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Joy in Liberty over Legalism

Legalistic religion kills the spirit, but knowing Christ sets us free.

The story behind the sermon (Jared Alcantara)

This sermon was the fourth of five messages in the series "The Joy Genome." The image of a genome was used to convey the idea that Christian joy is somehow grafted into our human DNA. As Philippians is a book about joy, each message pertained to finding joy in X, Y, or Z, such as joy over circumstances (week one) or joy in humble service (week three).

The theme for this sermon was "Joy in Liberty over Legalism," and the text was Philippians 3:1-11. The big idea was "Our Confidence Comes through Christ." This text was particularly challenging for me since Paul covers a lot of ground. (If you want to do justice to all the ground that Paul covers, it might make more sense to preach verses 1-6 and 7-11 as separate units.) I discussed legalism first, so as to begin with the bad news. My introduction centered on the problem of legalism, and my first point was "Being religious is just as dangerous as being irreligious." My second and third points were also pithy to enhance retention. They both pertained to liberty. I waited until part way through the third point to state the big idea. However, I tried to allude to it at earlier points in the message. Once I presented it, I tried to restate it a few times, including once more in my conclusion.

I tried to use images like fountain, shepherd, rubbish, and so forth. But the one visual aid that helped the most was a balance scale. I got the idea for this image from a Charles Spurgeon sermon on this passage in which he talks about the weightiness of Christ. I purchased a cheap scale and used it as a simple prop. In the part of the sermon where I talked about "playing the game" of confidence in ...

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Jared E. Alcántara is an Associate Professor of Preaching and holds the Paul W. Powell Endowed Chair in Preaching at Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas. His latest book is "The Practices of Christian Preaching: Essentials for Effective Proclamation." Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @jaredealcantara.

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Audio Sample:

Sermon Outline:


I. The danger of religion

II. The source of true freedom

III. The joy of following Christ