Sermon May 4, 2008 : Freedom to do what?

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Dr. Neil Anderson (translation by Dr. Roberto Miranda)
  • Date: May 4, 2008
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

It’s a joy being back here again. I was here for a year in the Navy in 1963, it was the worst year of my life. But this is then a good visit. I could just sense the love and the good spirit in this church, I think it has something to do with this man and his wife.

Few years ago we had George Barna research some questions about legalism and we were surprised at what we heard. Legalism is alive and well in this country. Not necessarily that it’s taught but it’s still how a lot of people relate to God. tell me what’s right and tell me what’s wrong, I’ll try to do what’s right and scold me when I’m wrong. But you don’t want to live by the law, because the law kills but the spirit….. In a lot of ways I think people would prefer to live by the law but you’re robbing yourself from the freedom of Christ, and I see what our church does in response to all the problems in our culture. People are taking drugs, so we preach against that; and alcohol, we preach against that. And we preach against divorce and we quote out of the Old Testament, God hates divorce, that’s true, but so does the divorcee. I wish you never forget that, but how is that working, it never has worked, it never will work.

But if you walk by the spirit you won’t carry out the desires of the flesh. I want to talk this afternoon about walking by the spirit. If you have your Bible turn to Galatians, Chapter 5, 16 through 18.

Now, the question is how do you walk or live by the spirit, but here is the problem. I answer that by giving you three steps and a formula, I’d be putting you back into the law again. The spirit is not an it, it’s a he. This is not a new problem.

Nicodemus came to Jesus one night and he asked how he could have eternal life. He said, you must be born again. Born again? How can again a man enter into the womb of his mother? And Jesus said, well you being a teacher of the law you don’t understand such things? I’m talking about the spirit. The spirit is like the wind, it blows where it wishes.

I think what he’s saying is we should pull on the oars of our boat and put up the sail. I like that, I think that’s a good idea, what it means to be empowered by God and go on where the wind takes me. Actually this passage is telling you more of what it’s not to walk by the spirit, but that’s helpful because it’s giving us two parameters within which we are to live.

So, first of all that it’s not. Walking by the spirit is not license. License is like a disregard for rules and regulations. I mean, when I was a young boy going to church was like going to a winner roast. You were supposed to either turn or burn. And you expected to get your dose of guilt every Sunday morning. Lay the law on me, preacher and if you don’t I’ll pull the nickel out of the plate.

And then the Jesus people movement came, it’s like we discovered the love of God. you just flow by the spirit, you can do whatever you want, have a joy. But it’s saying just the opposite, if you live by the spirit you won’t care about the desires of the flesh, you won’t do as you please.

I remember when I first started ministry. We lived by a Catholic family, I was always looking for an opportunity to share the love of Christ and they had a whole pile of kids, their oldest one would baby-sit our little children. One Sunday night that opportunity came. Ten o’clock at night she’s knocking on my door, I forgot to ask you, can you come to my religion class as St Anthony’s and talk to us about protestant Christianity. I said, well, I’ll pray about that.

As a matter of fact I can go. so on Tuesday morning I went down to this nice Catholic school and I met the Monsignor and I said hello I’m not going to disrupt in Catholicism, so please feel free to correct me. So I started with the Reformation and justification by faith, told them how everybody could have a personal relationship with the living God, gave them all the gospel crack and opened it up for questions. And there was a real cool guy standing on the back row, he had a school jacket on, he asked me, do you have a lot of don’ts in your religion? I said, I don’t think I have any God doesn’t at least I hope I don’t.

But in once sense he was really asking me this, do you have any freedom. He said, ok, do you have any freedom? I said, sure, I can do whatever I want. Well, can’t I? Couldn’t I walk out of here and throw a rock through a window and steal something? But if I did that wouldn’t I have always to look behind my shoulder wondering if I would be caught? I suppose I’m free to tell a lie, but I have to remember who I told that lie to and what I told him. Do you remember those days? You’re still having those days?

You see, freedom doesn’t lie just in the exercise of choice, it’s always related to the consequences of that choice. I said God has given me the freedom to make the kind of choices that I can make to continue to live in the freedom that he purchased for me in the cross. And I said, by the way, are you free? And the bell rang and they all left. And the Monsignor came up and said, that was terrific. I wanted to say, which part?

Whatever it means to walk by the spirit is not a license. But it’s not legalism either. If you’re lead by the spirit you’re not under the law. Now, nobody in this room is more committed that I to help people live a righteous life, but if you think the answer is to lay down to law, there’s three things you need to know from scripture.

Go back to Galatians chapter 3, look at verse 10.

