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Enjoying True Freedom In Christ

Enjoying True Freedom In Christ

What is destroying us is unnecessary competition. God has not called us into a competition, He has called us to service. The sooner we realize and accept this truth the better witness for Christ we will be in this world.

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.

2. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaimed among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.

3 But even Titus who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.

4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery-

5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the Gospel might be preserved for you.

6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)- those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised

8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles),

9 and when James and Chepas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do (ESV).

An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad. Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known over the way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice.” The aide said, “What lies beyond the big door?” “Freedom,” replied the general. “I've known only a few brave enough to take it.”

Many people are so afraid of taking the path to freedom because they do not know what lies ahead. As a result, they end up preferring the comfort of what they know even if it is risky. They will take the known that might kill them over the unknown that could save them.

Many people have given up on life; there are some who live in self-condemnation and think nothing can change their situation. While some think they are too sinful and too lost to be saved. Well, if you are one of those who think this way; let me encourage you; there is no sin too big for God to forgive, ask Apostle Paul. No one is too far gone that the grace of God cannot save, ask the dying thief on the cross.

My friends, it does not matter how far away from God you have gone, all it takes is one step back, one step of repentance, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We have seen people living in fear, we have seen people choosing the known over the unknown, and maybe we are guilty of doing that as well. The question then is how can we enjoy true freedom? Let us go back to our passage and study the life of the Apostles.

1. Come Together In The Truth (Vv. 1-3)

We must come together as believers if we are going to stand. Apostle Paul and his team were willing to join hands with the Jerusalem team. We need to focus on the Truth that unites us rather than dwelling on our personal preferences. It is so sad that Churches are breaking and being destroyed today over difference in opinion on the choice of what color the building should be painted in, or the kind of designs of the benches in the pew.

To overcome the errors of the false teachers, we must be willing to be a team. The unfortunate part of our fights with fellow believers is that we are leaving the flock of God unattended to, and the wolves are devouring them in our presence. Psalm 133 saysBehold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

We must agree that Faith in Christ is enough for people to find acceptance with God and with us. The problem is that our society tells people they must be: Beautiful, Thin, rich or Smart to be accepted. But the Bible tells us the contrary:

John 3:16 - God loves you “whosoever believes…”

Romans 3:22 - “The righteousness of God comes to all who believe by faith

Romans 4:5 - God justifies by faith not by works

“God justifies the ungodly when they trust Jesus, not when they do enough good works.”

2. Know There Will Be Opposition (V.4)

“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy our freedom that we have in Christ…” This is the problem we have in the body of Christ, the false brothers planted in our midst by the enemy to destroy what God is building, to plant seeds of hatred and division, and to lead astray if possible the elect of God. The Bible warns us of the plots and trickery of the enemy and calls us to be watchful and be alert, “because your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Peter continues from the passage above by giving us the means of defeating and or overcoming the devil. He said, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9).

We need to know that the suffering and opposition are real, and that we are not the only ones experiencing it, but every believer is facing opposition for the sake of the Gospel. It is easy to prepare for a fight when you know your opponent. We are blessed that the Bible gives us the weapon for defeating the enemy, “Resisting him by standing firm in the Faith-the Word of God.”

The struggle you are in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.

Hamilton Wright Mabie said, “Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises above the wind, not with it.” But I want to add, let us make sure we are not fighting among ourselves instead of uniting to face the enemy. Yet at the same time, let us not abandon ministry because we are afraid of opposition.

When you are tempted to quit I want you to remember this, “There has not been a work undertaken for God since Adam fell which has not met with opposition. If Satan allows us to work unhindered, it's because our work is of no consequence.”

3. Work Together As Believers (Vv. 5-6)

The leaders of the early Church didn’t add a single thing to Paul’s message. Instead, they partnered with him to get the Gospel message out. I believe that one of the things that hinders believers from enjoying true freedom in Christ is that we look at our fellow ministers as competitors, not partners. We, as a result, keep feeling bad when we see the progress they are making in ministry instead of being glad that God is at work in and through them.

“When we truly believe that God accepts “ALL” who trust in His Son, we don’t make any distinction between rich or poor, blue collar or white collar, our kind or their kind. There are no others in the Body of Christ. Rather, we are all Brothers and sisters in God’s family.” Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a Beginning, Staying together is a process, and working together is Success.”

You are either supporting the vision or supporting division. The question is, which are you supporting because you definitely are on a certain side. Doing nothing is already taking a side.

4. Acknowledge God’s Call In The Lives Of Others (V.7)

“IT is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” We need to realize and accept that the call to the Gospel ministry is bigger than any of us. If we could focus on the task at hand, we would realize that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Instead of fighting, we would be joining our hands and on our knees praying to the Lord of harvest to send more laborers to the field.

When the other Apostles and ministers saw Paul and what he and his team were doing, they did not fight him or try to stop him. On the contrary, “they gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas.”

The leaders in Jerusalem, Peter, James, and John recognized that they could not do ministry alone. They acknowledged that Paul was called to minister in a context different from theirs, “they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised.”

What is destroying us is unnecessary competition. God has not called us into a competition, He has called us to service. The sooner we realize and accept this truth the better witness for Christ we will be in this world.

5. Remember Its God Who Brings The Result, Not You Or Others (8-10)

One thing that I am often guilty of is thinking that it is upto me to make things happen, it's up to me to make the ministry successful. Unfortunately, these kinds of thoughts have always left me empty and dry every time; and God has graciously in each of those moments reminded me that he has called me to obey Him and not to bring about results.

In this reminder is the truth, God has called each of us to obedience, the result of that obedience is His work, not ours. Apostle Paul had to remind the believers in Corinth of the same truth. The church was experiencing division because there was a thinking that some ministers were better than others.

There are those who followed Paul while some followed Apollos. They, just like me and I believe numerous other ministers thought, it was an individual’s work that brings about the success in God’s ministry. Paul said, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6).

Let us then be faithful and committed to the ministry entrusted to us. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is God’s call to us, however the result of the faithful and diligent study and proclamation of the Word in obedience is not ours, it is the work of the LORD.

If we are going to enjoy our freedom in Christ, we must come together for the truth of the Gospel and work together in the truth of the Gospel.



Kasule Jacob is the Founder of Galactic Foundation in Uganda