Sabbath: Freedom in Christ
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Read for This Week’s Study:

Gal. 5:1–151 Cor. 6:20Rom. 8:1Heb. 2:14, 15Rom. 8:413:8.

Memory Text:

“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” (Galatians 5:13)

In Galatians 2:4, Paul briefly referred to the importance of protecting the “freedom” that we have in Christ Jesus. But what does Paul mean when he speaks about “freedom,” which he does so often? What does this freedom include? How far does this freedom go? Does it have any limits? And what connection does freedom in Christ have to the law?

Paul addresses these questions by warning the Galatians of two dangers. The first is legalism. Paul’s opponents in Galatia were so caught up trying to earn God’s favor through their behavior that they lost sight of the liberating nature of Christ’s work, of the salvation that they already had in Christ through faith. The second threat is the tendency to abuse the freedom Christ has purchased for us by lapsing into licentiousness. Those who hold this view mistakenly assume that freedom is antithetical to the law.

Both legalism and licentiousness are opposed to freedom, because they equally keep their adherents in a form of slavery. Paul’s appeal to the Galatians, however, is to stand firm in the true freedom that is their rightful possession in Christ.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 10.

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Sabbath: Freedom in Christ — 10 Comments

  1. Even in countries were freedom of expression is guaranteed, you cannot intentionally step on their country flag and think you'll remain free

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  2. The Christian walk is like walking on a path on top of a ridge with a steep slippery slope on either side. On the right of the path is the legalistic attitude that the lessons have been dealing with. On the left is the liberal attitude which this week’s lessons will be handling. It is the thing that James was dealing with in one of its forms in his epistle.

    Like all areas of life the two slopes have varying degrees of the problems and create gray areas that sometimes are hard to discern. Truly, the correct path is through the narrow gate, “because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mat 7:14 NKJV). We need to be balanced Christians that can see the path that is between the two extremes.

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    • It is true that there are two ditches on either side of the road of faith, and the road is narrow. And I believe the way to determine whether we are on the road, rather than a ditch is fairly simple. It's all a matter of attitude.

      If we find ourselves focusing on what we must do in order to be saved, we are probably in the ditch of legalism -- especially if we find ourselves looking around at others in the church and seeing how very wrong they are. Legalism leads to comparing ourselves with others and judging others.

      If we are daily surrendering our lives to Christ and rejoicing in the salvation He has bought for us, we will want to do what He says, because our heart has been changed. We have different motives. We will want to do His will because we know that He only asks what is best for us. We will claim His power to obey, His power to renounce self. That doesn't mean we will live without fault. We will often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our sins and failures, but He does not cast us off. As we look to Him, He lifts us up and empowers us walk the road of faith as we lean on Him.

      Then there's the ditch on the other side. We may not worry about our salvation. We may feel "free" to do lots of things that once we did not feel free to do -- because, after all, Jesus has saved us. Truths we once held dear may seem meaningless and old-fashioned. We are pretty much free to do as we please, as long as we look "Christian." This ditch does not include daily surrender to Jesus, which involves obedience and self-denial. The "faith" intrinsic to this attitude is presumption. Some day Jesus will say to practitioners of this kind of faith, "I never knew you. Depart from me."

      Come to think of it, I believe the second ditch is also a form of legalism. Rather than focusing on keeping the Law to add something to the work of Christ, those in the other ditch focus on what law they don't need to keep. At least that's what I've seen happening.

      Our pastor has preached a series of sermons on what we usually call "The Prodigal Son." However, he talked about the two lost sons. The younger son was lost because he left the Father's home and spent the inheritance in sinful indulgences. He came back, willing to be a slave, but was welcomed as a son. That's salvation by grace through faith!

      The elder son was lost right in the Father's house because he obeyed from a sense of duty with a resultant feeling of entitlement. He obeyed like a slave rather than enjoying his freedom as a son. That's legalism.

      At the end of the story, the younger son was inside the Father's house, enjoying the banquet, while the elder son was outside. Would he go in?

      With which son do we identify?

      I have described the extremes. Most of us are not there, but somewhere on the way. Where are we headed?

      To sum up:
      Do we feel we must obey to be saved,
      or do we want to obey because we are sons and daughters?
      Or do we consider obedience irrelevant?

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    • Amen, Tyler. I feel that you have described the situation very well. Also, Inge has given us a very clear picture of what the extremes look like in the way we relate to God's law. I'll only add three points here.

      1) It seems that there is a correctly balanced position (along with two opposite extremes) on virtually every point of doctrine.

      2) The correct balance is defined by the Scriptures themselves. Just any middle-of-the-road compromise position could never be a correct balance. On the other hand, when one humbly and sincerely seeks the truth by prayerfully considering all that the Scriptures have to say on a topic, there are generally paradoxes to reconcile. That is, there are apparent contradictions which one must diligently study and ask the Holy Spirit to make sense of, and the resolution of this process naturally leads to the correct balance.

