August 26, 2012
"When Freedom Becomes License"
Read Galatians 5:1-25.
A student, on his web site, posted an uncomplimentary picture and statements
about his school principal. The school suspended the student. The parents through
ACLU sue. The court ruled that the student had freedom of speech (regardless of
the content) under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.
In 2006, a newspaper in Belgium printed an uncomplimentary picture of the
prophet Mohammed. In response, Muslims in several countries riot in protest.
For a Christian, what is freedom? When does freedom become license? And where
does responsibility enter into the picture?
First, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free from the bondage to
sin and the Law (5:1). 1) Freedom is a gift which Christ has achieved for us through
His suffering on the cross. John Piper wrote: "If Christ had not been insulted,
there would be no salvation. This was His saving work: to be insulted and die to
rescue sinners from the wrath of God." This was prophesied in Psalm 22:7, "All who
see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads." "He was despised
and rejected by men … as one from whom men hide their faces … and we esteemed him
not" (Isaiah 53:3). Matthew 27:28-29 records what actually happened. Christ’s response
to all this was patient endurance (cf. Isaiah 53:7). "For Christ, enduring the mockery
of the cross was the essence of his mission," writes John Piper. 2) We are commanded
to "stand firm" in this freedom (5:1). 3) As Christians, what is most important
is "faith working through love" (5:6). 4) The bottom line is that Christians are
called to freedom (5:13).
Second, we are commanded not to use our freedom as license. 1) Our freedom
should not be used as an opportunity to "indulge the sinful nature" (5:13,
17-21). 2) Nor should we bite and devour each other (5:15). 3)
An example of this is the French Revolution where the under-privileged rebelled
against the privileged class, causing the death of many people and total chaos.
4) In contrast, at the same time in England, through the preaching of an evangelist
named Whitefield, revival spread throughout the nation and brought peace
Third, true freedom brings with it responsibility. 1) "Rather, serve one another
in love (5:13). 2) True freedom coupled with responsibility fulfills the law
Fourth, how can we have power to use freedom coupled with responsibility? 1) "Live
by the Spirit" (5:16). "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer
live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the
Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (2:20). When we put our faith
in Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. 2) The fruit
of the Spirit (5:22-23) will be produced in our lives when we "keep in step"
with the Spirit (5:25). 3) "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with
the Spirit (5:25).