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Lesson 11: Freedom in Christ *

Introduction: Freedom is such a sweet thing! We all know that we want to be free. We know when we are not free. But, what, exactly, does freedom mean? I might have the freedom to punch my neighbor in the nose. But, he would not think that he was free if he was regularly getting punched by me! What does Paul mean when he tells us to "stand firm" in our freedom? Let's dive into our study of Galatians and see what we can learn!

  1. Stand Firm

    1. Read Galatians 5:1. Who has given us freedom? (Jesus.)

      1. When you consider the author of our freedom, does that tell us something about the nature of our freedom? For example, would Jesus give us the freedom to harm others?

      2. From what are we free? (Paul tells us that the "burden" of "a yoke of slavery" has been lifted.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:2-4. What is this yoke of slavery? (Paul specifically mentions circumcision, but he also mentions "the whole law.")

      1. If the law is the transcript of God's character, as I have repeatedly heard, then how can it be a yoke of slavery? (I don't think that the law or circumcision are the "yoke," rather I think it is the requirement that we keep the entire law or die that is the yoke of slavery. It is work to accomplish the impossible. It is Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill.)

      2. When Paul says, "Mark my words," what do you think he is saying? (This is important!)

      3. Is righteousness by works "anti-Christ?" (Yes. That is why this conversation is so important. If you believe that your works are essential to save you, then you have thrown Jesus out and your works have taken His place. You are anti-Christ.)

      4. Isn't there some sort of middle ground - that I believe in salvation by faith but I also believe that good works are necessary for my salvation? (If we think our works justify us, then we are "alienated" from Jesus. We cannot claim grace for we have "fallen away from grace.")

  2. Consider Freedom

    1. Read Galatians 5:5-6. If righteousness by works is to be avoided, what should we seek? (The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agent to bring us righteousness.)

      1. Is faith a mere declaration? (Paul refers to "faith expressing itself through love." It is more than a mere declaration.)

    2. This idea of expressing our faith through love steers us back to our discussion about what freedom means. If you were truly free, you could do anything, right? Let's jump ahead for a moment. Read Galatians 5:19-21. If you were truly free, you would be able to do these things, right? (Paul tells us that we cannot do these things and inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul must have a different definition of freedom.)

    3. Consider an illustration. Assume that you have a two year-old child. You say to your child, "I give you freedom. You can do anything you want. But, if you want my continued guidance and help, you have to live with me and follow my instructions." If you are the two year-old, what would be the way of freedom? (You will die if you choose to go out on your own. Being dead ends freedom of choice. The only way to live is to choose your parent. Jesus gave us the opportunity for freedom from eternal death. But, true freedom requires us to walk with Him.)

    4. Let's look at this from another angle. What kind of freedom do you want to enjoy in heaven? Would you like your fellow citizens in heaven to be able to enjoy "hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy?" (If the source of suffering on earth makes its way into heaven, you would not enjoy the freedom.)

    5. One final illustration. Think about the sin that you committed that you most regret. Did you "enjoy" freedom in that sin? (Clearly, you were free to commit the sin, but what followed was suffering! Friend, we can look to our own experiences to know that the only way to enjoy freedom of choice is to make right decisions.)

  3. Freedom and Love

    1. Read Galatians 5:13-14. Where have you heard that before? (You may be surprised to know that you have heard it more than once! Read Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:37-40.)

      1. Does the freedom given to me by Jesus mean that I am without obligation? (No! It means that I have an obligation to love others as I love myself and an obligation to avoid gratifying the desires of my sinful nature.

    2. Does Paul's statement fit our discussion about what we think is true freedom? (He is not telling us something that is alien to our own experiences.)

      1. Do we agree that when we harm another person that we harm our self? And, when we love another person, we love our self?

    3. Read Galatians 5:15. What does this tell us that we already know about hurting others with our "freedom?" (They bite back! They will take a chunk out of your hide!)

  4. The Advocate on the Other Side

    1. We have been skipping around in Galatians 5, let's go back and pick up the verses we missed. Read Galatians 5:7. This is an odd way to describe righteousness by faith: obeying the truth!" Or, is it? (It is not odd. The decision to believe God and trust God (as in Abraham's case) is the same as the decision of the two-year old to obey and trust his parents. It is a decision about allegiance.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:8. Who can we eliminate as the author of righteousness by works? (Jesus.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:9. How difficult is it to combat error? (It is insidious! It creeps in and infects the whole church.)

    4. Read Galatians 5:10. Can we take Paul at his word? Why should he be confident, given what he has written so far?

      1. If we have some sort of "new" idea to stir up the church, what should we consider? (If our idea is not based on the Bible, if we are stirring up confusion in the church, then we will pay a penalty.)

        1. Do we know who is creating the confusion? (At bottom, it is Satan. Paul tells us that it cannot be Jesus. So, it must be Jesus' opponent (Satan) and his followers who do these things in the church.)

    5. Skip ahead and read Galatians 5:12. For comparison, re-read Galatians 5:6. How do you reconcile these two statements? (Fundamental error needs a strong response.)

    6. Read Galatians 5:11. Why is the error of righteousness by works a "fundamental error?" (It cancels the cross. Our God was crucified. The idea of a god being crucified is an "offense." Who would follow a god who was killed? We do! Christians understand that the life, death and resurrection of our God is the key to our eternal life. If you do not get this right, you are not a Christian.)

    7. Friend, do you grasp Paul's argument that God's path to true freedom is to believe, trust and obey Him? We are saved by grace, by choosing Jesus, but this is not just words, it is a life choice. It is a choice to love God and love others so that the guilt, sadness and conflict of selfishness will be left behind. We can stand in the light and the joy of true freedom. Will you make that life choice today?

  5. Next week: Living by the Spirit.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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