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Sabbath School Lessons on Galatians
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- Stand Firm
- Read Galatians 5:1. Who has given us freedom? (Jesus.)
- 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?
- From what are we free? (Paul tells us that the
"burden" of "a yoke of slavery" has been lifted.)
- Read Galatians 5:2-4. What is this yoke of slavery? (Paul
specifically mentions circumcision, but he also mentions
"the whole law.")
- 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.)
- When Paul says, "Mark my words," what do you think
he is saying? (This is important!)
- 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.)
- 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.")
- Consider Freedom
- 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.)
- Is faith a mere declaration? (Paul refers to "faith
expressing itself through love." It is more than a
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Freedom and Love
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Do we agree that when we harm another person that we
harm our self? And, when we love another person, we
love our self?
- 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
- The Advocate on the Other Side
- 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
- Read Galatians 5:8. Who can we eliminate as the author
of righteousness by works? (Jesus.)
- Read Galatians 5:9. How difficult is it to combat error?
(It is insidious! It creeps in and infects the whole
- Read Galatians 5:10. Can we take Paul at his word? Why
should he be confident, given what he has written so far?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.