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III. The Believer and Sin -

D. Liberty to Serve

2. Liberty In Reference To Service

For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Gal. 5:13,14)

We are not saved by serving God (Eph. 2:8, 9), but we are saved to serve God. Eph. 2:10 (speaking of the believers of verses 8 and 9) states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [pre-prepared] that we should walk in them.” Too many believers are missing out on this responsibility and blessing. Eternal life was costly to God but a free gift to us (Rom. 6:23). Service is costly to us, but richly rewarding (Luke 18:29, 30).

Does this mean that if we do not obey God and produce some kind of good works that we are not saved? Should there not be a change in a person’s life after he trusts Christ as his Savior? To answer the second question first; yes, there should be a change in a person’s life when he is saved, but there may not be changes that we can see.  God guarantees some changes that He makes such as the believer being indwelt by, sealed by, and baptized in the Holy Spirit. He is justified, born again and placed in God’s family along with a number of other gracious blessings.

The changes in a Christian’s life for which we usually look are outward changes that man can see such as good works (I Sam. 16:7b; Matt. 5:16). It is of utmost importance to remember that our salvation is not dependent upon works that we do or do not do (Eph. 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5; John 3:16). We are saved by His grace, not by our works. Another factor to consider is that growth takes time. We are not born mature.

In answer to the first question; “If one claims belief in Jesus and we do not see good works in his life does this mean he is not saved? It makes no difference what is claimed. It is essential what actually has occurred.  Assuming actual trust in Jesus, apparently it is possible for a person to be saved and to show no outward sign of good works. Rom. 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The disobedient believer may appear content from the outside but God is faithful with His erring children, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). Yes, we should see this type of change in a believer but this obedience does not automatically occur as believers are exhorted throughout the Bible to become obedient. Some obviously have chosen to rebel against God.

Some “Bible teachers” apparently feel that teaching God’s grace may be detrimental to believers living a Godly life. They fear that some may simply trust in Christ for eternal life and then live as they please. The result of this logic often leads to proclaiming a message that “makes it hard to be saved” in an attempt to separate the serious seeker from the casual. When we detract from God’s grace, we do not have a “hard Gospel,” we have a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

It is a tragedy that some believers abuse the grace of God. It is also a tragedy that well meaning teachers pervert the gospel. The cure for error is not more error. Grace is not a dangerous doctrine. According to God’s Word, it is the means of salvation and a key to our productive Christian life (Eph. 2:8, 9; Rom. 6:14).

Grace does not lead to careless and unprofitable living. The lack of grace does. Note what is said in chapter two of the book of Titus. In the context of exhortations for sound doctrine (1:5, 9, 11, 13, 2:1, 3:9, 10) and for sound living (1:5-9,16, 2:2-3:2, 3:8,14), we are shown at least two tasks that God’s grace performs:

11. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Please observe that God’s grace not only brings salvation, but it teaches us something. It teaches us how we should live. We are not bound by the Law of Moses. The purpose of the Law is to show us that we are sinners and in need of the Savior (Rom. 3:19-28; Gal. 3:19-25). We are under grace (Rom. 6:14). “…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Cor. 3:17b). This concept gives us great freedom in Christ. We do not have a license to sin. We have liberty — liberty to serve by love.

Paul said in I Cor. 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” He was neither under the Law of Moses nor a binding set of rules. There were previously mentioned practices in which the Corinthian believers were participating that were clearly labeled as sin (e.g. I Cor 5:1). Paul is not referring to actions that were inherently sinful. He meant that he had freedom in areas that many would call “doubtful” or “interpretive.” In our culture today we might include certain types of dress, hair styles, entertainment, habits, etc.

Even though he was not bound by the Law he did not deem all things profitable. He also was determined not to be brought under the power of even a good thing. He was determined to maintain self control under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self- control (Gal. 5:22, temperance). Sometimes we spend our time, efforts, and resources on “nice” things that have no lasting value. We should not let these things control us.

In I Cor. 10:23 he relates a similar statement, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” The last phrase adds another dimension to his philosophy concerning liberty; “All things edify not.”

The word “edify” means “to build up.” The building up of the Body of Christ is one of the major purposes of the local Church. That should also be one of the goals of every believer, to help build up the other believers. Paul said in Phil. 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He did not let temporal values get in the way of lasting values. If he could not be doing what God thought was important such as winning souls for Christ or edifying believers, he did not wish to waste his time and efforts on that pursuit.

In I Cor. 8, Paul recounts a similar motive in relation to the issue of a Christian eating meat that was offered to idols. Although we know that there is only one true God (v4) and there is no inherent sin in eating the meat (v8), he exhorts us in v9, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” When we overstep our liberty and wound the weaker brother, we actually sin in that action (v10-12. He sums up his pattern of action in v13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” This is love in action. He was willing to give up his liberty or “rights” so that he would not hinder someone else.

In chapter nine he reiterates some of his rights as an apostle and as a minister of the Word. He had the right to be financially supported of those whom he taught (vs 7-11). Though he had that liberty, he chose, in love, to forgo that right, lest he “should hinder the Gospel of Christ” (v12).

In II Cor., the ninth chapter, Paul writes of financial giving and sums up the thought with verses 6 through 8:

6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Please notice the absence of the law of the tithe that was required of the Old Testament Jew. The principle of liberty abounds. You give as you love. God blesses accordingly. James 2:12 tells us, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law [principle] of liberty.” James 1:25 declares a blessing on those who, by their works, continue in the “perfect law of liberty.”

This liberty is dictated by love. I have great freedom of service within the parameters of divine love for God and my fellow man. Rom. 13:8-14 gives us some keen insight on this issue. “…Love is the fulfilling of the law” (v10). This passage then proceeds to exhort us to wake up and to “cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly… Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (12-14).

For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Gal. 5:13,14). May we discipline ourselves to get our priorities in balance and let this become our pattern of life. By obedience to God’s Holy Spirit we may enjoy the results of this obedience mentioned later in the same chapter: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsufferring, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such their is no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23).


Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (I Cor. 15:34)

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1).

Only let your conversation [manner of life] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…” (Phil. 1:27).

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [discover] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”  (Rom. 12:1,2).

We must establish our priorities. While we are playing Sunday school games, people are dying without trusting Jesus and are heading for eternal Hell. We must make it top priority in our lives to be obedient to God’s commands. We should share the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone to those with whom we come in contact and build up believers (I Thess. 2:4; I Cor. 15:58).

God hates sin and so should we. God loves the sinners of the world and so should we (John 3:16; 13:34, 35). Sin should not have dominion over the believer (Romans 6:14). We have the poten­tial for victory (I Cor. 15:57). Let us redeem the short time that we have left (Eph. 5:16).

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