Glorious Freedom - Hymns 4 Him - Part 4
Tomorrow, here in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day - the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by all thirteen colonies, what became The United States of America. More than two thousand years EARLIER, we began to celebrate another declaration of freedom. This declaration was written about in Galatians 5. This is the Christian’s declaration of freedom from sin.
In 1917 a Norwegian immigrant, Haldor Lillenas, composed a hymn about this declaration of freedom from sin based on Galatians 5. It’s called, “Glorious Freedom.” Let me teach it to you.
Sing Verse 1 & Chorus.
How many of you know Jesus as your “glorious emancipator?” Were you once chained… “fettered in chains” of sin, but now you are free? Maybe some of you today would admit to still struggling with sin of one kind or another. I have good news for you!
#1 - Jesus has called us to be ___FREE___.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
Jesus did not leave Heaven, come to Earth, die a tortuous death on the cross - paying the price for sin - so that we might be freed from sin’s clutches - only so that we might continue to struggle with sin! No! We have been called to be free! Jesus wants you to be freed from sin! Not just the penalty of sin, but also from the addiction of sin and the corruption of our lives and our relationships that are caused by sin. Jesus’ death on the cross broke the control that sin has upon you.
From the beginning of the church until now, this issue of continuing & ongoing sin within the life of a Christ-follower has been an issue for us. At one point Paul even writes, “Shall we continue to sin so that grace will abound? God forbid!” (Romans 6:2)
Nothing could be further against what God desires for us as His children. He tells us quite plainly here in Galatians 5:13 - “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.” Never say to yourself, ‘God will forgive me anyway. So I will go ahead and sin now and then just ask for forgiveness later.’ God forbid that we take this matter of sinning as a Christian so lightly.
Notice that this verse uses the other side of the equation: “rather serve one another humbly in love.” Why the word, “rather?” Because when we sin as if it doesn’t matter, when we knowingly and intentionally do the opposite of what God desires for us, it also damages our ability to serve one another. It impacts our ability to love. To sin is almost always about selfishness, which is almost always the opposite of humbleness. So sinning takes away our ability to serve other people humbly in love.
Sing Verse 2 & Chorus.
Carnal affections. Envy. Hatred. Strife. Vanity. Ambitions outside of God’s will. All these come from a sinful core inside of us. Each one elevates me, me, me over other people and God. I want! I want! Me! Selfishness. How do we operate our lives without this selfishness?
#2 - The means of our freedom is to ___WALK BY THE SPIRIT___.
”So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17
Let’s break this down starting at the end of verse 17 and working backwards to the beginning of verse 16. “You are not to do whatever you want.” At first glance that sounds like a restriction. The opposite of freedom. If I’m free, really free, shouldn’t I be able to do exactly that: whatever I want? This is the devil’s lie - and if you are not careful, he will try to pull this on you: “I thought you were free? I thought Jesus saved you? Surely God will forgive you. Go ahead and do whatever you want!”
No! Let’s take one more step backwards: “They are in conflict with each other.” Before we talk about the “they” we need to talk about the “conflict.” Because there is conflict. There has been conflict since the creation. Right in the very beginning Satan lied to Adam and Eve and he has been lying to all of us ever since. There is a conflict going on in our lives and we must decide what side of the conflict we will be on. I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I’m on God’s side. (Don’t you too?)
So what’s in conflict? When we look back a sentence it would be easy to conclude the conflict is between the Spirit and the flesh. But to be precise - it’s not just that. It is the desires of the flesh against the desires of the Spirit. In other words, what God the Holy Spirit desires versus what our personal selfishness desires. Putting myself in the center of every equation. This is how we are born. It’s our natural position to be selfish. To always put me and my desires first.
How is it possible to be free from ourselves? (Which is what it really means to be free from sin, right?) Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit.” Then you won’t “gratify the flesh.” Then you will break the bond of selfishness.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
This isn’t some magic formula. We don’t get saved and then have all of our carnal affections disappear. We make a choice. Every day. Every hour sometimes we make the choice to keep in step with the Spirit of God. It comes from an ongoing prayer - “God I know what I want. I know what my selfishness wants. But I truly want what you want for me! I want to walk in step with You. Please help me! Please empower me! Please change me!”