So, if you try to live by the law you’re just going to feel cursed. Paul says if you’re guilty of one point of the law you’re guilty of the whole law. When you try to live a righteous life by the law you’re going to be a drive perfectionist and you’ll never be able to achieve it. you’ll be a pain the neck to yourself and everybody else.

Notice what follows in verse 11 through 14.

You know, it’s interesting because it says now that no one is justified by the law is evident. I think it is but how come we’re still cursed by the law? How much do we do that’s based on a law or principle that causes us to response in obedience, as opposed to how much do we do that is based on a concept of life that would cause me to respond by faith according to what God said is true and to live by his power and not care about the desires of the flesh?

The first is law, the second is grace. You’re not only saved by faith, you’re sanctified by faith. You live by faith, you walk by faith. Now, because Christ saw him faithful, Christ put Paul into service. The entire means by which we live is by faith, in his power. That’s a new covenant.

Getting people out from under the law is not easy however and this is going to function foir you like a curse and all you could do is feel guilty. The law was a task master to leaders to Christ.

Chapter 3, verse 21 is the second point.

The law is powerless to give life. Listen Christians, we’re servants of a new covenant, for the law kills but the spirit gives life. Let me put this in a practical sense. Telling people what to do and what is wrong does not give them the power to stop doing it. I was beautifully illustrated on a story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

A lady was commissioned by the state to go to schools to teach safe sex, this is not a Christian program, but she was a state expert, thinking that is she just talked these kids they would all practice safe sex. But she herself had a major weigh problem and she had read many books on nutrition, and exercises and diet, she could have lectured the kids in any of those topics as well. But yet knowing all of that didn’t keep her from having a second piece of pie that day.

Now, I thought, this is not only honest but insightful. She’s supposed to be a mature adult, she knew what was right and wrong and yet she couldn’t do it. how can I expect the kids to do that? Good point, right?

Remember for ten years our country had the dare program, just say no. Did that work? No. and they gave up the program and it got worse. And so the number two problem was living under the law is powerless to give life.

Even more revealing is this third point. Romans chapter 7, verse 5

The simple passions were aroused by the law. Look at verse 8

You know what that’s saying? The law has the capacity to stimulate de desire to do what it’s intended to prohibit. You don’t think that’s true? Tell your son, you can go here but you can’t go there. the moment you say that where does he want to go? there. probably he didn’t even want to go there before, it’s like wet paint.

I remember this school had a list of movies that kids could not see. Those were the good ones. The kids would copy the list. Why is the forbidden the most desirable? I’m not sure, but it’s not a new concept. You can eat from any tree in the garden but that one. Why not?

You know, much of what Paul is writing about is the law of in sinful. No, the law reflects the…. How does the universe run in the nature of God. first of all the commandments of God are not restrictive, they’re protective. But what was law under the old covenant becomes a promise in the new covenant, if you walk by the spirit. You will not kill, you will not steal, you will not murder, whatever.

Now, we are servants of the new covenant. If it’s no license and it’s no legalism what is it? It’s liberty; where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Now go back to Galatians chapter 5. those three verses that are a summary of this chapter. Look at Galatians chapter 5, verse 1 and 2.

Don’t go back to the law. Look at verse 13. that’s not license, not is it legalism, it is liberty. Now, I admit the road is narrow and we’re climbing this mountain of God. imagine the road to be narrow and it had as a view of a church and over here is a steep cliff, too steep to climb, too far to jump, and on this side there’s a roaring force fire and behind you is a lion, which way would you go? I’d go to that church.

You know, my sanctuary is in Christ. if you fix your eyes on Jesus, the consumer of my faith and walk by faith according to what he says is true, you’ll find all the sanctuary you need in Christ. but here’s an option over here, just sail off that cliff. Can you imagine the acceleration? Sail in through space. It was like the man who fell off the Empire State building, on the way down he was heard saying ‘so far so good’. but there are serious consequences to that choice, like the sudden stop at the end.

See, that’s the whole nature of license and temptation. If it didn’t look good you wouldn’t be tempted. How many were tempted to each spinach this morning? You know, it’s interesting because when the 60s came I everybody said, free sex. Was that free? You know the cost in human life alone is staggering if the trend continues by the year 2020, 80 million people will die of Aids, probably the most incurable disease we have, by far the most preventable. You could stop it tomorrow. All you got to do us abstain. All you got to do, stop using drugs, we can’t do that. In fact, that’s never even postured as an option when the world Aids congress meets, isn’t that amazing?

Here’s another option over here. Burn baby burn. Here’s legalism. What’s interesting, the devil always starts as a tempter. Come on, you know you want to do it. everybody is doing it and you’ll get away with it. so you do it. and he changes his role immediately to the accuser and you realized you’ve been got.

