“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. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
Gal 5:13-15 (ESV)
(Writers note: This was something I wrote back in July of 2011. It’s interesting to see where my spiritual heart was back then. I can’t stress enough the importance of journaling to you. For me it’s been writing Freedom Fighters, for you it can be a simple note in a diary. I’ve recently began a deeper study into the Book of Galatians. To see this and to read my tone at that time has given me the inspiration to see if I can rebuke myself without me getting offended at myself. Stay tuned. CPH)
For you were called to freedom, brothers. That freedom is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, as my buddy Matt Henry puts it, “is so far from giving the least countenance to sin, that it lays us under the strongest obligation to avoid and subdue it.” So what do you do when Christians who normally help each other and rejoice with each other suddenly decide to quarrel with each other? I would hope that we all could get back to “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” and put aside the difference of opinions and remember that we all serve the tri-unity of a living and loving God. But that isn’t always the case and people leave the church because they didn’t like the cologne the guy in front of them was wearing that Sunday morning.
Paul was having the same sort of issue going on in the Galatian church at the time of his letter to them around 49 A.D. It was a back and forth argument that the Galatians were having and it was exasperating Paul. He went into Galatia and introduced everyone to the basics of Christianity and he really thought they had it down for new believers. But they would go back and try to earn their righteousness by obeying the Jewish law. Because of the work of the Cross he told the Galatians that righteousness was no longer a by-product of rules and regulations followed to a “T”. He told them that this new understanding of righteousness was pure freedom. They didn’t listen; Paul got irritated and then wrote a letter.
What we get out of this letter is a list of what we can call “Social Sins.” (Galatians 5:20) You know the kind of sins that we get to do to ourselves. The kind of sins that Pastors can’t seem to get under control because there seems to be a wolf prowling among the sheep and they are so entrenched that people are afraid to vote them out of their church so they leave instead. The wolves carry the sin of jealousy and envy and they attack the church leadership. They are the ones that react with anger when things aren’t going their way. They spread dissention among fellow believers by disputing what was said from the pulpit. They do not want to hear about the moral or religious sins they are committing so they just decide to quarrel with those folks who don’t mind that kind of preaching.
The Social Sins that are in our churches are nothing new either. You can read about conflicts in the early church in the epistles of Paul, Peter, John and James. They made continuing references to bad interpersonal relationships between believers in apostolic churches. Jesus said that it was going to take an “Oneness” among His people to effectively evangelize the world but yet as you read the Epistles you hear a constant appeal to get to this “Oneness” and then the correction for the lack of it among God’s people. You see they also practiced the sins of division, bitterness and covetousness also but God’s will for His church prevailed. That in its self should make us all stop and take notice.
Today we have things in churches that would make the early church pale in comparison on how ridiculous we have become. We fight over carpet color, chairs or pews, what food we will serve at the “Happy Birthday Jesus” party and even…I dare say it…music. This morning brothers I ask that you examine the freedom you have received in Gospel of Jesus Christ. Does it really matter that the guy in front is wearing Old Spice and is sitting in a green pew instead of a blue chair? Or better yet ask yourself this, if it serves no purpose in eternity is it eternally unless? If you have answered this positively then go in your church and chase out the wolves. I hear they listen to that hippity-hop music anyway, so we don’t need them.
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: “Not only is the flesh involved in such attitudes but demonic spirits. They are the evil spirits behind most of the renewed divisions within the body of Christ. The Spirit is the Spirit of peace and oneness within the body. The spirits are the spirits of division and disunity within the Body. Which spirit is influencing my life in my attitude towards brethren of different doctrinal or ecclesiastical persuasions?” – Dr. Ed Murphy