When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "America the Beautiful."

Freedom in Christ
Galatians 5:1, 13-26 

Good Morning to all of God’s People from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team!   It’s such a blessing to be able to worship with you today wherever you are!  I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and to share His message with the world through today’s technology!   

Our Message today is titled “Freedom in Christ,” and our scripture comes from the New Testament Book of Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 1 and verses 13 through 26. You may want to be turning there in your Bible. 

Thursday, July 4th in the United States, we will celebrate the founding of our nation. There will be picnics and fireworks and other activities happening across our country. It’s a celebration of freedom called Independence Day. 

The year is 1776. The date is July 4th. The place is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Fifty-six men gathered to sign what would soon become known as the Declaration of Independence. The men represented the thirteen original colonies that as we know today has grown into fifty states now called the United States of America. 

Their intention with this document, that we celebrate the signing of on this July 4th, was to proclaim the independence of America from the British rule and taxation. 

This was the final step in proclaiming freedom for all the citizens of America. These men risked their lives and the lives of their family. Soon the Revolutionary War would be fought and 4,435 soldiers would be killed. Another 6,188 would be wounded fighting for the freedom of our nation.  All to declare freedom in America. 

Men and women risked their lives to live in a free country; to escape the tyrannical rule of a king. Was the cost too high, these men and women didn’t think so. 

The words of Patrick Henry ring in our ears and our hearts: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.” 

Yet a greater freedom happened over 2,000 years ago. A man called Jesus went to the cross and changed this world forever. 

That cross where Jesus died declared freedom to the world.  Anyone who believes and receives Christ as their Lord and Savior can experience this freedom. 

Now reading from Galatians Chapter 5:
1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. 

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 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. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. 

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

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

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 

Let's pray:
Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the freedoms that many of us have enjoyed for so long, but we also realize that there are many people around the world that are held in bondage and slavery. Increasingly the freedoms of the west, which we have enjoyed for so long, are rapidly being eroded.  

As the temporal freedoms within the world are fading away, protect us from those that would seek to remove whatever freedoms we still have.  Lord, we have placed our faith in the wrong things, for we know that there is no true freedom in this world, except in You.  May our confidence rest in You and You alone.  Give us Your peace that passes all understanding in our hearts; Your peace, which alone can set us free from the worries and anxieties that this world affords. 

Thank You that You are our Heavenly Father, our living Lord and our loving Savior.  Thank You for our Salvation in Christ and for the freedom we have in Him.  Through Jesus, we are set free from the eternal consequences of our sins. We are forgiven.  We are truly forever and always free to celebrate Your love with joy. 

In Jesus' name I pray,

The story is told about a pastor who got up one Sunday morning and all the roads were icy.  The streets were all blocked off and there was no way for him to drive to church.  He was forced to skate on the river to get to church. 

When he arrived at church, several church leaders were horrified that their preacher had skated on the Lord’s Day.  After the service there was a special board meeting to determine whether or not he should be fired for skating to church that morning. 

The pastor explained that it was either skate to church or not go at all.  This was not a satisfactory answer for some of the stauncher legalists on the church board. 

Finally, one of them asked, "Did you enjoy it?"   When the preacher said, "No," then the board decided it was all right! 

Legalists have their own rituals that they want to put us through.  They have a set of rules to follow to be a part of their group.  

God in Christ Jesus has set us free from bondage, but many times we don’t realize that and put ourselves under various burdens of this world. 

Legalists sum up the Scriptures with the words “Thou shalt not...”
God sums up the Scriptures with the word LOVE. 

Legalists build fences in our lives.
God builds bridges in our lives.
Legalists hold us in.
God causes us to reach out to others in love. 

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you for my burden is light and my yoke is easy.”  The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Jesus introduced Himself in His first recorded public sermon as the One whom God had sent to bring freedom. 

Jesus came as God in the “likeness of sinful man.” He was fully God and fully man – God in the flesh. He totally identified with our condition. Jesus became a human being to be a sin offering – a sacrifice given on our behalf. 

That means that Jesus willingly took upon Himself the penalty for human sin on the cross. When Jesus went to the cross, sin was judged and condemned. He didn’t deserve to die but took the consequences of our sin upon Himself. 

