Use Not Liberty

Posted by on Dec 3, 2006

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

December 3, 2006

Sunday Morning

“Use Not Liberty”

Scripture Text: Galatians 5:13-15

Introduction:

 

A.   For several weeks now, as we have continued our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatian believers, we have focused our attention on the importance of standing fast in our Christian liberty, and not allowing ourselves to be placed again under any form of spiritual bondage.

1. Paul said it best in Gal. 5:1, which we considered Sunday before last.

2. Let’s look at that verse again, Paul said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

3. And so, when it comes to our Christian liberty, we should be firm and not let any person rob us of that liberty and thereby place us again under bondage.

 

B.   However, there is another side to that coin that must not be overlooked.

1. Not only should we stand fast in our Christian liberty, we must also be very careful that we do not take advantage of our Christian liberty.

2. Notice again Vrs. 13 of our text, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”

3. In other words, “Don’t use (look at) your freedom as an opportunity (a license) to indulge (gratify) your sinful flesh.”

 

4. Peter put it like this in 1 Pet. 2:16, “…not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness.”

 

C.   Here is what will happen, if we are not careful.

1. We will tell ourselves, “Since we are not saved by works or by good deeds, but rather by grace through faith in Christ, it really doesn’t matter how we live our lives.”

2. In other words, “Since we are free, we are free to do as we please.”

3. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

4. We are free, but we are not free to do as we please.

5. We are free, but it does matter how we live our lives.

6. We are free, but we must not take advantage of our freedom, and use it as an opportunity to gratify our sinful flesh and thereby sin against the God who gave us our freedom in the first place.

7. How ungrateful would that be?

8. Do you remember Joseph?

9. Even though Joseph was Potiphar’s servant, his master gave him great freedom when it came to running his household.

10.   Do you remember what Joseph told Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him? He said, “Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;…There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:8-9)

11.   In other words, “How can I sin against Someone Who has been so good and so gracious to me?”

 

D.   And so, while it is important that we stand fast in our Christian liberty, it is also important that we not take advantage of that liberty.

1. In our text, this morning, Paul mentions at least three ways that we can take advantage of our Christian liberty, if we are not careful.

2. For example, we take advantage of our Christian liberty when we…

 

I.       Attend Only To Our Needs.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 13 of our text, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

 

B.   You know, there are basically two kinds of believers today.

1. First of all, there are those believers whom I refer to as “self-serving” believers.

2. What do I mean by “self-serving”?

3. I simply mean that they live their lives primarily to…

-serve themselves,

-attend to their own needs,

-meet their own obligations, and they have little or no time to concern themselves with the needs of others.

4. While they would never admit it, their motto in life is, “Take care of # 1, and don’t worry about anyone else.!”

5. They are self-serving believers.

6. And so, first of all, there are those believers whom I refer to as “self-serving” believers.

 

C.   The other kind of believer is what I refer to as “others serving” believers.

1. While they do attend to their own needs, they live their lives primarily to attend to the needs of others.

2. Rather than taking advantage of their Christian liberty, they put into practice the words found in Vrs. 13 of our text, which says, “…but by love serve one another.”

3. You know, when it comes to serving others, our Lord Jesus set the example, didn’t He.

4. First of all, He set the example in the way that He lived His life.

5. Do you remember what Jesus did that really astonished His disciples, especially Peter?

6. He literally washed His disciples’ feet. (John 13:1-12)

7. He took a towel and a basin of water, and one by one, washed the feet of each of His disciples.

8. And then when He was finished, He said this, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)

9. Jesus also set the example for serving others in the way that He died. How did He die?

10.   He died for others! (Amen?)

11.   Listen to what Jesus said in Mat. 20:27-28, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:…Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

D.   But someone asks, “Why should I live my life for others?”

1. Well, I’ve already given you two reasons, because…

-the Bible commands us to,

-Jesus set the example for us,

but let me give you a couple of more reasons.

2. First of all, we should attend to the needs of others because God will attend to our needs if we do.

3. (Illus.- I’ve heard people say, “I can’t worry about others, I have to take care of myself.” Let me as you a question. Do you think God can do a better job of taking care of you than you can? If so, concern yourself with the needs of others and let God take care of your needs.)

4. Isn’t that what He promised in Mat. 6:33? He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

5. In other words, live your life the way God wants you to live it, and God will see to it that your needs are met.

6. A second reason that you should to the needs of others is because we will be happier if we do.

7. (Illus.- In my opinion, the saddest people in this world are those who live “self-serving” lives. The opposite is also true. The happiest people in the world are those who live their lives for others.)

