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 (Showers of Blessing 6B)
Freedom In Christ
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Lee Roger likes socializing.  The most frequent visitor of Service at three on Saturday afternoons, this approachable and amicable presence in the church for the last two years, looks slightly perturbed in the Youth Class, as he listens to a topical report.  Breaking away from his norm of leaving at Five, he sits amongst the youths, restlessly supporting his head with his clasped hands.

This uneasiness is due to the fact that the report on Christian freedom has emerged to be in sharp contrast to his long-held beliefs.  "I always believe, you know, freedom in Christ signifies the unprecedented and unchangeable freedom that Christ has given to us.  It is a gift from Christ," (Gal 5: 1) he says with much annoyance.

His twitchiness becomes more apparent when the speaker agrees with him only on the premise that they should no longer live in sin from which the death of Christ has delivered them (Rom 6: 6, 11).  In the light of the Bible, Jesus does not liberate us into our own sets of beliefs and ways of life.  The new image of this freedom is a complete detachment from the decadence of the world.  This is possible if we live a Spirit-filled life (Gal 5:16ff, Rom 8:2).  For where the Spirit is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17).

As the class progresses, he adds uncompromisingly, "As long as we have the Holy Spirit, we have freedom.  Isn't this true?" The reception of the Holy Spirit is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a Spirit-directed life, which is basic in the adherence to what God says.  "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:31ff).  A life of freedom, in short, must have the truth as its foundation (Gal 5:1ff, 7; 1 Jn 2:4).  The Holy Spirit will then further guide us to the truth.

He also believes that Paul abrogated the rituals of the Old Testament and the Jewish customs.  Therefore, we are no more bound by any commandment.  But how does he explain Paul's assertion of the necessity of the Law in faith (Rom 3:31).

"It's the law of love that Paul was referring to.  And Jesus set forth the pattern of this law in washing His disciples' feet (Jn 13:34f), to demonstrate His love for them to the end" (Jn 13: 1).

The same intransigence is evident when the speaker asked a further question about the Law of love which summarizes and brings to life all the commandments.

I think, it's unbelievable to place the commandments in the spotlight of love and I wonder if Paul has made a mistake in saying that by the deeds of the Law, albeit the commandments, no flesh will be Justified in Jesus' sight" (Rom 3:20).

"Those who come from the Lutheran line hold a similar view.  Since salvation is given freely to us who believe in Jesus, our righteous deeds exert no impact in the process of God's redemption.  As long as we faithfully trust in Him, we shall be saved."

True, there is none who can be saved through good deeds without Christ's redemption.  But it is hard to imagine what would become of us, should there be no good deeds in our converted life?  If any believer can profess knowing perfectly the relationship between salvation and good deeds, it is Paul.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:8ff).

As the Bible, which includes Paul's teachings, consistently speaks for itself, it would be wise to follow what it says in whole, to know perfectly the crucial link between the two.  "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Tit 2:14).

In Christ, the commandments remain binding, as they are the essence which God requires of mankind, in particular H's believers.  Our faith in H' through the redemption by His blood and the reception of the Holy Spirit, enables us to keep the commandments in willingness and out of love for God.  We, who love, do in freedom what the Law requires and thus fulfilling it.  This differs radically from the outward restraint of the Law in the Old Testament, which required the people to fulfil the actions it prescribed (cf Rom 13:8ff, Gal 5:14).

Freedom in Christ goes beyond the prescription of the Law, though it remains the foundation of our Christian life (cf 1 Cor 7:19).  It is the strength to serve (1 Pet 2:16), in modeling the service of Jesus.  "For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Gal 5:13; cf 1 Cor 9:19).  It is the ability to deny ourselves for the sake of others (1 Cor 6:12; 10:23).

Despite his outward respect for God's word, Lee Poger still remains unchanged.  He is strolling along

East Road
to Old Street Station, away from the church.  He could have easily turned what he heard to his own advantage, if he has considered more humbly the entire topical report.

It is rather sad and frightening to realize that nowadays the solid proclamation of liberty in Christianity is but arrogance, deception and rebellion underneath.  While promising liberty, the advocates themselves are slaves of corruption.