Freedom in Christ
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 11 Sabbath Afternoon
What does the title of the lesson mean to you? Freedom from what? Freedom from God’s punishment for sin?
19th Century Evangelist George MacDonald wrote:
“The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while those sins yet remained … Yet, feeling nothing of the dread hatefulness of their sin, men have constantly taken this word that the Lord came to deliver us from our sins to mean that he came to save them from the punishment of their sins.
“This idea has terribly corrupted the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Good News has not been truly communicated. Unable to believe in the forgiveness of the Father in heaven, imagining him not at liberty to forgive, or incapable of forgiving forthright; not really believing him God who is fully our Savior, but a God bound—either in his own nature or by a law above him and compulsory upon him—to exact some recompense or satisfaction for sin, a multitude of religious teachers have taught their fellow men that Jesus came to bear our punishment and save us from hell. But in that they have misrepresented his true mission.”
Freedom from sin, which if unremedied, brings its own punishment? What is sin’s punishment? From where does sin’s punishment originate?
What about freedom from guilt and shame?
How do we experience freedom from guilt and shame? What causes the guilt and shame to go away?
Is it not healing and restoration to righteousness? Is it not the truth displacing lies, restoring trust in God and recreating the heart to be in harmony with God? Is it not experiencing the truth that God is not mad at us, He loves us and only wants to heal us.
What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
Does it not mean to be in unity, one-ness, in heart, mind, attitude, values, methods, practices, trust, confidence via our accepting the truth, opening the heart and experiencing His indwelling Spirit?
Here is a quote from one of the SDA founders, Ellen White;
But the moral law, which is to be written in the heart, is the law of love. It is the expression of the very nature of the God of love as interpreted to us in the life and teachings of Christ, who said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” John 15:10 . To keep this law is to love as God loves. To the natural heart this is impossible, and so God has promised to give us a new heart: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26 . In harmony with this provision is the prayer of David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast [margin] spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 . We may call this conversion, or regeneration, or the new birth, or the new creation; but in any case it is the impartation of a new life from God, that life which is love, and is revealed in loving. Those who have this experience are “partakers of the divine nature” ( 2 Peter 1:4 ), and that nature is expressed in obedience to the divine law of love.
“When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled, ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.’ And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? … Here is the true test. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law.”
And this experience is guaranteed to us by the promise of God, and is provided for us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love: for we know that “the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.” Romans 5:5. “Salvation is of Jehovah.” Jonah 2:9. Taken from the pamphlet, The Savior of the world – SOTW p. 81
Here is a beautiful picture with 1st John 4:21 from The Remedy:
God’s prescription is this: Internalize God’s love–which transforms the entire being–so that you love both God and people; for whoever loves God will also love others.
What does it mean to be In Christ? To have our hearts united in a love with Christ such that we live like Christ united with the principles of heaven!
Read second paragraph,
“Paul addresses these questions by warning the Galatians of two dangers. The first is legalism. Paul’s opponents in Galatia were so caught up trying to earn God’s favor through their behavior that they lost sight of the liberating nature of Christ’s work, of the salvation that they already had in Christ through faith. The second threat is the tendency to abuse the freedom Christ has purchased for us by lapsing into licentiousness. Those who hold this view mistakenly assume that freedom is antithetical to the law.”
What is legalism? What is the motivation suggested in the lesson? Earning God’s favor, in this case by observing the law or rule keeping.
This is classic legalism, what I refer to as legalism type I.
Do you recognize two types of legalism?
- Type 1—we keep the law and by rule keeping we earn or merit our reward
- Type 2—we try to earn favor with the Father through the legal application of someone else’s actions, deeds, or achievement. The idea that a legal penalty had to be paid so that the legal payment could be legally applied to our accounts in heaven and we could be receive the legal approval of God and be declared to be legally righteous—even though we are not.
Both are legalism and both have a god who needs something done to him in order to earn his favor. Both types have a form of godliness with no power and both types are lies that obstruct God’s true healing plan, which is the plan to restore sinners to actual, not declared, righteousness. How? By restoring God’s design law of love in the heart/mind as the way of living.
What is the greatest threat to lapsing into licentiousness? It is the false imposed law, that God runs His universe like humans run earthly governments which has led to all the distortions about God, including penal substitutionary thoughts about salvation. Why is this the greatest threat to holy living and the most likely cause of licentiousness?
