Click here to read Part 1
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that Christ set us free… to be free! That doesn’t sound so difficult to understand, does it? Perhaps not… but it’s a lot harder to put into practice. You see the Galatians had been saved by the work of Christ… but were falling back into some bad patterns of trying to earn God’s favor… instead of trusting in his grace.
They were giving in to the influence and false teaching of the Judaizers who were teaching the Gentile Christians that they could have a relationship with God only by basically becoming Jewish first. They had to be circumcised, obey the Law of Moses, etc. Only then could they properly be ready to come to Jesus.
So in response to these Judaizers, Paul says to the Galatians… and to us… you’re free! It’s Jesus plus nothing! You don’t have to earn God’s favor… he’s already poured it upon you by sending Christ. Christ has already done the work that you can’t do yourself. He’s already won the victory on the Cross. All you have to do is trust that work… depend on Christ alone for what he’s done for you.
That’s what we’re celebrating today when we participate in Holy Communion. We celebrate God’s grace… Christ’s work… in and through the provision and power of God’s Spirit. We don’t have to hop back on the treadmill of performance-based living.
Just imagine if God did grade us by our performance. Would there be any rest or peace in that? You would always be worried about how well you were doing… each and every second of each and every day of each and every week, month, year, and so on.
You see… that’s slavery. That’s oppression. That’s bondage. There’s no freedom in that. And so, part of the freedom that we have in Christ is freedom from the bondage of sin. We’re no longer under the curse of the Law. We no longer have to worry each and every day if we performed “well enough” and met all the demands of the Law. Isn’t that good news!?!
But we’re not just free FROM the bondage of sin and the curse of the Law. And please hear this… because this is important…
We are free TO…
This is key because when some folks talk about freedom in Christ, you almost get the impression that what they’re really saying is this…
“I can do anything I want to do now because of God’s grace. Because of what Christ did on the Cross, it doesn’t matter how I live. We no longer have to think in terms of obedience.”
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Please hear this…
In Christ, we are now free to become all that God created and redeemed us to be.
Before that… we could never pursue or achieve this because we were enslaved to sin. Now we’re slaves to Christ and he’s a good Master. He knows and wants what’s best for us… and through life in his Spirit, we’re able to pursue and achieve it.
Now… what I’m about to say may sound like I’m contradicting myself, so stay with me so I can make my case. There’s a line that I absolutely love from our Communion Liturgy… which we’ll say together in just a few minutes. It goes like this…
“Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
One of my favorite books on Ethics takes its title from this idea. It’s called, “Freedom for Obedience.” (not freedom FROM obedience) Here’s the idea…
Because I’m free in Christ. Because God’s Spirit lives in me. Because I’m no longer in bondage and enslaved to sin and the curse of the Law. I’m now able to express my love to Christ and for Christ by obeying him. And I don’t obey him out of drudgery… because I’m afraid I’ll go to hell if I don’t. No!
As our liturgy says… I can now obey Christ JOYFULLY… with a heart full of LOVE and GRATITUDE!
Can you imagine any better existence than that? Beloved…that’s what I want you to focus on this morning as you come to the Lord’s Table. Yes, Christ has died for you. Yes, your sins are wretched in the sight of God. Yes, God is a holy God who hates our sin. All of that is true.
But in spite of all that, (and because of all that) to paraphrase the Apostle Paul and the theologian Karl Barth… God has still said YES to us in Christ. He has lavished grace upon us.
To be sure, we must respond in trusting dependence to what God has done in Christ. He will not force us to accept the freedom that he offers us. But when we do, he declares that we’re no longer slaves to sin and death. We’re now free in Christ. And that’s worth spending some time in prayer thanking God for this morning.
Grace and Truth,