July 11, 2021 The Spirit of Freedom

The Spirit of Freedom

July 11, 2021




Read Galatians 5:1-6; 13-14; Romans 8:1-4.


Last week we celebrated our independence from England. The colonists in the 1700’s were not free from the demands and the over-taxation of England. They longed for freedom.


Patrick Henry gave a famous speech on March 23, 1775 to the Virginia state legislature as he promoted the cause of independence. In this speech he said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” This powerful sentiment was further advanced by the more colloquial phrase, “Live Free or Die!” Flags were created, and are still popular today, that have these words on them. “Live Free or Die” is the state motto of New Hampshire.


Freedom is, indeed, a precious commodity. We still have a great deal of freedom in this country, more-so than almost any other nation in the world. Even countries that give lip service to freedom, such as Canada and Australia, have in recent years taken away fundamental rights of their own citizens such as the freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, and freedom to worship. People are in jail right now in those countries for simply exercising their God-given rights. Communist countries, like China, are notorious for controlling every aspect of peoples lives, even attempting to control what they think!


Freedom is a great blessing and we must be vigilant to retain it. For even here we are in danger of losing our freedoms.


But, as wonderful as personal freedom is, that is, freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, freedom to worship, freedom to travel, and freedom to pursue happiness, there are more important freedoms. Far more important! This morning I wish to reveal two freedoms that are found in Christ and that make life worth living.


These are freedoms that the unbeliever does not possess. The irony is tragic. People will not give their lives to Christ because they think they will lose freedom. But it is the greatest lie that Satan has perpetrated upon the humankind. The truth is the exact opposite.


Eve thought that she was being denied something that would benefit her, after talking to the devil. The truth is the opposite. Those things that are denied to us through God’s law are those things that harm us, either spiritually, psychologically or physically. Those things that are endorsed through God’s word are those things that benefit us and bring us peace and happiness.


The devil turns this upside down and people believe it. Thus, the unbeliever is in bondage to sin while he is under the delusion that he is free. He thinks he has freedom but he actually does not have it. It is a grand illusion that ends in eternal damnation. For damnation is the just desert for those who live in rebellion to the good and righteous God.


The Christian has two great freedoms. Yet, the apostle Paul reveals that the Christian, too, can be deceived just like the unbeliever. Therefore, the apostle communicates these freedoms and we must maintain them and enjoy them even more than we maintain and enjoy our personal liberties.


The first freedom we have as followers of Christ is freedom from the law:


For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.[1]


Trying to follow the law in order to be accepted by God is a kind of slavery. It is a miserable slavery because one who believes it can never know they have done enough to be accepted by God. This is what Paul means by the word “justified.” He means that God declares us just – that he accepts us.


I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.[2]


If you seek to be justified by keeping the law then, even as a Christian, you miss the grace of God. His favor will be absent.


The law of God was not meant to justify us.


When Paul writes about being free from the law he does not mean that we no longer follow the law. Some have misunderstood the phrase “free from the law” or “not under the law” in this way. Paul means that we are no longer under the bondage of trying to live the law as a way for God to justify us.


For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. [3]

The result of realizing this freedom is that our faith works! Works what? Works the moral law being lived out joyfully in our lives! We experience love. Love for God the Father, love for Christ, and love for others. This love results in us living out the moral law of God in enjoyment.


I remember when I first became a Christian when I was 20 years old. I didn’t need anyone to tell me, “Craig, you must obey the Lord now by knowing his word and then adhering to it.” I had a hunger to know God’s word and I had an intense desire to obey the Lord. I read the New Testament every day and felt like I could not read enough. I wanted to know what God’s will was. And, I had a deep desire to live it! That was nothing less than the Spirit of the Living God changing my heart.


If there has not been a radical change in your life upon your confession of faith, it is unlikely that you have been redeemed.


For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[4]


This is freedom! Our freedom form the law as a means to make us acceptable to God results in a new and living love for our neighbor and, especially, our fellow disciples of Christ. This is all from the Spirit whom the Lord breathes into our human spirit.


This divine knowledge, that we don’t have the tow the line of law for God to accept us, makes life worth living! Freedom makes life worth living! In 1995 a song was released by the Progressive Rock band, Uriah Heep entitled, Spirit of Freedom. It is a great song but, of course, they were not singing about God’s freedom, rather, personal freedom. But the lyrics are just as applicable, even more applicable, to the freedom that God gives!


