An outline based on Galatians 5:1-15
Our problems in life, as well as within the church, are basically twofold:
FAILURE TO SEE THINGS FROM GOD’S POINT OF VIEW…(i.e. WISDOM).
FAILURE TO RESPOND TO LIFE FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE…(i.e. UNDERSTANDING).
* Knowing and Obeying the Will of God is the Key to All of Life.
If it is for freedom that Christ has set us free; why don’t we do it? i.e. Why don’t we live in victory instead of a yoke of Slavery … a yoke of defeat!
* I believe there are at least three reasons why we don’t live in FREEDOM!
1. FIRST, WE DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE ARE INITIALLY SAVED.
As glorious as it is, most people fail to receive or understand the fullness of God’s gracious gift of eternal life at the point of salvation! Every one coming/ being drawn to God has difficulty in realizing the magnitude of God’s salvation. When they come to REALIZE their lostness and total inability to save themselves, they REJOICE in accepting what Jesus, and He alone, could provide for them: FORGIVENESS OF SIN, FREEDOM FROM GUILT, AND ACCEPTANCE into God’s forever family. However, herein lies the problem. This is the extent to which most Christians understand all that God has done for them IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ. What a pity! The truth is… we are baptized into Christ (Rom.6:4; 1 Cor.12:13) and now everything has changed! What happened?
1. Before we received Christ, we were slaves to sin. But because of Christ’s work on the cross, sin’s power over us has been broken. Why did the old self need to die? The old self was independent and disobedient to God, so it had to die in order that “our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom.6:6). Death is the ending of a relationship, but not of existence. Sin hasn’t died; it is still strong and appealing.
But when your old self died with Christ on the cross, your relationship with sin ended forever. You are no longer “in the flesh” but “in Christ” (Rom. 8:9). Your old self (the sinner) and your old nature (characterized by the sin which was inevitable since you were separated from God) are gone forever because you are no longer separated from God.
2. Does this mean that you are now sinless? Not at all! The death of your old self (1 John. 2:1,2) formally ended your relationship with sin, but it did not end sin’s existence. Sin and Satan are still around, and they are strong and appealing. But by virtue of the crucifixion of the old self, sin’s power over you is broken (Rom. 6:7,12,14). You are no longer under any obligation to serve sin, to obey sin, or to respond to sin.
3. Satan has no right of ownership or authority over us. He is a defeated foe, but he is committed to keeping us from realizing that (1 John. 3:8). He knows he can block your effectiveness as a Christian if he can deceive you into believing that you are nothing but a product of your past, subject to sin, prone to failure, and controlled by your habits. As long as he can confuse you and blind you with his dark lies, you won’t be able to see that the chains which once bound you are broken. You are free in Christ, but if the devil can deceive you into believing you’re not, you won’t experience the FREEDOM which is your INHERITANCE! I don’t believe in instant maturity, but I do believe in instant FREEDOM!
4. Even though the old self–who you were in Adam–is dead, you still have to contend with the flesh (Gal. 5:16,17) The way you learned to live your life before Christ is still PROGRAMMED into your MIND. Knowing that our old self was crucified with Christ makes it possible for you to choose not to sin. You no longer have to walk after the flesh; you may now walk after the Spirit. YOU ARE FREE!
“I just can’t help it?” – That is a lie of Satan!!
5. NOTICE THE REMARKABLE DIFFERENCE:
* In Adam you had an old self; IN Christ you have a New Self.
* In Adam you had a sin nature; IN Christ you are a partaker of the Divine Nature [in your spirit](Eph. 2:1-3, 2 Peter 1:4).
* In Adam you were in the flesh; IN Christ you are in the Spirit (Rom. 8:8; 8:9).
* In Adam you could only walk after the flesh; IN Christ you may choose to walk after the Spirit or after the flesh!
* When we were saved we became something we never were before!
AREN’T YOU GLAD TO BE A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST?
* It doesn’t matter how you feel. It’s the truth; Conform to the TRUTH!
II. SECONDLY, we usually miss out on freedom because WE ARE NOT CONSISTENT IN TEACHING THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST.
* Most baby Christians are taken at this point and placed in the regular activities of the church. FAILURE OCCURS HERE BECAUSE THE ALL- IMPORTANT CONCEPT OF THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST IS NOT DISCIPLED INTO THE BELIEVER!
* Jesus as Savior is of first importance, but a young convert must quickly come to see that Jesus is the Lord of all of life. If not, the danger is that the young Christian will once again begin seeing things from a human point of view thereby beginning a struggle in his Christian life due to an improper focus–SELF!
* When Self is in control there is NO LORDSHIP! It is here that we are greatly deceived.
Ways of self-deception:
1.When we think we are something we are not. Yes, we are special in God’s sight, but everything we are and have comes from God … so we cannot be prideful! All we have is the grace of God. Never take credit for what God has provided; RATHER, take delight in accomplishing worthwhile deeds which glorify the Lord.
2. We are Deceived when we think we are wise in this age (1 Cor. 3:18,19). It is the height of intellectual arrogance to assume wisdom without the revelation of God. “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22). Sometimes we are tempted to think we can match wits and intellect with the god of this world. But we are no match for him. Whenever we think we can outsmart Satan on our own, we are prime targets to be led astray by his craftiness. HOWEVER, SATAN IS NO MATCH FOR GOD. It is important for us not to lean on our own understanding, but to employ the mind of Christ and acknowledge Him in all our ways (Prov. 3:5,6; 1 Cor. 2:16).
