Stand Firm in Christian Freedom, Part 3
Stand Firm in Christian Freedom!
Text: Galatians 5:1
I. The Fact of Christian Freedom: The purpose of Christ’s redemption was to obtain the believer’s freedom. v. 1a
II. The Response: The response of the believer is to stand firm in this freedom. v. 1b
“…we are to enjoy the glorious freedom of conscience which Christ has brought us by His forgiveness. We must not lapse into the idea that we have to win our acceptance with God by our own obedience” (John Stott, Galatians, p. 132).
“Let all the 'free-will' in the world do all it can with all its strength; it will never give rise to a single instance of ability to avoid being hardened if God does not give the Spirit, or of meriting mercy if it is left to its own strength” (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, p. 202).
“…For though it reveals the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet, as it neither points out a remedy nor imparts strength to extricate him from his misery, but, being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse, and man cannot by this law obtain saving grace” (Canons of Dort, Article 5).
“The law is a yoke of bondage, as Jerome calls it. They who look for righteousness from it are like oxen in the yoke, which draw and toil, and when they have performed their labour, they are fatted for the slaughter. Likewise, when men have endeavoured hard after their own righteousness, they perish at last in their just condemnation” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 220).
The Galatians had never been under the Mosaic Law to begin with. Why then does Paul say “again?”
“…certainly it is an invaluable blessing, in defence of which it is our duty to fight, even to death; since not only the highest temporal considerations, but our eternal interests also, animate us to the contest” (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 21, p. 146).
“You are redeemed, not by silver and gold, but by the blood of Christ…Our freedom is dearly bought, mercifully revealed, freely bestowed, and fully conveyed to us by the Spirit of Christ. We have many and great reasons therefore for maintaining it, and for keeping ourselves clear of the yoke of bondage” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 219).
How do we stand firm in our freedom?
1. Stand firm in your freedom by refusing to look to the law for justification.
“Proud nature would fain do something for the purchase of glory. God will have it to be of grace, and man would have it of debt. God will have it to be of gift, and man would have it of purchase. We have too much of this nature in us” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 220).
“We are too big in ourselves when we do well, and too little in Christ in our failings” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 219).
“O that we could learn to be nothing in ourselves in our strength, and to be all in Christ in our weakness” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 219)!
2. Stand firm in your freedom by refusing to fear the law’s condmenation.
“…how, then, would unhappy souls gird themselves eagerly for a work for which they might expect to receive only a curse?” (John Calvin, Institutes, 3.19.5).
“…God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, nor the sinful nature with which I have to struggle all my life long; but graciously imputes to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may nevermore come into condemnation” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 56).
3. Stand firm in your freedom by learning to obey the law as a guide of gratitude in your sanctification.
“…the Christian life is not solely a commandment-oriented way of life, where people are just told what to do, and then do it…The life of faith is a life of effort, but it is a certain type of effort, believing and unbelieving” (Neil Williams, The Theology of Sonship, p. 12).
“Walk in the duties of the law, but with a Gospel spirit. The law is to be acknowledged as a rule of sanctification, but it is to be rejected in respect of justification” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 220).
“It is a hard lesson to live above the law, and yet to walk according to the law. But this is the lesson a Christian has to learn, to walk in the law in respect of duty, but to live above it in respect of comfort, neither expecting favour from the law in respect of his obedience nor fearing harsh treatment from the law in respect of his failings. Let the law come in to remind you of sin if you fall into sin, but you are not to suffer it to arrest you and drag you into the court to be tried and judged for your sins. This would be to make void Christ and grace. Indeed Christians too much live as though they were to expect life by works, and not by grace…In a word, let us learn to walk in the law as a rule of sanctification, and yet to live upon Christ and the promises in respect of justification” (Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, pp. 219-220).
© John Fonville
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