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Freedom: License or Liberty?


"13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad you are with us today.
It was January 6, 1941, it was at the close of an important speech to congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared his vision of the kind of world he wanted to see after the war was over. He envisioned four basic freedoms enjoyed by all people: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. To some degree, these freedoms have been achieved on a wider scale than in 1941, however, I believe our world needs yet another freedom. Mankind needs to be free from himself and free of his sinful nature.

The letter has changed emphasis from doctrine to practice. The first 12 verses of chapter 5 have promoted freedom from legalism. Some might say that since the restraints of the law have been lifted, I am now free to do what ever my inclinations, passions, and desires lead me to do. Essentially, a license to sin. A license to abuse and pervert my Christian liberty. What will keep the Christian from so abusing his freedom?

Christianity resembles a narrow road between two polluted rivers. One is called legalism and the other a license. A believer must be empowered by the Holy Spirit, in order that he does not lose his balance and stumble into the bondage of legalism on one side or into the defilement of sin on the other. He must walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

As Christians we have not been freed to sin but we have been freed by the grace of God not to sin. The Christian is, whom through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, is so purged of self, so that he loves his neighbor as himself, a thing which is not possible except for one walking in the Spirit.
Before we continue in our study of this marvelous epistle from the apostle Paul, let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
We cannot thank You enough for Your Word for us today, we pray that it will touch the hearts of those You have so graciously gathered together with us, that Your will is accomplished in and through us. As we live in the fullness of our freedom and liberty, remind us of the limitations, that will keep us obedient to You, that we would not abuse them. 

Lord, we just pray for those who are yet in darkness, that today might be that day they would come to Your Son and become partakers of the precious gift of salvation, repent and turn from the bondage of slavery and sin. Use us O' Lord, as You will, to be a vessel, an instrument in that work.
May it all be for Your glory and increase in the Kingdom.
In Jesus' name

Today's Message: Freedom: License or Liberty?

It's no secret that sinners desire the freedom to do whatever they want to do. Often proclaiming it's their right. They reject authority, they have the distorted belief, they have a license to do whatever behaviors they choose to do, and furthermore, they have a right to be free from anyone’s condemnation of their choices, regardless of whom it may affect. 

However, within Christianity, there is a new pseudo Christianity, a growing popularity in our generation, in which the idea is, to accommodate the current culture of sin. This is a perverted, sin bent culture. It seems to have very little self restraint, if it is, in fact, restrained at all. All of this, in the name of "freedom."
However, I'm sure you're all familiar with the words of our Lord, in John 8:34, "Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin."
We have not been given a license to sin, but a license to love! Christians were called to be free from sin and of self, in order that we might loving service one another as verse 13 declares. "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love."
The text distinguishes the difference between freedom to sin and freedom to serve. There is the possibility that because a person is freed from the law they will live in self-indulgence and sensuality. Freedom used as a license to sin, is in fact no freedom at all, because it enslaves you to Satan, sin and self, to your own sinful nature, and the flesh.

The corrupt nature of our flesh is who we are apart from Jesus Christ and His Spirit. If we do not surrender our life to Christ, we are prone to serve our flesh, who we are in our fallen self apart from God. Without ongoing self-discipline of the Holy Spirit, how quickly we can squander our accomplishments. A Spirit controlled life must be a lifestyle, not an occasional event.

The New Testament teaches that we do not live under the law of Moses. But this freedom does not imply that we can live irresponsibly. In Christ we have complete immunity from the eternal sentence required by God for breaking His commandments. But this does not give us reason to indulge our sinful nature. In doing so, we disgrace our Lord. 

If we use liberty as an opportunity to indulge the sinful nature, we will be no different from that reckless sinner. We will be taking advantage of the One who gave us our privileges.

That is why freedom is dangerous in the hands of those who don’t use it properly. Which is why barbed wire, steel bars, and concrete barriers confine criminals. Similar to a fire, allowed to burn freely in a dry forest, it quickly becomes a blazing inferno. Unchecked freedom becomes destructive.

This misuse of freedom is more than evident in the Christian life. Believers are free from the law’s curse, its penalty, and its guilt-producing power. Fear, anxiety, and guilt are replaced by peace, forgiveness, and liberty. Who could be more free than one who is free in the depths of his soul? However, this is where we often fail. We use our liberty to live selfishly, claiming ownership of what God has merely loaned to us. We slip into patterns of self-indulgent living, especially in affluent societies like America.

Christians though should not become slaves to Satan, sin, or self. We have been freed to do what is right and to glorify God through loving service to others. Christian freedom does not give us the right to do as we please, but the liberty to do as we ought. So how do we exercise responsible freedom? We should "through love serve one another." This present tense imperative means it is a command to be carried out throughout our life.

