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1618. Christian Liberty Part 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2023 6:17 pm

1618. Christian Liberty Part 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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October 11, 2023 6:17 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a series entitled “Walking in the Spirit” from Galatians 5:13-14.

The post 1618. Christian Liberty Part 2 appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.


Something I've learned from the Walking in the Spirit chapel theme this semester has been spending time in God's Word and living that out intentionally. And really, if I'm growing in God's Word, then I will be walking in the Spirit and growing closer to Him. What I learned from the chapel theme, Walking in the Spirit, I just learned how foundational that is to just everyday life and how that can really make or break how your day goes, how your week goes. I think the biggest thing I learned from the chapel series, it was just really encouraging to know what it really means to walk in the Spirit.

I think that term gets used a lot. Definitely knowing that you have to fully depend on God, that if you don't rely on God, your classes, your grades, your friendships, and your relationships, they will go down. I would say if you put Christ first, everything will come by its own. I really enjoyed the comparison between the living in the flesh and living in the Spirit. I found that helpful, especially the contrast between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit that makes it more practical and much more easy to gauge progress as we either have a fruit of the Spirit or we have a work of the flesh. Welcome to The Daily Platform, a radio program featuring chapel messages from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. You just heard several BJU students talking about chapel programs preached from the book of Galatians. For the next several days on The Daily Platform, we'll be hearing Dr. Steve Pettit lead us through a study in the book of Galatians called Walking in the Spirit. In today's message, Steve will walk us through part two of the study of Christian liberty from Galatians chapter five.

Last week, we began our two-part messages on the theme of Christian liberty out of the book of Galatians. And we saw that Christian liberty is our freedom from the law as a means of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. If I could put it really simple, God does not take his laws and bind them up in a covenant and then say, would you like to have a relationship with me?

Here, keep these laws. That is not the way God works with us. But what God has done is something quite wonderful. That is, he sent his son who lived under those laws and kept them perfectly. And then he went to a cross and he died to pay for the laws that everybody else broke. And the moment that we believe in and receive and accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior, then all of the sins that we have committed are completely paid for through what he did in his death. And even better, his perfect righteousness is now credited to our account because he is the one who lived life as we should live, and he did it perfectly for us.

That's called not law, but that's called the grace of God. My sins removed and his righteousness deposited unto me. So when we speak about Christian liberty, it should be one of the most amazing thoughts that we've ever had. That we have been freed from the law as a means of salvation. That it is not my perfect obedience that gets me into heaven because it's not perfect. But it is the perfect obedience of Jesus in both his life and his death.

The guilt and the fear is covered by his death. And the freedom to live my life knowing that I'm living in perfection through Jesus is the freedom that we have in Christ. And so this is what Paul means in Galatians 5 and verse 13 when he says, for brethren, you have been called unto liberty. Now let's read on because the next phrase is actually an admonition or a concern. I'm sure you've experienced this before in your life where your parents gave you on one hand a certain element of freedoms.

On the other hand, they also gave you a certain element of warnings. And that's what Paul is doing with the theme of Christian liberty. And notice what he says in verse 13, for brethren, you have been called unto liberty. Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Why? For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Now what is Paul doing?

Well, what he's doing is actually something we all experience. And that is he's addressing the problem that arises when Christian liberty is misunderstood. Now I want to say this about Paul. Paul was never hindered to teach Christian liberty because Christians could abuse it or misuse it. Because he understood that you could not live a successful Christian life without understanding Christian liberty. But he also made it very clear that by nature we have a problem and that is that we can misuse Christian liberty. And it was a problem in the church of Galatia and 2,000 years later it's a problem today. So what is the problem?

Well, look at what he says. Only use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh. The misuse of Christian liberty has to do with something that is inside of us. And the Bible describes it as our flesh. Now what is our flesh?

