True Freedom Is All About "We"

Understanding the freedom that comes from the good news of the gospel.

George Wright
Nov 10, 2019    31m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright helps us understand the freedom that comes from the good news of the gospel. He tells us that once we truly understand this freedom, we will feel moved to share the gospel with others so that they may come to know Jesus too. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Hey, let me encourage you now to grab your Bible and we're going to be in Galatians chapter 5. We have been walking through this series for the last few weeks, and it is such a privilege when we turn our attention to these words and recognize that the spirit of God is speaking to us and inviting us to see this amazing gift of freedom that is laid before us in the good news of the gospel. Galatians 5 is all about the gift of freedom that is found through Jesus Christ, and what that means for you, and what that means for me is we seek to live a life of faith. And I realize you may be here today or perhaps you're joining us online and you're new to faith, or maybe you're trying to navigate what you believe or where you stand as it relates to Jesus and a relationship with God. And we are so grateful that you're joining us, and we want you to know we're praying for you and we believe, we believe that God wants you to experience this gift of freedom that is found in Jesus Christ. So it is our prayer that you would see that, and understand, that here today.

George Wright: 01:08 I'd like to invite everyone to stand with me as I read these opening verses to get us started. And this is something we do each week at Shandon, just so we all can be reminded when we gather together as a people of God, we are standing on the foundation of God's word. We come under his authority, and the word of God that we stand upon reveals to us what God says is right and good and true. So this is the word of the Lord, Galatians 5, beginning in verse 13 it says this, "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. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

George Wright: 02:00 Would you pray with me as we consider God's word together? Let's ask the spirit of God to reveal to us what we need to see. Father, as we stand before you now, and as we pray right here, turning our attention to your word. It is my prayer that your spirit would reveal to us what we need to see, that our ears would be open, that our minds would be engaged to think deeply on the truth that you lay before us. And Lord, above all, I pray that our hearts would be open and receptive to that which you say, that we would not be the same as a result of what you say. So use this time for your glory as we look to you. It's in Christ' name I pray. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 02:57 As we've been walking through Galatians 5 over the last few weeks, we see this amazing statement, verse 1 in Galatians 5, "Is for freedom that Christ set us free." And we are reminded here in this great text, that that God cares passionately about our freedom. God wants us to live free, that is very good news. And what we've discovered as we've walked through these verses over the last few weeks, is that we have this tendency of believing that if we are truly going to be free, that this freedom is something that we have to earn, that this freedom is something that we have to somehow deserve through the way that we are living. And so oftentimes we try to work really, really hard to do the right thing, live the right way, in hopes that we might truly be free and stand right before God. But what Galatians 5 reminds us of, what Galatians 5 reveals, is that a works driven faith will never set us free. In fact, says a works driven faith will actually lead us into bondage, it will lead us to a place where we've made our world all about what we are doing instead of what Christ has already done. True freedom is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ, what he has done for us. That is beautiful, good news, that is the gospel.

George Wright: 04:29 But the tendency that we often have is we think about this good news of freedom is okay, so if that means I'm free in Christ, and my works don't save me, and my works are not what sets me free, then I guess that means in the freedom of Christ I can just do whatever I want. And oftentimes we can have this misunderstood idea of freedom, this idea that if I'm truly going to be free, I really get to do what I want to do. That true freedom is all about me getting my way, my desires are what matter the most, and if I am truly free, no one else can tell me what to do or how to live. The problem with this mentality, what we see here in Galatians 5:13 and following, is this mentality of I can do whatever I want because I'm free actually leads us to brokenness and destruction. You see, if true freedom is all about me, then anyone who gets in the way of my freedom becomes my enemy. Anyone who jeopardizes my freedom, and what I want, becomes my adversary. Anyone who gets in the way, or threatens my way, becomes someone that has to be removed from my life. If freedom all about me, then everyone else is a potential threat to my freedom.

George Wright: 06:03 But the scripture here that we're looking at today is reminding us that freedom is about so much more, it's about something that is so much bigger than ourselves. True freedom is not just about getting our way. The way we use our freedom is an opportunity, the scripture says, for the flesh is if we make our freedom all about us, our freedom becomes this opportunity for the flesh if it's all about what we want. But this is not the call of scripture at all for the people of God. Scripture does not lead us to live a self-absorbed, self-consumed, self-righteous, self-centered life, no, that's what the scripture calls sin. We cannot live with this mentality that says, because I'm free, I'm the only thing that matters, I can do whatever I want. No, that is bondage.