Now, what is it meant by liberty? You walk by the spirit, now that action implies two things, two things that it’s not. It’s not sit, and it’s not run. What’s the big evangelical error? Run. Look at all the things we did. We went here, we went there, we did this, we did that. But how much fruit remains? You don’t miss measure spirituality by activities, you measure by its fruit. The devil can’t make you immoral. Immoral can just make you busy.

Remember Isaiah Chapter 40? Those vigorous young men double battling, yet those who wait upon the Lord should mount on wings, like an eagle and run and not be weary. Or the option is to just sit and sorrow and some holy piety. It’s an interesting question. How much is done in this church age if I try to do it all by myself? Nothing, apart from Christ we can do nothing. How much gets accomplished if we just sit around expecting God to do it all? Nothing.

You know, we have the privilege to water a plant but God causes the increase and if you don’t water that plant nothing grows. God promised to make his wisdom known through the church.

This Baptist pastor had a hobby of gardening and one of those old deacons came by one day. He said, the Lord sure gave you a beautiful garden, and the pastor said, well, you should had seen it when God had it by himself. Well, it’s true, isn’t it?

Go to Mathew chapter 11. here’s the picture that our Lord gave us, verse 28.

That’s the greatest invitation in the Bible. He didn’t say come to this great church, or come to one of my conferences, come to me, to my presence, take my yoke upon you. I don’t need another yoke. You can’t even put this one on unless you throw all the others off. And in the context what you would be throwing off is the yoke of legalism, and you will learn from him, and you’ll find rest for your soul.

How many would like that? I’m sure you all would. Now, I’m an old farm boy, my dad started farming with horses and I learned all about that. And the same image there is when you would farm with oxen. Now, look at the picture the Lord is giving us. A yoke is that big heavy beam you put over the shoulders of two ox. How well does that work if there’s only one in it? it doesn’t. You’d be better off if you didn’t have it one. It only works if the two are in it and pulling together. Now what they’d do is they would take an old veteran ox who had learned obedience from the things that he had suffered, which was said of Christ by the way, and he knew how to walk and they would yoke him up with a young ox hoping the young ox would learn from the old ox. What would the young ox be tempted to do? You’re going low to slow for me, paps. I’m going to run out ahead. And he would get a soared neck. Though vigorous young men stumble badly. Or he would decide one day, I’m just going to drop out today. Hey, life goes on. Or you would be tempted to …. the left to the right, if that young ox is smart he would start to realize that old ox know how to walk, I think I’m going to learn from him and he’d learn to take one day at a time. He’d learn the priority of relationships, he would learn to walk with God.

When my wife and I married she was pregnant with our first child, we bought our first little dog, a wonderful pet for my kids. So for about 12 years they had this little poodle and it died and it was traumatizing and I was trying to be a good parent, so I went out and bought another dog. This is a marriage on the rebound story. Buster was the most neurotic mess you’ve ever seen in your life. I would leave the gate open hoping it would run away. It never did.

For some reason my son liked him and our city had a class dog obedience school, ten lessons for 25 dollars, bringing a choke chain. So I sent my son off to dog obedience school. In two weeks Buster had thoroughly trained my son and he just gave up. One day I said, I’m going to take that dog for a walk. I’m not going for a run, I’m going for a walk, and I’m the master and I know where I want to walk, I put on that choke chain on that dog and as soon as he stepped through the front door that entire walk guaaaaaa, choking himself to death, or he stopped and sniff a flower or some grose thing. I kept on walking and that was a drag; or he went round a pole. I was determined, I’m the master and I just kept walking. Now, you ask me, did that dumb dog ever learn to walk by his master? No, it never did.

There are many Christians who haven’t learned either. Some are and burn out, other try off to the left or the right and drop out. Even if that’s your case, if you’re listening you can still hear. Come to me. I created you. I know how you should walk, I know the path. So you walk in the spirit but you’re also lead by the spirit. Now, being lead means you’re not pushed. Neil you got to decide now. ok, no. why not? Because the guidance of God doesn’t come that way. The guidance of God may come suddenly but only to the spiritually prepared. So if somebody is pushing you to make a hasty decision without a prepared prayer or reflection, back off. It’s not God.

Pentecost came suddenly but how many days of careful preparation preceded that. And you’re lead by the spirit, not leered away. Neil come over here, we have a secret meeting. You’re in trouble with God because God is all light, in him lives no darkness. You’ve been called to walk in the light, you don’t do secret things, open scandal in heaven.

