Faithlife Sermons

Fight for Freedom

Know the Word  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Toilet paper - Harvard study - right way to put it on the roll - Over the top 20% more efficient. Apparently, really is a right way and wrong way to do it.
Right way and wrong way to do Christianity. Wrong way - make it all about religious obligation and guilt people that don’t live out those obligations. Right way - to focus on Jesus and what He has done. He has set you free - from sin and death - from religion - from insecurity - from the need for approval - free to be who God has created you and saved you to be.
Know the Word - Most of NT is the writings of Paul. Helps us to understand the implications of the death and resurrection of Christ. He wants us to experience freedom in Christ.
Paul becomes greatest missionary in history - sharing the freedom found in Christ.
Imagine his frustration when people who claim Christ try to take control of other Christians by telling them Christ was not enough for salvation. Judaizers telling Gentiles who come to faith need to be circumcised. (Not such a simple solution) Their way of holding on to control - if you’re going to be a Christian - you have to be like us.
Early church - Gospel explodes - Jews coming to faith. Gentiles coming to faith. Some Jews trying to hold on to control of their traditions and customs - a real struggle when Gentiles came to faith and didn’t hold on to the things they held so dear - like the Old Testament Law
Judaizers - a simple solution - Gentiles who come to faith need to be circumcised. (Not such a simple solution) Their way of holding on to control - if you’re going to be a Christian - you have to be like us.
We have to fight for freedom because there is always a tendency to go back to being controlled by sin, by religion, by people, etc.
Paul writes to a church in Galatia to address this very issue, and unexpectedly - he confronts Peter for sympathizing with the Judaizers!
Galatians - a church drifting back to being controlled by religion rather than Jesus. Judaizers in church - “If Gentiles come to faith they need to be circumcised and uphold certain laws.” (Understand their dilema - way they had always done things - now thousands of foreigners worshipping the same God - What if several hundred former Muslims started attending NW?) Strong letter - fight for freedom.
I want you to fight for freedom - Three ways to fight for freedom.
Fight to maintain unity in the Gospel.

Focus on unity that comes from the Gospel.

The Church at Galatia struggled - Jewish believers telling Gentile believers that they needed to be circumcised, but the church at Galatia not the only church that struggled.
There had been a struggle in Antioch. Antioch - first Gentile church - Paul spent a year there with Barnabas growing the church. Eventually, church appointed Paul and Barnabas as missionaries and sent them out on Paul’s first missionary journey.
Flashback to earlier struggle in Antioch. Antioch - first Gentile church - Paul spent a year there with Barnabas growing the church. Eventually, church appointed Paul and Barnabas as missionaries and sent them out on Paul’s first missionary journey.
BUT, Peter almost inadvertently messed up what was taking place in Antioch. Peter - influential in foundation of church, but raised with prejudice against Gentiles - from childhood taught not to associate with Gentiles. Gentiles not clean - worshipped false gods and they didn’t eat “clean” foods like OT described.
However, - Peter had a vision - large sheet with all sorts of animals - God told him to eat. Peter resisted, but God made what was considered unclean clean.
Imagine the first time Peter had bacon - changed his life. But, vision more than about eating bacon - about Gentiles. God was going to make them clean as well - even though they didn’t eat the same foods as Jews and even though they weren’t circumcised.
Peter comes to Antioch for a visit. For first few days, he sits and eats with Gentiles. Peter probably couldn’t believe it! Before he met Jesus, he would never imagine himself in a foreign town eating bacon with uncircumcised barbarians worshipping Jesus - but here he was!
Until James (half-brother of Jesus) came with other Jewish believers - Peter knew how James and other Jewish believers felt - they were being persecuted in Jersualem for their association with Gentiles.
Peter ceases to eat with the Gentiles and withdrew from them because he feared the circumcision party. Imagine how Gentiles felt: “We’re not good enough.”
Problem: Instead of choosing freedom, Peter chose to go back to religion. Should have known better! The dream, walked with Jesus, but a momentary lapse of judgment when pressure was on.
Paul - Opposed him to his face - the new guy going up against the Chief Apostle - Why? vs. 14 - deviating from the Gospel - freedom in Christ through death and resurrection. Christianity is not about your national identity, your religious traditions, your works but about the One who died and rose again.
Paul to Peter: “How can you live like a Gentile when Jews aren’t around, but when they are you force Gentiles to live like Jews?” Hypocrisy!
Gospel is supposed to break down barriers and unify people around Christ, but in this instance, Peter was living anti-Gospel - causing division. By choices - opposing the very Gospel he would ultimately die for. Why would Peter cause division? Not intentional - but we do same:
We live to impress.
Fear what your boss will think if you live too radically for Jesus before him.
Peter: “My reputation before fellow Jews more important than compassion for Gentiles.” (wanted to impress)
God has challenged you to minister to a difficult person, but your friends say, “Why would you invest in him. He’s just going to burn you.”
Or, you want to minister to a different Ethnic group - but those close to you wonder why. (E.g. - going to Russia - what will you do?)
Tempted to value opinion of others more than we value people who need the Gospel. Who have you ignored because you value someone’s opinion more than the lost?
(Jews - thought they were impressive.) Temptation to think, “I’m better than because… I’m white, grew up in a Christian home, never done anything wrong. I’m impressive.”
When we live to impress or when we think we’re impressive:
We live to conform. (Others to us) - you can’t be one of us unless - you clean your act up, you are of our political persuasion, you are the same ethnicity, you have same education, you like my style of worship, you dress like me, etc.
Gospel says - none of us are impressive - we all need to look to Christ.
Gospel says - don’t call people to conform to you but to Christ.
Gospel brings us together under our common need...
Ill. Hudson’s booger - I’m fighting for truth - He’s holding on - Are you fighting for truth or holding on?