George Wright: 07:05 In fact, the apostle Paul writes in Romans 6, verses 1 and 2, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" Verse 2 he says, "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" What is this all about? The Bible is showing us that when we are truly free in the grace of God, we will begin to see the beauty of God's commands, we will begin to see the beauty of what the scripture calls the law. And we've talked about this throughout this series. Throughout the series we've said the law of God has a beautiful purpose, the law of God is a gift to us, but we must see the law of God does not save us. It shows us what we need to see, it shows us what is right and good and true, but the law does not save us because none of us can perfectly fulfill or uphold or keep the law. It's just not something that we can do in our sin. And so the law reveals to us our need, and the law shows us what the savior has done for us, as he has come to perfectly uphold the law. And as a result, the law points to freedom, not through our behavior in accordance to the law, but the law points to freedom in that it invites us to demonstrate what we have received. The law of God, and obedience to the law, does not set us free through our behavior, the law of God is an expression of our freedom when we trust it. Because it reveals what we have received, and that's what we find in these verses here in Galatians 5.

George Wright: 08:57 So let's step back in verse 13, Galatians 5, verse 13 he says this, "For you are called to freedom brothers, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh." The first thing I want to lay before you here as we walk through these verses, is this simple thought, true freedom leads to obedience, true freedom leads to obedience to the law of God. And I want to give you an example of this. So our family has two dogs that we absolutely love. We're going to put a picture up on the screen here of our two dogs, that's Bear our golden retriever, the big Lebearski, and then that's Cody, our a little Cocker Spaniel. Now Bear is the perfect dog, he is the greatest dog that God has ever created. Cody's about a year old, he's a puppy, he's still getting there. Okay, he's got a ways to go, but we do love him. We love these dogs. Are there any dog people in the room by show hands? Any dog people in the room? Awesome, I love you, God bless you. Any cat people in the room, by a show hands? And we'd like to invite you down front, we're going to lay hands on you, we're going to pray over you. No, in all seriousness, I understand that. We love these dogs though, Bear and Cody, and we've got a fenced in backyard behind our house and our dogs love to go play outside. You know, there's two ways they can go play outside. They can go out the back door, they can play in that fenced in yard. And when they're in the fenced in yard, they can run around, they can jump, they can wrestle, they can chase the ball, they can really do whatever they want to do in total freedom in that fenced in backyard. But you know to them it doesn't matter if they go out the back door, or the front door, and if they run out the front door, there is no fence. Right? Right over on the other side of the sidewalk there's a road, and it's sometimes a busy road. And they have no idea that cars are coming, that it's a dangerous place, they just want to run wide open, they just want to be free, they just want to play. If they run out the front door, they're in a lot of trouble, they're in a lot of danger. If they go in the backyard where the fence is, they're totally free, totally free within the boundaries, the protection of that fence.

George Wright: 11:12 You know, we need to be reminded, in our day and time, that a loving Father provides boundaries and guardrails for his children so that his children can be truly free. You see, the law of God is not because God is mad at you, or wants to steal your joy, or prevent you from experiencing the finest things in life. No, the law of God has been given to you so you can know what is right and good and true, and so you can live truly free. And we need to see the beauty of the law, we need to see the beauty of God's commands, that the commands of God are actually inviting us to experience freedom, to live as one who has been set free. The law does not save us, the law does not make us worthy, but the law protects us and teaches us when we recognize that our worth is found in Christ above all else. The law of God invites us to grow in our faith, the law of God invites us to trust a God who knows what we need, who knows what is right for us. And yet it's human nature, I struggle with this, you struggle with this, it's human nature to push back against the law, to question is that really what is best? Do I really need to obey these commands of God? Listen to this quote from D.A. Carson, this is so helpful to me personally. He says this, "People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to scripture, faith and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise, and call it tolerance. We drift toward disobedience, and call it freedom. We drift towards superstition, and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation. We slouch toward prayerlessness, and delude ourselves into thinking we escaped legalism. We slide toward godlessness, and convince ourselves we have been liberated, and this is why the call to obedience is of the utmost importance for the people of God. God knows what we need, God knows our tendencies, and God knows that if we are going to be truly free, it will be within the boundaries of what he has commanded. He calls us to obedience, because obedience invites us to embrace true freedom, and obedience leads us to a closer walk with him when we recognize the grace and mercy of God that has been poured out on us through Jesus Christ, our Lord. True freedom leads to obedience that flows out of knowing that our God is good, and our God loves us, and he knows what we need.

