Living a free life in Christ – Galatians 5 by Ernest

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Living a free life in Christ Galatians 5 by Ernest

We were so blessed to have Ernest with us to teach Bible study.  I think he is aptly named, for he is such an earnest person. He is the son of a pastor we know in India. Right now Ernest is here in the states studying for ministry.  Where he lives in India the lives of pastors are on the line, and I think that reflects in his walk with the Lord.  We have it so easy here that sometimes that I think we take God for granted.

When he asked God what to teach on, God told him Galatians 5.  Ernest used the New Living Translation (NLT)

There is a freedom we have in Christ,

Galatians 5:5-6 NLT But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

Paul uses the term Love in his teaching of freedom in Christ.  Ernest asked us, what does Love have to do with freedom?  It is not enough to talk to God, pray, and live for God? Why does Paul use love and freedom together?

Jesus told us we would be known by our love. When we have Christ in us, His love needs to shine through us. Faith expressing itself in love.  It has nothing to do with being circumcised or not circumcised, it is not our works, but FAITH IN LOVE.  The Love we have inside us and the faith we place in God.

Can we have faith in God without that faith being expressed in love?  No.  He first loved us, gave us an example of perfect love because of His sacrifice for us while we were still sinners, and we learn to give that love back.  When we understand God’s love for us, we put our faith in Him and it reflects back on Him.

Some say they are Christians, but if the fruit they express is not love, they are not doing anything.  Faith expresses itself in acts of love.  Yes, we believe in Christ, in the power of the Blood, in His death and resurrection, but after that we need to manifest love.

We are to love God with all our mind, heart, and soul – this is expressed in both the Old and the New Testament, to love God, and to love our neighbor.  Love God with our mind, heart, and soul with the depth of love that is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  No one can follow all these precepts in their lives, only Jesus or God can do that.  We can replace the word “Love” in this passage with Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit and it would be true, if we put our names in the, we would see areas where we lack for it would not be true.

No one loves another person so much as to lay down their life for another.  Jesus did that for us, while we were still sinners.

The Spirit of the Lord empowers us to be able to love.  This is not lust, but love – and love is a choice.  We choose to love, even when the person we are loving isn’t acting in a way that makes it easy to love them. We do not fall in and out of love.

When we are walking in the fullness of the Spirit, we receive Christ AND His attributes.  We receive Christ and the nature of Christ in us, but we have to work it out in faith.  Faith is expressed in love.

It is one thing to HAVE faith, it is quite another to EXPRESS faith. We may not walk in the fullness of the Spirit, but we can be willing to be submissive to the Holy Spirit so the Holy Spirit can work in us and allow God’s attributes to show in our lives.  It is impossible to live a free life in Christ without the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told us He did not do anything He did not see His Father do.  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, and He was God Himself.  How much more do we, flesh that we are, need to be led by the Holy Spirit?  We are not to go with our feelings to decide if something is ok to do or not ok to do.  The question is:  What does God require of me?  He requires things that are not always comfortable to us.  Sometimes we will be struggling with ourselves before we receive a free life with Christ.

Galatians 5:16-17 NLT So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

In our spiritual walk, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit because we are followers.  We are sinners in God’s eyes when we do things in our own wills, and only when we follow the Holy Spirit can we do what is right in God’s eyes.  There is a conflict between what we desire in the flesh and what the Spirit wants.  Paul discussed this in Romans 7:21-25 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Paul wanted to do what was right and couldn’t.  Imagine Paul saying that, a person so close to Christ and so important to the early church.  He realized that he was not sinning, but his flesh was sinning.

There is a conflict inside of us.  We need to put God over the conflict.  How do we live a life free in Christ?  We are not totally free, but when we are under the love of the Spirit, there is no room for lawlessness.  We find our freedom in Christ.  We need to be captive to Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Totally submitted.  We are a slave of Christ.   We need to seek the Lord before we do anything.  When we make choices, do we seek the Lord’s approval?

Ernest was amazed at how we in America deal with our parents.  In India, if parents tell you you can’t do something, you don’t do it – you get a black mark against your name if you are disobedient.  Ernest’s American relatives told him when their parents tell them not to do something, they do what they want to do, then say, “We are sorry.” Here in America parents do not have a clue about what their kids are doing.

We are to help each other carry their burdens.  Josh McDowell discussed the scripture, Galatians 6:2-5 NKJV  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.  The first burden in verse 2 deals with boulders, big rocks that cannot be carried by one person, but the second “load” is akin to a backpack, our individual burdens. We are to help each other with the boulders, but not carry their backpacks for them.

Back to Galatians 5 – free in Christ, being captive to Christ.

Sometimes we take Christ for granted – people talk about Jesus being their buddy, their homeboy.  Jesus is Our LORD and SAVIOR.  We are captive to Christ, and we do not do what our flesh wants, but rather what Christ wants.

