Liberty or Bondage

Gal 5:13

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (NKJ)

As we think about the freedom of this nation in which we live, I thought that this verse was quite appropriate. Our founding fathers were very much for liberty but I do not think they would think that much that goes under the guise of liberty really is liberty. I think they rather would think much is simply libertine living.

The basis of liberty that our nation was founded on is derived from the Bible. Much of the language of the early government documents come either directly or indirectly from the Word of God.

Today in the name of liberty we spread the most foul and disgusting material all in the name of liberty. We corrupt and ruin minds, morals and family values in the name of liberty.

We promote behaviors that are universally accepted as disgusting and damaging to society all in the name of liberty. According to the Supreme Court you can take the life of a baby that has come to full term and has almost completely exited the birth canal except for the head, all in the name of liberty.

But even among Christians, liberty has a new meaning today. God has set us free from sin, not set us free to sin. In the Christian mind freedom is never connected with allowance of sin. One of the strangest things I hear people say about sinful behavior is that as long as it doesn't hurt anyone it should be allowed. But all sin hurts more than just the person involved. Sin is behind every broken marriage, behind every ruined relationship.

Real liberty is being able to escape sin's hold on your life. Those who sin are in bondage, not free. John 8:32-36 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (NKJ)

In the passage this morning Paul has much to say about liberty and bondage. There were those who wanted the Christians to be bound by the law of Moses. But real liberty is not in a servitude even to the rigors of the law. That does not mean we are free to sin, although that problem has remained a part of Christian culture.

  1. The you is emphatic in the passage.
    1. In the Greek "you" stands in the emphatic position.
      1. He is saying you, you of all people.
      2. The sense is that as Christians, they were truly free.
      3. The had been called to liberty.
    2. Christians know the taste of freedom more than any others, for we have been set free.
    3. Rom 6:1-18

      1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.(NKJ)

    4. We have been called to liberty, to freedom. We know what it is like to be captive by sin and not be able to free ourselves.
  2. What is liberty?
    1. LIBERTY (lib'-er-ti) (deror, rachabh; eleutheria): The opposite of servitude or bondage, hence, applicable to captives or slaves set free from oppression (thus deror, <Lev 25:10; Isa 61:1>, etc.). Morally, the power which enslaves is sin <Jn 8:34>, and liberty consists, not simply in external freedom, or in possession of the formal power of choice, but in deliverance from the darkening of the mind, the tyranny of sinful lusts and the enthralment of the will, induced by a morally corrupt state. In a positive respect, it consists in the possession of holiness, with the will and ability to do what is right and good. Such liberty is possible only in a renewed condition of soul, and cannot exist apart from godliness.(from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)
    2. LIBERTY, CHRISTIAN Believers are emancipated from the bondage of Satan, the domination of sin, guilt, and the fear of death (see <John 8:31-36; Acts 26:17-18; Rom. 7:24-25; 8:15; Heb. 2:14-15>). Spiritual union with Christ, involving the service of Christ, is compatible with perfect freedom; inasmuch as we are thus restored to the right relationship to God and brought into harmony with His will (see <Matt. 11:28-30; James 1:25>). (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary) (originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.)
  3. Is there a possible misuse of liberty? "An occasion for the flesh"
    1. The problem with liberty in America is that liberty only works for a people who are Christians in their living.
      1. When a people are given liberty who have not been set free from the bondage of sin, they will always use their liberty as an occasion to satisfy the flesh.
      2. Instead of using their liberty to do what is right, people use their liberty to do that which is evil.
      3. And our society has been so permeated by anti-Christian people that there is no longer a community outcry against these forms of evil.
      4. Even those institutions established by the founders of this country to secure and maintain liberty often now stand against the right and with the wrong.
      5. These institutions, congress, the courts, and the law often stand opposed to the misuse of liberty.
    2. But as we see in this passage, this can also be a problem for Christians.
      1. We find that the question is that are Christians now free to sin since their sins have been all forgiven.
        1. Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (NKJ)
        2. Rom 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (NKJ)
      2. There will always be those carnal Christians who want to use Christian liberty to live sinfully.
        1. 1 Pet 2:16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. (NKJ)
        2. 2 Pet 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (NKJ)
      3. Instead of using liberty as an occasion to sin we should use liberty to become more holy in our lives.
        1. 2 Cor 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (NKJ)
    3. Some use liberty as "as an occasion" or "opportunity" for the flesh.
      1. 874 aphorme- 1) a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations 2) metaphorically, that by which endeavor is excited and from which it goes forth: a) that which gives occasion and supplies matter for an undertaking, the incentive b) the resources we avail ourselves of in attempting or performing anything. Thayer
      2. If we as Christians to restrain the flesh and bring it into submission, it can bring us into bondage again.
      3. Sad that many Christians who end up ruined by a return to sin have claimed liberty to live that type of life.
      4. But Christian liberty is never about us; it is always about our relationship with God.
      5. 1 Pet 2:16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. (NKJ)
        1. We see that although we have been set free, God has designed us to not be truly free unless we are servants of His.
        2. When Jesus set us free, He set us free from sin to serve Him.
  4. Free to serve.
    1. Before we knew the liberty that comes from the forgiveness in Jesus Christ we were in bondage to sin.
      1. Isn't it ironical that those who think they are the freest because the live indulging in sin, are really those in the greatest bondage.
      2. The are often consumed by the sin that they presume is a testimony of their freedom.
      3. Many of the "free" people have lost, everything and ruined their families so they might be free to pursue sin.
      4. The non-Christian is so in bondage that they are not free to serve anyone but themselves.
    2. But God's intention for us is to free us from sin so that we might serve one another in love.
      1. No longer do serve sin but we are free to serve one another in the body of Jesus Christ.
      2. No longer are we concerned only about our own selves but we are concerned about others.
      3. What does this serving one another look like?
        1. It is people ministering to those who are sick and in need.
        2. It is people coming along side others to help, even at a loss to themselves.
        3. It is motivated and sustained by love.
      4. This word serve is the verb from of the word translated slave.
        1. We are to be slaves to one another.
        2. Most people are not free enough to serve.
        3. Jesus had to wash the disciples feet because they were not free to do it for each other.
    3. Do you have that type of freedom?
      1. Or are you still a slave to self, in the land of freedom?
      2. Are you still in bondage to sin, from which you have never been able to free yourself.
      3. Jesus can set you free.
      4. When He sets you free you will be able to serve others and not only yourself.
      5. When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com