Galatians 5:1-24 – Called to Freedom [or, “Hang on to Your Bone”]

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Galatians 5:1-25

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

13 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. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

You are saved by works. You heard me right. You are saved by works. But don’t misunderstand: you are not saved by your works but by the works of Jesus for you. As He did His Father’s will of suffering, bleeding, and dying on the cross, Jesus set you free from the Law of sin and death (Ro. 8:2). Through Jesus’ work of becoming a curse for you, you have been made right with God. Christ has made and set you free. Stand firm in that freedom.

Stand firm in the freedom that Christ has won for you. Stand firm in the fact that it is Christ’s righteousness alone that makes you right with God. Stand firm in God’s proclamation that you are in Christ and a rightful recipient of all of God’s promises. Don’t be so foolish as to think that you are free and saved by a concoction of grace plus your work and efforts, otherwise “Christ will be of no advantage to you,” and you will be obligated to keep the whole Law. You are saved by Jesus alone. Jesus plus nothing equals everything. Hold fast to Jesus’ work for you.

Dog & Bone AesopAesop tells a fable about a dog who was given a bone from the butcher. As the dog went home, he had to cross a bridge over a calm, clear pond. The water was so still it’s reflection was like a mirror. As the dog crossed the bridge, he happened to look down and thought he saw another dog with a bone that was bigger than the one in his mouth. In his greed, the dog dropped his bone as he lunged and snapped at his own reflection to get the bigger bone only to find himself swimming for his life to reach the shore. Finally, he managed to scramble out and realized what a foolish dog he had been.

We do the same. We have been given the greatest bone in the Gospel – one that reconciles us to God for all eternity. But we think there is another bone, a better bone, and this other bone takes two different forms. And we fall for both:

The first, let’s call ‘the meatier bone.’ This is the bone of works. We know that God is angry at our sins, so we conclude that God will be pleased with our good works. So we drop the bone of the Gospel and snap at the meatier bone of good works. But when we do this, we lose everything.

For the Galatians, the meatier bone was circumcision. They were being told that they needed to keep the law of circumcision in order to please God. But that law had already been fulfilled by Christ. Paul emphatically says, “No! If you think that obeying some law or doing some other work will make you right with God, then Christ is of no advantage to you. If you want to be justified by the Law and works, then you have fallen away from grace.”

Paul writes, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything.” In other words, when it comes to being righteous in the sight of God, it doesn’t matter what you do or what you do not do. The only thing that counts is “faith working through love.”

Which brings us to the second bone we lunge after. Let’s call it ‘the tastier bone.’ This is the bone of sin. Our sins taste good – at least for a while. But they never leave us full and we are always looking for something even more tasty. But when we lunge after those sins we lose hold of the Gospel.

By saying that the only thing that matters is “faith working through love” Paul is already warning against the tastier bone. Paul writes, “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Paul also writes in 1 Cor. 9:19, “Though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all.”

Martin Luther QuoteTo keep us from falling from either of these two fake bones, Luther takes these verses and offers us two statements that are very helpful: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

While these statements seem to be contradictory, they are both true. When you think that you have to do good works to complete or improve your salvation, remember the first. When you think that you can go on living for your sinful self, remember the second.

The Gospel gives you everything. Don’t think that peace with God comes by anything but through faith in Christ. The Scriptures do command us to do good works, but those good works are always done in service to our neighbor. You do not have to aim your good works at God. God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does. So aim your good works at your neighbor. Live in step with the Spirit bearing the fruit of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Let’s get away from talking about dogs and bones. Let’s talk about this fruit. You, believer, bear fruit. Jesus says that He is the Vine and you are the branches (Jn. 15:4-5). A branch does not produce fruit to benefit itself. It produces fruit for the benefit of others. Same with you as you bear the fruit of the Spirit.

You belong to Jesus. He has claimed you as His own. He has grafted you into Himself. And now, fruit comes forth. With the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law, no comparing, no scorekeeping. The Spirit produces this fruit where and when it pleases Him – all for the benefit of your neighbor.

