Liberty, Licentiousness, and Love


Bible Text: Galatians 5:13-16 | Preacher: Jeff Voegtlin | Series: The Grace of Galatians “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Interpretation & Explanation
  • We live in an age when men, women, and even children are seeking liberation.
    • “Do your own thing”
    • That is not real freedom according to the Bible.
    • “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”
    • Freedom comes in Jesus Christ.
    • What is Christian liberty?
    • What does it involve and how does it operate
  • WHAT CHRISTIAN LIBERTY IS (v. 13a) – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.”
    • No more obligation of the ceremonial law
      • Galatians 5:1
      • Galatians 4:5
      • Galatians 3:25
      • Still obedient to God’s moral law
    • It is important to understand that the moral law of God hasn’t changed—nor has the believer’s obligation to it. God’s ethical law is internal since Christ has come to live inside the believer.
    • As Christians, we live under the internal restraints of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We are not reacting to a code.
    • The dangers of legalism and libertinism (clear rapids and polluted stream – must miss both)
  • An Example (Exodus 21:1-6)
    • Serve for six years because the law required it.
    • Could then use his freedom to serve his master because he loved him.
    • No difference in what the servant did the first six years and what he does the rest of his life.
    • The difference is that it has ceased to be an external requirement and has become an internal desire.
    • In the same sense, when a Jew came to Christ, he continued to serve God by obeying His moral code.
    • The Christian doesn’t need the external ceremonial laws anymore because the Holy Spirit restrains him from doing what is wrong and guides him to do what is right.
  • WHAT CHRISTIAN LIBERTY IS NOT (vv. 13b-15)
    • Not Indulging the Flesh (v. 13b) – “Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”
      • Christian freedom is not an opportunity to indulge the flesh.
        • A Christian wasn’t set free in Christ to do whatever he wants.
        • If you’re saved, you won’t indulge your flesh because of the sin-restraining presence of the Holy Spirit inside you.
        • “occasion” (Gk. aphorme) is a military term referring to a base of operations.
        • Don’t make your flesh the base of your operation.
        • There are Christians that think they have the privilege of doing whatever they want and would say you can indulge in such things as booze, sex, or pornography by appealing to Christian liberty.
        • If they are saved, the Spirit will be restraining their sinful desires.
        • Romans 8:9-11 tells us that one of the works of the Holy Spirit is to subdue the flesh.
        • Our example – Christ
          • Romans 13:14
          • Romans 15:3
          • John 4:34
        • Our aim is not to please ourselves, but the Lord. Our motivation is not the stiff upper-lip of duty; it’s the loving service of gratitude to One who has set us free.
        • Not Injuring Others (vv. 13c, 15)
        • The command to be considerate to one another (v. 13c) – “But by love serve one another.”
        • Liberation is not a license to hurt my Christian brother, but to serve him by a supreme kind of love.
        • The word serve (Gk. douleuo) refers to the service rendered by a bondslave. It means to serve another Christian as his slave.
        • Liberty and slavery in the Christian life form a paradox, but not a contradiction because such service is voluntary.
        • In Romans 14, Paul emphasizes the importance of service over selfishness.
          • Judging another man’s servant (v. 4-5)
          • Each person will be at the judgment seat (v. 10)
          • Don’t cause others to stumble (v. 13)
  • My Life for Yours
    • The consequence of consuming one another (v. 15) – “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
    • Not Ignoring the Law (v. 14) – “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
    • Freedom in Christ isn’t freedom to ignore the law; it’s freedom to fulfill the law.
    • Christian liberty doesn’t involve ignoring God’s moral law. It fulfills it from the inside by love.
      • Romans 13:9-10
    • Christian liberty is not freedom to indulge the flesh, but the capacity to use self-control.
    • It is also not freedom to injure others, but to love them by ministering to them. And Christian liberty is not freedom to ignore the law, but to fulfill it.
  • HOW CHRISTIAN LIBERTY IS EXPRESSED (v. 16) – “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit.”
liberty licentiousness love
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