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THE TAKE HOME FROM GALATIANS 5.1-23

(SERMON BY ANDREW ALLISON)

One of my favourite movies is the animated “Surf’s Up” – it’s about a teenage penguin named Cody who loves surfing so much so that he leaves his home in Shiverpool, Antarctica and heads for Pen Gu Island, site of the the Big Z Memorial Surf Off. Cody wants to be respected and admired, and he believes that winning the competition will bring him what he craves. However, as he carves out his surfboard the way he wants, life also teaches him that “going with the grain” is the better way to go. 

Freedom is going with the grain. We were designed for freedom. 

But freedom isn’t doing what you want, when you want.

Freedom always includes restrictions. 

Saying “Yes” to one freedom is saying “No” to another freedom. Freedom is going with the grain  – going with the way we’re designed because according to the scriptures, going a different way means we’re falling into slavery. Jesus set both the Jews and the Gentiles free but people tried to make these people go back to following the law.

Rules can be comfortable when we’re used to them but we can get trapped in following them. Paul is saying that if we start with the rules again, we’ll be a mess – he describes it as “falling from grace.” (verse 4)

Law thinking is “when you only count the good shots.” Asking questions like, “What did I do to deserve this?” and “Why doesn’t God bless me more?” or making comments like, “I’m a good person. I deserve more” is saying that God owes you something.

So, how do we get out of law thinking?

The Spirit of Jesus in us sets us free. (verse 5) When we come to Christ, we don’t need to go back to the cesspool of law thinking. We’re set free. 

The Message puts it so well:

19 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;
20 trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;
21 the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
22 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments,
23 not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.

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