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We are quickly approaching the Fourth of July. It is a humble reminder that our great nation was founded upon a declaration of freedom from the tyranny of unjust treatment and unjust taxation. This yearly celebration should give us an opportunity to reflect on the genuine power of freedom and how we continue to express that freedom in our nation. America will never be a perfect place. Despite our freedom, we have failed to live up to our most noble ideas. It seems that we are confused about freedom in our nation. In the name of tolerance, we have become amazingly intolerant of differing viewpoints! Freedom has always been and will always be a challenge to live out because we are not free creatures. Unless we are willing to face this one simple reality, we will struggle with finding genuine freedom. In our sermon series, Test the Spirits, the sermon is True Freedom, Part 1. This will be a two-part sermon as we move toward Independence Day. We are using Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. In Galatians 5:1-9, Paul is urging the Galatians to stand in the freedom that Christ has given them.  If they do not stand in the freedom, they will only find their lives burdened with a yoke of legalism and self-justification, rather than the powerful freedom that only Christ can give. We may not be struggling over the specific issue of compliance with Jewish rituals and customs, but this word of freedom helps us to see the power of our freedom in Christ and how we can lessen the burden of our slavery! We pray that you will sense the chains in your life being broken, the power of Spirit healing you, and the hope of new possibilities filling your heart as you read Galatians 5:1-9:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”