For two reasons;
- First this is rules oriented, coercive and without reason. Thus, it is motivated by fear, violates the law of liberty and results in rebellion. For thinking people this view of God will be nonsense and many will reject the idea of God altogether and thus end up leading a licentious life.
- Second—those who stay in the church believing in Christ, do so under a false legal view which leads to theologies that say things like, “all sin was placed on Christ at the cross and legally accounted for and punished by God then. If you accept Jesus as your Savior then His legal payment for ALL your sins, past, present and future is accepted in heaven and all your future sins are also already paid. We can’t live victoriously, oh, try your best, but don’t expect to, so once saved you are always saved.”
People seek to have the sin problem resolved in legal books, through legal application of Christ’s legal payment, rather than seeking a new heart and right spirit. In fact, they don’t even expect to live victoriously—they are told by their pastors that it isn’t possible, don’t even try.
Remember—under this false penal legal system of theology pornography rates are the same in Christian homes as non-Christian homes, spouse abuse and child abuse rates are no different in Christian than non-Christian homes. And teen pregnancy and abortion are higher in America than any western country, and America has the highest percentage of Christians.
The fact is that the penal legal religion doesn’t result in freedom from licentiousness and never can because it gives a false diagnosis and thus provides a solution with no power to free people.
God prophesied through Paul:
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2nd Thessalonians 2:3,4
What temple? The Spirit temple—how? Notice it is the man of lawlessness, i.e. he rejects God’s law, which is design law and replaces it with something that is not God’s law—which is a system that functions like sinful beings, setting up rules and then enforcing those rules with threats of punishment—the false law. Seeking to change God’s law just as Daniel prophesied. And what is the result of this?
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2nd Timothy 3:1-5
Thus, God foretold through John that at the end of time a special message was to go to the entire world:
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Revelation 14:6,7.
Which means what? If one has already accepted the false legal view it means be afraid of God because the time has come for God’s tribunal to meet and the records of all bad behavior will be reviewed and punishment for sin will be determined, and you better come back to worship in the way God said or you will be punished.
But, when we come back to design law—the reality of who God is it reads differently. From The Remedy:
6 Then I saw another messenger flying in midair, and he had the eternal good news about God’s character of love to proclaim to everyone living on earth–to every nation, tribe, language, and people–which represents a movement of people who arise to proclaim the truth about God’s character of love throughout the world. 7 He said in a clear, resounding voice, “Be in awe of God, and glorify him by living his methods of love, because the hour has come for everyone to make a judgment about God, and worship the Designer, Creator and Builder who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and springs of water– all of which operate upon his law of love.”
And connecting all of this to why the legal view contributes to more licentiousness, we read the second angel’s message:
A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Revelation 14:8
What does this mean? From The Remedy:
A second messenger followed the first, proclaiming throughout the world: “Don’t trust Babylon the Great—a symbolic description of religions that misrepresent God—as it is fallen into the lies about God and intoxicates the world with its pagan views of God, maddening the people with its adulterous idea that God coerces and must inflict punishment if not properly appeased.”
The view that God’s law is imposed and God polices His law like humans do their laws, and God will inflict punishment is the core idea within Christianity that has gone to the world. And it is a lie—and it has intoxicated the entire world and people have reacted to it by either becoming abusive like this God and coercing people with wars, or sanctions, or imprisonment; or they have rejected the idea of God altogether and thus the world is becoming increasingly secular why? As a direct rejection of this false view of God taken to the world by Christianity!
We are talking in the lesson today about freedom in Christ and this is genuine freedom—from fear, from addiction, from selfishness, from bad habits, but this freedom can only be realized and experienced when we come back to the truth about God—God who is love and who created all reality to operate upon His design protocols of love. The truth combined with love, which is found only in Jesus Christ, is the power that transforms us and enables us to be free!
Why is freedom so important? What happens if liberty or freedom is violated?
- Love is damaged and eventually destroyed
- Desire to rebel instilled
- Destroyed individualityWhat will God never do? Violate liberty or freedom, because to do so would destroy love. Thus the false human imposed law construct is revealed to be false. Many theological ideas are ruled out like:
- All the teachings in which God is the source of inflicted pain, suffering and death—even though presented under the guise of justice
- God makes all things happen
Certain views of God’s sovereignty: like God is in control—but of what?
- Is God in control of our choices? Why not?
- And if He is not controlling the choices of people then is He in control of the pain and suffering in this world?If interested to follow our Sabbath School Lesson 2017 commentary online at Facebook, you may do so here;
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Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 11 Sabbath Afternoon