Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Use and Abuse of Freedom

A poll revealed that many people who live in New York City did not know what the 4th of July was. Some said it was a holiday but they did not know why it was a day off. Others said it was a time for picnics and fireworks. July the 4th involves these things, but it is principally a day when we celebrate our nation's independence from England. The Colonists did not like "taxation without representation" so they sent delegates to Philadelphia where they met together and then signed the Declaration of Independence.

The celebration of our nation's independence causes us to pause and think about what freedom means - not only politically but spiritually. Within our country and Christ's Kingdom, mature individuals realize that we should use and not abuse our liberty. The Apostle Paul writes this to the Galatians: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). Paul makes an assertion and then follows it with a command. Christ has indeed freed us from bondage to the Law and the power and penalty of sin. The Law and the Ordinances involved more than 10 commandments. Scholars counted 613 things that were prohibited or required by God. No one could perfectly keep the Law so while revealing God's righteous requirements it also showed the need of a Savior. Paul wanted the early Christians to "stand firm" in their freedom in Christ and not fall back into slavery to the Law. The Apostle went on to say, "You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Galatians 5:13-15).

Let's look at these verses and notice three things: 1) Christian freedom is not freedom to indulge the flesh (v. 13). Christians are to live in liberty but not allow the use of that freedom to become a license to do whatever we want or feel inclined to do. Many of the people who claim to be the freest are really slaves to sin. 2) Christian freedom is not freedom to exploit our neighbor (vv. 13b & 15). Christians are not to abuse others in ways that we see all too often in the world around us but to lovingly serve others and God. 3) Christian freedom is not freedom to disregard the Law (v. 14). Christians are free to do everything--everything that is not condemned as sin in the Bible. Believers are free to do everything, but we must be willing to limit our freedom so as not to be a stumbling block to weaker persons. "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Corinthians 8:0).

In conclusion, everyone who has been truly set free by Jesus Christ expresses their liberty positively in these three ways: 1) in self control, 2) in loving service to others, and 3) in obedience to God's Laws.

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