Galatians 5:13-15

Love & Liberty


In the  summer of 1989 a very stirring and emotional event took place in the country of Lithuania. 

A)One million people in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia linked arms and formed a human chain that was 360 miles long.


B)When the chain was completed, one word was passed along the line.

1) Each one spoke to the next until that one word had been passed along all those 360 miles. The word was "freedom!"


C) When our Lord Jesus Christ cried from the cross "It is finished," he might as well have said "freedom!"

1) He purchased our Freedom /freedom from sin,  freedom from Guilt / our freedom from the fear of death were all won on the cross and celebrated in the resurrection.


Well for 51/2 Chapters in the book of Galatians : Paul has been advocating to his listeners – You are FREE

A) You are not under the Law – You are free from Performance based acceptance relationship with God


B) But now he wants them to understand that  with that Liberty comes responsibility –

1) that Responsibility is seen the most in our relationship w/ others


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.14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!


C) Paul says you are free in JESUS – however – do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the Flesh


Now when Paul talks about the flesh he is not talking about our Physical bodies – but our Fallen Human nature

A)Paul is admonishing the Galatian believers to not use their Liberty as a pretext for selfish indulgence


B) In other words Don’t turn your freedom into license for your lower nature!

1) Christian freedom is freedom from sin – not freedom to sin – It is freedom from the law – but not freedom to be lawless


The Word Opportunity is a term used in military language to speak of a base of operations, and generally to any starting-point for action.”

A)Paul’s point is not use our liberty in Jesus as a “base of operations” to indulge your selfish fleshly nature especially  at the expense of others


B) But instead – thru love SEVRE ONE ANOTHER !!!!

1) We are called to live under an even HIGHER LAW: the LAW OF LOVE


C) Jesus declared : Matt 22:37-40

"'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."


D)Paul says here in v.14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."


Christian freedom is not a freedom to do as I please w/ no regard to anyone else – Christian freedom is a freedom to Serve

A) The word for serve that Paul uses here is one that speaks of a servant having many masters – that is what we are –


B) The analogy paints an interesting Paradox – we are free in regards to our relationship to God –

1) But willing SLAVES in regard to our relationship to one another

          Where Love & Service are to take precedence over LIBERTY

C) Now Paul illustrates how this all works in 1 Cor 8 turn there

1)1 Cor 8 deals with the subject of Christian love and Christian liberty –


D) See there was a dispute in the Church in Corinth that had to do with eating meat sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples


E) There were Multiplied sacrifices offered daily & Each offering divided into 3 parts / 1prt for sacrifice / 1 Priest Payment( best cut) 1 to the offerer

1)Now there were so many sacrifices offered each day that the priest couldn’t eat all – so they took them & sold them in outdoor meat markets


F) It was there that you could get a great cut of meat – for a really low price


Now here is where the dispute came in – there were those believers who didn’t have a problem buying meat offered to idols – no big deal

A)But there were others who were offended by this / they felt to eat meat offered to idols was like taking practice in the idolatry !


B) They believed idols contaminated the food / Problem wasn’t a dietary issue but a moral one / { which group would you be in? } In & Out

1) I would venture to say that some of you would have a problem with that – I am going to boycott in & out { Others no way } Double double ….style


C) So that was the issue that the Corinthians were divided over - so they wrote Paul to settle the dispute

1) Paul wrote back that it was an issue of Liberty & love


D) Now in his response Paul classified the believers into 2 Categories

1) The mature & the immature / the weak & the strong


E)What is interesting to me is who was who. Who do you think the strong believers were? Who were the weak ?




The Answer to that question is shocking to some –

A.)  I think at first glance many would think that the mature believers were the ones who refused to eat!


B.) We would think they had the Spiritual insight & depth to not want anything to do w/ any Pagan idolatrous & immoral practices of the wicked

1) Sure they were the Spiritual Giants in the Church


C) And those who see no problem with it – those who still want to eat that stuff – they are the immature carnal believers

1) But what Paul says is the complete opposite – Pick it up in  v. 4


4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.


D) So first of all Paul says – Look an idol is nothing but a piece of wood or stone – there is only ONE GOD – JEHOVAH

1) Some of you UNDERSTAND THAT -


7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.


E) Some of you understand that an idol is nothing – there is only one God – but not everyone gets that –

1) So for some to eat meat Sacrificed to idols is a big deal – it makes them feel like they are supporting or taking part in Idolatry.



So these are the two groups – How does Paul advocate that they deal with their different convictions ?