Focus on living the truth of the Gospel.

Vs. 15 - 16 Paul tells Peter, and other Jewish Christians, “We know better. We are Jews by birth - religious people - not pagan sinners - and we know that’s not enough! We know being religious didn’t make us right before God. That’s why we followed Jesus!”
vs. 17 “Peter, we have sought to be made right with God through Christ. How can we be guilty if we abandon the Law? It didn’t make us right! If it did, then Christ has led us to sin by calling us to truth Him and not religion!”
Vs. 18 - “I’m a sinner if I go back to what I have abandoned.”
“Peter - live the truth of the Gospel - we are justified through faith!”
Justified - 3xs in vs. 16, 1x in verse 17 - the heart of the Gospel is that Christ died to make us right. We are declared right, innocent because of His work, not our work. That’s the point! Our religious work couldn’t get it done - eating clean foods, circumcision, being moral people, reading the Bible every day - not enough.
Believers - we fight for freedom by focusing on truth of the Gospel - God has done everything for us in Christ to secure our salvation - Don’t forget the Gospel! How do you forget the Gospel?
When you try to mix the Gospel with works - I’m not a good Christian unless - I go to church every Sunday, I don’t cuss, don’t drink - constantly keeping score - am I good enough? Jesus was good enough for you. Your works a response to the work Christ has done for you.
When you constantly look down on others - “They aren’t good enough.” Who are you looking down on? That addict? That adulterer? Someone you’re thinking, “They aren’t worth my prayers and investment of time.”
When you are unwilling to have tough conversations - The purity of the Gospel was a hill Paul was willing to die on - because it changed him! Ph. 3 - He had been good enough, but it wasn’t good enough. When convinced of truth of Gospel - always pointing people back to Jesus and away from performance based righteousness and away from judgmental attitudes. There may be a Peter - someone who has slipped into hypocrisy - that you need to correct for the sake of the Gospel.

Focus on clinging to your identity in Christ.

vs. 19 - Why did Paul die to the law? It didn’t set him free. Religion never does. It just frustrates. For Paul, “I’m not focused on circumcision, eating clean food, religious traditions, etc. I’m focused on Jesus.”
vs. 20 - One of Paul’s most famous statements: I am crucified with Christ…” Dead to who I used to be:
Dead to pride - life not about me.
Dead to prejudices - I’m not better than anyone!
Dead to religious performance - I can’t make myself right.
Dead to my need to impress others. ()
My identity is not based on me - not my talents, my abilities, my social standing, etc. Those things do not define my!
Christ lives in me.
I am defined by Jesus because He has made me alive, and He lives in me. I’m dead to who I used to be - and alive to let Jesus live. Therefore:
Instead of living in pride, I live in selfless humility.
Instead of prejudices, I live with compassion and love.
Instead of religious performance, I am empowered to live out the Fruit of the Spirit.
Instead of always trying to impress others so they will approve of me, I rest in the approval of Christ. What He thinks of me is far more important than what others think of me.
Instead of always trying to impress others so they will approve of me, I rest in the approval of Christ. What He thinks of me is far more important than what others think of me.
Paul’s message to a church tempted to hold on to religious stuff, tempted to say, to be a Christian you have to do it our way - “Remember who you are in Christ.”
Christian:
Remember who you were.
Remember who you are.
Repent of living inconsistently with who you are: prejudices, pride, trying to impress, trying to conform people to your standard.
Unbeliever: If the church has ever told you, “In order to be one of us you have to dress like us, act like us, clean yourself up, etc.” I’m sorry. I want you to hear the truth: All you need is Jesus - you’re in the same boat we were all in - separated from God because of sin and on your way to an eternity apart from Him. But, this morning, you can be made right with God by believing that Christ died and rose again, turning from your rebellion, and giving Him control of your life. This morning, experience new life in Christ.
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