Peninsula Community Church
Are you living as a free man or as a slave?
January 19, 2014
Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Today, we are going to look at a important subject that will assist us in understanding how to live life to the fullest as a church and as believers. We touched on this principle just a couple weeks ago, but I believe it is necessary that we spend some time on it this morning. The principle that I want to talk about today is whether or not you are living as a free man in Christ or do you still live as a slave to sin and your past.
As we look at the children of Israel who traveled from Egypt to the promised land, we see that they were a restless and discontented people. One day they were excited about what God was doing, and they were in support of Moses as their leader; but quickly they would turn from expressing thanksgiving and gratitude to wallowing in a spirit of complaining and murmuring.
When we analyze a complaining spirit one thing is clear. The spirit of murmuring and complaining never brings about positive results. When we exhibit a murmuring or complaining spirit we are never satisfied or content. We are forever lacking a sense of joy and peace. When we complain and murmur it is difficult to live as a free man because we expend too much time looking back at what was and not what is or is to come.
When we walk in a spirit of criticism and we are filled with murmuring, we exude a negative heart and a negative desire to see things for the good. When we walk in a spirit of criticism, there are times that it does not matter what positive things an individual might do or what a group might do, because when we walk in criticism and complaining, there will always be something to criticize. As we look at this, we must recognize that there is a difference between a critical, complaining, and murmuring spirit; and one that offers constructive criticism. Constructive criticism focuses on the resolution of a problem and it speaks directly to the one that can exact change rather than everyone one else.
The problem with a critical, complaining, murmuring spirit is that it exudes a mindset that we would rather live as a slave rather than as a free man. A murmuring and complaining spirit can present itself as a slave rather than walking in freedom. To understand this, we only need to look at the life of the Children of Israel. Too often, they lived as if they were still under the control the Pharaoh and not under the control of God. What we see in their heart is that while they were out of Egypt, the Egypt mindset was still in control of their heart. It is like the old saying “you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” For the children of Israel, you could take them out of Egypt but it was much more difficult to take Egypt out of their hearts. The desire was that they would begin to live as freemen who were free from the bondage of Egypt, free from the slavery of Pharaoh, and free from the labor that was to be given to another.
For the purpose of our discussion today, let me share with you a couple of thoughts about living as slaves rather than as free men. The first thought is that we can believe the lie that says we cannot change rather than speaking the truth that I am already changed by the power of the Gospel. The lie and the truth are opposed to one another. In other words, we will live in torment when we try to live both the lie and the truth in our lives. It behooves us, therefore, to come to the place where we determine that we will live from the truth that I have been changed by the power of the gospel and that I do not have to live as a slave any longer. To overcome the lie, we must accept the fact that the work of Christ is complete in us. We must begin to take the steps to accept the truth that change is possible. Listen to what Paul says to us:
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Romans 6:15-18 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
We do not have to live as slaves because we are sons of God.
The second issue we face is that we can fear change more than we fear slavery itself. The problem is that we can become so familiar and comfortable with the lifestyle of slavery that we we don’t know recognize freedom when we have it. Too often we have lived in slavery for so long; we have become comfortable as slaves. The problem is that slavery has become a familiar place for us to reside. We know where we have come from, but we can be afraid of where we are headed. We walk in fear because we don’t know what the future will look like. Too often, we would rather live in the past than trust the Lord who knows the future. We must be shaken from our complacency and move toward change. Sometimes, when we fail to do this God sends a catalysis that will encourage our change. It may be an earthquake. It may be sickness. It may be a revelation of who we really are to others.
The third issue is this that too often we can be bound by loyalty to our personal and family history. The problem here is that we all have an identity. You see our friends see us one way. Our families see us another way. Our coworkers may see us in a total different way. We can be afraid that if we begin to follow God, remove ourselves from a spirit of slavery, and begin to see change in our lives, we will get criticized and belittled for the changes we make. Perhaps we are afraid of what we may have to give up in order to see change come. Perhaps there is a feeling that we need to be true to our family, we need to be true to a history, we need to be true to who we are you, and we need to be true to our culture. The answer to this is that we need to be true to who we are as a new creation in Christ. Only as we see ourselves as a new creation will we begin to see the right change come to our hearts.
The fourth issue that is that too often we can continue to return to enslaving habits. We do this because these habits are comfortable for us. These habits are a safeguard for us. They are the place we go to when we don’t know what else to do. When we get stressed out, we overindulge in alcohol. When things do not go our way, we get angry and lash out at others. When we face difficulty, we clam up rather than dealing with the issues before us. For others, when things are uncomfortable or issues arise, they turn to food or to things that are not beneficial to their health.
Is interesting to note that the children of Israel who had everything they needed had a desire to go back to Egypt and eat the food of the Pharaoh rather than live under freedom they had. You can look at the children of Israel with scorn and displeasure at this decision, but we too are guilty of doing the same thing in our lives. Too often, we desire the things of the past rather than the new life that is ahead of us.
The last issue is that too often we can practice self deception about our past slavery. How quickly we can forget how painful slavery is for us? If we do not continue to feed upon the word of God, if we do not continue to look at the blessings that God has bestowed upon us, it is so easy for us to live out of the past rather than in the present hope that is ours. The cry of the Israelites was for God to get them out of this horrible place now! God answers and sets them free from Egypt. They pass through the Red Sea and now they are in the wilderness. It is interesting to note that rather than giving praise to God for what God is doing, they are reminiscing about the good old days when they were slaves. Yes that’s right, they were having a conversation and looking back at their slavery, as if somehow it were freedom and better than their current circumstance.
Have you every lived that way before? God gets you out of a serious situation and then look back and proclaim that those were good times. But, they were not good times, and they won’t be good times if you revisit them now. We are good at exchanging reality for fantasy. How many of you, you have old friends like this? You get together and you’re like, “Remember when we were in high school?” No, I don’t, because we were alcoholics. I blacked out from my sophomore year to graduation. No, I don’t remember high school. “It was awesome. Remember that time you threw up?” Yeah, it wasn’t that awesome, right? Some of you have friends like that, and they only want to talk about the old days and romanticize and fantasize about the old days.