LIBERTY AND LICENSE
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. December 12, 1999)
Gal. 5:1, 13-18
5 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
13 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.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
I say then: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
We are at liberty because we are mature sons of God and not in grade school any longer, under the elementary things of the world. There is no longer any law that holds us in bondage, no carnal commandment, no letter of restrictions that works death. We have grown up and have the freedom of an adult now in the spiritual realm.
But can adults just do as they please? "Sure! 18 years old and Boom! I'm outta here!" But we quickly learn we cannot just do anything we want.
It is the same in the spiritual realm. We have full grown liberty in Christ but we cannot just do anything we please.
But why not? What is the danger in license? I am not under law anymore, if I think that it is OK then who is to tell me what I can and cannot do? Why should I limit myself?
I ) What is our goal?
God has not only called us to liberty, but he has also called us to holiness. The thing we are aiming for, our goal, is holiness. There are two aspects to holiness that I can see.
A.) Holiness is Unworldliness
Not being of the world. Not being street wise.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the Sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
So we set our affections, our minds (what we most like to hold in our thoughts) on divine things in the spiritual realm. In Jam.3:17, the wisdom that is from above is first pure. Not affected by the taint of the world, (unaffected, unassuming, child-like, simple, alien, "just got off the boat", just dropped in from Mars.) other worldly - like Jesus himself.
Holiness is being set apart from the world's mind, it is having a mind that is not a product of the world.
B.) Holiness is also Morally Clean
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us his Holy Spirit.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever?
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will indwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be my people.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a father to you,
And you shall be my sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
We purify ourselves in view of the future we have before us of being like Jesus. One of the strengths we have is a moment by moment recourse to our beginning in the past. A real event in space and time, when we were forgiven and made Sons of God.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in Sin that grace may abound?
Certainly not! How shall we who died to Sin live any longer in it?
Or do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death?
Therefore we were buried with him through immersion into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of Sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of Sin. For he who has died has been exempted from Sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died to Sin once for all; but in that he lives, he lives to God.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to Sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let Sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
And do not present your members as weapons of unrighteousness to Sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness to God.
For Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Now, 30 years later, in my mind I have recourse to a real event - I was immersed into Christ. I have been given a new powerful divine life in the spirit. God is with me and I can walk in holiness and be pure in heart.
For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Moral impurity will drag you back into the flesh's mind - back into the gross life of a mere human.
II ) Sin has Consequences
That is the other reason we cannot just do as we please, because sin has consequences.
A.) Natural Outcomes
The usual one mentioned is pain and suffering. All the heartache and pain in the world is a result of sin. The alcoholism, drug addiction, financial ruin from gambling, the dissipated lives, are caused ultimately from not obeying God.
I know that it is not politically correct to state this, but how is the disease of AIDS spread? Through sexual immorality and drug needles. I know that there are exceptions, but they are very rare.
For this reason God gave them over to disgraceful passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Sin has consequences and requitals that are appropriate to the offence.
B.) Sin hardens the heart.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
It is the child-like heart that can come near to God. A person has to humble themselves - drop all the macho, know-it-all self assurance and bow meekly before God. That is the person who is exalted in the spiritual realm, that is who can see and perceive the will of God. Practicing sin takes all of that away.
C.) Sin Kills the Spiritual Life
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Sure, as an adult you can choose to be a spiritual Evel Kenival Jr. and do all kinds of crazy stunts, and nobody can stop you. You can do as you please.
But in the end what have you got? Ruined lives, broken hearts, disillusionment, discouragement and death.
How do you know that you are going to make it? Do not think that you are smarter or faster or stronger and you can avoid in the end the dangers of sin. It will kill you. The very fact that a person in thinking that way is an indication of death. Our lives must be more than this.
III ) What is Wrong with License?
What is life for? What are we trying to do as Christians?
"Well, to be like Jesus."
Why? To escape damnation?
Jesus is the life.
"And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Having Jesus formed in us is the goal and the source of life and the guarantee of eternal life. (Gal.4:19) Having Christ in us is the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
We have freedom. Yes, we are free to do what is right.
We have liberty in Christ. Yes, to walk as he walked. (1Jno. 2:6) To be in the world as he is in heaven. (1Jno.4:17)
It is his life that is given to us in the spirit and therefore we live in the spirit. Living in him becomes our rule of conduct - it is the perfect law of liberty. The law of liberty is: "If we life in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit."
~ Invitation ~