On Wednesday of this week, our nation will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us that means cook outs with the family and spending the day at the beach or at the pool. It is a day set aside to celebrate our freedom as Americans and to reflect upon what it means and what it cost for us to be free men and women.
While we should be thankful for the freedom that we possess in this country; those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Messiah have an even greater freedom to celebrate. We who are saved are free from bondage to sin, its tyranny, and from a debt that we could never pay. As believers, we are called to walk in the freedom that is ours through the Spirit of God and to remember the cost of that freedom.
Too often we come in contact with Christians that are not living the abundant life of joy they were created for. As a matter of fact there are too many of us that are living defeated and stressed out lives. We forget that we are promised an abundant life, the life Jesus promised in John 10:10 when he said, “I have come that may have life, and have it to the full”. And His promise in our text this morning in John 8 when he said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
My question for you this morning is, if you are promised true freedom and an abundant life then why are you not living that way? Why do we spend so much time struggling with temptation and then feeling guilty because you are not the Christian that you really want to be.
It’s like the woman who was walking through a farmer’s market in a little village. She happened upon a covey of quail walking in circles around a pole. They had strings attacked to their legs, and they continued to walk around and around the pole hour after hour. The woman asked the owner how much he wanted for whole covey and when they agreed on a price, the woman paid for the quail and started cutting the strings off of their legs. The merchant said if you do that they will all fly away. And the woman replied, “That’s exactly why I bought them, so I could free them.”
But the strangest thing happened. Once the strings were cut and the quails had their freedom they just continued to walk around the pole in the same old circle. They had their freedom, but they continued to do what was comfortable for them, they continued to what was easy and they forfeited their ability to be free.
Jesus said that we are free and that freedom is so very deep and full, but I am afraid that all too often we have used our freedom to continue to just do what we are comfortable with. Our freedom goes beyond the freedom to attend church, or to read the Bible, or choose the church we prefer, and to speak out about our faith. The freedom that Jesus offers is our ability to live overcoming, productive, and joy filled lives. We need to realize that we are free today from all kinds of things because of His amazing grace. We are free to go in different and better direction. We don’t have to continue to march around in circles of guilt and sin and drudgery. We are free indeed.
In our time this morning I want to remind you of what freedom looks like. I want us to take our rightful position in this community an the happiest, joyful, peace filled people in the room, in every room. It’s time for us to take our freedom seriously and become what we were created to be.
We are Free from the guilt of sin
Harry Houdini was a famous escape artist who lived around the beginning of the 20th century. He was an Illusionist, magician, and escapologist. Every time he would enter a new town he would issue a challenge that if they would lock him in one of their jail cells that he could get free in short order. It was a trick that he performed in town after town and he always he kept his promise.
There was one time though that something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal and set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for two hours, Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked, and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.
While Jesus offers us freedom, too many of us are content to live in our guilt. The door to our cell is open if we would just walk through it and find the freedom that we have been offered. It’s not that we don’t have anything to be guilty about. As a matter of fact I’m sure if we were to get totally honest with one another, we would hear some stories that could curl your hair.
I find a lot of comfort in Paul's letter to the Churches in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes about the things that people do that will keep them from seeing the kingdom of heaven. He talks about those who sin sexually, those who worship idols, those who commit adultery, men who let other men use them for sex or who have sex with other men, those who steal, those who are greedy, those who drink too much, those who abuse others with insults, and those who cheat.
It is verse 11 that gives me hope. After giving this long laundry list of some of the most vile sins that we can commit he says “In the past some of you were like that.” WHAT?!?!?! Good Godly church folks have struggled with sexual sins? struggled with worshiping idols? struggled with drinking too much and abusing others with insults and cheating??? Paul says they have. Now I know that if I was included in that list of folks, and let’s just forget the if and say because I am included in that list of folks, there is plenty to feel guilty about.
In fact, because so many of us feel guilty about our past, we are very disconnected from one another. We put up walls trying to hide our brokenness and would rather lie to the other broken folks around us than be honest and deal with our guilt.
In reality there is no reason for that. First, I cannot judge someone for sinning differently than I do. That’s hypocrisy at it’s worst. Secondly, John says if we are willing to be honest then we can find freedom from our guilt. In 1 John 1:9 we read the remedy to our guilt problem, we go to Jesus and simply say, “I’m guilty. I’ve sinned. I’ve blown it again. Forgive me.” at least that’s the JHV.
Your bible probably translates 1 John 1:9 this way: “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We can be free from guilt if we are just willing to be open and honest with God. And let’s be honest, God already knows everything about us anyway, so really we are just telling Him what He already knows.
