freedom means opportunity
By Jon W. Quinn
The Holy Spirit revealed through the apostle
Paul that as children of God we were called to freedom. He says, "For you were
called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity
for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13). Some shun
Christianity because they think that they will no longer be free. They simply
are not interested in keeping the law of Christ. While it is true that living
by faith means accepting the Lordship of Christ in every aspect of our lives,
and accepting His Lordship means doing what He says, His law is designed to
bring order to our lives and with that order comes a special kind of freedom.
There is security, peace and confidence. There is joy, purpose and comfort.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
God continued His explanation of this freedom that Paul wrote about by talking
about how the "flesh" and the "Spirit" are at odds with one another (Galatians
5:16-18). The flesh insists that if you satisfy your every whim and deny
yourself nothing, whether it be money, possessions, sexual immorality,
intoxication, power, gluttony, prestige, or recreation, then you can be truly
happy. God says that becoming obsessed with these things will not make you
happy; it will only make you the slave of these things.
The Consequences of Slavery to the Flesh
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the
flesh" (Galatians 5:16). The carnal mind may well mockingly respond; "I would
rather fulfill my every whim. I'd like to be a slave of all those things. I
cannot get enough of them!" But wait; there is a price to pay! The Scripture
continues: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality
impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts
of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing,
and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you,
that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"
(Galatians 5:19-21). The result of such a life is eternal loss. When the
eternal day dawns, to find oneself excluded from the kingdom of God will bring
the deepest regret ever experienced by the human heart. There can be no
But that's not the only thing. Look at that list again; does that sound like a
happy person to you? If so, why is he or she so driven by "jealousy"? Why all
the "disputes" and "dissensions"? Is it because by living this way the human
being has lowered himself to the point that he is pretty much driven only by
instinct, the way animals are? Man wasn't designed by God to be happy in such
a situation. Isn't that precisely what is happening to many of America's youth
today? They've been taught well by the prior generations; they are merely
taking materialism to its logical conclusion when one of them murders another
for his jacket or shoes! Are these people happy? Listen to them described
again in another passage: "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God
any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which
are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed,
evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil,
disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving,
unmerciful" (Romans 1:28-31). Now that is what Jesus promises to free us from!
There is Another Way!
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is
no law." (Galatians 5:22-23). It is so important to recognize and accept the
place of God in our lives. What a tragic waste it is to turn away from Jesus!
And what an impediment to the Lord's kingdom when those who wear the name of
Christ display the "deeds of the flesh" as often as they do the "fruit of the
Spirit". Christians who display "jealousy", "outbursts of anger" and
“dissensions" but are short on "peace", "kindness" and "goodness" have too
much of the world and too little of Christ in them. They harm the cause of
Christ by hurting their loved ones; by giving incorrect images of what it
means to be a Christian to their neighbors and other associates; and by
tearing down their brethren in Christ.
The Fruit of the Spirit
"Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and
desires. If we live by the Spirit, then let us also walk by the Spirit"
(Galatians 5:24, 25). The first in the list of the "fruit of the Spirit" is
"love". This has to do not with how we feel about others but rather how we
treat them. It is to seek the welfare of others; to work for their good.
The second is "joy". This is the quality of life that
results from a sense of well-being God bestows. It is not dependent on outward
circumstances. One may be sorrowful for one reason or another and joy still
exist beneath the sorrow.
The third is "peace" and refers to the harmony that Christ brings to a life.
Life begins to make sense as discord is removed and a rich melody takes its
The fourth is "patience". This quality belongs to those who endure hardship
and do not give up.
The fifth is "kindness". This is the desire to be helpful to others. It views
others with compassion.
The sixth is "goodness". It means to be upright. We must allow the Bible to be
our standard of conduct.
The seventh is "faithfulness". This means to be trustworthy. Jesus and the
brethren can depend upon one with "faithfulness".
The eighth is "gentleness" It refers to the quality of being able to receive
the word of God into the heart and is often translated "meekness". It means to
put one's ego in check.
The final one is "self-control". This refers to
self-discipline. We must bring order to our lives by learning to say "yes" and
"no" at the proper times.
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into
an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."
From The Bradley Banner 10/13//2013
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway