Free Indeed

The 9th message in the Galatians series.
(Find the other messages from this series here)

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In Basketball you can move around quite a bit without dribbling as long as you don’t pickup your pivot foot.

When I played basketball in high school I was regular instructed by my coach that I was not to dribble. I was a low post guy- when I got the ball I should pivot toward the goal.

If I got the ball away from the goal, I should look for a guard to pass to…

When you set a pivot foot, you can turn, swivel, find a player to pass to, make a move toward the basket etc.

In politics today people use the word pivot like they used to use flip flop- meaning an absolute change in direction-

In the passage that we will look at today, Paul pivots but it’s because has set one foot strongly on the truth of the gospel. He’s spent the previous 4 and half chapters establishing the truth of the gospel, that it is in Jesus Christ that we are changed. That is through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that we become sons and daughters of God, not through any works or efforts of our own.

With the gospel firmly established, Paul pivots to focus on the life changed by the gospel.

I say pivot meaning that Paul changes the focus of his application, not the focus of his message. In fact, the truth that Paul lays out in this passage is one that he has been saying all along. Even when he was saying you aren’t saved by keeping the law, he’s been saying, but that doesn’t mean you continue in sin…

2:19 I died to the law so that I might live to God

2:20 It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith.

So what he’s already referred to but will drive home in these verse is the principle that

While we do not keep rules to come to Jesus Christ, 

when we come to Jesus Christ in faith 

our lives and actions are transformed.  

Our behavior changes because we have been changed!

We do not behave our way to Christ,

but in Christ every aspect of our lives is transformed.

If we come to Christ and nothing changes, that’s a major ripoff. That’s of no advantage.

Christ came to bring us freedom, if we continue to live in the bondage and brokenness of sin, we are not freed.

In verse 13 he says, do not use your freedom for an opportunity for sin, but rather as an opportunity to love and serve.

The word he uses for opportunity was one that the Greeks used in battle for secure location from which to launch an offensive maneuver. It was a place of advantage like high ground, to make a advance on the enemy.

It was the staging area from which they could deploy troops and battalions to attack the enemy.

Paul is saying, don’t let this freedom you’ve been given become an opportunity for sin, but rather let it be the forward operating base to do good and make a difference in the world!

In the fall of 1944 Allied troops were making swift progress across Europe towards Germany, but the front moved so fast that the Allied forces struggled to keep their men supplied with reinforcements, ammunition, food, and other supplies.

This combined with a major offensive created the battle of the bulge which stalled the Allies through that winter.

In the spring of 1945, however, allies were again making progress and they knew they must keep the troops well supplied, so plans were made to capture bridges crossing the Rhine River into Germany.

One bridge was in the city of Regamen.

Picture of town with bridge

It was a large bridge built for rail.

As Germans retreated they attempted to blow the bridge up, but the majority of their explosives did not fire.

Picture of bridge

American GIs crossed the bridge under fire cutting wires along the bridge as they went.

Picture of troops heading onto bridge

Once the bridge was won, 8,000 men and an entire battalion of tanks crossed the bridge in the first 24 hours.

The Bridge would be destroyed a week later, but at that point the Allies had secured enough ground on both sides of the Rhine they were able to build several temporary barge bridges to continue the advance.

The Regamen bridge was key. It gave the Allied forces occasion to advance on the enemy.

Paul says that our liberty should be used as an occaision, not for evil but for good. To make an advance in the darkness and evil of this world!

Your freedom in Jesus Christ is more than a fire escape, it’s an on ramp to the effort to bring hope and redemption to the world!

Our freedom in Christ is a safe, fortified, high ground for attacking evil and making a difference in the world!!!

Then Paul examines the divide between good and evil within us- he set’s these two opposing forces in array as the Spirit and the Flesh.

Paul realized that

Freedom in Jesus Christ is more than a fire escape, it’s an on ramp to love, joy, peace, faith, and more in your own heart and life!

The life of the Spirit and the life of the flesh are opposed.

V.17 is so important.

“The flesh lusteth against” means that what the flesh wants is against what the Spirit wants/

What the flesh desires is the opposite of what the Spirit desires.

The life the of flesh and the life of the spirit are in opposition to one another and the life the flesh keeps us from doing those things that we want because of the Spirit.

“so that ye cannot do the things that ye would”

You ever find yourself watching the news and saying, “I do not understand why these people would do these things…”

I do not understand why anyone would do that to their child

I do not understand why anyone would do that to another human being…

When the desires of the flesh are left unchecked, they over run those things which we know in the Spirit are wrong and undesirable. In the scripture we would often see Jesus interact with people who were demon possessed, and they would lose control of their bodies and do things that were harmful to themselves and others.

Maniac cut himself. Terrorized others.

Child threw himself into the fire.

These were extreme examples of the flesh being ruled by evil, by personified evil…They were in bondage to an evil spirit.

That’s the extreme.

But’s self-destructive behavior is where sin leads.

Sin always escalates. 

Sin always brings harm to self and others.

When the flesh rules, the works are obvious Paul says in verse 19.

Fornication, Adultery, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness.