Blessings from the CrossAnd you will fail to bear this fruit. But that is when you return to Christ’s mercy which never fails. When you fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and you will, return to Jesus. Your love, joy, and peace, your patience, kindness, and goodness, your faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will all fail. When those fail, hear God’s word of forgiveness, remember your Baptism, and come to the Lord’s Supper. There, your God will forgive you, refresh and restore you. God will pour out His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control upon you so that you can go back into the world and bear those good fruits. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Galatians 3:15-4:7 – Promises Made. Promises Kept.

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Galatians 3:15-4:7

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. Boyd Gets Released from Prison25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Paul writes about your freedom. Your freedom was won when Jesus Christ became a curse for you on the cross (Gal. 3:13). Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection for you has made you right with God. Paul continues to battle against those who say that faith is not enough and that you have to live a righteous life to be right with God. Paul says, “Not a chance! You are either saved by Christ alone through faith alone, or Jesus died for nothing.”

God made and kept His promises to Abraham and to Abraham’s offspring. In English, we can say that all of a man’s descendants are his offspring (plural), but we can also say that each individual descendant is a man’s offspring (singular). It is the same with the word that Paul uses in this text. But Paul makes it clear that the offspring who was given the promise is not many but one, namely Christ. In other words, all God’s promises to Abraham’s offspring are fulfilled in Jesus. But If God made promises that are only for Christ, what good is that for you? We’ll get there – eventually.

But first, Paul writes, “Before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” By giving the Law, God kept you under captivity – in protective custody.

God gave the Law for your own good. God’s Law keeps you from hurting others and harming yourself. The Law restricts you with rules and regulations, “Do this. Don’t do that.” When you are tempted to kill, steal, lie, or gossip, the Law holds you back from doing those things that would destroy you and those around you. Like prison bars and razor wire, the Law keeps you in custody – it protects you. But protective custody is still custody. And this is good. But those who are kept under lock and key never love the custodian. Prisoners don’t love the prison guards.

In the same way, you do not love God when you are under the Law. You will fear Him and His punishments, but you will not love Him. God gave the Law to be your prison guard restricting your freedom. The Law keeps you from doing what you want to do, but again this is good. Because you are sinful, bent in upon yourself, what you want to do is harmful to yourself and to others. So God puts you under the guardian of the Law.

As your guardian, the Law always raises the bar. Do you think that you fear, love, and trust in God above all things? The Law responds, “Yeah right. You haven’t even scratched the surface.” If you think you are holy, the Law says, “Oh, not holy enough.” If you think you are pure, the Law says, “Not pure enough.” Do you think you are a good spouse? The Law says, “Pbth. Not good enough!” Do you think you are an exemplary employee, a fine parent, or an obedient child? The Law says, “You aren’t even close to what God demands of you.” If you plan to point to your good works on the Last Day, the Law will say to you, “You and your good works can go to hell.”

The Law kills you and every notion of goodness you have. The Law simply whispers and blows away your fig leaves to expose how naked and shameful you are.

So why did God give the Law? First to protect you and those around you. But more importantly, God gave the Law to drive you to Christ. All the Law can do is teach you that you do not and can not please God with your works. If you could earn God’s favor by living a good life by keeping the Law, then Christ died for nothing. The Law shows you your sin, and this is good because, again, the Law drives you to Christ – the one to whom the promises were made.

Now that you are in Christ, Paul writes, “Now that faith has come, you are no longer under a guardian – no longer under the custody of the Law.” As you have faith in Jesus, the Law has nothing more to say to you. “Christ is the end of the Law… to everyone who believes” (Ro. 10:4). In order for the Law to condemn you, believer, it would have to condemn Jesus – and it already has. Jesus was condemned for you. Jesus died your death and took your place in hell. Hell has no vacancy for you.

Remember when Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock while God passed by? That is now a picture of you. You are hidden in the Rock of Christ. God puts you in the cleft of Christ’s wounds, in His pierced hands and side. Hide there and the Law cannot touch you. Now, believer, you take refuge in Christ who is the promised offspring of Abraham to whom all God’s promises were made.