I've said it before but let me just remind you. Our flesh can refer to our human body, it can refer to human strength, or it can refer to human sin nature. In this case I believe the flesh is referring to the sinful nature that operates within our human body. And he says the flesh can take the idea of Christian liberty and it can use it as a launching pad.

That's what the word occasion means. It can use it to support its desires. So here's what Paul is warning. Don't allow your flesh to misuse your liberty as a starting point to satisfy the desires of your self-centered nature. The flesh will use the idea of liberty to satisfy its own self.

I mean let's be honest. When you hear the phrase Christian liberty and free from the law, what is the most natural way for you to think? The most natural way to think is then therefore I can live however I would like to live.

And that's the point that he is trying to address. He is warning us not to allow our flesh to use the idea of Christian liberty to satisfy its own desires. So here's the question. How would one know that the flesh is misusing liberty? How would you know that you're thinking in an improper way?

Let me give you three ways this morning as we look at this text description. Number one, the first way that you know that the flesh is misusing liberty is when I think of liberty in the terms of my own personal selfish desires. Would you notice what Paul said? He says, only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but notice what he says, but, that's in contrast, but by love, serve one another. When liberty is truly understood, it will always lead people to serve one another by love.

Or let me make it even more simple. When you understand Christian liberty, it's not about what I can get, it's about what I can give. Because where there's liberty, the end of it, the end result of liberty is never self-satisfaction, but it is always serving others through love.

In other words, we live unselfishly to meet the needs of others. What did the cross do? It struck a death blow at the very heart of our own selfishness. That's what the cross does. It strikes a blow at the heart of our own selfishness.

Jesus said, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself. However, if my concept of liberty focuses on my rights to please myself, then it's not driven by God. Or let me put it this way, when the first words out of my mouth when I speak about liberty are my rights, then usually I'm wrong. And what happens if liberty is being governed by selfish desires?

What happens if we get it wrong? Well historically, it has always led to a looser, or even if I could say, a licentious lifestyle among Christians. In other words, Christians become loose in the way they live. John Calvin wrote about this. He warned about the man who wanted to extend Christian liberty to include everything, without any exception so that nothing may hinder him or prevent him from having, as he says, a good time. These frantic people without any distinction abolish all all, saying that it is no longer necessary to keep it since we have been set free from it. What we see right here in the book of Galatians is two extremes in the Christian life.

One is the legal side, and the other is the licentious or loose side. And we have to understand that Christian liberty does not lead me to a carefree life, but it leads me to a careful life. How do you know when liberty is being abused? It is when I think of liberty in the terms of my own selfish desires.

Then number two, how do I know when liberty is being abused? It is when I teach and practice that the believer has no responsibility to the law. Go back and look at what he says in verse 13. He says, but by love serve one another.

That's the contrast to living for the flesh. Verse 14, here's why. For this reason, for all the law is fulfilled in one word or one statement, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Some believers take the idea that no longer under the law means that the law is no longer a part of the believer's life. However, Paul is saying something quite different. He is saying Christian liberty fulfills the law by a different motive, and that's the law of love.

All right, let me illustrate it this way. My wife and I have been married for 42 years. My wife is an amazing servant. My wife loves me. And if we have a free Saturday morning, my wife always cooks me breakfast. There is no restaurant in all of Greenville that can make breakfast better than my wife.

And it's always eggs, and it's always some kind of a meat, generally bacon, because life is too short to pass up bacon. So, amen. I knew I was going to get something out of you.

Let me expand that idea. Life is too short to drink bad coffee, pass up bacon, and not drive a pickup truck. Amen? There we go. That's good preaching, preacher.

Thank you very much. Anyway, and my wife makes the best breakfast, and she does it joyfully and happily for me, because she loves me. But I know my wife well enough. If I said to her, sweetheart, I want you to make me breakfast, and if you don't make me breakfast today, I'm going to divorce you. You know what she would say? Then divorce me.

