Christian” than Christians do. So, we Christians need to be like Jesus, not like the ungodly who are living wicked and sinful lives.

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.”

Yes! I hear so many people claiming to be Christians today making many excuses for why they are still living in sin, and for why they continue to deliberately hurt other humans. Some of them claim they are “struggling,” which usually means that they are regularly giving in to habitual sin. Or they claim that it is just too hard or that they don’t know what to do, when they do know what to do. Many excuses they have for not doing what is right.

But the answer is right here if they would be willing to do what this says. For you are not going to be able to conquer sin in the flesh in your own flesh. You can only do that in the power of God’s Spirit. And so first of all you must surrender your life to Jesus Christ, die with him to sin, be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in holiness and righteousness.

Then daily you surrender your life to Jesus and say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God, and you walk in the ways of the Lord in the power of God’s Spirit living within you. You put on Christ and his righteousness in your daily lives, and daily, by the Spirit, you are to be putting sin to death. And you live in the ways of the Spirit and you resist Satan and you flee temptation and you do what pleases God and you refuse to do what pleases the sinful flesh.

And you are not going to be able to conquer sin in your flesh by following man-made programs, either, or via behavioral modification, for sin is a heart issue, and it is from the heart that all things evil come forth. So this is why your hearts need to be surrendered to the Lord Jesus daily, and why daily you must put on that armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against you (Eph 6:10-20). This is war! We cannot take this lightly!

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.”

So many people today professing faith in Jesus Christ are living in addiction to sexual immorality. That appears to be the predominant sin in the church today. Obviously we are all responsible for what we do, so it is no one else’s fault if you decide to walk in sin and not in righteousness. But there are influencing factors at work here which are making it easier and more tempting for so many people to be addicted to sexual immorality.

For one, the church largely in America is no longer teaching the truth of the gospel. So many of them have removed God’s requirements for repentance and obedience, or they have made them optional or just recommended, but not mandatory. And so they are giving their adherents permission to keep living in deliberate and habitual sin while telling them if they feel guilty to just claim who they are in Christ, as though that makes it better.

The other huge influence is the internet and television and all media sources which are available now to most all adults and to many children, too, from which they can get to all sorts of evil at the touch of a finger on a pocket-sized computer called a telephone, because it also doubles as a telephone. But it is primarily used as a computer and then as a camera. But because most people have them it is like having a porn magazine in your pocket.

Now, I am not saying that if you reach inside your pocket that you are going to pull out a porn magazine. But porn, in its various forms, even light porn, is available now to anyone possessing a smart phone, and it is all over the internet and on TV, too, largely in commercials (the light porn), but which can be very alluring and which can lead people to the hard stuff, which then can be very addictive. But Jesus provided the way of escape!

So, no one has to live like that. Jesus made the way out for us. By his death on that cross he made the way for us to die with him to sin and to be set free from slavery (addiction) to sin. We just have to take the way out that he provided. And if you don’t, i.e. if you refuse, and if you choose to keep on in your sinful practices, and if you choose to not obey the Lord and his commands, then please know you will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:44; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 2 Tim 2:10-13; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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