Baptism 2You are now sons of God through faith, “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” When God looks at you He doesn’t see your sins past, present, or future. When God looks at you, He sees Jesus covering you. He doesn’t see your disobedience because He sees Christ’s perfect obedience. He doesn’t see your sin; He sees Christ’s holiness. All of this is because God made a promise to Abraham and to Abraham’s offspring.

And here is the point: the promises made to Abraham’s offspring were not made to many – they were all made to Christ. And because of your baptism, you are in Christ so now you receive those promises. God made promises. God has kept those promises. You belong to Christ. You are Abraham’s offspring and a rightful heir of all God’s promises. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Galatians 2:15-3:14 – Decurseified

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Galatians 2:15-3:14

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

AngerYou feel it. You feel it in your body every night when you grow weary and need to sleep, when you get sick, when your stomach is empty enough that it growls, or even when you stub your toe. You feel it in your emotions when you become angry with your spouse, or when the sorrow and angst of a broken relationship keeps you up at night. You see it. You see it on the news when people and nations war against each other, when the weather destroys people’s homes and livelihoods and brings back memories of when it happened to you. You see it when your loved one is lowered into their grave, and you are reminded that same fate is somewhere in your future.

All of this is the same as as when Nathan points his finger at David in our Old Testament lesson (2 Sam. 11:26-12:14) and says, “You are the man!” All of these things point to you and say, “You are the one who is under the curse of the law and the curse of sin.” “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” You are under the curse of the law.

The curse of the law impacts every aspect of our life. But we all do our best to ignore it. Like Simon the Pharisee in our Gospel lesson (Lk. 7:36-8:3), we look at others and believe that we are more moral or worthy than the other sinners in our midst.

We try to cover our cursed lives with as many good works as we can muster in the hope that, in the end, the scales will tilt, at least a little, in our favor. But we will never find comfort that this has actually happened. In the end, there is no ignoring it or covering it up. In the end, we all stand before the holy, righteous God and Judge who demands that we abide by all things written in the Book of His Law.

But the curse has been removed – more than that, it has already been carried out.

In the fullness of time, God sent Jesus, His Son, born or a woman, born under the law to redeem you who were under the curse of the Law (Gal. 4:4) because you could not and would not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law. Jesus entered this sin-cursed world and placed Himself right beside you in your muck and filth. But Jesus went even further.

Though Jesus had lived a perfect, sinless life and had done every righteous deed, He bore your sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus is the Divine Thief. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).

Jesus takes and becomes sinJesus took those sins of David, the sins of the woman, the sins of Paul, the sins of the Galatians, and your sins. God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus Christ redeemed you from the curse of God’s Law by becoming a curse for you. There on that cross Jesus became the only object of God’s wrath. God poured all of His wrath against all your sin upon Jesus, and hell’s flames were drowned with His holy blood.

The Law used to say, “Let every sinner die.” But now because Jesus has taken all sin, the Law looks around and finds no other sins on you or on anyone else. Your curse is gone. As Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). You, yes you, have been decursified because of the love and mercy of your Savior, Jesus Christ.

So now, when you feel that the circumstances of this life turn sour, don’t assume that you are still under the curse. You are free, redeemed from the curse.

There was a woman on a ship in the middle of a terrible storm, and she was terrified. So she went to the captain of the ship, who happened to be her husband, and asked him, “Why am I so terrified of this storm, and you’re not concerned at all?” But her husband said nothing. Instead, he unsheathed his sword and held it to her chest as though he was going to kill her. He simply looked at her sternly. But after a few moments his wife giggled at him.

Her husband asked her, “Don’t you understand that this sword is sharp and could kill you in an instant?” The wife responded, “Of course I know it’s sharp. But I’m not afraid of a sword when it is in the hand of my beloved husband.”

And the captain responded, “Then neither am I afraid of these storms when they are governed by and in the hand of my heavenly Father.”

