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THE SPEED LIMIT OF FREEDOM

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INTRODUCTION

OPENING STORY: IN THE MOVIE THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION WE ARE INTRODUCED TO AN ELDERLY MAN NAMED BROOKS. HE’S SPENT 50 YEARS IN PRISON, INCARCERATED. WHERE FOR EVERY DAY FOR FIFTY YEARS HE WAS SUBJECTED TO THE SAME ROUTINE, NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT MEALS OR LODGING. BUT THEN HE’S FREED, AND WHAT YOU NOTICE IS HE’S OVERWHELMED BY HIS FREEDOMS, SO OVERWHELMED THAT HE ENDS UP KILLING HIMSELF. WHAT THIS STORY TEACHES US IS THAT FREEDOM CAN BE A TERRIFYING PROSPECT.
CREATING THE NEED:
OUR TEXT IS ALL ABOUT FREEDOM. LOOK AT VERSE 1…IT LITERALLY READS STRONGER IN THE GREEK- FOR FREEDOM CHRIST FREED YOU. IT’S HERE WHERE PAUL USES THE WORD FREEDOM AS BOTH A VERB AND A NOUN. IN OTHER WORDS, FREEDOM IS BOTH THE MEANS AND THE END TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. OUR TEXT IS ALL ABOUT CHRISTIAN FREEDOM, AND YET IT’S HERE WHERE PAUL SHOWS US THAT CHRISTIAN FREEDOM IS DEEPLY PROBLEMATIC.
AUGUSTINE: LOVE GOD AND DO AS YOU PLEASE! LET THE STATEMENT HANG A LITTLE BIT. TROUBLESOME, IS IT NOT? WE BRISTLE AT THIS STATEMENT, IT SEEMS SO DAUNTING AND HERETICAL. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM CAN BE A REALLY COMPLICATED THING.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLES: SO I GOT A NICE BONUS AT WORK. SURE I’LL TITHE, BUT DOES THAT MEAN THAT I’M FREE TO GO AND SPEND AT LEAST HALF OF IT ON A VACATION, OR A NICE CAR? SPEAKING OF CARS, THERE’S NOT A VERSE THAT TELLS ME HOW NICE IS TOO NICE? I ONCE HEARD A PREACHER SAY AT AN EVENT WITH WEALTHY MEN THAT JESUS WOULDN’T DRIVE A BMW. NOT SO FAST. AND WHAT ABOUT DRESS. YOU’RE FREE TO COME TO CHURCH IN YOGA PANTS, DOES THAT MEAN YOU SHOULD? AND WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL. I THROW A BIG EVENT AT MY HOUSE, WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW, THERE’S NO RULE THAT SAYS I CAN’T SERVE ALCOHOL, BUT SHOULD I? IF I DON’T DOES THAT MAKE ME LEGALISTIC? IF I DO DOES THAT MAKE ME MATURE? SHE CHEATED ON ME DOES THAT MAKE ME FREE TO DIVORCE?
IN A LETTER WHERE PAUL HAS BEEN PUTTING A FULL COURT PRESS ON LEGALISM, HE NOW STOPS TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE OF FREEDOM, AND ONE OF THE BIG PICTURE ITEMS HE’S GOING TO SHOW US IS THAT FREEDOM IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF RESPONSIBILITY. FOR FREEDOM WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITY IS CHAOS. SPEED LIMIT ILLUSTRATION…PAUL IS GOING TO SHOW US THAT OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST COMES WITH A SPEED LIMIT, AND THAT SPEED LIMIT IS LOVE. I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE SPEED LIMIT OF FREEDOM.

DON’T LOSE YOUR FREEDOM- GALATIANS 5:1-12

EXPLANATION: PAUL HAS THREE BASIC MESSAGES TO US ABOUT FREEDOM: 1) DON’T LOSE YOUR FREEDOM; 2) DON’T ABUSE YOUR FREEDOM; 3) HOW TO USE YOUR FREEDOM
EXPLANATION 2: RECAP. PAUL IS WRITING BECAUSE THESE GALATIANS HAD DRUNK THE STRAIGHT GOSPEL OF GRACE, BUT WERE NOW TRYING TO CHASE IT WITH THE LAW…JUDAIZER’S. SPECIFICALLY PAUL MENTIONS CIRCUMCISION IN OUR TEXT. VERSE 2- CHRIST OF NO ADVANTAGE. ADDING TO CHRIST ACTUALLY SUBTRACTS CHRIST. VERSE 4. GOING BACK TO THE LAW ENSLAVES YOU TO THE LAW AND YET FREES OR SEVERS YOU FROM CHRIST!
POINT: GOING THE WAY OF THE LAW, HAVING A RULES ORIENTED PERSPECTIVE OF FAITH IS A SURE FIRE WAY TO LOSE ONE’S FREEDOM.
THE DANGER: RULES LIVING NOT ONLY ERODES FREEDOM, SEVERING US FROM CHRIST, IT ALSO INFLAMES EGO LEADING TO COMPARING AND LOOKING DOWN ON OTHERS. WE BECOME ACCIDENTAL PHARISEES.
ILLUSTRATION: MAN WHO HAS NEVER BEEN ON A CRUISE BEFORE AND HAS IT PAID BY A DEAR FRIEND. AFTERWARDS THE MAN ASKS HIM HOW WAS IT. HE SAYS GREAT, TIME OF HIS LIFE. HOW WAS THE FOOD? OH I WENT TO THE GROCERY STORE TO CUT DOWN ON COST AND BROUGHT MY OWN GROCERIES. DUMMY, IT WAS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE. YOU WERE FREE TO EAT HOWEVER MUCH YOU WANTED.
APPLICATION: CHRIST PAID OUR DEBT ON THE CROSS, FULFILLING THE DEMANDS OF THE LAW, AND HAS SET US FREE! SO STOP BRINGING THE GROCERIES OF YOUR OWN RULES AND REGULATIONS AS A MEANS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