Ernest is in a seminary here in the states, and he says that in many seminaries there is false theology and thinking about God.   There are so many false theologies being passed out to students, that it becomes like a tower of Babel. One of his professors asked Ernest to estimate how many denominations there are in the world.  He guessed a low number of 3,000 to 5,000 only to be shocked that there were 139,000 denominations across the world.  And this number was calculated only on denominations that had 20 branches or 2,000 members.

As human beings we are inclined toward sin. We want the nature of Christ, but so often the flesh tells us sin seems more interesting than the right thing. Sin may not appear wrong at the time, but after we sin we feel it was the most horrible thing we did in our lives.  We need to ask forgiveness from Christ or feel guilty and hold onto it.  True repentance is turning your back on sin.

The grace of God is boundless. God still cleanses us by the grace of God.  Ernest described grace as being like walking in water and not seeing the huge pit in front of us, and God keeps us from falling into the pit.  We can be righteous in Christ.

How do we live a life free in Christ?

1. Submit to the Holy Spirit
2. Acknowledge that the Grace of God is available to us.

We feel guilty for everything we do that is not of Christ.  How can you be captive to Christ? Everything we do must be directed by God. One of Ernest’s professors asked him how many times in a day do you do things you don’t ask God about?  Ernest said that for the most part he doesn’t.  The professor told Ernest if he is going to a place that God wants to give him favor, do you ask God what should I wear?  If you fall sick from eating the wrong thing, did you ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance before you ate the thing?  Ernest told us it may seem too trivial to ask the Holy Spirit about everything.  But, if you are following God, can you really be selective about what you ask? We do not have clear discernment about our situation, but God has discernment about what is best for us.  Sometimes we are seeking to avoid discomfort, but sometimes discomfort is necessary for us.  We need to have our comfort in God.  God knows the whole picture, we just have a glimpse of the present. We seem to have the perception that the Holy Spirit is for spiritual things only, and He is there for our whole lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

We cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit unless we are under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit in its fullness in our own strength.

Everything we do needs to be focused under the direction of Christ, so that the nature of Christ is shown in our lives.  Some of us think it requires too much to submit completely to Christ. We all want to lead our own lives.

Smith Wigglesworth and Brother Andrew lived lives submitted to Christ.

One of Ernest’s favorite books is Pioneers of Faith by Lester Sumerall.  It covers 40 great people of God, showing their lives were like.  For example, Smith Wigglesworth never let a newspaper come into his house – he wanted to keep the world out.

At the end of the day, living a life free in Christ is a victory of the heart.  THE HEART OF THE MATTER IS THAT IT IS A MATTER OF THE HEART. If our hearts are not right before God, we cannot exhibit the nature of Christ and the love of Christ.  We are to submit to Christ daily.

The Holy Spirit is interested in every aspect of our life, not just our spiritual life. He is interested when we are driving our cars, gardening, taking a shower, whenever.

God is aware of everything we do.  Before we’ve done it God knows about it. That is why we need to listen to the Holy Spirit so we don’t get off track.  So often we get tempted to do something in our own strength to help ourselves in things that God has told us.  But God knows all about our situation, and His sovereign ways are best for us.  There is nothing we can do to bring happiness into our lives if God is not in it.  God knows us, how we live and move and have our being.  When we pray He will answer, it may not always be the answer we want or the timing we want the answer to come.  Sometimes God even says, “No,” and we don’t want to hear no.  Yet earthly fathers say no to their children and only give children things that are good for them. How much more so will our Heavenly Father take care of us?

Sometimes the areas we are dealing in have no black and white answers, but are in the grey area. It is there we need the help and direction of the Holy Spirit.  If your gut says this is just a “little” sin– know that even the tiniest sin is still sin.  Sometimes we condone ourselves.  We tell ourselves that we are telling a “white lie.”  ANYTHING MORE THAN THE TRUTH IS A LIE.  ANYTHING LESS THAN THE TRUTH IS A LIE.

It is so easy to classify a prophecy as false or jump into it without knowing what and when God wants something done.  Sometimes prophecies are for tomorrow.  Some prophecies in the Bible took hundreds and thousands of years to be fulfilled.

Ernest told us that sometimes God tells a believer, “I’m going to use you.” And they immediately get into full time ministry, printing out cards and setting up shop, when God hadn’t given them the details, and they didn’t know His Word or timing. They were out of order moving that much into ministry before God told them to do so.

Most of the time there are a lot of resistance from people addressed by prophets, but prophets are to speak what is true.  In the New Testament and the Old Testament the prophets were crude people, not polished, and they spoke what God told them. When the people did not listen and obey God, there were consequences.

Hope this blesses you.

Heather

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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