      3) It seems to be an observable phenomenon that the track of truth lies close to the track of error. Doubtless, this is intentional on the part of the father of lies, to create pernicious errors and deceptions that lie as close as possible to the truth. Thus, when a particular error has been identified, it's really a mistake to adopt a position as far away from it as possible. I find that the right idea is to adopt as Biblical and true a position as possible.

      My God bless you all in seeking and doing His will, in loving Him, and in following His way.

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      • R.G., you wrote something very wise:
        "It seems to be an observable phenomenon that the track of truth lies close to the track of error. . . . Thus, when a particular error has been identified, it’s really a mistake to adopt a position as far away from it as possible."

        It's something for us all to remember.

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  3. Freedom in christ has the great meaning,
    Before this grace the sin directly punished us for forever
    death! But through God's mercy we get forgiveness and set us free from death punishment when we follow him for forgiveness by faith with the true willing, knowing that we can not do any thing without him, he set us free. After him set us free. After that forgiveness we become servants of him and the old thing are passed which caused us to stumble.
    Becoming his servant is only achievable by abiding in him, getting direction from him, obeying his direction, doing what we have to do Mathew 28.19 that is the freedom. We are no longer under satan prison but under God our creator.
    Take an example of the pilot no matter how much he/she is expert but he/she rely to follow the principle for take off and landing, he/she must obey the direction from the Plane director.
    Our true director is Jesus Christ, if we follow the earthly principles for worldly success is not much more about our heavenly father?

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  4. Free from what?

    Just one example of freedom in Christ:

    Freedom from the debilitating emotion of hate.

    The young woman whose father was a drunk, abused the children and even molested her, is filled with hate and shame. It's robbing her life of its vitality and meaning. She tries all kinds of "works" to try and appease this torturous sense of hate and shame.

    Then she finds Christ. At first His command to forgive her father goes against everything she is feeling. How can she forgive her father? Finally she surrenders before the Lord in tears on her knees and a peace she has never experienced before comes over her. She forgives her father and claims Christ's forgiveness for her own sins. The result is amazing.

    For her the burdens are lifted at Calvary! She is freed to live for Christ in love and joy!

    Christ's ministry is to set us free FROM sin. Sin is an evil taskmaster that exacts terrible wages, that not only end in death but also lays heavy burdens on living.

    The priceless gift that Christ offers is freedom from sin. It is a gift that only Christ can give.
    We accept it by faith -- and now that we are freed from sin and it's dominion, what do we do?

    The battle is not over.
    But we are now on the winning side -- sons and daughters of God. Forgiven and cleansed by Christ's blood, we walk in newness of life with Christ on the path of righteousness.

    Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

    1 John 3:1-3
    Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world does not know us, because it didn't know Him.
    3:2 Beloved, now are we the children of God, yet what we shall be has not yet appeared: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
    3:3 And every person that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

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  5. As people created in His image, we have freedom. Freedom of choice; freedom to choose whom we will serve. Freedom to choose between life and death. Freedom to be free from the bondage of sin or to serve sin. Freedom to choose self-righteousness or Christ’s righteousness. Freedom to serve God without fear or to serve Him out of fear. Freedom to boldly approach His throne by claiming Christ’s righteousness. And freedom to be called the children of God.

    This freedom however, does have limits. Children resemble their parents, and so do we who claim to be children of God. We cannot claim to have freedom in Christ when we are choosing to serve sin. It is clear that we cannot serve two masters at the same time. This is where the boundary is drawn or our limits are defined.

    When Paul speaks about “freedom” as in Galatians 2:4, he is advocating for the freedom which we have in Christ. The freedom of knowing that we have a merciful and faithful High Priest, whom If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As a result, we are free to come boldly unto the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace without complements our good acts/self-righteousness.

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  6. Some have been commenting in regard to the question: Freedom from what? Of course, the Christian is free from many things. But, what exactly is Paul's point in Galatians 5:1?

    I believe that the context answers this quite clearly. Paul had been chiding the Galatians for their evident desire to be "under the law," and he had been wondering at their willingness to submit to the "weak and beggarly rudiments of the world."

    The one is clearly a reference to a law-dominated religion, where one makes slavish attempts at obedience that doesn't really come from the heart. The other strikes me as a reference to the way the world keeps its own in line -- by the threat of force, false or exaggerated warnings, false shame, peer pressure, etc.

    So, freedom from what? I believe Paul is urging the Galatians to assert their freedom in Christ to seek a heart religion where righteousness (harmony with God's moral law) is a delight, and where the questionable law-based demands of others can be ignored.

    Yes, we do need to listen to each other. Self-sufficiency is never good in the body of Christ. But, we must never allow other well-meaning folk to bring us into bondage to THEIR ideas of how to please God.

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