DON’T ABUSE YOUR FREEDOM-

EXPLANATION: PAUL IS NOT JUST CONCERNED THAT WE WOULD LOSE OUR FREEDOM, HE’S ALSO CONCERNED THAT WE WOULD ABUSE OUR FREEDOM. LOOK AT VERSES 13-15. THERE ARE TWO EXTREMES WE CAN FALL INTO WHEN IT COMES TO OUR FREEDOM: ONE IS LEGALISM WHERE WE DON’T USE OUR FREEDOM AND LEAN ON RULES AND REGULATIONS AND END UP ENSLAVED. BUT THE OTHER IS LICENSE. WHERE WE SHRUG OUR SHOULDERS AND SAY, I’M FREE SO I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, RIGHT. THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT WAS REALLY PREVALENT, THAT PAUL DEALS WITH IN PLACES LIKE I CORINTHIANS AND ROMANS. EXPOUND ON THIS…FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS. - THE KINGDOM IS NOT A MATTER OF EATING AND DRINKING. THERE’S MORE THAN JUST YOUR LIBERTIES!
FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS ILLUSTRATION WHERE PAUL REBUKES THOSE WHO ARE USING THEIR FREEDOM AS LICENSE.
TRADING PLACES ILLUSTRATION: SMASHING OF EXPENSIVE VASE…NOT HOW HE WAS TO USE HIS FREEDOM.
CIGAR VISUAL: CAN I LIGHT THIS HERE AND SMOKE IT HERE? SHOW ME THE VERSE THAT SAYS I CAN’T? TOTAL MISUSE OF FREEDOM. WHY? I NEED TO THINK NOT OF MYSELF, BUT OF OTHERS, AND THAT’S PAUL’S POINT IN OUR TEXT. LOVE…LOVE IS DIFFERENT FROM LUST. LUST CONSUMES, LOVE CONTRIBUTES. LUST IS ME CENTERED, LOVE IS OTHER CENTERED- FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD.
DANGER: LICENSE ENDS UP CONSUMING AND DEVOURING OTHERS.
MY WIFE AND DRINKING ILLUSTRATION: IF I DID THAT IN FRONT OF HER AT THAT TIME IT WOULD DEVOUR HER. IT WOULD KILL HER AND CRUSH HER. THAT WOULD NOT BE LOVING.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: MATURITY SAYS IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. DON’T WATCH CERTAIN MOVIES, WEAR CERTAIN THINGS, CONSUME CERTAIN THINGS BECAUSE YOU’RE CONCERNED FOR OTHERS.

HOW TO USE YOUR FREEDOMS:

EXPLANATION: FINALLY OUR PASSAGE SHOWS US HOW TO USE OUR FREEDOMS. WALK- PERIPATEO = BEHAVIOR. USED PRIMARILY IN A FIGURATIVE SENSE BY PAUL IN THE NT- WALK WORTHY. WALK PROPERLY. WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT. HERE IT’S WALK BY THE HS. IMPERATIVE. SUBMIT THE TOTALITY OF OUR LIVES TO THE HS. WHEN WE LIVE IN THE FLESH- WE ARE IN CONTROL. AND WE WILL EITHER GO THE WAY OF LEGALISM OR LICENSE. BUT WHEN WE WALK BY THE HS WE WILL GO THE WAY OF LOVE. FIRST IN THE LIST OF FRUIT.
HS EXPLANATION: WE ARE TO BE FILLED WITH THE HS- . WE CAN NEVER LOSE THE PRESENCE OF THE HS, BUT WE CAN LOSE THE POWER.
MOTION DETECTOR ILLUSTRATION: OUR HOUSE HAS IT ON THE SIDE. POWER IS AVAILABLE IN THE ROOM, BUT WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO ACCESS IT. SAME WAY WITH THE HS.
POINT: WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FREEDOM? HS HAS DESIRES- . . HS EXISTS TO GLORIFY THE JESUS. HIS DESIRE IS TO GLORIFY JESUS. HOW DOES HE DO THIS? HE GUIDES US. . THE HS WILL SPEAK TO YOU AND WILL GUIDE YOU IN HOW TO USE YOUR FREEDOMS. THAT’S THE CONTEXT HERE.
ME AND GETTING PAID FOR PREACHING ILLUSTRATION: HS TOLD ME AT THE BEGINNING OF MY MINISTRY NEVER TO CHARGE. WOULD I HAVE BEEN WRONG? NO. MAKE FUNNY. ALWAYS SURPRISED WHEN I OPEN UP THE ENVELOPE. $22!!! I HAVE FRIENDS WHO CHARGE CRAZY AMOUNTS!
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