Stand in the Liberty Where Christ Set Us Free

October 30, 2022

Pastor John Hering

Galatians 5:1

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

We love freedom.  It is a priceless treasure.  It is so valuable that armies have fought and lost their lives for it.  Remember the famous quote? “Give me liberty or give me death” (Patrick Henry, 1775).  Many wars have been fought against tyranny that threatened to engulf the world and rob us of freedom.  Just think of the sacrifices made by our country in WW1 & WW2 in lives, money and the amazing industry used to produce weapons.  These all stand as evidence of how highly our nation cherishes freedom!  But, there is a freedom that is far more precious than any political, industrial or social freedom—that stand for a time and then pass away.  The freedom I speak of on this Reformation day is the freedom that involves the souls of people for time and for eternity.  By the grace of God this religious freedom has been preserved to this day.  However, there are mighty forces at work to undermine, rob and destroy the greatest freedom of all that we have in the Word of God!  It is a greater threat than just the Roman Catholic Church’s attacks during the days of the Reformation. It also includes the forces of Liberalism and Communism working to destroy the freedom of our life, our conscience, religion and the free preaching of the Word of God.  That makes today a special day for us to once again regain our strength for the battle.  We don’t want to be known in future generations as the people who lost the battle against the attacks on freedom.  May the Holy Spirit guide our meditation from Galatians 5 as we commemorate the blessings of the Reformation to

Stand Firm in the Liberty Where Christ Set Us Free

A Liberty in Great Danger

St. Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia with this time-tested encouragement:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” 

Galatians 5:1

St. Paul had brought the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.  However, it didn’t take long for false teachers to come and corrupt the Word.  Some were called “Judaizers” who opposed the freedom in Christ, by grace, through faith without the deeds of the law.  These were false teachers who insisted that the Old Testament observance of festivals and ceremonial laws had to be kept.  The Galatians listened and gradually began to fall into the trap of losing their freedom.  It almost sounds like Paul is in desperation when he wrote: I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Gal 4:11).  Their Freedom in Christ was in Great Danger!  By listening to these false ideas the Galatian Christians were in danger of lapsing back into the bondage of slavery under the law and its curse.  This was a real danger to their spiritual life and heading down a path to eternal death!  It was vital for them to hear Paul’s words, Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

What would Paul write to us today?  The same thing!  Even though during the Reformation the believers were shown freedom in Christ, freedom of conscience, religion and the freedom we have in God’s Word, yet the sinister power of Satan works to deflect the thoughts of people from the real issue—how can I stand right before God?  The lies of Satan show up on Social Media, in the movies and in the public opinion to cloud right and wrong, to bind up consciences with illegitimate conclusions, and even threaten bodily harm to anyone who “Stands firm” on God’s Word.  We are not surprised the unbelieving world regularly opposes what God says in his Word. Relationship experts insist that couples ought to live together before marriage, to “take a test ride.” Political leaders declare that a woman has the right to end the life of a human being through abortion. They express opinions in opposition to God’s declaration. We are hardly shocked at such proclamations.  Under the banner of unconditional love and acceptance they draw conclusions like this:

  • The Lord who loves you wants you to be happy. If you aren’t happy in your marriage, you can and should get a divorce.
  • Jesus understands if you want to live with your boyfriend to make sure you are compatible; he will not judge you.
  • If God made you with desires for people of the same sex, you can pursue those desires; Jesus certainly will not cast the first stone. 

These conclusions are illegitimate. They glide right past the truth of God’s Word that says, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6). Sadly, but not surprisingly, large crowds gather around such teachers and Liberty in Christ Jesus is in Great Danger!

Let us take the warning seriously.  The danger that threatened the Galatians threatens us.  False teachings arise and bury the real freedom we have in the Gospel.  The atoning blood of Jesus is diluted with good feelings, self-righteous good works, and direct the hearts of people to seek their own salvation and peace. Sadly, that is the condition in which we live today.  However, we learned that the majority opinion is not necessarily the right opinion. (Your mother must have said to you at least once, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”). But the devil stands ready to use the illegitimate conclusions of the world to divert us from the legitimate teaching of Scripture. We like to think that we could never be swayed from the truth of God’s Word. Unfortunately, the old Adam still plagues us. We listen as he says, “My Jesus accepts me and will never condemn me, regardless of how I live, because his love is unconditional.”  Yes, true liberty in Christ Jesus is in Great Danger!