A) I will tell you what the natural tendency of People is : Those who feel it is wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols – want everyone to feel that way.


B) So they want to campaign against eating meat sacrificed to idols – they want everyone to agree w/ their convictions & join their cause

C) While the group that knows an idol is nothing & that it is no big deal to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols – they want to flaunt their liberty

1) They want to wear – I eat meat sacrificed to idols t-shirts / They want to kind of throw it in the face of those who don’t feel that way


D)They want to persuade their stricter friends to lighten up – lets grab a burger

  1) Both of those attitudes are wrong: Listen to what the Lord says thru Paul


First lets look at what he says to those who have a problem with it Ch. 10:25

25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; 26 for "the earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness."


A)So first Paul says – when you go shopping don’t worry about where the meat came from – just buy it and enjoy it

1) Knowing that first and fore most it came from the Lord


B) And when you are enter acting with others 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake.


C) So for the weaker brother – Paul says: the less you know the better – then you are not going to be battling with your conscience

1) Should I eat or should I not.


Now turn back to Ch.8 and notice what Paul says to the mature stronger person who realizes they have the liberty to eat the meat …..idols

8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.


A) Paul says whether you eat or not it doesn’t affect your relationship w/ God one bit





Matt 15:10,11, 17-20  It is Not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."  "Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?    18  "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19  "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.      20  "These are the things which defile a man


B) God is most interested in the heart – Now that could lead some to think  I will eat what I want I am not going to care about what anyone else thinks

1) I know that I am right with God & that is what matters most – I am free in Christ so I am going to enjoy it – is that the right attitude ? No read on


9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?


C) Emboldened = they will be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been dedicated to the idol.

11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?


D) Paul is saying that you exercising your liberty could cause your weaker brother to stumble –

1) If that weaker brother violates his conscience & eats it could put them in a down ward spiral that affects their whole relationship with the Lord


E) Now some would be tempted to argue / well isn’t that his problem & not mine ? Notice what Paul says next


12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

A)To flaunt your liberty at the expense of your weaker Brother is to sin against JESUS – WOW!!! – Because they are a part of the body of Christ


B) Now the next thing that Paul says shows how Love is to override liberty

13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.


C) Love says I will forfeit my liberty rather than cause my bro/ sis/ to stumble – Love serves the other person & not self.

1) Now lets put the two thoughts together – back to Ch. 10 v.23


V. 23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

A)There is are liberty – all things are lawful – but is it helpful?


NCV 23“We are allowed to do all things,” but all things are not good for us to do. “We are allowed to do all things,” but not all things help others grow stronger.


B) Because the main issue is not liberty but love – Paul says 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.

1) That is the servants heart – Seeking not my well being – but the well being of my Brother /sister


C) Key to friendships – Jonathan classic example – great friend because he put David’s life & calling above his own


D) Key to Marriage: More blessed to give than to receive { Make it your aim fellas to bless your wife – serve your wife – You will be blessed – satisfied

1) Make it your aim to be blessed by your wife & served by your wife you will be forever frustrated – because she will always fall short


E) Ladies same – Your aim & goal – bless & serve husband …….


F) But if both of you are continuingly looking to the other person to bless you and serve you – you will never be satisfied

1) And you will miss out on the true meaning of marriage




So the key in all of this is to be looking out for the best interest of others

A)So if someone invites me over – I am not going to interrogate them about the meat & where it came from I am just going to eat it


28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols,"


B)Now this is the picture here – you are at a feast – the meal is put before you and the guy next to you says – did you know this meat was offered to idols – It is obvious that he has a problem w/ it - what should you do ?


do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake;

 for "the earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness." 29 "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?


C) Don’t give your liberty the opportunity to stumble him & don’t give him the opportunity to speak evil of you !!!


D) SO we get the picture here – that Love overrules liberty and because the mature person is the one w/ the liberty –

1) And the immature person is the one w/out the liberty – the mature believer is to sacrifice the most .



Now I know that some of you are thinking how does this debate over eating meat sacrificed to idols – relate to us today?

A) What does it mean to us today – 2,000 yrs later where in our culture people aren’t  sacrificing to idols & there isn’t meat to be sold.


