Called to Freedom
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: 4th of July
Galatians 5:13-26 (ESV)
13 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. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
You are called to freedom (v13) – what opportunities does that present? There is a contrast between a way of life that only has the appearance of freedom and one that is truly free.
1. Freedom as an opportunity for the flesh
v15 “if you bite and devour one another…”
the “desires of the flesh” (vv16-17) and the “works of the flesh” (v19)
v26 “conceited… provoking… envying…”
2. Serving one another through love
v14 “one word… love your neighbor as yourself”
v17 “the desires… are opposed to each other”
the “desires of the Spirit” (v17) and the “fruit of the Spirit” (v22)
Questions for Reflection
Do you feel like you are able to do what you want? Do you know what you want? Is what you want good? How does faith create a new sense of freedom in our choices?
In what ways does Jesus call us to freedom? What is it about the Christian message that it has been characterized as a call to freedom?
What sorts of desires do you have that exert more influence on you than you wish?
What hinders you from consistently acting on what you deem “good” desires?
How does envy affect you in regards to doing what you want?
Is provoking other people always a sign that you are acting out of conceit or a self focused posture?
Christianity presents Spiritual life as starting a conflict – you begin to be dissatisfied with what you have wanted and how you have been acting. How can this dissatisfaction lead to a good change? Where do we need to be careful?
Why does love require limiting one’s own freedom? Does it always? How can making self-limiting choices in love be a good and joyful thing to do?
What does it look like to imitate Jesus? How can you imitate his desires? What will you need to do to become someone who is influenced and shaped by Jesus in a very deep way?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, you have sent Jesus to serve us in love – but we have served ourselves, putting our own selfish desires first. Thinking we act in freedom, we have continued to do things we shouldn’t simply because they are things we want to do. We have acted with conceit. We have envied and provoked. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Forgive us. Renew our desires so that we imitate Jesus. Help us to grasp the depths and heights of his love, so that we grow immensely in our love for you and others. Unite our wills with your will. You have called us to freedom. Please lead us in this new way of life. Amen.