Series: Independence

Freedom in Christ

July 02, 2023 | Steve Goode
Passage: Galatians 5:1-6:10

Scripture: Galatians 5:1-15; 2:20, Ephesians 6:10-17, Colossians 2:13-14


(All scripture is taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted)



Welcome! Today, we recognize the 4th of July holiday, or Independence Day, whichever you prefer. How many of you here today know what we celebrate on this national holiday? And if your immediate thought was, “hot dogs, parades, and pool parties,” you might really want to pay attention for the next 45 minutes or so…


“From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues…It began on July 2nd, 1776, when the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Britain, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.[1]


To say it very plainly, the fourth of July is a time Americans remember and recognize independence from the rule and oversight of Britain. Americans broke free, created a new democratic government, and the rest they say, is history.


The hot dogs, parades, fireworks, and pool parties all point to something bigger and more important, they point to freedom. And freedom is something that we as followers of Christ can celebrate any day of the week, in any season, and on any continent. For us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1) So today, as we remember this American holiday of independence, we look to Christ and his teachings to gain a greater understanding of the true meaning of freedom found in the Kingdom of God.

Main Teaching


To frame our time today I will be referencing a specific passage from scripture where Paul talks passionately about the freedom we have in Christ. Let’s read over the entire passage together as we get started;


Read Galatians 5:1-15


Wow, lots of amazing points here, but there are 3 specific commands that Paul gives that we need to pay attention to as we think about freedom in the kingdom of God.


  • Stand Firm (5:1)
  • Do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (5:1)
  • Serve one another in love (5:13)


For many of us, we think about freedom in terms of things we’re allowed to do because there are laws in place that grant us freedom. As Americans, we even have a constitution and amendments in place that guarantee us certain freedoms and rights in our lives. And yes, it’s worth celebrating these freedoms as we are very fortunate to live where we live and to experience life in America.


And yet, as a follower of Christ, I’m called to experience a higher freedom. I’m free from a life of sin and bondage, and free to live my days in faithful response to the reality of the risen Christ.


I must learn, and we must learn, first of all, to stand firm in Christ.


Stand Firm


This is the first command that Paul gives from our Galatians passage and it is a consistent theme throughout his other letters and writings as well.


Read Ephesians 6:10-17


In this passage from Ephesians Paul elaborates on the spiritual component of our battle with sin, death, and the enemy. His encouragement is that we must learn to stand firm against the plans and purposes of the enemy in our lives. His point, that this battle is not with “flesh and blood,” but rather, “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” is something that we must learn to take seriously.


We have a very real enemy in this world. He is an ancient enemy and he is directly opposed to the cause of Christ and the church. With that said, we are set free in Christ from his power. We are set free from lives of sin and death. We are free to stand firm in our faith and against the lies of the enemy who is constantly seeking to get us back into our former lives of darkness and death.


We all face temptation, and we all struggle from time to time with our former ways of life.


Story idea: Share here about some of the things that you personally struggle with. Try to connect with your audience and help them connect with the teaching by giving them some examples from your own life.


The struggles are real, but today we also celebrate the reality of our freedom in Christ. We must learn to stand firm in our faith. We must remember, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” and we are to, “stand firm therefore, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”


Don’t Go Back


Many of us here today have experienced true freedom in Christ. We have been set free, we are new creations, we are citizens of a new kingdom. In Galatians 5:1 Paul is pleading with the church to remain free, and to resist the temptation to go back to the former ways of life in sin and bondage.


As you consider this, imagine with me for a moment a man imprisoned in jail for tax evasion or money laundering or something like it. Let’s say he’s been there for 10 years with no way to pay back his debts when, suddenly, someone comes and pays it all in full. One day imprisoned and the next day free. Can you even imagine if this man were to return willingly to the prison after experiencing freedom?


It seems crazy, but so many of us do this in our faith all the time. We return to sin and death. We return to old habits, old relationships, and old patterns of thinking. In fact, the book of Proverbs describes this phenomena well, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11 ESV.


Sin is awful, like a dog returning to its own vomit, and yet if we’re honest about things we all realize that there is a temptation to return to sin and bondage. I think this is why Paul first instructs the church to “stand firm,” and then says, “don’t let yourselves be burdened again...” Actually, if you need an easy way to remember these first 2 commands, just remember this little rhyme, “Stand firm. Don’t return.” 


You see, our debt has been completely paid by Jesus. Like the prisoner in my previous story, we had a pile of debt that we could never pay back, until of course God stepped in.


Read Colossians 2:13-14


Your sin was nailed to the cross with Jesus. Galatians 2:20 starts off by saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” As a follower of Jesus you are alive in Him and empowered by the Holy Spirit to a life of purpose, meaning, and righteous works of love.


Serve one another


I’ve heard it said before that you are not saved by good works, you are saved to good works. As I think today about the debt that Jesus paid on my behalf, and your behalf, I am inspired to live a life worthy of the sacrifice. Sadly, many of us use our freedom in Christ to be selfish and do whatever we want in His name. But the truth is that we have been called specifically to love one another.


Read Galatians 5:13-15


Think for a moment about the profound nature of this statement, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Both Jesus, in the gospels, and Paul here are asking us to simply love one another. I know it’s easier said than done, and I don’t know how bad your neighbors are, and I wouldn’t understand how horrible your boss is to you, etc. etc. etc…


But what if we tried?

What would that look like in your life this coming week?


Think about it, the fourth of July holiday is often a time when people gather together. Whether it be families or friends or both, it’s an opportunity to extend an invitation of fellowship to others. What if you invited that coworker you don’t really like to your next family BBQ? What if you took your boss some cookies or pie and let them know you appreciate them. What if, and I know this is wild, what if you committed to a time of regular prayer for the people that God has brought into your life.


When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself…” What other creative avenues of care come to mind?


Remember church, Paul said, “the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command…” He follows it up by giving us the alternative… “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” So what would you rather be about?


Love, or destruction?


What if you were known from this day forward as someone who devours hot dogs, cookies, and pies while simultaneously being an amazingly loving neighbor, friend, and family member?


In Christ you are free to be that person. 



America is a great nation. Some would say she is the greatest nation the world has ever known. During the 4th of July we recognize and celebrate our break from English rule and reign. We celebrate our freedom to be Americans and to live the way we live.


So today, as we reflect on the holiday, I want to ask you to consider breaking from the rule of sin and bondage in your life. Consider the way of Jesus. Consider a life of eternal freedom, amazing grace, and unfailing love.


Think about being a loving neighbor and a faithful witness to Jesus in your community. And as you follow Jesus through life remember these three commands;


  • Stand Firm (5:1)
  • Do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (5:1)
  • Serve one another in love (5:13)


Stand firm, don’t return, and let love burn… That’s an easy way to remember our main points from today. And as you remember that, think too about the love that God has lavished upon you through Jesus.


You are free to be fully known and fully loved by the eternal creator of the cosmos… Now let’s go roast some hot dogs and spread the love of Jesus.


Let’s pray together.




Series Information

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