Next, We should be free from the consequences of sin.
Now we need to unwrap this a little bit. We read in Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Our universe was created with a law of sowing and reaping. We see this in every aspect of our lives. If you smoke a pack a day and come down with lung cancer are you surprised? If you eat fast food hamburgers twice a day for a year and you gain 30 pounds and develop high blood pressure are you surprised?
In very much the same way you shouldn’t be surprised that sin also comes with consequences. When you start chasing the idols of this world, money and possessions, and you wake up one morning feeling far away from God that’s the law of sowing and reaping. If you lose your family because you are in an relationship with a man or woman that does not belong to you that’s the law of sowing and reaping. So while sin has consequences that we must pay, our relationship with Christ allows us to be free from the final consequence of our sin.
Paul writes in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes you. Now, maybe you have done pretty well, maybe you have gone a whole hour, day, or even a week with out sinning but there has been a time in your life where this verse was written just for you. That ALL word is the one that gets you. You have sinned and in keeping with the law of sowing and reaping if you have sowed sin Paul says you will reap destruction.
But thankfully God doesn’t just leave us there. There is freedom for His children; Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our freedom from consequences is the freedom from the final consequence of eternal death. While we will have to experience consequences of our sin here in this life, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can have freedom from the final consequence of sin. Jesus offers us a new life, free from sin’s slavery.
One of the things I miss about living back east, is the white water. Every summer we would head to east Tennessee and raft down the Ocoee. If you have ever been white water rafting you learn pretty quickly who is really in control. While you might be in the raft, paddle in hand, and foot wedged in place it’s the rapids that are in control. You may be able to kind of direct your decent down river a bit, but at best you are at the rivers mercy.
It’s the same way with sin. When we sow sin we become a slave to sin. In reality we are at the mercy of where our master takes us. Now if we paddle real hard we may be able to direct our decent a little bit, but as long as sin is in control no matter how hard we try, sin and evil plunges us straight ahead into the abyss of ruin and destruction.
When we change our allegiance and become a child of God we experience a different type of master. We find a Savior who has broken the power of sin and takes us from sin’s control. While we are serving Christ, we find true freedom for the first time. Jesus sets us free from the downward spiral and offers us eternal life.
Finally, we are Free to be free
This should probably go without saying, but the fact is that too many of us are living like we are still under bondage. The idea of freedom is one that brings peace, and joy, and happiness. Now does that describe a majority of the Christians you know? I know a lot of joyful children of God, and unfortunately I know a lot of bitter brothers and sour sisters as well.
Real freedom is found in careful obedience to God’s word. Psalm 119:45 says “I will lead a full and happy life, because I’ve tried to obey your rules.” Being submissive might not sound like freedom, but that’s because we do not understand that real freedom comes from submission to the authority of God.
When we submit to God we are set free from a host of different slaveries. This world cannot even come close to offering you the inner peace associated with obedience to the Word. We are free from the destructive things that threaten to enslave us.
Go back to the beginning. Adam and Eve had all their needs provided for. In the garden God gave them an important purpose, to fill the earth and rule over all of creation, and they also had one rule. Now the rule was designed to protect them. They could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.
Basically, God had given them everything they needed to live a peaceful and joyful life. They had a purpose, they had an uninterrupted fellowship with God. They had everything they needed to live the life that we all long for.
So what happened? Since they were free thinkers they shook off the bonds of the Word and chose to be free. And what they got was a life of pain, shame, and loss. The earth was cursed and we are still facing the consequences of their sins. They threw away what we all long for because they didn’t realize what they had.
This morning if you are a child of God then you were set free. Free from the pain and shame that comes from chasing after the things of this world. But I would guess that not all of us feel free today. Some us have have no joy because we have sold our freedom and become slaves to sins like: lust, bitterness, gossip, substance abuse, lying, greed, or judging.
Whatever sin is keeping you in bondage or taken your freedom from you. Now it’s time that you experience the gift that Christ has to offer. This morning take heed to what Paul says in Galatians 5:1 “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.”
Questions to Consider
According to Galatians 3:27, how does one receive freedom in Christ?
How is a life of sin like a life of slavery?
What are some of the things that Satan will do to keep your focus off Jesus once you yield all control to Him? Have you ever experienced this?
Read 2 Corinthians 3: 17-18. What does it mean "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom?"
What is the problem with not taking full advantage of our freedom? (Galatians 5:1-6)
What is the problem with taking our freedom too far? (Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16)
According to 1 John 2:1-2, what is one of the great blessings of freedom in Christ?
According to 1 John 1:7, what is another great blessing of freedom in Christ?