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.”
The freedom that we are all called to, as believers in Jesus Christ, is not just freedom from the punishment of sin, but it is freedom from slavery to sin. As those who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, we are no longer to walk as slaves to sin, but we are now to live as slaves to God and to his righteousness.
But, in context, I believe Paul was addressing the subject of their freedom from the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, and dietary laws and restrictions. He was letting them know that freedom from those liturgical and ceremonial laws was not freedom to now live however they wanted, and it was definitely not freedom to sin against one another, which verses 16-21 describe in detail. And there he let them know that if they practiced such sins as what are listed there, they would not inherit the kingdom of God.
But what I want to focus my attention on today is this matter of serving one another, through love. And this word “love” is “agape,” and it means “love which centers in moral preference,” and it “typically refers to divine love (=what God prefers)” (source: biblehub.com). So, when we love others with this love we will not deliberately and habitually sin against them. Instead, our actions should convey the moral character of God, which is righteous, holy, honest, faithful, morally pure, and upright.
And this word “serve” means to be devoted. So we, as followers of Christ, are to be devoted to one another in love (agape). But this devotion is not fleshly and worldly, for it is based in this agape love. So this is a spiritual serving of one another. So we are to do for one another what the Scriptures teach that we are to do for each other. And they teach not only that we are to help meet one another’s physical needs, but that we are to be concerned about and we should help to meet one another’s spiritual needs.
We are to be those who encourage one another. And this encouragement is not to be faked. It has to be sincere. And this is not fleshly or worldly encouragement, but this is of the Spirit of God. We should treat one another with a godly affection, and we are not to be selfish, but we are to be humble, caring about one another’s legitimate needs. And those needs can be physical, emotional and spiritual. But they should be met in a godly manner, according to the Scriptures, and not according to the flesh.
As followers of Christ we are all part of one body, the body of Christ, but we all have different giftings and different roles within the body of Christ, which are assigned by God. So we don’t all have the same functions. But we are to use these gifts of the Spirit for the mutual encouragement of one another. And these are not just “feel good” kinds of things that everyone will like and will praise our names for. But these include prophecy (preaching, proclaiming the Word) and teaching and exhorting (holy urging) others in faith.
But all of us are to speak the truth in love, one to the other, so that we are no longer the immature being tossed back and forth by various doctrines being taught by people who use cunning, craftiness, and deceitful scheming in what they are teaching. So when we hear false teaching, and we realize that our brothers and sisters in Christ are entertaining and believing this false teaching, we have an obligation to them to show them the truth of the Scriptures and to show them the lies for what they are. This is LOVE!!
For we are to be helping one another to spiritual maturity when we speak the truth of God’s Word to one another in love, and when we expose the lies for what they are. But sadly, not too many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are accepting that as love. Many are being taught to reject that, and to ignore or criticize or demonize those who are speaking the truth in love, and who are pointing out the lies, and who are sharing with others what the truth is in contrast to the lies. For culturally that is not acceptable.
Still, that is what we are to do. Why? Because we are not to be selfish, but humble, and we are called to serve one another in love. And we care enough about others to tell them the truth, in love, even if they hate and reject and misjudge us in return. For so many Christians have no problems warning others about certain stores or restaurants or products or people they don’t like, but they consider it rude and unkind to warn other Christians against false teaching and false gospels which are likely to send them to hell.
Also, we are to address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. And this means that if I have a song to share with you, I share it with you for your encouragement, and you should receive it as such, even if it is not professionally recorded by human standards. This isn’t about having a cool sound to it with a great rhythm and great vocals and instrumentation. This is about one believer, from his or her heart, sharing with other believers a song he or she received from the Lord to encourage his or her fellow Christians.
And we, as the body of Christ, are also to teach and to admonish (advise, urge, caution, and warn) one another in all wisdom, which is the wisdom of God and of the Scriptures. And we don’t have to be official preachers and teachers in order to do this. We are all to do this with the wisdom of God and not with our own fleshly wisdom. But in today’s Christian culture here in America that is not usually accepted. Too many people feel that those types of things are only to come from the official preacher, but that’s not true!
And we are to exhort (encourage, urge, spur, insist, prod) one another daily so that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. But, again, this must be biblical encouragement and not of the flesh. And we are to provoke one another to love (of God) and to good deeds (of God), and we are to encourage (support and cheer and/or urge and exhort) one another so that we don’t get discouraged or disheartened, and so that we will be strengthened in our walks of faith and obedience.
All of this is the purpose of the body of Christ (the church). And we all need this. This is why we are to meet together, not just so we can say we met together. And if none of this is happening when we meet together, then that needs to change. But this happens as every part is working properly. This is not ever to be about just one man doing it all while we sit and listen to him. God has called us to be a family, his body, and for all of us to do what he has called us all to do, for the mutual encouragement of one another.
[Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:1-16; Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:1-8; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:23-25; James 5:19-20]
Hear my Voice
An Original Work / July 9, 2012
Based off Psalm 27
The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.
Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.
I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.
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