3. We are Deceived when we allow “Strongholds of the Mind” to occur! STRONGHOLDS are negative patterns of thought which are burned into our minds either through repetition over time or through one-time traumatic experiences. They are false ideas we believe that give Satan “ground” in our lives! HOW DO THEY GET THERE?
BRIEF STIMULATION – through events, situations, places, and personal encounters you experienced … books, movies, T.V., music, traumatic events (a car accident, etc.).
PREVAILING STIMULATION- long term exposure to your environment, such as family, neighborhood, teachers, friends, job, school, etc.
WHEN YOU BECAME A CHRISTIAN YOUR SINS WERE WASHED AWAY, BUT YOUR PREDISPOSITION TO THINK AND BEHAVE A CERTAIN WAY, WHICH DEVELOPED AS YOU ADJUSTED TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT, REMAINED PROGRAMMED IN YOUR MIND. In fact, you can become a born-again believer and continue to live on the basis of the lifestyle you developed while living independent of God. That is why Paul insists that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
The Lordship of Christ released into our lives overcomes these Strongholds! HOW?
a. Confess the root sin of pride — Jas. 4:6
b. Repent of Bitterness– 1 Jn. 1:9
c. Claim Christ’s Blood — 1 Peter 1:18; Rev. 12:11
d. Ask God to regain “ground” — Ps. 23:3, Rev. 12:11
e. Confess secret sins to a close spiritual friend. Prov. 28:13
f. Replace strongholds with Truth — 11 Cor. 10:4,5. (a-f: by Bill Gothard-www.iblp.org)
III. THIRDLY, THE CRUCIAL CONCEPT OF JESUS CHRIST AS “LIFE” IS TOTALLY OVERLOOKED!
* This failure causes the Christian to see SANCTIFICATION (growth in Christ) as a matter of “works” to become all that God desires for the believer. Therefore, failure to see Christ as “Life” will cause the believer to try “his best” to “work” and “do” for God so that he can “please” God, thus seeking to prove by performance that he loves God and is acceptable to God.
* This of course is not the New Testament Way. The Bible clearly teaches that one must first know WHO HE IS IN CHRIST (BEING, NATURE, IDENTITY) and then he is to do (“good works”) IN CHRIST as he yields to God’s power and allows Christ’s life to flow through him for the glory of God. “Being” must precede “doing.” If “doing” comes before “being” then we are driven to perform for God from our own strength instead of resting IN CHRIST and allowing “Christ’s Life” to do His work in and through us (Phil. 2:12,13, Col. 1:28,29).
* When a believer understands salvation — God’s gift of eternal life — from the perspectives of Christ as Savior, Lord and Life, he is set free and empowered with the LIFE that is CHRIST! Truly, “If any person be in Christ, he/she is a new creation (being, identity, nature), the old has passed away, behold all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Because the Christ-Life is eternal, with no beginning and no end (Heb. 13:8). THUS, I have a brand new past, a secure present, and a forever new future! When a believer lives in the LIFE THAT IS CHRIST’S (daily, moment by moment yielded to Him) he can live in the fullness of God’s power on a daily basis, living for VICTORY instead of striving for victory. JESUS IS OUR VICTORY; IN HIM WE WILL ALWAYS TRIUMPH! This is the secret of living above the difficulties, problems and hardships of life’s daily grind!!
HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS HAPPENING? The joy of victory is experienced in this life when we come to the end of ourselves.
a. Accept our death in Christ – 2 Cor. 4:10-12.
b. Accept that we have died to sin in Christ – Rom. 6:8-11.
c. Yield to His Life to work and serve.
d. Respond to life from that new nature, resource, identity.
Everything that belongs to Him belongs to us … Everything that happened to Him happened to us (who believe)… “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John.4:17).
HOW IS JESUS RIGHT NOW? HE IS TOTALLY VICTORIOUS!
As believers we need to remember that if Christ be in us (and He is) then there will be no demands placed upon our life that is not placed upon Christ who lives within us. So, whatever knocks on the door of your life, don’t answer it; ask the indwelling Jesus to answer it and REST in the LIFE THAT IS CHRIST’S!
As believers we are no longer victims as we have become “more than conquerors” in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to blame others, complain or gripe; we can simply accept our position in Christ, appropriate our true identity and–with Christ’s maturity–we can respond to life from God’s point of view! THIS IS VICTORY … THIS IS PEACE … THIS IS OUR REST!!
PRAISE GOD, WE ARE FREE INDEED!
Author’s acknowledgements: Some of this material, i.e. thoughts and concepts, I owe to my friend and colleague Dr. Charles Solomon. Also, prior to writing this I used my friend Dr. Neil Anderson’s devotional “Daily In Christ” for a year, and some of his thoughts contributed to this message.
Pastor Stoney Shaw is an associate of Grace Fellowship International and pastor of First Baptist Church of Ferguson, MO. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 for more on the definitions advocated for “old nature” and “new nature” see https://gracenotebook.com/does-the-believer-have-two-natures/.