Because not only is my wife sweet, but she's really tough, and you don't mess with her. And here's the point. The motivation to obey God and His law is not because I'm afraid He's going to reject me, but it is because He loves me. That's the difference between the Spirit and the flesh. Consider the connection of the Spirit's relationship to the law. First of all, the Spirit of God creates the desire to keep the law when you're born again.

Ezekiel 36 26 says, a new heart I will give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes. Paul writes in Romans 5 5 that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us. And what is the love of God? It is the love for who He is, and God reveals Himself in His law. And God gives us the desire to keep His moral law. Paul states in Galatians that God put His Spirit within us. Galatians 4 6, and because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba Father, we have the Spirit of the Lord living in us, and the Spirit of God has given me not only the desire, but the power to actually conform to the law. Listen to Romans 8 verse 3, for what the law could not do, and that it was weak through the flesh. God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. In other words, what is the empowerment of the Spirit? I pray Holy Spirit give me your power.

What is that power? It is to live in obedience to God out of a motivation of love. The same reason my wife makes me breakfast is the same reason in part why we obey the law. Because the law reflects the nature of God. Now when a man is sanctified by the Spirit, how do you know that?

It is because he is walking in obedience to God. Christian liberty fulfills the law of love. How easy is it for believers to be deceived by their own flesh, to think incorrectly about the law? Now when we speak about the law, of course we're referring back to the Old Testament, and there's certain elements of the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus, like the ceremonial law. Or perhaps certain laws that God had for the children of Israel, but the moral law is what transcends all of the laws, and those laws reflect three things. Number one, the law tells us what God is like.

Think about back in the days when people worshiped idols, and those idols had stories that we call mythology. And we find out what the gods were like, and they were immoral, they were murderers, they were thieves, they were liars, they were corrupt. But when the story of God was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, what do we learn about our God? There's only one God, and here's what that God is like, and God reflects what he is like in his moral law. And so the law tells us what God is like. The law, number two, tells us what Jesus is like. Paul writes in Galatians 4 that God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law. What do we know about Jesus? He lived his whole life from birth to death, an absolute perfect conformity to the law, in his words, in his thoughts, his deeds, in every part, and none of us have lived that way.

But that's what Jesus was like. And then number three, the law reveals what we are like. The Bible says, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. For example, if we just said, if we said, thou shalt not lie, and we started to enumerate on what it means to lie, all of us within a matter of minutes would be under the deepest conviction. Because everybody lies.

Everybody lies. And what does the law do? It doesn't tell me how good I am.

It tells me how bad I am. It's like a mirror that I look into, and I see what I look like, so the law is a mirror. And so the law is not bad.

I am the one that is bad. This is what Paul says in Romans and Galatians. He says the carnal mind is in conflict with God at enmity. He said it's not subject to God's laws, neither indeed can be. My own nature is so sinful that I actually twist the law and make it look like it's bad, when in reality it's good. If I misuse Christian liberty, then I'm trying to be released from the moral restraints of the law. And historically in the church, we call that antinomianism.

That means against the law. And we are antinomian when the law is no longer a voice of God to speak to us. When the law is no longer basic to moral training. When the law is no longer stated as God's standard for human behavior. When the law is no longer has direct relevance to us once we are in Christ. If that's the way we think, then what we have done is we have misused Christian liberty.

And then number three, how do we know when liberty is being misused and abused? It is when there is strife among believers over Christian liberty. Would you go back and look at your text in verse 15? He says, but if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another. Now what Paul here is talking about is he's concerned about the inevitable destruction of the church through cannibalism. Do you know what a cannibal is? It eats another human being. Do you know that the church is actually by nature cannibalistic?

We have a tendency to eat our own and the way we treat each other. And what he is saying is that when we embrace the wrong viewpoint of Christian liberty, it creates all kinds of tension. I mean think with me. Let's say you walk into a church on Sunday morning and on one side of the church sit all the legalists. On the other side of the church seat all the libertarians.