The same is true for you. When all of the signs of the curse are surrounding you and threatening you, remember that they are all in God’s control. And you have been redeemed from the curse. You, yes you, sinner, have been decursified. Nothing in this life can harm you because Jesus has become a curse for you. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Galatians 1:11-24 – Amelia, We Glorify God Because of You

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Galatians 1:11-24

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Amelia,

Today, you are baptized. Today, Jesus has washed you in His righteousness. Though you are cute little infant, you were dead in your sins. But Jesus has come, and, just as He interrupted the funeral procession in our Gospel text (Lk. 7:11-17), He has stepped in between you and death. Amelia, Jesus has said to you, “Dear daughter, arise.” And as He gave that young man back to his mother, Jesus has given you to your parents.

Baptism 2Amelia, Jesus can do all of this because the death He died, He died once for you and once for all, and the life that Jesus now lives, He lives to God (Rom. 6:10) – for you and for us all. Jesus lives to make you alive with His Gospel. Christ’s death and resurrection is for you and for everyone here. Don’t ever turn away from this Gospel because it is not made up by man. This Gospel is given by revelation of Jesus Christ. If it is taken away, nothing is left. No hope. No grace. No forgiveness. No mercy. Only a holy God who demands that you be holy as well. And, dear Amelia, you will never measure up to those demands.

But Amelia, the good news is that God set you apart before you were born, and today, in your baptism, He has called you by His grace and has revealed His Son to you (v. 15-16a). Amelia, again, this is not man’s Gospel, but the Gospel that Jesus reveals. Because the Gospel comes from Jesus, it cannot be deprived of its power to set you free. You can bank your life, your eternity, on it.

And Amelia, this Gospel will change you. Paul here talks about his former life in Judaism, before he believed in Christ, back when he even had a different name – Saul. Saul was zealous for a bunch of human traditions that he thought would make him right with God. So when Saul heard that the apostles were preaching that faith in Christ alone was what made you right with God, he was enraged. By persecuting these first believers – by his cooperation in the stoning of Stephen and by his rounding up Christians to put them in prison (Acts 8:1-3) – Saul thought he was rendering service to God. He persecuted the very church that God had established, that Christ had shed His blood and died to create. But Christ’s blood had also been shed for Saul. God had set Saul apart before he was born. Christ called Saul by His grace. This Saul became Paul and preached the Gospel. Paul’s testimony is incredible and beautiful, but notice it is beautiful because it reveals the power of Christ’s forgiveness.

Amelia, beware because there are still people who are like Saul in his former way of life. They will attack your faith in Christ and think they are doing God’s work. This persecution comes in the form of false teachings – teachings that say there are certain works or qualities you have to do or have in order to be in God’s favor. Amelia, these false teachings will come from others, and they will even come from within yourself. They are all attempts to, little by little, rob you of your faith in Christ. These false teachings will sound different at times, but they will all boil down to this: “If my sin is causing me problems, either with God or with others, then my good works will fix all of that.” Don’t listen to those voices. Don’t ever trust in your good works. And pray for those who persecute your faith. Pray for them because Jesus died for their sins too.

Amelia, always remember that God is only pleased with you as you are in Christ. And as you are in Christ, good works will follow. But, Amelia and all of you, don’t go looking for those good works. The good works that Paul did were a comfort to the other believers – not to Paul. Those other believers heard how Paul was now preaching the faith he had tried to destroy, and they glorified God because of this. It’s just as Jesus said, “You are the light of the world…. Let your light shine before others so they may see your good works and give glory (not to you but) to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:14, 16).

So today, Amelia, we glorify God because of you. We see your good works. We see you honoring your father and mother, trusting in them to protect and provide for you. We see you keeping the Sabbath, coming and hearing God’s Word which creates and sustains your faith. And we look forward to seeing how God will continue to produce the fruits of good works in you.

Amelia, we glorify God because you have been set free. There is nothing more you can do to earn or merit your salvation. You are free – free to be you. Free to be the child of God that He has declared you are. You are free to serve your neighbor. Free to honor your father and mother. You are free to walk in the good works that God has called you to do (Eph. 2:10).

And, yes, you will fail. You will fall short. But even then you are free to approach God for forgiveness. You have come to Jesus, and He has given you the living water that only He can give. That water has become in you a spring of forgiveness will never run dry but will well up to eternal life (Jn. 4:14). Amelia, and all of you here, Jesus and Jesus alone has set you free. And as He says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.