Sing Verse 3 & Chorus
When we consider all these sins - pride, foolishness, love of money, an evil temper, anger… all come from a soul that is empty.
#3 - A lifestyle of sin comes from ___EMPTINESS___ within.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, orgies, and the like.” Galatians 5:19-21a
We talked before about selfishness, but we must recognize one more thing at work within us. It’s not just a matter of the child-like me, me me. It’s also a matter of never being satisfied. Of never having enough. No matter how much I have, it’s never enough. No matter how full I am, I still feel empty inside. So much of what Galatians 5:19 & 20 talks about comes from being empty inside and having an insatiable appetite to fill up the emptiness.
God’s Holy Spirit is the One Person Who can fill that emptiness inside. He - in fact - is the only One Who can fill that emptiness inside. We are created by God to be filled with His Spirit. We are created by God to walk by - to remain in step with - the Spirit of God. When Jesus saves us, when He FREES US - the freedom is from trying to fill ourselves with everything else that doesn’t work. We are freed from the insatiable more more more feeling of the devil’s trickery - to always want and never be satisfied. This is why Paul wrote:
“I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21b
We read this as if it were God’s killjoy attitude that says we won’t inherit. Like it’s God making some rule that unless you do it God’s way, then there is no way in. The truth is that to inherit the kingdom of God is to inherit God’s Holy Spirit and the satisfaction that comes with His Spirit. Ultimately it’s our choice - we choose freedom from sin and freedom from insatiable appetites. We choose either the kingdom of God OR bondage to sin, appetites that are never filled, and the kingdom of man, evil, Satan. We cannot choose both. To choose one is to choose against the other.
Sing Verse 4 & Chorus.
#4 - A lifestyle of freedom comes from ___FULLNESS___ within.
”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Again, let’s work our way backwards. “Against such things there is no law.” Doesn’t that seem like such a strange thing to say? Yes! It is strange - if you’ve been living your life by the rules. I’m a Christian, so because of that, I DO these things and I DON’T DO these other things over here. We just went over a whole long list of the don’ts. Of the sins. Are you saying now that those don’t matter?
No! They do matter. That’s why those who do them won’t inherit the kingdom of God. But the issue of sin is so much deeper than the sin itself. It’s also about the deeper desires, the things that will fill me up.
When I am full and my appetite is satisfied I can take myself out of first place. I can rid myself of selfish desires because now it is God Himself Who fills me. It is God Himself Who satisfies me. I am full of God’s Spirit and all that comes with it - God’s love, God’s patience, God’s forgiveness, God’s grace, God’s joy, God’s forbearance, God’s faithfulness, God’s giving nature, God’s grace, God’s gentleness. All these things and more are what are called here “the fruit of the Spirit.”
With these attributes of God there are no limitations. God gives them all to us in abundance. More than we need. More than we can use. More than we can give away. We are completely free to use it up as much as we possibly can. There will be even more given. This is no limitation. There is no law against being kind or against being loving or against being good. Christians who live this kind of life are indeed FREE to look for opportunities to be godly to every person and every situation they come across. This is the lifestyle of freedom God has in mind for you!
Let's close our time together with prayer.Maybe today you would admit - just between God and yourself - that you are struggling with some ongoing and repeating sin in your life. Something you know that doesn't please your Lord and Savior. Something for which you have asked forgiveness many times in the past. Maybe this morning you are willing to dig a little deeper and declare your independence from sin AND your utter and complete dependence upon God's Holy Spirit.
Pray like this: "Dear Lord I recognize an emptiness inside of me that constantly needs filling. I'm filling that emptiness with the wrong things: selfishness, disagreements with others, anger, sexual immorality, no self-control. Please help me Jesus. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to pray this prayer every day. Help me to keep in step with You, oh Lord, so that I might be filled with all You desire for me. Be my GLORIOUS EMANCIPATOR, I pray... in Jesus Name. Amen."