Let me ask you a question. How well do you think they get along with each other? Do you think they might have arguments after Sunday school, before Sunday school, or some other time? The point of the matter here is that if we don't get Christian liberty right, we will not be controlled by the law of love, but we will be controlled by the law of the jungle. Believers will consume one another over their own rights and their own choices. So what then is the proper use of the law?

What is the proper use of Christian liberty? Let's finish up this morning and look at what he says in verse 16. He begins with the phrase, this I say then. In other words, here's what he's saying. Here's my point.

Here's my advice. Here's how Christian liberty works. He says, walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. And the lust of the flesh is referring back to the misuse of Christian liberty. What he is saying is the only way for Christian liberty to work is when we walk in the Spirit. For when we walk in the Spirit, he says it is not possible for us to fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Someone has explained it this way. Christian liberty is like driving down a highway in Louisiana. By the way, driving the highway in Louisiana is different than driving the highway in Kansas. If you run off the road in Kansas, it doesn't really matter. You're just going to run into a cornfield. That's it. But if you go off the highway in Louisiana, where are you going to end up?

In the swamp. There's a right side and there's a left side. There is the legal side and there's the libertarian side. But by the way, both of them are driven by self. Because if I'm living under the law in order to be accepted by the Lord, I'm only thinking about myself. If I'm living in a liberty standpoint where I'm always thinking about my personal rights and the way that I want to live, I'm still thinking about myself.

Both sides are self-centered. But you have to stay on the highway. And the highway is Christian liberty. What is Christian liberty? It is not only freedom from the law through Jesus, but it is freedom from my lustful desires through the power of the Holy Spirit of God and the love that He has placed in my heart for Christ and my desire to please Him. And walking in the Spirit is the only way to live the Christian life and nothing else works.

Nothing else works. Law doesn't work. A looseness of life doesn't work. It is when I submit myself to die to myself and be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I am controlled by love, that's the only way the Christian life works. That's why we've emphasized learn, love, lead. You have no right to lead if you don't love.

In order to love, you've got to grow and you have to learn. And Christian liberty is this amazing freedom. I have to overcome my own selfish desires, but it's not through the keeping of the law.

It's through the power of the Holy Spirit that God empowers me to want to live in obedience to Him. And there is a freedom that God gives me. I don't want to go there. I don't want to lie. I don't want to steal. I don't want to be immoral.

I don't want to look at pornography. I don't want to be critical and unkind and hurt people. Why? Because the love of God has been poured in my heart by the Holy Ghost that has been given unto me, and the Spirit of God puts within me the desire to be like Jesus Christ. That, my friend, is Christian liberty. And next week, we will learn, then, how do we walk in the Spirit. Father, thank you for your word and help us to walk in the Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen.

You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit from the study series in Galatians called Walking in the Spirit. My name is Wyatt Smith. I'm a senior here at Bob Jones University studying multimedia journalism. And I want to tell you a little about my experience here at BJA. I've been here a little over three years, and I truly cannot say enough about the community here at BJA. Whether it has been in the halls of the dorms, in my incredible society, or even in the classroom, I have always felt a very strong sense of community around me that has aided in my growth as a person and as a Christian. BJA's commitment to academic excellence has also pushed me to discover and refine the skills and talents needed to succeed in life after school, such as communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. My time in the classroom has allowed me to gain hands-on experience in my field of study, all while giving me the freedom to think creatively and build my skills. One aspect of BJA that I have really appreciated is that I have been continuously challenged to develop and grow my faith in Christ through the preaching of God's Word in chapel and the daily discipleship of those in community around me. I have truly loved my time here at BJA, and I hope others will be able to share the experience I have had. If you or someone you know is interested in an experience such as mine, I would encourage you to check us out online at our website,, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram at For any further information, please feel free to give us a call at 800-252-6363. Thanks for listening, and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in the book of Galatians, preached from the Bob Jones University Chapel Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-21 20:59:32 / 2023-10-21 21:09:05 / 10

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