Free to Love and Serve People
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Ok, since there is some confusion about what happens after a person decides that the good news about Jesus is correct, the Apostle Paul begins to directly tell them how to focus their lives in order to stay on the pathway to freedom.
By way of review, remember that last week we talked about the road of freedom that has a ditch on each side. One ditch is the ditch of legalism. And that has been the main focus of Paul’s letter so far. The problem of legalism is that it trusts in your own effort to establish a relationship with God instead of Jesus’ death. The law is good, but we are not, therefore legalism is a dead end. That path does not move forward. Paul now moves on to talk about how we should walk with God in freedom.
The reason that walking with God can be hard is that we can’t see Him, communication with Him can be hard at times, and our hearts can have an evil tendency to believe what they want to. So we have to be careful and not just presume that every impression that we have of God is God speaking to us. So Paul starts out with a warning.
- Do Not Use Freedom as an Excuse to Sin
- Who will set me free from my sin?
From the New American Standard Bible: Romans 7:
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Set free? Set free from what? Free from the struggle to obey. Imagine a life where the temptation and draw to sin is gone. All there is is delight to obey God. Can we get there? We can certainly go in that direction.
- Whoever sins is a slave to sin
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine;
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
Romans 6: 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
- Mind vs. Body
This is the idea that our bodies have natural desires that must be controlled by the mind. And so we need to learn to be intentional and self-controlled. Our minds need to direct our bodies to their good purpose.
But this only works if our minds are filled with the knowledge of what God says is the right way to live! Romans 12:2 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Ephesians 4: 17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
So what does this passage say that we need to fix our minds on? Through love, serve one another.
- Do Not Make People Your Enemy
- Take personal responsibility for your sin
Adam and Eve vs. Paul in Romans 7
Other people will be a source of temptation to sin in your life.
The fruit of the flesh have eight characteristics that relate to not loving others!
Enmity: positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will
Strife: bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension
Jealousy: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage
fits of anger:
rivalries: one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess
dissensions: partisan and contentious quarreling
divisions: the condition or an instance of being divided in opinion or interest
21 envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
- Do not wrestle with flesh and blood
II Cor 10:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
- Love and pray for all people
Spiritual armor is put on. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood. But we pray at all times in the spirit!
You have heard: Love your neighbor hate your enemy. But I say love your enemy. Be patient, kind, gentle etc with enemies. Treat your enemies the way that God treats His enemies. Leave room for the wrath of God. Than anger of man does not produce the righteous life that God desires.
Apply this to politics!!!
III. Love and Serve One Another
This is where we find a sure footing for life.
Love others. Serve others. Be a giver.
- Love your neighbor as yourself
Love one another as I have loved you.
John 13: 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This quality of love is rare enough that it will cause one to stand out!
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Serve one another
The passage preceding the one I just mentioned:
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- Do not be selfish. Do not make your own selfish advancement be your goal.
- In humility count others more important.
- Look out for the interests of others as well as your own.
- Be a giver first
Do not require an outcome before you give.