George Wright: 14:38 But secondly, we go back to the text and we pick up verse 13, where we left off, "Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but through love, serve one another." Verse 14, "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Here in this verse, the apostle Paul of course, is quoting from the great commandment of Jesus. Matthew 22, "So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself." This call to love, and Paul is showing us here, that it is only through understanding true freedom in the gospel, that we will live out this calling, this commandment. We are invited and empowered to live the great commandment, when we understand the true freedom that has been granted to us through Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 15:36 Now on this Veteran's Day weekend, it is a privilege to be preaching on Galatians 5 as we think about freedom in this country. And think about those who have sacrificed, those who have served, those who have laid their lives on the line for the cause of freedom. And that is a privilege, we celebrate those who have been willing to give all, and risk all, for the sake of freedom. I love reading about those who have served, I love the history of this nation as it relates to the men and women who have put their lives on the line to serve this country. I'm going to read to you just a portion of the book The Greatest Generation, a short little snippet written by Tom Brokaw, as he describes the World War II generation. Listen to this, he says, "By 1944, 12 million Americans were in uniform, war production represented 44% of the gross national product, there were almost 19 million more workers than there had been five years earlier. The nation was immersed in the war effort at every level, and the young Americans of this time constituted a generation birth marked for greatness, a generation of American that would take its place in American history with the generation that converted the North American wilderness into the United States, and infused the new nation with self-determination embodied first in The Declaration of Independence and then The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. At the end of the 20th century, the contributions of this generation would be in bold print, in any review of this turbulent and earth altering time."

George Wright: 17:24 Why do we call this generation the greatest generation? Because a generation, as a whole, came together and said, we are going to do whatever it takes to stand for the cause of freedom. And what did that mean for this generation? That meant sacrifice, that meant service, that meant this true understanding of freedom that says the greatest expression of freedom is to lay down your freedom so that another can be free. And we celebrate that in this country, we celebrate that among the greatest generation. Stephen Ambrose writes in his great book, D-Day, 75 Years Ago, June 6 1944, he said, "These American citizen soldiers knew that difference between right and wrong, and they didn't want to live in a world which wrong prevailed. So they fought, they won, and all of us living and yet to be born must be profoundly grateful." We celebrate those who lay down their rights, and lay down their privilege, and lay down their freedoms so that others can be set free. That is worthy of our admiration, and there is no greater example of this than what the scripture is revealing to us here today. There's no greater example of this than Jesus Christ himself, who sacrificed his life that you and I would be invited into this beautiful gift called freedom.

George Wright: 19:16 In fact, I want to ask you to turn in your Bible over to the Book of Philippians, just keep your place in Galatians 5 we'll come right back there, turn over to Philippians chapter 2. There's this amazing description of what Jesus did for you, and for me, that we would find through trusting in him, the gift of freedom. Philippians 2 verse 5 and following, the scripture says, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he made himself nothing, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Now church, I don't know if we realize this, I don't know if we just blow past this, but Philippians chapter 2 is our example. This is what we've been called to. The scripture says, have this mind in yourself. What is this mind? Well, the mind of Christ and what he has done for us. You see, no one has ever been more free than Jesus. Did you know that? No one has ever been more free than Jesus. He is God, and he laid down his freedom. He laid down equality with God, reigning on high in heaven, to become a man, to take on flesh, to give his life so that you and I can see this incredible invitation to be free. And we have been called to love, because he first loved us.

