Saturday, June 4, 2011

Touching Base! Part 128

Stand Firm!

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

On Sunday we talked about “freedom”. It is interesting how some people are afraid to come to Christ because they don’t want to lose their freedom. Yet in our text today, “freedom” is exactly what Christ desires to give us.

The following are some definitions of freedom. If you are in a group take some time to discuss these definitions. Which ones really resonate with you?

  • Freedom means that I can do whatever I want.
  • “True freedom is where an individual's thoughts and actions are in alignment with that which is true, correct, and of honor - no matter the personal price.” Bryant H. McGill
  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Freedom is to be all that God wants you to be, free to move fully into the purposes of God, free to experience the full riches of His truth permeating your life.
  • “Real freedom is not the external freedom to gratify every appetite: it is the internal freedom not to be enslaved by our appetites, to have a place to stand so that we are not mastered by them. For we are something more than a stomach, a mouth, and a pair of eyes” John Ortberg, The Me I Want To Be
  • Freedom happens at salvation but continues as God cleans us up.

If you have time, scan through the book of Galatians and list all the issues that Christ desires to give us freedom on.

Text: Galatians 5:1-12
You will notice in our text when it comes to freedom we have a problem. We are clued in to this problem by the words - “stand firm”. This means to be persistent, be smart, be alert, don’t take your position of freedom for granted. We live in a world filled with pickpockets that want to steal/compromise our freedom. The question we looked at on Sunday was, how does this pickpocket attempt to steal/compromise our freedom?

1. He attempts to put a yoke on us (v.1b)
A yoke was a wooden frame harnessing two animals. Metaphorically in scripture, the yoke often represented bondage, affliction and subjection. In the original context, it was the law as a means of salvation that the Judaizers were attempting to put on the Gentiles. They said the law was a necessary means of salvation. However, note how Paul describes this yoke – “burden”. The word means hostility, or to ensnare. Notice in v.2-6 how Paul is trying to convince them not to being burdened by this yoke.

I don’t believe v.5 is referring to the issue of losing your salvation but rather Paul is talking about not wanting these believers to relate to God out of law because that will alienate them from Christ, or grieve the Spirit. We can do all kinds of things in our walk with God that hinders that relationship. Notice Paul’s admonition in this whole chapter is not to get saved again but to stand firm (v.1), and keep in step with the Spirit (5:16).

Perhaps the lesson of the yoke is that it demonstrates how vulnerable we are to lies and deception that ultimately end up sabotaging our walk with God. Their vulnerability is prompting Paul to admonish them and strongly say in v.2, “Mark my words!”

Questions to Ponder
  • Have you ever thought a particular activity would bring you great reward but instead brought scares and regret?
  • Have you ever envied other peoples’ so-called freedom on issues, only to try it out and realize you should have read the small print?
  • Ever woken up the next morning feeling like a yoke is around your neck?
  • Ever misjudged, miscalculated or overestimated and ended up going somewhere you never intended?
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
2. He places a runner beside us (v.7,8)
Notice that it is a runner, not a walker. Running in Scripture often illustrated the battle or intensity of faith. What do you note about this runner? How did they start out? How were they finishing? How comfortable is it to have someone running alongside you trying to talk to you, even persuade you not to finish when you are trying to stay focused?

The picture Paul is painting is one of distraction, interruption, disturbance and battle.

Perhaps the lesson of the runner (picture of spiritual battle) shows us that we can get worn down to the point that we might think we are the ones that are insane/wrong in our convictions.

  • Think of the person who lives in an environment where they are in the minority as a Christ follower.
  • Think of a spouse in a marriage where the other is not a Christian- going solo can wear you down.
  • Think of a student heading off to school - finds herself isolated, alone – wondering, “am I nuts?” Getting worn down.
  • Are you in an environment that is wearing your faith down, chiseling away at your faith, poking, distracting, harassing? What are you doing to counter that?

3. He deposits a little yeast in us (v.9)
Yeast, as many of us know, represented corruption and evil. What do you note about the quantity of yeast? What do you note about the impact of this yeast?

Perhaps the lesson of the yeast is that it just takes a little, a small step, a mini decision, a small compromise to blow open a massive hole in our souls.

Some of our biggest problems started out as small conversations in our heads, one quick glance, one sip, one … Just a little yeast! This is why nipping things in the bud is so important.

  • What might be attempting to rob you of your freedom, distort your relationship with God possibly is not yelling at you but just whispering, subtle, gentle, showing up every so often.
  • Got any subtle conversations happening in your head these days? Any whispers?
Note how Paul sarcastically finishes this section v.10-12. Can you blame him for telling these guys to castrate themselves? Cutting remarks! Remember the imagery of Paul being like a mother in 4:19. What mama bear wouldn’t come to the defense of her cubs?

Take some time to pray for each other regarding the lesson of the yoke, runner and yeast. Also pray for those who come to mind when thinking about how the pick pocket desires to steal our freedom.

Stand Firm!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

No comments: