Deliverance from the Yoke of Bondage
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We have been thinking about some of the things it would be possible for us as children of God to lose if we could not lose our salvation. We noticed, for example, that we can lose our fellowship, and that is a very serious thing. We noticed that we can lose our rewards, and that can be very serious when we stand at the judgment seat of Christ. And then we noticed that we can lose our life, our health, our strength, all our material possessions, and everything that we hold dear. But we cannot lose our security in the love of God.

Then we began to think about the possibility of losing our liberty in Christ. This is something that many people do not realize because they do not even know they have this liberty. Many of them are living partly in liberty and partly in slavery, and they don't recognize that fact. So it will be our purpose, if the Lord may direct, to think about the liberty we have with Christ and in Christ, the possibility of our losing that liberty, and what is involved when we do.

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Galatians, chapter 5, verse 1:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

We will stop our reading there because that is sufficient for the purposes of our discussion. You will notice in the first verse the statement, or the invitation, or the exhortation:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…

Liberty In Christ

It would behoove us to try to understand what this liberty is—liberty that is ours because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done. We know immediately, when we glance down at verse 4, that that liberty is related to the grace of God for in the last part of verse 4, there is a statement that is familiar to nearly every Christian—the statement, “Ye are fallen from grace.” Quite often we notice that in the thinking of men, there are two schools of thought. There are those who believe you can fall from grace and those who believe you can't. Yet it is never presented in the Scriptural language which we have called to your attention.

Usually, when we talk about falling from grace, we talk about losing our salvation. When we talk about not falling from grace, we talk about not losing our salvation. When the Scripture talks about falling from grace, it is not talking about the loss of salvation. It is talking about the loss of liberty—the liberty that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the liberty?

Freed From Ritualism

There are a number of descriptions of this liberty presented to us in the Word of God. I would like for you to turn with me to the book of Colossians as we notice one phase of this liberty presented to us in the Word. I would not want you to assume that we are discussing this in any certain order—that this is the first step in this liberty, or that this is the most important phase of this liberty. One phase should not be considered without all the rest, but we have to begin somewhere, so we are beginning in this portion of the Word.

Colossians 2:

1For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
6As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21(Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

It would defeat our purpose if we should try to discuss every phrase and verse in this second chapter of the Colossian letter. We read it to you to show you primarily that the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free is a liberty that is ours because we have been freed from any obligation to observe all the rules and the ritualism that are related to Judaism. How have we been so freed? Look at verse 14:

Colossians 2:

14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

What was this handwriting of ordinances? We know that handwriting of ordinances more familiarly as the Ten Commandments. But we must not limit the handwriting of ordinances to the Ten Commandments because associated with the Ten Commandments were many rules and regulations related to the kind of food you eat, the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of activity in which you engage. All of these things are summed up in the handwriting of ordinances.

Why should we have a sense of liberty when we recognize that we are freed from all those things? If you will look at verse 14, I think you will have an answer suggested. Those ordinances were against us; those ordinances were contrary to us. Does that sound strange? Is it a little bit mystifying, and do we wonder exactly what we could be talking about?

Freed From The Moral Law

Let me suggest that we turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 7. I want you to listen to the testimony of a man who was conscious of the handwriting of ordinances that were against him. I want you to listen to the testimony of a man who recognized that these things were contrary to his nature, and that these things were against him. Every time he turned around, it was so. We begin with verse 1:

Romans 7:

1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

That statement is a simple one. You are familiar with it. The law—not the law of man, but the law of God—says that a woman is bound to her husband as long as her husband lives. If, while she has a living husband, she marries someone else, she becomes an adulteress in the sight of God. But we are told in this passage of Scripture that if death takes the husband, and this woman marries someone else, the law makes no accusation against her. The law has no claim over her. She has been set free from the law. How? Because she suddenly decides she has no obligation to obey it? Because she suddenly decides it is too rigorous to obey? No. She has been set free from the law by death—not her death, but the death of her husband. And that is the statement.

