Des Lammes

Forward this issue to a Friend 

Join Our Mailing List Like us on Facebook




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.


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.


Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (ESV)












True Freedom

Wednesday of Pentecost 19

2 October 2013

Freedom is the great subtext of Western liberalism. Once, everyone seeking a higher education sought a liberal education. In this context, "liberal" meant both free and freeing. Education was not free in an economic sense, as pandering politicians preach by promising to give you a "free" education. A liberal education was such not because it espoused a leftist social and political agenda as is now the case in the preponderance of American universities. Once, a truly free education was free of political cant, indoctrination, and brain washing. Faculty encouraged open enquiry into the nature of a truly free human life. Such enquiry was tailored to serve the student's spiritual, intellectual, and moral growth. It was never unfettered by standards and discipline. The goal then was to give students the moral and intellectual skills to conduct their lives as citizens, leaders, and family members in genuine service to one another in community. This was a truly liberal education.


Freedom bound by human responsibility to others has its deep roots in the Christian theology of law and gospel. Freedom is given by the Christian gospel, which by God's grace, liberates humans from the oppression of the law with its threat of the wrath of God and death. Unfortunately, the twentieth century has turned this freedom into license by presuming that the liberating effects of the gospel completely rule out the law's jurisdiction. In this way, the gospel becomes mere permissiveness. How else could the federal justices opine that two men ought to be able to marry each other? Nothing is forbidden any longer. In the Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky has it right: "Without God and immortal life, all things are lawful then. They can do what they like." Or to put it another way: "No God. No good."


Theological liberals carped that the definition of the gospel as saving people from the law reduced the gospel to some kind of subset of the law; the gospel was defined by the law. Yet, this is exactly what the theological liberals themselves were up to by denying the law had any longer a place in the Christian's life after conversion to Christ through the gospel preaching. For the old liberals, the gospel simply wiped out the law. In this anarchistic approach, the liberating power of the gospel functioned only to blot out the law's entire power and force. It just no longer applied. Where the gospel blots out the law, freedom becomes self-will: autonomy in its worst sense. The only law is the one that I dream up for myself.


The law cannot be wiped away by the gospel, any more than the death of Christ by crucifixion could be removed from the Christian gospel. The law still applies to the flesh of the Christian until the day of his death. We Christians, truly freed by the gospel do not live under the law or its oppression, but gladly submit our flesh to the law's jurisdiction to live, not under, but in the law, as God's good gift. Through our freedom in the gospel, the law is no longer only an enemy, but we become friends of the law. We are now free to serve one another in love according to the Ten Commandments. This is true freedom.


Martin Luther


"This statement, 'Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh' (Gal 5:13), is one that Paul makes to keep us from understanding this freedom according to the stupid notion by which we wish that everyone were permitted and free to do as he pleases. In the same way he also opposes this when, teaching the same freedom, he says: 'You are not under law but under grace' (Rm 6:14). Here we have Paul's assertion of freedom from the law. But immediately he raises an objection to himself: 'What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law? By no means!' (Rm 6:15). This is what he is saying here, namely, that opportunity is made for the flesh if freedom is understood in this fleshly way.


"We are not free from the law (as I have said above) in a human way, by which the law is destroyed and changed, but in a divine and theological way, by which we are changed and from enemies of the law are made friends of the Law. In line with this thought 1Pt 2:16 also says: 'As free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants' (1Pt 2:16). Behold, here you have what is meant by 'an opportunity for the flesh,' namely, a pretext for evil, which causes them to think that because they are no longer bound by any law, they are not obliged to do what is good and to live rightly, whereas, on the contrary, it is the aim of freedom that now we do what is good, not from compulsion but gladly and with no ulterior motive. But in this passage, too, the apostle himself says that this freedom is a servitude of love. 'Through love serve one another' (Gal 5:13), says Paul. For freedom consists in this, that we have no other obligation than to love our neighbor. But love teaches very easily how all things are done rightly. Without it nothing can be taught in a satisfactory manner."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.13 

Lord Jesus, you forbid us to present our members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but tell us that we are to present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and our members to God as instruments for righteousness. Send Your Spirit so that sin has no dominion over us, since we are not under law but under grace. Help us to present ourselves as slaves to obedience, which leads to righteousness. Amen.


For Leonard Jones, who is undergoing medical testing, that the Lord Jesus would watch over and strengthen him


For police officers and all law enforcement officials that they might be diligent in their duty to apply the law to those who break it


For Kevin and Heather Faske, Brian, Russell, and Justin that they would be kept in the care of their gracious heavenly Father
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

Find me on Facebook                                                                                        Scott R. Murray, 2013

This email was sent to by |  
Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057