George Wright: 21:20 Jesus says to you, and Jesus says to me, I love you. I love you, I want you to know my love. I am inviting you, if you trust in me, to live free in my love, and to then be a demonstration of my love to the world around you. This is the message of Galatians 5, Christ has come to set us free, Christ is leading us to freedom. And when we trust him, and when we follow him, he invites us to be an expression of his love. You see, the thing I'm reminded of here in Galatians 5, this call to the great commandment, this call to love. To not use our freedom in a selfish way, an opportunity for the flesh, but to serve one another, to love one another. The thing I'm reminded of here, we see this all throughout the scripture, it is impossible to have a real encounter with Jesus Christ, and not become a more loving person. It is impossible to have a real encounter with Jesus Christ, and not become a more serving person. Because when you truly see what Christ has done for you, and you truly trust in the gift that he has provided for you, this gift of freedom, it will change your life. When you see what Christ has done, when you see that he has invited you to be set free, your life will begin to be a reflection of the love that you have received that he so freely gives. True freedom leads to love.
George Wright: 23:11 And then finally, we come to verse 15, and this is where we'll end today. Galatians 5 verse 15, it says this, "But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Here's the point I want to lay before you from this verse. true freedom lives the mission. True freedom lives the mission. And I realize you may be saying how in the world do you get that statement, true freedom lives the mission, out of a verse that talks about biting and devouring one another. You may be thinking, if you've been in Shandon for some time now, this pastor must just thing that every verse in the Bible leads to the mission. Well you're right, I do. But this is very specific, and I believe that very clear. What is the apostle Paul saying? What is the scripture revealing? The scripture is revealing how easy it is to lose our way, how easy it is to get off track and lose sight of what matters most. And so Paul is giving us a warning here, as he's talking about true freedom and he's talking about freedom that leads to love and freedom that leads to obedience, he's saying, don't miss the point here, because either we will view our freedom as something that is all about us. Which will lead us to become self-absorbed, and self-consumed, and self-centered, and self-righteous. Which will then cause us to bite and devour and all ultimately consume one another who gets in our way, who jeopardizes what we want, who threatens our personal preference as we try to hold onto something that was never meant to just be about us to begin with. Or we will live the mission that God has called his people to be about, because we are so overwhelmed by the love of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us that we have to share it. We will become so grateful for the freedom of the gospel, and what Christ has done for us, that we will do whatever it takes to share the gift of freedom that we have received with those who have yet to be set free. We will lay down our rights, we will lay down our preference, we will lay down our privileges, we will lay down our resources, and we will lay down even our lives, so that others can be free. Because the greatest expression of true freedom is to lay down your freedom that another might be set free. So what will it be? Will we believe freedom is all about us. Make enemies with anyone who disagrees, bite and devour one another, and become a people and a church that is totally ineffective as it relates to what God has called us to be about. Will we be a people that lives truly free, truly free in the good news of the gospel? So overwhelmed by the love of God that we can't help but live the mission. We can't help but live as a people who have been sent to the world with the good news of freedom in Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 27:03 I close with a quote from Paul Tripp that I read this week in a devotional. He says this, "God has not revealed his truth to you so that you can be the audience, a viewer of his work of redemption. God is not satisfied with informing you about the work of his kingdom. He transforms you to participate in the work of his kingdom. This is what God has invited us to be about." God has invited you and me to embrace this gift, freedom to live truly free, to follow his commands, to demonstrate his love, and to take this message outside of these walls, to this community, to our state, to our country, and around the world that the nations may know that there is good news in Jesus Christ that sets you free, because true freedom leads us to live the mission.

George Wright: 28:18 You may be here today having never experienced the freedom of the gospel, the freedom that comes through relationship with Jesus Christ. If that's you today, perhaps even you're joining us online and you're questioning your faith or you're wondering, am I right with God? I don't feel free, I want to be free. As I pray here right now, we want to invite you just to take a moment in this prayer and say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you, I'm ready to live in the freedom that you alone can provide.

George Wright: 28:56 So let's go before the Lord right now and let's have a word of prayer. Father, as we come before you, we are truly grateful for this gift of freedom. And certainly in our country, in this context, we understand a freedom that so many people can only imagine. And Lord, I pray that we would not take for granted the incredible gift of freedom that we have in this nation. Lord, as we think about what you have laid before us in your word, it is my prayer that we would live as a people who have been set free. And as a result of the freedom you provide, we would be a people who live sent on mission, that others who have yet to find freedom would experience the good news of what Christ alone can provide. We recognize that there are some among us today who have never experienced this freedom, who have never tasted and seen in a personal way that the Lord is good, who have never recognized that the invitation to live free and the gift of Jesus Christ. Some have been striving hard to live a good life, but they know in their heart they have not met all the standards. Some have been running hard away from you, Lord God, and they're recognizing they need something. They wanted to find freedom away from you, and it just hasn't happened, and so today they realize they need you. And so I pray in this moment as your spirit moves among us, that those who recognize their need for the savior would just say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow, I'm ready to trust you, I'm giving you my life, I'm asking you to forgive my sin, to cover me in your grace, to give me the gift of new life so that I can live free in your grace and mercy and follow after you. Oh, we thank you for being a God of redemption, a God who invites us to be set free to the beautiful gift of Jesus Christ. And Lord, as we close our time, and we have this opportunity to make a commitment through a pledge to give in the days ahead. I pray, Lord God, that you would use these steps of faith for your glory, and to further expand and extend the reach of your church here at Shandon to go outside of the walls, to take the gospel to those who have yet to experience the freedom that comes through Jesus Christ. So use this time for your glory, it is our prayer. We pray all this in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206