Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Living Free in Christ

Chuckle: "Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf." --Will Rogers
Quote: "When by the Spirit of God, I understand these words, 'The just shall live by faith,' I felt born again like a new man. I entered through the open doors into the very paradise of God!" --Martin Luther
"So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law" (Galatians 5:1 NLT). "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
Christ died to set us free from sin and a long list of laws and rules. Christ came to set us free, but not to free us to do what ever we want because that would lead us back into slavery to our selfish desires. The life of freedom is possible only through the Holy Spirit. Sin is slavery, not freedom.
In the New Testament, we are told that those who practiced Judaism constantly called for new Christian believers to obey the Old Testament Law. On the other hand, the apostle Paul preached that we should live by faith in God's grace. The main differences in these two approaches to living is that one requires living by a set of rules and focuses on self-effort to make ourselves good enough to be acceptable to God. The other approach stresses that we are justified (saved) by God's grace through faith. The righteousness that makes us acceptable to God comes from our Lord Jesus Christ and from no other source.
Paul warns the Galatians Christians, and us, to be resolute in living free from the slavery of the law of self-effort. We are free to know and enjoy God's favor through Christ. We make a terrible mistake if we try to mix self-effort (good works) and grace. We cannot earn our way to heaven by obeying a set of rules, but by faith in Jesus Christ, our crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended Lord and Savior. Our salvation and freedom does not come from faith in Christ plus something else, but by faith in Him alone.
By grace through faith in Christ we have been saved (freed) from the penalty of our sins. We are being saved (freed) from the power of sin by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will be saved (freed) from the presence of sin when we reach our eternal heavenly home in God's presence.
No religious ritual has any saving value to those in Christ. "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6b NIV). As we live in freedom, our primary desires will be to serve our Lord and other people. "You, my brothers (sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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