So good to be alive and touch
The spirit of freedom - in your soul
So good to breathe the air and
Feel that life is worth living


I tell you, having the freedom of God makes it good to be alive! We can touch this spirit of freedom for it is in us! Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom! This is one of the most precious verses in all the Bible:


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.[5]


The freedom of the Spirit makes it good to breathe air! The Spirit of freedom makes you fell that life is worth living! It’s true!


So, the first freedom that God gives is the freedom from the law.


The second freedom that the Spirit brings is just as wonderful if not moreso! It is the freedom from the power of sin!


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [6]


Here in Romans, Paul uses the word, “law,” in a different sense than he did in Galatians. In Galatians he used “law” to refer to the written commands of God. Here, he uses it to mean a principle, a ground, even a force, that compels us. There is a law of sin and death that entices and compels every person to disobey God. As soon as this law is succumbed to, death results. Not physical death, although every person will succumb to that also, but death as separation from the Living and Loving God. To the natural man this law is irresistible. Try as the natural man will, even with all the power that he has, he will succumb to this law.


The Christian can succumb to this law of sin and death, too. But, unlike the unregenerate, there is a new law that is available to the Christian that can overcome the law of sin and death. Paul calls it “the law of the Spirit of life.”


Augustine, in the year 400, correctly understood Paul when he summarized Paul’s thought on man’s ability. After the fall, man was not able not to sin. That is, he found himself continually falling into sin and there was nothing he could do about it. But, upon regeneration (when a person is born again), man gained the ability to not sin.


Some have questioned this because, even among those born again, many have felt the power of sin in their lives and struggled with it. Yet, this is the apostle’s clear teaching.


There are two reasons why some Christians struggle and succumb frequently to the law of sin and death. One reason is that they neglect to actually follow Christ. That is, they neither read nor heed his words. They do not run the race. Rather, they are strolling through life as if they have already crossed the finish line. We are not here to go on a stroll! We are in a race!


Augustine has said it better than I could:


When you hear, As many as are led by the Spirit of God these are God’s sons, don’t slacken off and give up. After all, God is not building his temple out of you as out of stones which can’t move themselves. . . . That’s not what living stones are like (1 Peter 2:5). You are being led, but you too must run; you’re being led, but you must follow; because when you do follow, it will still be true, that without him you can do nothing. Because it does not depend on the one who wills or the one who runs but on God who has mercy (Romans 9:16). (sermon 156.13)[7]


The second reason that Christians are overcome by the power of sin is that they are not living according to the Spirit.


For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.[8]


We must turn our minds to the Spirit who dwells within us. If we do this the power of the Spirit of life overcomes the power of sin!


What a glorious freedom this is! We are free from the power of sin! The unbeliever does not have this freedom. The unbeliever thinks he is free to sin but what happens is that sin controls him/her. Thus, he/she is not free.


This freedom from the law and freedom from sin changes the way you feel. You can sense freedom, you know. The Spirit of Freedom can be felt. Feelings, of course, can lead us astray. But the freedom that God gives brings with it the sense of freedom. Feelings were created by God to be enjoyed. Hundreds of times throughout the Scriptures feelings are portrayed in a positive light.


I am thinking of that song again:


I never thought that
I could ever feel this way
To see the warmest sunlight
On a cold and rainy day


When you have the Spirit of freedom, your circumstances can be cold and rainy, but you see sunlight! Oh! Freedom is such a good feeling!


When we possess this freedom, what do we do with it? Remember what Paul wrote to the Galatians:


For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [9]


With the freedom we have we do not serve the flesh. If we do that, we will find that we have actually lost some freedom. Rather, we serve. We don’t sit around and get entertained. We serve on another. We love one another. We express our love. This is actually, the natural result of feeling free. When you enjoy freedom you are suddenly more willing to display your joy by serving the Lord and serving one another.


Remember also, the theme of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. It is entering the kingdom. So there is no time to waste. With the sense of freedom that we possess we press into the kingdom.


Again, the song:


There's no time to waste in this life
There's no time at all
So good to be alive and touch
The spirit of freedom - in your soul


This song ought to have been written by believers!


There is no time to waste! No time at all! Enjoy the spirit of freedom and live for Christ from this moment forward. Do not turn from the plow!





[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:3–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:13–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 3:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] Cited in an article by Zach Howard found here: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/christian-you-are-able-not-to-sin

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:13–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.