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Guiding Others to Freedom
11/15/2009
Scripture: Galatians 5:1; Romans 6:6-7; John 8:31-3...
Track 6 of 11 in the The Freedom that Comes from Grace series
Running time: 46 minutes, 17 seconds.
Grace can be and is sometimes abused. What I mean by that, some believers will exercise their freedom without using wisdom. Is there a chance or danger that Christians can use their freedom without understanding how God wants us to use that freedom As we will see in scripture, some believers did abuse their freedom by not showing concern over whether their actions offended or wounded a young impressionable fellow believer.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Guiding Others to Freedom

Two weeks ago when we last studied the topic of Grace that leads to freedom, our conversations kept pointing to a question that needed an answer. There were questions about freedom and how much freedom was too much. Can there be too much freedom for one person to enjoy? When is too much freedom bad? Does freedom have limits? Shouldn’t people restrain their freedoms and occasionally hold themselves in check? The answer is obviously, Yes.

Grace can be –and is sometimes abused. What I mean by that, some believers will exercise their freedom without using wisdom. We have to go over again the definition of wisdom; the ability to see and understand things the way God does. Is there a chance or danger that Christians can use their freedom without understanding how God wants us to use that freedom? As we will see in scripture, some believers did abuse their freed by not showing concern over whether their actions offended or wounded a young impressionable fellow believer.

True or False: A believer’s restraint in his or her freedom should be determined by the Church.

According to scripture, a believer’s restraint is an individual matter. It is not to be legislated or something to be forced by someone else. Limitations are appropriate and necessary, but nowhere in scripture do we find where a person is to require such restraint from another. To do this is legalism. The best restraint is self-restraint that comes from the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit of God. Today, I believe the church is in great need of freedom, not restraint.

True or False: The churches job is to free people; God’s job is to restrain them.

I know this might sound radical but there are a lot of scriptures to back up my comments. The Bible gives us some scriptures that act as breathing holes. They allow the Christian to breath, they encourage true freedom, they liberate. Here are some examples:

Galatians 5:1 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.

Romans 6:6-7For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

John 8:31-32; 36 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

And there are many more scripture where these came from. The point to this is that God wants us all to be free. Not just us but everyone. The churches job is to guide others to freedom. Help others to get away from the bondage of slavery, no matter what that slavery is. The way to do that is through a relationship with Jesus. And yet, many Christians don’t live free. Paul wrote these words to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

So what is Paul trying to tell Timothy? What is God’s intent for us? God wants us to enjoy life and to help others to realize that they too can enjoy life.

What are some of the Grace killers that lurk around a church, a Christian home, around the life of a believer? Why do you call them killers? What do they kill?

Paul wrote some pretty powerful words concerning freedom in the church. The purpose was for the church to breathe and enjoy the life God provided. Too often when the church reads this passage, the focus is on the restraint, not the freedom. In this passage, the restraint only happens part of the time while most of life is to be enjoyed and shared.

1 Corinthians 10:25-11:1 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake£—the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

The verse that stands out to me the most is 11:1. We are to follow the example of Paul as he follows Jesus. What would Jesus do? I think many Christians would be astounded as to what Jesus would do in certain situations. When Matthew the tax collector invited him to come to his house and meet his friends, Jesus went and I totally believe he had a great time. When Jesus and his mother were at the wedding in Cana, when the wine ran out, not only did Jesus replenish the wine that ran out, he gave them 180 gallons of the best wine. Did Jesus himself partake in drinking the wine? Most likely he did. He made it and God doesn’t make anything that is not good.

What is the issue or the question Paul is answering here? Imagine if John DuPont were there with Jesus, what question might he ask Jesus concerning eating meat sacrificed to idols?

Why would some Christians feel eating this meat was not good or right to do?
Why would some Christians not have a problem?

To the church in Corinth, according to verse 27, what is the general rule when asked to eat this meet by unbelievers? What is the wisdom in using restraint? Why the restraint? What about the Cornerstone Class, according to verse 27, what is the general rule? What is the wisdom for restraint?

