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Lesson 11: Freedom in Christ *

Introduction: One of my greatest blessings is to have lived all my life in a place where we have both political and economic freedom. During my lifetime, a greater proportion of the world has become free, both economically and politically. That slashed the rate poverty and hunger worldwide. I recently read an article reporting that absolute poverty dropped by more than 80% from 1970 to 2006 and it continues to drop. There is no doubt in my mind that political and economic freedom are linked to the abolition of poverty. What other freedoms are linked to enjoying a better life? Surely there is a link with religious freedom. In our study today, Paul asks us to consider carefully theological freedom. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Freedom


    1. Read the first part of Galatians 5:1. Why did Jesus set us free? (Paul says, "it is for freedom.")


      1. What do you think that means? (It must mean at least that God has a very high opinion of freedom.)


      2. Think about the Bible as a whole. How has Jesus set us free? (When Adam and Eve sinned, we were condemned to eternal death. See Romans 5:14. Jesus set us free from our death sentence.)


    2. Read all of Galatians 5:1. What "yoke of slavery" does Paul mean? Is he talking about the slavery of sin? (Paul repeatedly refers to slaves and slavery in Galatians 4. He is talking about the slavery of being under the law.)


    3. Read Galatians 5:2-3. How does this clarify what Paul means when he writes about slavery? (Paul says that he is talking about circumcision and "the whole law.")


      1. Why is Jesus of "no value" to us if we are obligated to keep the whole law? (When we accept Jesus in baptism, we die with Him and are raised with Him to eternal life. If you are trying to be saved by obedience to the law, you have ignored Jesus' sacrifice on your behalf.)


    4. Read Galatians 5:4. What is our status in life if we are "alienated from Christ?" What hope do we have if we are in that situation? (We are lost! We are under the condemnation of those who must, but who cannot, keep the "whole law.")


      1. Let's assume that you are a very good person. You are better than most people you know. You may have no temptation in certain areas of life, but is that true for all areas of your life?


      2. When I was a teenager, an adult would ask my friends and me if we were sure we were saved? It was a great question to ask, and I'm sure this adult felt he was promoting the Kingdom of God by asking it. The problem was that this adult was dishonest in small things - and he would suggest dishonesty to me to save on small fees. Can you see why obedience in all things is so difficult even for good people?


    5. Read Galatians 5:5. Who gives us the attitude to eagerly await righteousness? Who is the operative agent in bringing righteousness into our life? (The Holy Spirit!)


    6. Read Galatians 5:6. How does faith express itself through love?


      1. Let's contemplate this a few moments. God wants to give us freedom. Are faith and love linked? (If we love someone, we want them to be free. Paul begins his argument with the idea that faith brings certain results in our life.)


  2. Interfering With the Truth


    1. Read Galatians 5:7-8. Any runners reading this? What does it mean to "cut in" on a runner? (I assume it means to get in your lane and get in your way so you cannot run as well. Your path is blocked.)


      1. When Paul refers to "that kind of persuasion" not coming from God, what does he mean? God does not "cut in" on our lane? (We know from the Genesis account that God gives us free choice. The proponents of salvation by works were trying to limit the freedom of the Galatians.)


    2. Read Galatians 5:9. How carefully should we guard against the argument promoting righteousness by works? (Paul says it is insidious - it permeates the entire church.)


    3. Read Galatians 5:10. Paul cannot be writing about Satan, because Paul knows who he is. That must mean Paul is talking about a person. What happens to those who promote righteousness by works? (They will "pay the penalty.")


      1. What do you think is the penalty for that teaching?


      2. I personally doubt that anyone you know will say "I'm getting to heaven based on my works, forget Jesus." But, have you been told that if you do not obey the law you will be lost?


    4. Read Galatians 5:11-12. Apparently some of the "pro-circumcision" crowd started the rumor that Paul agreed with them. What reasons does Paul give to prove that rumor is false? (1. If Paul agreed with circumcision, he would not be suffering persecution. 2. He cannot promote circumcision and at the same time promote what Jesus did for us at the cross. 3. He has a hostile attitude toward the circumcision crowd.)


  3. Obedience and the Truth


    1. Read Galatians 5:13. If I cannot use my freedom, am I really free? (Yes, you can choose. Paul says, "Choose wisely.")


      1. Is there slavery in sin?


      2. Let's think about this a moment. Paul tells us not to "indulge the sinful nature" and then he tells us to "serve one another in love." Why are those opposites? Why mention them as being in contrast with each other? (Most sin involves selfishness. You want to have an abortion because you selfishly prefer yourself to your unborn child. You want to have an affair, because you selfishly prefer yourself to your spouse, your partner's spouse, and all of the children involved. You steal because you selfishly prefer yourself over the property rights of another.)


    2. Read Galatians 5:14. Do you agree? (Read Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:37-40. Paul did not make this up. Leviticus and Jesus agree.)


      1. I just wrote "Most sin involves selfishness" because I thought there might be an exception. If the entire law is based on loving others as we love ourselves, then all sin must involve selfishness. Can you think of an exception?


      2. Does this mean that loving ourselves is fine? (Yes! Just not at the expense of someone else.)


    3. Read Galatians 5:15. What is the specific problem with the Galatians? They need to become vegetarians?


      1. I thought the problem centered on their view of salvation. Why does Paul raise this issue? (It must be that they not only disagree on the substantive issue, but the way they go about disagreeing is a problem.)


        1. Do you know people like this? They cannot disagree on an issue, without attacking the other person?


    4. Friend, do you want to be free? Paul tells us that grace give us theological freedom. We are not slaves under the condemnation of the law. But, at the same time, Paul tells us to choose wisely and do those things that show love to others. Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help develop an attitude of love in you?


  4. Next week: Living by the Spirit.


* Copr. 2017, 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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