With that statement in mind, in verse 4, Paul proceeds to make his point. He says:

Romans 7:

4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

What does that mean? In times past, before Christ died, Jews were married to the law. Whatever the law told you to do, you had to do. You had no choice. But Christ died, and because He died, you were set free from the law; you have a right to be married, not to the law now, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you notice the parallel? While you were married to the law, the law said, “This do, and thou shalt live.” And if you did not do it, you would not live. The curse of death was on you. But now, the Lord Jesus Christ is your husband, figuratively speaking, and you don't do what the law tells you to do. You do what the Lord Jesus Christ tells you to do.

Moral Law Governs Believer's Walk

Immediately someone comes along and says, “Oh, that means that I can just forget about the law. If the law says, 'Thou shalt not steal,' that means I have a perfect liberty to steal.” Oh no, you are jumping to the wrong conclusion. Instead of not stealing because the law says, “thou shalt not steal,” you don't steal because you have entered into a new association with Christ. You say, “Isn't it practically the same thing?” No, there is all the difference in the world. For the one was the bondage of slavery, and the other is the liberty—the glorious liberty, the Word of God says—of the sons of God.

A Redeemed Apostle Paul And The Moral Law

What is the bondage of slavery? How does it affect the individual? Let's listen to what Paul said, keeping in mind that this was a time when he was under bondage to the law. This was a time when he was afraid to move for fear that he would displease God. This was a time when he was living in abject fear that maybe his life was not measuring up to all the demands of righteousness. This was a time when he thought surely his life could not begin to please the Lord. If you will look down at verse 8, he says:

Romans 7:

8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, [You will find that this word commandment and law and ordinance are all used interchangeably here.] wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

What does he mean by that? The law was constantly shaking an accusing finger at the Apostle Paul so that he had no liberty at all. Sometimes our colloquialisms say far more than formal language can, and I inject them into our discussion whether it is correct or not. We have a phrase that nearly all of us use. That is the phrase, “Get off my back.” You have heard that, haven't you? “Why don't you get off his back?” or “Why are you always on my back?” What do you mean by that? Well, you mean that someone is always pointing a finger at you. “Why do you do that?” or “Do you have to do that?”, etc. There is no liberty, there is no peace, when that sort of attitude is manifested. I say this reverently. That is exactly what the law does to a person who does not understand his relationship to Christ. It is always accusing. No one is happy, and that is what Paul says in verse 8:

Romans 7:

8…For without the law sin was dead.

And in verse 9, we read:

Romans 7:

9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

There is the piling-up of terms. Don't be concerned about any of them except that last statement as far as our present discussion is concerned—“that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” Can you recognize the bondage that Paul said he was in? Every time he thought of the commandments, someone leveled an accusing finger at him and said, “Poor old sinner.” Every time the commandments were mentioned, he could not talk about his relationship to God. He could not talk about his fellowship with God. All he could do was to say, “I'm an exceedingly sinful man.” And he tells us why in verse 14:

Romans 7:

14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

The Strife Of The Two Natures

The word carnal could just as well be translated “fleshly.” Do you see what he is talking about? He says here that the law is in a spiritual realm, way up here, and I am in a fleshly realm, way down here. Here it is spiritual, and here I am fleshly—a great gulf between the two. Oh, how nice it would be if I could take this flesh way down here and put it on the spiritual plane way up here. How nice it would be; everything would be all right. But I can't do that. The only thing I can do is to live with a distinct consciousness that I am way down here, and God's goal—God's desire, God's commandment—is way up here. He explains why in verse 15. You listen to verse 15, and you tell me, not audibly, but tell me just by agreeing in your own heart, if this perhaps could not be your testimony right now. If not right now, perhaps it has been your testimony at some other time. Notice verse 15:

Romans 7:

15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

Stop and think about what he is saying. “The things I do, I don't approve of.” Are you doing things in your life that you don't approve of? “The things I do, I allow not, for what I would, that do I not.” Do you know what he is saying? “The things I know I ought to do and the things I want to do, I'm not doing.” Think now, is that true of you? And he even goes a little bit further, and says, “But what I hate, I do.” How many times have you said to yourself, “I hate myself when I do that.” But you go right ahead and do it, don't you? How many times have you said, “Oh, how I hate myself. I don't know why I do it. I don't mean to, but the first thing I know, I've done it, and I hate myself when I do a thing like that.” That is Paul's testimony here. Have you ever wondered why that condition exists? Look at verse 17:

Romans 7:

17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

What in the world is he talking about? Sin that dwells within you? He is talking about the propensity to sin that dwells in the flesh. In verse 18:

Romans 7:

18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Isn't that a sad testimony? But isn't it the testimony of many people today, and perhaps even of some of us here? Notice what he is saying: “I have got the will to do it, but I don't know how to perform the will. I want to do it. I want to do what is right. I want to do the things that please the Lord. I want to do the things that we might refer to as keeping these commandments . But I don't know how to do it. I am utterly helpless when the time comes to do it.” Look at verse 19:

Romans 7:

19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Twice he has mentioned this. He has arrived at a very sensible conclusion. How I wish that every individual who is in the throes of this problem would recognize that sin dwells in him. That is the reason it happens the way it does. Look at verse 21:

Romans 7:

21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Do you see what he is saying? I know there is a certain principle in my life and in my experience. That principle includes a desire in my heart to do what God wants me to do, but I recognize the fact that I don't.

There are many people who are not very conscientious. There are many people who are not sincere. They are not troubled by anything like this. They are the kind of people who don't mind at all bowing their heads at the close of the day, and saying, “Lord, if I have sinned today, forgive me.” And they jump into bed without the least bit of concern, without the least bit of burden for life that has not been pleasing to the Lord.

Paul was not that man. Notice verse 24:

Romans 7:

24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Delivered From The Body Of Death

This is a very expressive phrase. Do you know what it means? In the days in which Paul wrote the letter, if a man murdered another individual, one of the forms of punishment was to take the dead man and bind him to the living man—face to face, chest to chest, knees to knees, feet to feet. Bind the dead man to the living man just like that. And the living man had to walk about with that dead man bound to him in that position until decomposition had set in and it was no longer possible. Now let that sink in. You say, “That is horrifying!” And you say, “I don't even believe that is true.” Well, it is a matter of history, and that is what Paul is talking about. You say, “I can't feature a thing like that.” Well, that is just how Paul felt about the law. That is just how he felt about ordinances. That is just how Paul felt about rules. That is just how Paul felt about regulations. Put yourself in the position of a man who has a dead man bound to him like this. Think of the exhilaration and the liberty that would be yours when that dead man was cut loose, and you could breathe fresh air again. Think of the exhilaration that would be yours when that dead man was cut loose, and you could walk without that burden. Paul said in verse 25:

Romans 7:

25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…

He said, “Who is going to give me that liberty?” And in the next verse he said, “I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord.” That is how the liberty is obtained.

Conclusion

We have traveled quite a way. We began with a verse in Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” We asked what kind of liberty—the liberty that Paul was talking about? The kind of liberty that is ours because we realize that what we cannot do in our own strength, Christ has done, and we are willing to let Him, through us, do it again. The Apostle Paul said, and you can see why he felt this strongly about it, “Why? Why do you want to be entangled again in the yoke of bondage?” Do you know, that is something I have never been able to understand. I have seen people delivered from the yoke of bondage. And oh, how they rejoice in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. How free they are, and how happy they are. And they talk about it. “Oh, you don't know how good it is to be free from that yoke of bondage.” Then by and by, as the weeks, the months, the years go by, they go right back into that yoke of bondage. Why? I don't know why. But the apostle said, “Why be entangled again in the yoke of bondage, if Christ has set you free?”


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