None of those are harmless.

Our world will tell you, it’s just a little fun.

Oh, it’s natural!

Paul doesn’t argue that it’s not natural, that’s his point.

Paul doesn’t argue that there’s no pleasure in it, Paul point is it’s origin and it’s destination.

Here he says these are works of the flesh.

In v. 15 he warns against devouring one another and being consumed.

In v. 26 he warns against provoking one another and strife and envy.

Fornication, Adultery, Partying, Living in excess, dabbling in the spiritual world, learning heresies, durnkeness it always leads to destruction.

In the Holy Spirit, we live for God, and not because we have to, but because we want to.

Whereas those actions are derived from the flesh and end in destructive behavior, the life in the Spirit derives from the divine and results in love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith…

Sin originates in the flesh and ends in destruction.

Virtue originates in the Spirit and results in life.

v.18 If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law, but there are all these wonderful elements that come into your life-

Paul calls them fruits in verse 22, because they are the result of the Spirit in our lives…

And against these there is no law-

Paul is saying, the Spirit brings into our lives things that no one would say is bad.

Everyone wants more joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control….

I grew up in a context where the idea was that ppl would be attracted because we dressed differently, that doesn’t attract anything but funny looks.

Malcolm Gladwell’s father was attracted to Mennonites because he went to a barn raising and the people were kind, generous, welcoming. It wasn’t their clothing, it was their kindness and goodness.

Here’s what’s great. It’s fun!

Life with the Spirit is not only beneficial, it’s enjoyable!

Christian life is a series of get tos, not have tos.,,,

“Why do you preach at the jail?” Because I straight up want to!

Because it’s an absolute blast when my freedom can be an occasion, a opportunity to make a dent in the darkness!

Because we desire to live in a way that honors God and brings us greater freedom. In Christ we see the costliness of sin. We see the slavery of sin. We do not wish to return to that…

However, while the fruits of the spirit are produced by the Spirit (you can’t just decide to be more loving – you can decide to act more loving, but you can’t decide to be more loving) there is work we can do…

In Christ we should constantly seek to crucify the flesh and walk with the Spirit.

v.24 Crucify the Flesh.

v.25 Walk with the Spirit.

v.24 Crucify the Flesh.

Crucifixion was merciless (everyone died), crucifixion was ultimate (decisive), crucifixion was painful (not easy)

The reason we are not holy is that we have not fully realized our sinfulness.

We shouldn’t devour one another, we should kill our flesh.

We should turn our cross hairs on our own sinfulness.

We should use our freedom in Jesus Christ to work on the brokenness within us and around us.

If we are crucified with Christ, we have killed the flesh, we have cut it off with its passions and desires and our passion and desire (what we want to do) – our passion and desire are for these fruits in our lives…

v.25 Walk with the Spirit.

v.18 led by the Spirit

v. 16 & 25 in the Spirit


So Paul says, if we live in the Spirit, let’s keep in step with the Spirit- Let’s not get ahead of the Spirit- let’s not get conceited.

Let’s not get envious or provoking…

You know why some of our dear saints are some of the most gentle, kind, and generous people you’d ever meet? Because of the work of the Spirit in their lives for decades.

Like a well tended orchard, the Spirit is bringing about that fruit in their lives.

I’m sometimes amazed at stories they tell from their youth when they weren’t so kind and gentle and patient- I think, that doesn’t sound like you! Because that’s who they were, not who they are.

They were freed, and they’ve not used that freedom for an occasion for the flesh, they’ve used that freedom for an opportunity to love and serve one another.

We get this wrong in two ways, we think that people who are kind, gentle, loving, faithful, peaceful, were just born lucky…

Not true…

We think that if we are going to have these elements in our lives,

then we have to just get our act together.

The way to get your act together is not to get your act together but to give you act over to Jesus Christ…

The way to have an apple tree is not to tape apples onto a tree. If I tape apples onto this tree, it doesn’t become an apple tree.

I can’t just decide, I’m going to have more love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and self-control.

I’ve got to plant the seed that will produce that…

The way to have an apple tree is to plant an apple tree and stay out of its way, make sure it has light, water, and time.

So the first step is to make sure that it’s real- the first step is to be in Christ because when you’re in Christ, the Spirit is in you.

Nicole and I just put in some landscaping at our house. I sent a picture of it to my grandmother. She said, which plants did you get? I said I bought the low maintenance perennials which were on clearance.

Annuals are with you for a season and then they are gone.

There are ways that you can have peace or happiness for a season, but they’re just for a season.

The only perennial provider of these wonderful elements is the Holy Spirit.

That’s Paul called the Galatians to in verse 13, don’t waste your freedom for an occasion for the flesh, use your freedom to love one another and do good for one another.

This is the fabric that connected the Original Core Group which built this church- which taught Sunday school, took youth on outings, showed kindness to one another in times of hardship and tragedy, encouraged one another in dark days, celebrated together on the good days…

We’ve been freed from sin and the law in Christ, let us use our freedom to walk with the Spirit and experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If you want a crop of beautiful virtues in your life, 

give your life over to Christ.