And He did it so that the righteous requirement of the law could be met. The law required a perfect life, a life totally free from failure and sin. So, Jesus came in human flesh and lived that kind of life – a life that never rebelled against God, a life that never broke God’s law – a sinless life. 

And according to Scripture, because of Jesus’ sinlessness, when we put our complete trust in Him as Lord and Savior, our condemnation is transferred to Him and His righteousness is transferred to us. 

II Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. 

Therefore, when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin and the condemnation it deserves. He only sees Christ’s perfect obedience. Jesus lived the life that we fail to live and died the death that we deserve. 

Freedom has been proclaimed and the price has been paid.  Freedom from the penalty of sin is available only through Jesus Christ. 

So, we are called to be free, but not freedom in the sense that we can do as we wish, but freedom in that we can positively affect our world. In verse 14 of today’s scriptures, Paul says:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 

If we were to do that, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to treat others as we want to be treated, how different would our lives be?   

A group of people who care for each other, who don’t gossip about whoever isn’t there, who aren’t negative about what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the group, could accomplish amazing things. 

Christ has come to set us free.  He has come to give us life and give it more abundantly.  Some of the benefits of Christian liberty are: 

1. Freedom from the traditions of the world:

We are human beings and caught up in the ways this world leads us. Sometimes we know certain things are wrong or are not according to the precepts of God’s Word, but we keep doing that in order to please the world. 

In the days of Jesus and Paul the religious authorities had interpreted the law in such a way that instead of becoming the Word of God, it had become the traditions of man. We also know that the letter to the Galatians was written to warn the believers to not come under the bondage of man-made traditions. Paul clearly asks them about the source of their freedom. How did they get this freedom in the Holy Spirit, through law or through faith in Jesus? (Galatians 3:1-4) The Galatians, after being delivered from their own traditions through faith in Christ, were putting on themselves a different bondage of Jewish traditions. 

Jesus himself was against the traditions of His time. He healed the sick on Sabbath, He ate with sinners, He talked with women publicly and He had close contact with Samaritans. The clear message of Jesus’ teachings and of the apostles is that the man-made traditions put people under bondage, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). 

2. Freedom from the bondage of sin:

The ultimate aim of Jesus’ ministry was that we may be liberated from the burden of sin. 

In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

He came to give His life as a ransom. What is a ransom? Ransom, as used here, is an amount of money or a thing which is the cost of someone’s freedom. Jesus gave Himself as a ransom; He wants us to be free from the bondage of sin.  The purpose of Christ in bringing us the plan of salvation and the reason why He chose the agony, pain and death of the cross, was so that we may be saved; so that we may be free from the burden, bondage and guilt of sin.   

Paul had taught this thing very clearly when he shared the Gospel in Galatia. And when they were slipping away from that true gospel, Paul says in Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” 

Paul also speaks about the bondage of sin in Romans 3:23, saying that all have sin and fallen short of the glory of God. So, if all have sinned, all need a liberator who can liberate them from the bondage of sin. 

In Romans 6:23, Paul picks up this issue again with a solution. He says that the wages of sin is death. It means all have to experience the eternal death because all have sinned. But here is a solution. He goes on to say that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So, the gift has overpowered the wages, and the bondage of sin resulting in death has been removed from a believer in Jesus Christ. 

There is freedom from the bondage of sin when we live according to the influence of the Spirit of God. The Bible teaches that when we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the presence of God within us to lead us and direct us.  

The results of a life lived in the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22-25 are: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” 

Without the Holy Spirit, we’re like a helpless insect caught in the spider web of sin. We can’t free ourselves no matter how hard we try. No matter how much willpower we muster, no matter how much energy we expend, we’re powerless against the web of sin without the power of the Holy Spirit. But with the Holy Spirit, we can begin to change our habits, conquer addictions, and find freedom from character traits that dishonor God and break His heart. 

That doesn’t mean it’s easy or effortless. Often, this bitter struggle lasts a long time.  In fact, the Bible describes this struggle as a war. But it’s a winnable war when we continue to trust in the work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The days are evil and Satan has entangled humanity into various kinds of sins, sins which don’t even seem to be sins. 

The addictions of internet games, pornography, drugs and adultery are some of the kinds of sins in which the youth of today have been deeply engaged in. There comes a time when they want to come out of these things, and they try their hardest to come out. But they fail because of the deep roots of sin in them. 