Now, I’m a farm boy, farm that I was raised, we raised sheep, brings back a lot of great memories to me. You know, we are the sheep of his pasture and he’s the great shepherd. But there’s a little downside to that. If you don’t this about sheep you should probably understand something that they’re the dumbest animals on the farm. They rank right up there with chickens.

You can sell feed cattle, you can sell feed pigs, you can’t do that with sheep. If you feed them too much they’ll eat, eat, eat, bloat and die. Proverbs have a lot of warnings about getting too rich and wealthy. That’s especially true of rich green wet grass. They will just eat and in an hour can bloat and die, that’s why the 23rd psalm says, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down the green pastures because he knows that I’d probably eat myself to death.

Now, in the springtime in Minnesotta when snow started to melt, sometime around the 4th of July, the road sides would just grow lush green grass, dad would say, take the sheep along the road side but keep them moving, so we chased them out there, like an Australian sheep dog would bark up the hills at the sheep.

I had the privilege to study in Israel and we were all at Bethany just outside of Jerusalem. Those are cone-shaped hill called the Herodian at the top there’s a fortress, it’s one of 7 fortresses that Herod had built. Masada was another one. And I was sitting on the ruins and looking down the slopes, there was a shepherd there with about 15, 20 sheep, pretty soon he got up and said something and walked off. Now, all the sheep looked up and followed him. I was so excited that I took ten pictures, all there was in them were little dots but… But I took the picture because I was so excited because it was totally foreign to my experience, but the shepherds in Israel don’t chase from the back, they lead from the front.

You know the verse don’t you? My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. All of those who are being lead by the spirit of God, those are the sons of God. how do you walk by the spirit? It’s not license, it’s not legalism, it’s not running around in activities, it’s not sitting around in some holy place.

You and I have been invited to walk with the gentle Jesus under a new covenant of grace. Why would the world want a spirit guide when they could have the Holy Spirit? We have to get up every day and say, Lord I belong to you, I deserved hell, you gave me eternal life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, lead me into all truth that I can walk by faith. I don’t want to carry out the desires of the flesh. I want to live a righteous life and I pray that’s your experience every day.

Let me just say, it’s been a real privilege for me to be here but my airplane leaves at 4 o’clock. Adios. God bless you, folks.

Let’s bless our dear brother here and send him with our blessing and our gratitude. Father, we thank you for doctor Anderson’s ministry. You have used him so mightily throughout the years and you have used him certainly here among us and we declare your blessing on his life, on his family, Father, we pray that you would replenish his energies that he has so generously invested in New England this weekend and we thank you for his presence here at Lion of Judah. And Lord, we send him off with the covering of your eyes, your gaze, your fatherly gaze upon his life, and we pray that even as he goes in that plane you will enrich him with new teachings and new counsel that he might be able to bless your people wherever he goes. Send him with joy knowing that he has done your will and thank you for his presence in our midst, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you. take good care.

Sermon delivered by Dr. Neil Anderson (translation by Dr. Roberto Miranda) taped May 4, 2008 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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permitan que se puedan descargar los semones por favor




verdaderamente es de gran bendicion leer estos mensajes, soy lider de jovenes y me interesa hablarles acerca de estas realidades que muchas veces no queremos entender.Que Dios los bendiga en su ministerio y los prospere de manera sobrenatural.






soy de la iglesia IBET de los pastores samuel grandes y daniel grandes soy victor ch.a en sanfelipe comas kilometro 15 ymedio mitelefono es 544 -25-16


gracias por la predica me hiso ver comoestoy andando con DIOS minombre es victor que DIOS LOS BENDIGA SI PUEDEN ME4 RESPONDEN AMI CORREO gracias hermanos espero sus respuestas que DIOS siga bendiciendoles


Que bueno esta predica, me encanto, quiero ser guiada por el Espíritu de Dios amen.


He sido bendecida amen por esta pagina.


Muy bonita la predica que Dios le bendiga soy Rafael desde paute de la iglesia asamblea de Dios ecuatoriana he sido bendecido yo y mi familia con esta predica nos dimos cuenta que hemos estado viviendo el libertinaje y no la libertad la paz del señor hermano amen y amen


Hola, Que Dios le continue bendiciendo que la uncion que Dios ha proveido a sus instrumentos hijos de Dios continue abundando continue llenando hsta rebosar, conoci de esta pagina por medio de mi hermana, pues yo le pedi que me ayudara a buscar un programa de predicas donde yo pueda trabajar y escuchar una palabra de aliento, palabra de Dios, de verdad, de exhortacion, de amor, hoy doy gloria a Dios por este programa, por ustedes y sobre toda por la obra de Dios esa edificacion en todos los que le escuhcamos, gracias, gracias, gracias Dios por instrumentos como ustedes.

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