Recognizing the enemies of our freedom in Christ Jesus opens our eyes to the danger before us. We know the devil has allied himself with some in the visible church to whisper “sweet nothings” in our ears. He knows that we probably won’t fall for an open rejection of God’s Word, so he suggests conclusions that appeal to the sinful nature. Left on our own, we would certainly fall for these dangerous illegitimate  conclusions. Thank God that he has chosen to take up residence in us by his Spirit. The Spirit drives us back to the Word again and again, so that we reject illegitimate conclusions and Stand Firm in the Liberty Where Christ Set Us Free. It also fires us up on the day we remember the Reformation because we believe our freedom in Christ is

A Liberty Worth Fighting For

St. Paul wrote: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Our freedom in Christ Jesus did not come cheaply.  Paul wrote, you were bought at a price” (1 Cor 6:20). The price was the life of Jesus Christ who suffered and died in order to pay the price of our sin and deliver freedom to a world that was held in slavery of the law and the curse of sin.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

Galatians 4:4-5

And again, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Gal 3:13).  Our salvation was worth it to Jesus Christ. Jesus did not fall for illegitimate conclusions, but followed every law in God’s Word perfectly in our place.  It was worth it to pay his life in order to gain the salvation of the whole world.  It was worth it to battle against the power of Satan and death for you.  It is also the desire of Jesus Christ that the Church proclaim this saving message to a dying world.  It was worth it to Jesus.  Let it be worth it to you and me!  As we share the truth of God’s Word with the people in our community, the Holy Spirit will use that powerful Word to make people free in Christ. That Is a Liberty Worth Fighting For!

We know that our national freedom was bought by the blood of patriots in the Revolutionary War and again in the Civil War.  As American citizens we cherish, appreciate and guard this freedom. How much more must we guard the freedom which delivered us from spiritual bondage by the blood of Jesus Christ!   We know this Gospel was nearly lost during the days of Martin Luther.  God used Dr. Luther to bring back mankind’s Declaration of Independence of pure and free Gospel of grace and forgiveness in Christ.  Oh the battles fought, tears shed and intense meetings endured to bring back the Gospel of Christ.  How much more must we guard the freedom which delivered us!  This is Liberty Worth Fighting For!  Let us Stand Firm In the Liberty Which Christ Has Set Us Free!

We love our national freedom!  We admire those who gave their all to provide this freedom for us.  How much more so the freedom we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let us be eager to use the God-given means at out disposal so the Gospel continues to be proclaimed among us, and through us to others. That includes our church right here.  Come to faithful hear the Word and receive the assurance of your sins forgiven at the Lord’s Supper.  It includes our educational opportunities such as Kingdom Kids.  Come to Bible Class and bring your children to Kingdom Kids to learn more about the precious freedom we have in Christ.  And we also have another opportunity before us in a Christian School. You will soon be hearing more about the possibility of us starting the Divine Peace Academy where we can have Gospel-centered teachers educating our children.  It isn’t a physical battle against armies, but these are tools we can use for the spiritual battle against the attacks of Satan, the evil world and our own sinful flesh.  Luther certainly knew what he was doing at the time of the Reformation when he insisted on Christian education for the youth.  He said, “Where the Word of God is not the rule, I counsel no one to send his child.  Everything must perish where the Word of God is not constantly in use.” Luther saw Freedom in Christ Worth Fighting For.  Do you?

 We love freedom, but we are living in an age where freedom is gradually slipping away. Our generation needs to be led back to the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ or else tyranny, bondage, crime and destruction will follow like a flood.  There is only one solution to sin and its curse, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is just one way to save our country, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There is just one way that our children and grandchildren can be made eternally free from the curse of sin, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let us thank the Lord that we are still children of the Reformation and still possess the freedom from sin, death and the devil.  Let’s cheerfully support with our gifts the proclamation of Jesus Christ who set us free. Wherever we go and whatever we do, let us be eager to live in the freedom we have in Christ Jesus.  And let’s also be aware that we don’t turn the liberty we have in Christ into a license to sin, and by our actions, undermine the true liberty we have in Christ. Recognize the Great Danger all around.  Take up the Word God and the Liberty that is Worth Fighting For.  O God, help us to “Stand Firm in the Liberty Where Christ Has Set us Free!  Amen!

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