Big Idea: The freedom of the gospel is the freedom to love.
What does it mean to be free? For many people, freedom is the ability to indulge without being stopped. No bedtime! No rules! No obligations! Our culture says, “I am not free unless I can do whatever I want.” The Bible has a different name for this: slavery. In this scenario, I am not ruled by parents, governments, or deities, but someone much worse: myself. When every craving and lust is satisfied like an itch, I am only free to follow my own appetites like an animal. There is no dignity in that and no true freedom. Real freedom is the ability to deny myself for something greater.
Is a fish freer in a tank or on a table? On the table, the fish has no boundaries stopping it from going anywhere. A tank is nothing but walls. Yet, it is only within the walls that the fish can live and thrive. Placed on a table with the freedom to go anywhere, a fish is really only free to flounder and die. There are many people in a similar situation. We push back on the boundaries meant to protect us and find out that sometimes freedom is fatal.
Paul offers a better way. God has set us free from the Law! We are no longer bound like children. But if we trade the Law for our lusts, we have replaced a good, harsh master with a lenient, evil one. The freedom to take another drink, to spread another lie, or to lust and hate is only the freedom to lock our own chains. God’s plan is not to free us to sin – He frees us from sin! When we are given the freedom to choose and the power to make the right choice, even when it hurts, everything changes. A child sharing because she loves her new baby brother is very different than one screaming as a toy is pulled from her hand. A marriage built on mutual service and love is better than one all about avoiding the next fight.
Legalism, adding requirements to the Word of God as if they are Scripture, leaves no room for love. Libertinism, saying I can do whatever I want whenever I want, disregards love. Both are failures for the Christian and both are yokes of bondage Christ has already broken. Freedom means that the way I resist evil is by choosing to walk in the Spirit. I can choose to love you, instead of being a slave to loving only me.
Discussion Idea: When was the last time you did something that you got no benefit from, just because of love? What opportunities do you have to do that this week?
Prayer Focus: Pray for God to help you avoid temptation by walking in love.