Look at verses 29-30, what is Paul saying here? Restraint is a personal choice as prompted by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the individual believer. It is not to be legislated.

So what is this all about? It is simple; don’t give me your personal lists of do’s and don’ts to live by. Your personal list is just that, it’s yours not mine. The same holds true with me as well to you. Being free means you have no reason whatsoever to agree with my personal list; nor should you slander me because it isn’t exactly like yours. That is one of the ways Christians live in harmony with each other. When trouble starts it is usually when someone’s list isn’t being followed by others. Someone considers their personal list sacred or better compelling others to fall in line and follow them, or else. All of this is called living by grace.

What happens if we find a list in Scripture?

That is a different issue. Specified lists in Scripture are to be obeyed without hesitation and question. That is an inspired list, not a personal list. Can anyone show me where in scripture there is an inspired list?

Acts 15:23-29 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul—men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

That’s it. When it comes down to lifestyle, there were basically four things for this church of Gentiles. God has given his children a wonderful freedom in Christ which means not only freedom from sin and shame but also a freedom in lifestyle, so we can become models of His grace. Now all of this is very hard to do if you are insecure. It is even harder if you grew up in a family and church environment when the Bible was used as a hammer to pound people into submission rather as a guide to lead people into grace. Sometimes believers leave the legalistic environment and find freedom and go too far. They abuse the grace of God by flaunting their liberty. That can be just as tragic as those who don’t go far enough. It requires balance.

Let’s talk real situations here. What would you consider going too far and flaunting your liberty? What would you consider not going far enough in living your freedom in Christ? How do we balance these two extremes?

Use the example of your teenager driving by themselves for the very first time. What is considered too much freedom and what is not allowing enough freedom? Is there a balance?

There are some careful warnings to those who choose to live a free life. Even those who live in a free country need warnings, we shouldn’t be surprised that God has warnings for us who live free in him. These warning are set forth in Romans 6:16-23. None of them are complicated. For some reasons, not many churches teach them. You and I must be taught to handle grace rather carefully. Grace is a delicate thing.

Romans 6:16-23 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The main principle is woven into verse 16.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

True or False: How we live depends on the master we choose.

The answer is true. In the real scheme of life, Paul points out that there are only two real masters.

1. Either of sin resulting in death
2. Obedience resulting in righteousness

Romans 6 is basically telling us, serve the right master and link up with righteousness. Before Jesus we had no choice. We were all trapped under the ice. We couldn’t breathe. Breathing free wasn’t an option. There was no way we could find freedom. We were enslaved to do wrong. But when Jesus came, he freed us, leaving us with a choice. We can choose Him to be our Master, or we can go back and choose sin to master us.

J. B. Phillips said it this way: “You belong to the power which you choose to obey.” It’s that simple. When Christians say they aren’t living a life of freedom, the first place to look is at the master you chose to follow. Jesus doesn’t stifle your freedom so the master must be someone else. If it’s Jesus you choose, the benefits are many. If it’s sin, the consequences are destructive and miserable. Quite simply: Grace makes the choice possible.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us could live in full freedom from sin 365 days a year? But that is not possible in reality so long as we live here in physical form on this earth. Perpetual sinlessness won’t happen until we are in our glorified bodies and at home in heaven. But the good news is we don’t have to sin on a constant, day after day basis. Grace has freed us to obey Christ.

Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Grace never means we are free to live any way we wish, whatever the consequences. Grace does mean God will smile on me regardless. It means I am free to choose righteousness or disobedience. If I choose disobedience, it brings consequences and many things that are harmful to me, the church and more importantly, to the name of Christ. Freedom is a wonderful thing but when freedom is abused, it can lead to a trap right back to a life of bondage to sin. The goal of freedom is never to glorify and satisfy the self, but to freely give God all the Glory and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord causing us to bear fruit of righteousness.