B) Give some up to date analogies – but first illustrate what it doesn’t mean

1) Things that have come up before in counseling



C) A husband says to his wife – I want us to watch pornography together – get us in the mood – we have the liberty to do that – No you don’t

1) The Bible says in 1 Thes 4:3 to abstain from sexual immorality & in Gal 5:21 mentions Fornication – those who practice …..not inherit the kingdom


D) The Grk word for both sexual immorality & fornication is the word pornea in the grk from which we get our English word Pornography

1) What that means is that fornication & sexual immorality are not limited to actually engaging in sexual relations w/ someone/ but includes viewing Porn


 E) This is my point – Our liberty in Christ is never a liberty to sin

1) Anything that is black & white we are to avoid – PERIOD



Another example of what it is not: Smoking pot – Liberty – God made everything so it is ok – No – first it is illegal in our country –

A) But what if it was LEGALIZED like some are pushing – would that make it ok


B)Again in the list there in Gal’s five of the works of the flesh – those who practice those things will not inherit the kingdom


C) Mentioned in that list is – Sorcery – grk word is Pharmakea – from which we get our English word – Pharmacy – or drug use

1) SO to participate in Drug use is not a liberty that we have as Christians – those who do will not inherit the kingdom of God.


D) So anything that is an out right violation of Scripture is not a liberty



Now lets look at an example that hits a little closer to home – Drinking Is drinking alcohol a sin – should Christians drink ?

A) Do Christians have the liberty to drink ?



B) Well some would argue because it says in Prov 31:4 that it is not for kings to drink wine / Lev 10 – Priest to drink strong drink

1) And since the Bible refers to Christians as both Kings & Priest – there you have it – we shouldn’t drink at all. { Good point


C) But others would argue – you are taking those verses out of context and symbolizing what they mean –

1) And The Bible says – Not to get drunk – it doesn’t say – not to drink & by the way Jesus & his disciples drank wine – so it must be ok – { Good point


D) Although you have a less likely chance of getting drunk if you don’t….


But This is one of those situations where Love has to supersede liberty

A)If a Christian is going to chose to drink – he needs to do it where he doesn’t have the potential to stumble someone else


B) See Not all Christians have that Liberty – for some major problem – so the person who has that liberty needs to be mindful of that –

1) Privacy of your home – anywhere else seen { But if there is the potential to stumble someone who comes over / kids – I will forfeit my liberty




C) Myself / our Pastors & our Elders – We have all forfeited that Liberty

1) We have people over all the time { Friday: 50 Jr. high kids

     A week before – 50 High school kids


D) Not going to risk – it { Same reason I won’t rent R – rated movies – I don’t want to run the risk of stumbling someone


Now alcohol is not really the best analogy to use here – because drinking alcohol can be dangerous for your health & home

A)Eating meat sacrificed to idols wasn’t potentially damaging to your health – not going to get intoxicated by the meat


B) So let’s look at one more example – that is a better fit for this situation – More of a grey issue –

1) CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS – having a Christmas tree


C) Because we really don’t know when Jesus was born – definitely not December 25th – which does correlate with the pagan holiday of

1) For that reason some Christians believe that celebrating Christmas and definitely having a Christmas tree is wrong / strong convictions


Using Paul’s argument – We know that the pagan holiday means nothing – there is only one God – idol is nothing – not a big deal

A)So if you don’t want to celebrate it – fine – don’t lay your convictions on bros/sis


B) Don’t ask if they are going to have a Christmas tree or not. And if you are at someone’s house who does – don’t come down on them for it.


C) And to those who don’t have problem with it - Celebrate the coming of Christ however you want - when ever you want

1)  BUT keep in mind those who have a problem


D) Don’t go around talking about your Christmas tree – when you know there are present those who have a problem with it

1) Don’t invite someone over who has a problem with it – don’t stumble them { Love takes precedence over liberty


Well that works for us as individuals – but what about as a Church these things Christmas / Harvest party on Halloween / Easter

A) There is another thing to take into consideration – that is the lost


1 Cor 10:32-33  32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.


Also -  RD 1 Cor 9:19 – 22

B) Because one of our primary commissions from the Lord is to reach the lost we will always have a Christmas services –

1) Easter in the park –


C) And as long as we continue to make the sharing of the gospel part of what we do at the Harvest festival – we will continue to do that

1) It is not just an alternative – higher goal – salvation of souls


D) So we ask those who are sensitive to those things – to understand our objective in those things is to win the lost -










End with this thought from Warren Wiersbe

Freedom does not mean I am able to do whatever I want to do. That's the worst kind of bondage. Freedom means I have been set free to become all that God wants me to be, to achieve all that God wants me to achieve, to enjoy all that God wants me to enjoy.