Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. Most of us have had a job or two that we hated, right? I’ve had a couple. The one that really sticks out to me was a sales job I had a few years ago. I honestly can’t remember what it was that I was selling, but I remember always being excited for the day to end, and even more excited for the weekend to come. There were several days that I prayed for an excuse to not have to go in. The building even had bars on the windows, which made the days actually feel like a day in prison. At some point in our lives, we’ve all had times where we couldn’t wait to be finished doing what we had to do so that we could get on with what we really wanted to do.
The last few weeks, we’ve been in a series called Set Free, and we’re going through the book of Galatians. Galatians 5:1 (NLT) sums up the entire theme of the book of Galatians quite well. It says “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Paul spends almost the entire book of Galatians talking about the fact that we are no longer saved by the Law of Moses, but that our relationship with Jesus has set us free from having to be good enough. The people of the region believed the words Paul spoke, but after he left, they were poisoned by the Judaizers (religious leaders of the time) into believing that they had to also follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved.
I have an admission to make. I was not always the best student growing up. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand how to do the work. Most of the time, my mind was on other things. You see, from a very young age, all I wanted was to play guitar in front of millions of people. That was my dream growing up (yes, it’s ridiculous. Didn’t you have ridiculous dreams as a kid, too? How’s that astronaut thing treating you?) I wasn’t all that concerned about the grades I made in high school because I really didn’t care all that much about my education. I was certain that I would never use biology or algebra again, so I didn’t pay all that much attention to them. 3:15 was my favorite time of day, because it meant that I could leave the place I had been trapped in all day and go home and play guitar. I spent the majority of time that I was stuck in class trying to come up with lyrics to go with the music I had written the night before. As a result, my grades suffered. I spent more time than I wanted to trying to get caught up on the schoolwork that I had neglected just so my grades would be good enough to get me out of high school, and it was a heavy weight for me to carry.
Similarly, the Galatians were told that they had to meet a list of requirements in order to receive salvation, despite Paul telling them that all that was necessary was faith. The religious leaders of the time were telling them that they had to follow the Law of Moses, and that they had to be circumcised. Paul argued how ridiculous it was for them to be forced to follow the rule the Judaizers gave them, and Paul gives them several reasons in Galatians 5:2-12.
1. It said to the Galatians that Jesus’ death on the cross was unnecessary
2. If they had to follow that rule in order to obtain salvation, they would have to follow ALL of the rules perfectly, which is an impossible task
3. Having to follow the law to obtain salvation takes a person out of the sphere of grace
4. Having to follow the law actually hinders spiritual growth
5. It removes the offense of the cross
6. Anger. Paul gets so angry as to say that he wishes the legalists would go the whole way and castrate themselves.
Our message this week is on how we are set free in order to live free. We start in Galatians 5:16-18 (NIV), which says “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” My first point is this:
Earlier, I talked about how I was never a very good student when I was in high school. Admittedly, most of that was my own fault, but I know that a lot of you have dealt with feeling like you weren’t good enough in a lot of other ways. If you’ve been with us for very long, you’ve heard me talk about the fact that my mother was a very abusive person when I was growing up. To this day, she is a very disapproving person, and I hear quite often how ridiculous it is for me to be a Christ follower and to teach others about Jesus. I learned a long time ago that it didn’t matter what I did, because she would never approve. It doesn’t bother me anymore, but for the people in Galatia, it had to have been kind of confusing. They had Paul telling them that faith alone was enough, and that they were saved by grace on one hand, and on the other, they had the Judaizers telling them that they had to follow all of these rules. It would be like playing football, and having your coach telling you what plays to run, but when you run out on the field, your parents are in the stands yelling at you to do something else (high school football in Texas is almost a religion of it’s own, by the way. We will talk about that in a later series.)