The responsibility of freedom in Christ is to serve each other in love. We are to imitate the love of Him, who voluntarily took the form of a servant and served others. Christ came to give us liberty by dying in our place and now He tells us to use our freedom to share His love and grace.

I pray that each and everyone hearing this message, will take opportunity to serve others, for in this you serve the Lord. Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but to do what pleases God.

The text now introduces God’s higher law in verse 14. "For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Freedom is not to be without guidance. There is guidance higher than the setting up of restrictive laws. It is the guidance of loving others as yourself. To do that is to be guided by the Spirit.

The fulfillment of the commandments is to love God and others. The intention of the law given through Moses was not to check up on mankind, but rather to teach mankind to love God, the first four commandments, and to love one another, the last six commandments. God knew that people hurt others when they commit adultery, kill, steal, or covet. When people do those things, they do not love. But when people are guided by the Holy Spirit and live a life of love, they fulfill the intentions of the Old Testament law concerning their relations with one another.

Romans 13:10 teaches us, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law."

To live a life of loving service is real purpose behind the Law. Persons living under the control of the Holy Spirit will be motivated to serve others in love and will fulfill not only the commandments but their intent as well. A loving relationship with God and others, fulfills the intent and requirements of the law. Love is the motive for a life of responsible service to God and others. 

John 13:34-35, sums up all the commandments in one word "love." When Jesus said, "I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another."

When one loves his neighbor, it is the satisfaction, the fulfillment of the whole law. Love for others combats selfishness, self-centeredness. It is to be an active love, which is demonstrated to those around us. Love not law is the motivation for the Christian life. 

Verse 15 says, "But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." This is how we know are not loving one another, if we're biting and devouring one another.

A person cannot love another as himself without putting restrictions on his actions; for love does not harm another person. When we are not motivated by God’s love we become critical of others, speak poorly about them, gossip. We cease to look for good in them and see only their faults and their failures. Soon, the unity of the believers is broken and Satan begins destroying the fellowship. That is why the temptation is so strong for us to fall back into the old habit of criticizing and backbiting other Christians who are different from us. 

In doing so, we have replaced all the laws written in the Old Testament with our own cultural laws or personal understandings that we use to judge others and then speaking against them. To bite and devour are activities of savage animals. If Christians do that, then the Bible says we will be destroyed by one another. It’s easy to assume that we’re just too mature to let things go that far. But words and emotions can get out of hand, rather quickly, even among Christians. When this happens, feelings get hurt, friendships are destroyed, relationships are damaged, the church becomes divided, and the whole body of Christ suffers.

If Satan can get Christians to begin attacking one another with their sharp tongues, he then has achieved a victory, for he has planted the seed of self-destruction in the church. As long as the biting goes on, the destruction is present.

When that is going on inside a church, the participants need to be reminded of who they are, what nature lives inside of them, and by what power they should be living.

When we say something unkind to a fellow Christian, he may become defensive, and often ill-feelings develop. We may look on our disagreement as nothing more than a question about our rights. The Lord sees the total picture, however, and knows we would be better off if we held our tongue and trusted Him for the outcome. If we don’t, one day we will regret that by our biting words we "consumed one another."

Ephesians 4:32 teaches us a powerful truth, "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." 

It is only as we rely on Him will the love of Christ enter into our hearts, replacing the man-eating impulses of a sharp tongue and a bitter soul. It is far better to bite your tongue than to allow it to bite someone else. 

We must therefore, use our liberty to build others up, not to tear down. Unrestrained fire can destroy, but controlled, it blesses us with its warmth and light. Liberty does not give us the freedom to do what we please, but to do what pleases God. So let’s always use our liberty to build up, not to tear down. Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but rather to do what pleases God.  

Verse 16, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

In other words, if Jesus Christ truly takes over your life, you will become a new creation. You will become a new creation. If the Spirit of God lives in you and is allowed to rule you, old things will pass away, all things will become new. It is not that you and I ourselves are gritting our teeth and are just going to try harder to do the right things. It is that in the power of God, in the Spirit of God, we can be enabled, we can be empowered, we can do all things through the Christ who strengthens us. 

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 22:37-40, "And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets." 

In Closing....

When you begin to feel critical of someone, pray for that person and make a list their positive qualities. If there are problems that need to be addressed, it is better to confront that problem in love than to gossip in bitterness.

A person cannot love another as himself, without putting restrictions on his actions; for love does not harm another person. A good thought to remember is that true freedom is never the right to do what we please, but to be pleased to do what is right in the Lord.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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