Christ has given us freedom from these sins also. Christ has paid for sins once and for all; now Satan has no right over us. Remember, Jesus died for our sins, and if we are still burdened with sins, we nullify the death of Jesus. Let us confess our sins and put them at the feet of Jesus because He is faithful to forgive us (I John 1:9). 

3. Freedom from fear:

Fear is all around but when we have the Holy Spirit, there is boldness.  Where there is boldness, there is no fear.  We don’t have to be afraid because God has taken care of this and made us victorious.  

The Bible says that we are more than victorious, and He leads us into a victory procession. So, it means we don’t fight to win, but we fight as winners. Fear is our enemy. We have so many fears; the fear of the future, the fear of loss, the fear of losing someone or something. 

Paul in Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” 

If we are afraid of situations around us, then we have gone back again to the slavery from which Christ has delivered us. Fear makes us a slave, a slave of our situation and a slave of Satan who always want us to be under fear. Fear actually doubts the power of Jesus who says that all authority in heavens and earth is given to Him. And that same authority has been granted to us as His followers. If we listen to Christ and follow His steps, we will be secure and at peace, free from all the anxiety of life. 

In Proverbs 1:33, God’s Word says that whoever listens to me (God) will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster. This is what the Scriptures promise us. If we listen to Him and believe His promises, then we will be secure in Him. While writing to Timothy when he was afraid, Paul encouraged him that God in Christ has given us the Spirit of power so we don’t have to be afraid. And in 2 Timothy 1:7, he says that God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Fear is the greatest tool that the enemy uses, and to refute that, God has given us the Spirit of Power so that we may be liberated from Satan’s device of fear. 

How many Christians who have experienced the blood of Christ in their lives still don’t experience this freedom?  How many Christians miss this freedom? 

The only way we can be set free is through Jesus Christ.  

Jesus did not die on the Cross to save us in our sins, but from our sins. When Jesus became our Lord, we became a new creature and His command is that we never return back to what we once were! 

If we are set free by God, then we are free indeed. Satan is the master of lies and himself a big liar. He will try his level best to make us believe that we are still in the bondage of tradition, sin and fear. But the truth is that Christ has set us free from all bondages. He finished the work on the Cross of Calvary; Jesus' three words "It is finished" declared the believers' great independence from Satan and Sin. 

So let us rest in the freedom of Christ and let us not be yoked under slavery or bondage of any kind.  If we take the yoke of slavery, then the yoke of freedom means nothing.  If we take the yoke of slavery, then the yoke of freedom is useless.  

Because of what Christ has done for us, we can be free; we can celebrate every day as our spiritual day of independence! 

However, there may be someone who hasn’t yet accepted God’s free gift of salvation and so hasn’t yet experienced this freedom in Christ that we’ve described. 

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

And I John 5:13 tells us:  “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 

Jesus has provided the gift of salvation to us which gives us not only hope for today, but hope for eternity.  If you have that hope in Jesus, won't you share it with others!   If you don't have that hope, it can be yours now. 

In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

We receive salvation when we:
(1) Repent of our sins.
(2) Trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
(3) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord. 

If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now. 

For those who have known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, or who have been wounded and are now angry with Him, or who feel like you can’t come back to Him because of the depth of your sin; when we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life again, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love.   God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms.   Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. 

In closing, let’s look at the example of the positive influence one can have by expressing love and trusting others as illustrated in the children’s book, “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” 

The story is about a seven-year-old boy who went to stay with his grandfather.  The grandfather had a reputation of being mean and selfish. 

But Little Lord Fauntleroy could see nothing but good in him.  He said over and over again, "Oh, Grandpa, how people must love you!  You’re so good and kind in all you do." 

No matter how disagreeable the elderly man was, the grandson saw the best in everything he did. 

Finally, the boy’s unquestioning love softened the heart of the cantankerous old man.  He couldn’t resist the trust that the boy had in his goodness. 

As a result, he gradually began to change his ways, and he became the kind and loving person that his grandson thought he was. 

Christians can take a lesson from that little boy.  We ought to be more like Little Lord Fauntleroy in our consideration of each other.  

May God bless you abundantly beyond your expectations.  In Jesus’ name, Amen