The law was powerless to help a Christian overcome their sin. Jesus came to set us free from that burden. Acts 13:38 – 39 (NIV) says “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” Paul explains the significance of Christ’s death on the cross, and he reminds us here that Jesus accomplished something that the law never could. If we use the standard of the law to achieve our salvation, we will never measure up. That is why Jesus’ death was necessary. He was the only person to ever live a perfect life, so He was the only one who was able to claim victory over sin. We could never have that victory over sin by living under the law, but by yielding to the Spirit, we are made right. In order to be saved, we must have faith in Christ, and our obedience to Him sets us free in a way that living under the law never could.
Galatians 5:19 – 23 (NIV) says “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” My next point is this:
For most of my adult life, I’ve been addicted to something. I drank, smoked, and slept around more than I would really care to admit. Most of my lower 20’s were spent drunk in a bar somewhere, and craving attention. There were very few days that went by in that time where I was not drinking heavily, and even fewer that I didn’t go out looking for someone to go home with. I was in a bad place. Society today tends to to glamorize the rock star lifestyle, but the reality is that it’s a very dark place. The things that I thought made me cool were actually the things that I was a slave to. My lust for the things of the flesh kept me in a prison. The partying never satisfied, and the more I did, the more I needed to achieve the same feelings I had before.
Shane and Shane are a worship band based out of Dallas, and they have a song called Liberty. It’s one of my favorite worship songs. The theme of the song comes from 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NCV), which says “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” When I was spending my time drinking and chasing after sex, I was trapped in a prison. No matter how much of those things I got, it never satisfied, and I always found myself feeling empty the next day. That all changed when I began following Christ, though. The chains of guilt and sorrow were gone, and I have found freedom in living for Him. Now, I am not saying that I don’t struggle with old desires sometimes. There are still times that I find myself longing for those things, but I don’t live in that longing anymore. I don’t have to be a slave to those things anymore, because my identity is found in Christ, and not in the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:24 – 26 (NIV) says “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” My last point is this:
The struggle between our flesh and our new nature is very real, but Paul explains that those who know Jesus don’t have to give in to the flesh because the flesh was crucified with it’s passions and desires. Paul is telling us that our identity is no longer found in our fleshly desires, but in the Spirit of Christ that now lives in us. This is not to say that we no longer have the ability to sin, or even the desire to, but that we have victory through Christ over our sin. We have to accept that that part of us died with Christ, and that we now have an increased power to resist sin. That’s actually why we chose the name ReCreate for our ministry. It comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV), which says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!” We are made new by our relationship with Christ.
Does anyone else look forward to the end of winter as much as I do? My favorite time of year is when the grass starts to turn green, the trees start growing new leaves, flowers start blooming again, the weather starts to warm up, and the days start to get longer. Maybe this is all because of my love of baseball, but I’ve always loved spring and summer more than fall and winter. This “coming to life” is a wonderful example of who we are as Christians. In the fall, the leaves start to fall off of the trees, the grass turns brown, and everything looks dead in the same way that our fleshly desires cause us to appear dead spiritually, but in the spring, everything is brought back to life again. It’s like the world is reborn. The spring also brings a sense of freedom because of the longer, brighter days. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to the trees. Most of my life, I have suffered with seasonal depression, and winter is my least favorite season, but just like the grass and the trees, I come to life in the spring. John 10:10 (NCV) says “A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life – life in all it’s fullness.” Just like the trees become full in the spring and summer, we become most full when we are living and walking in close proximity to Jesus. Those old desires are put to death, and we are made new in Christ. Let’s thank Him for that.
We thank You that You provide a way for us to be free from the prison of sin, that You died so that we could live a live free of bondage. Lord, I pray for all of those who don’t know what it means to live in grace, and who are still trapped by their desires. Lord, give them a desire to know You better. Most of all, we thank You for Jesus, and it’s in His Name we pray.
Our next message will be the last in this series. I hope that you have gotten as much out of it as I have gotten from teaching it. If you have never known the freedom that comes from knowing Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know. We would love to help you take that next step, and we would also love to partner with you in your journey of being recreated. Have a blessed week!!!!!