8. Didn’t Jesus Himself say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”? (Acts 20:35)

 

E.   And so, we take advantage of our Christian liberty when we attend only to our needs. We also take advantage of our Christian liberty when we…

 

II.      Abhor Our Neighbor.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 14 of our text, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets..”

1. The first place we find this command in Scripture is in Lev.19:18, which says, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:”

2. This, of course, was a part of the law of Moses.

3. The second place we find it is in Mat. 22:39.

4. You might remember that a lawyer had asked Jesus the question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mat. 22:36)

5. In other words, “Of all the commandments that God has given us in His law, which is the greatest?”

6. Do you remember how Jesus answered this question?

7. He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind….This is the first and great commandment.” (Mat. 22:38)

8. But Jesus didn’t stop with just the greatest commandment, He went on and stated the second greatest commandment. He said, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself….On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mat. 22:39-40)

 

B.   Now there are two things that I want to point out about the second greatest commandment.

1. Notice, first of all, that it is universal in scope.

2. What does it say?

3. It says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

4. Now this raises the question, “Who is our neighbor?”

5. Someone says, “Well, that’s easy! Our neighbor is the guy who lives next door.”

6. Well, that’s a pretty narrow definition.

7. Jesus defines the word neighbor in a much broader way.

8. Do you remember His parable of the good Samaritan?

9. The same lawyer who had asked Jesus the question, “Which is the greatest commandment?” followed up our Lord’s answer with another question.

10.   He asked, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29)

11.   It was in response to this question that Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-37, which teaches, among other things, that our neighbour is anyone with whom we come into contact who has a need.

 

C.   Not only is this command universal in scope, it is also unconditional in application.

1. Notice that our text does not say, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, as long as he lives up to your expectations.”

2. “As long as he is a good guy.”

3. “As long as he is not an undesirable.”

4. “As long as he is not of a different race, or a different religion, or a different sexual orientation.”

5. It simply says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” period!

6. The command is unconditional in it’s application.

7. Why should we love unconditionally?

8. Because God loved us unconditionally! (Amen?)

9. I love Rom. 5:8, it says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

10.   Notice those words “while we were yet sinners.”

11.   God loved us “while we were yet sinners.”

12.   But someone asks, “Doesn’t the Bible say that we should hate sin?”

13.   Yes it does, but it doesn’t say that we should hate sinners. (We should hate sin, but at the same time we should love the sinner.)

 

D.   And so, we take advantage of our Christian liberty when we abhor our neighbor. Finally, we take advantage of our Christian liberty when we…

 

III.    Annihilate One Another.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 15 of our text, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

 

B.   Apparently the believers in Galatia, in addition to being plagued with false teachers, also had problems getting along with one another.

1. Paul describes their behavior as biting and devouring “one another.” (Sort of sounds like a “dog fight.”)

2. Paul warned them to “take heed” lest they be “consumed one of another.”

3. The word “consumed” here means “used up or destroyed.”

4. When believers fight with other believers, not only are individual relationships destroyed, but in some cases entire churches are destroyed as well.

 

C.   Rather than tearing one another down, believers should instead build one another up.

1. The Biblical word for this is edification.

2. The Bible admonishes us in Rom. 15:2, “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

3. Paul put it like this in Rom. 14:19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

4. You know, the tongue is a very powerful thing.

5. James compares the tongue to “a little fire.” (Jam. 3:5)

6. It can do great harm or great good.

7. It can tear people down or build them up.

8. It can destroy relationships and churches or it can build relationships and churches.

9. It all depends on how we use it.

10.   In Rom. 12:1, we are admonished to “present” our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.”

11.   This should certainly include our tongues!

 

D.   And so, we take advantage of our Christian liberty when we annihilate one another.

Conclusion:

 

A.   As I get ready to conclude, this morning, I want to ask you a couple of questions.

1. First of all, do you possess liberty in Christ?

2. In other words, have you, by virtue of your faith in Christ as Savior, been set free from the bondage and penalty of your sin? (Are you saved?)

3. If not, I encourage you to trust Christ this morning.

 

B.   If so, let me ask you another question.

1. Are you taking advantage of your Christian liberty?

2. You are, if you are attending only to your own needs.

3. You are, if you are abhorring your neighbor.

4. You are, if you are annihilating your fellow believers.

5. Instead of attending to our own needs, we should serve one another.

6. Instead of abhorring our neighbor, we should love our neighbor.

7. Instead of annihilating our fellow believers, we should build them up.

8. To do anything less is to take advantage of our Christian liberty.