Give Me Freedom

Romans 6:16-18

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Show me a person who is not a slave!!!!

“One is enslaved to passions, a second to profit, a third to status and everyone to fear.”  Seneca, first century Roman philosopher.

What are you a slave to?

Romans 6:16-18 – All of us were ( “were”) slaves to sin for Christ saved us by the shedding of His blood on the cross when we finally got around to recognizing that we had been a slave to sin.  We came as sinners to the foot of the cross and acknowledged our need of a Savior.  He forgave us.  Yea!  Hallelujah!

There is no moral authority today – if it feels good, do it!

Proverbs 30:12 – There is a class of people who are pure in their own eyes, and yet not washed from their own filth.”

Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.

Romans 12:1-2 – I urge you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Some of us, still knowing we were forgiven, remained in slavery, bound to some of our sin or at least some of the beggarly elements of servitude.  What should have been a radical transformation and total about-face seemed partial or non-existent.

Oh yes, we were saved but we certainly had not been really transformed in the way we thought, talked and behaved and continued to live our life.

Story is told of a young man who had an addiction to donuts, eating six or seven at a time.  He was very overweight.  He worked on it and lost a lot of weight.  He woke up one morning craving a donut.  When he arrived at work with a donut, his coworker questioned him, saying “I thought you had given up donuts.” 

His response:  “I prayed and told God if there was an open parking spot right in front of the donut shop when I went by, I would know it was okay for me to stop and get a donut”  What he did not tell his coworker was that there was an open parking spot on his eleventh time around the block.  That’s about the way we treat temptation.

We read our Bible when we thought about it and did not have anything else to do like a favorite TV program, shopping, watching a football game, watching “As the Stomach Turns”,  going to Olive Garden or McDonalds or whatever else was transient gratification.  (That’s a big word for “current need for self-satisfaction.”)  We prayed, especially when we got into trouble.

A Christian is someone who changed – transformed – made new in His image – set free from slavery.  That’s really the crux of this whole thing.  We had gone through the motions of being set free, but we were still in fact enslaved.  Christ had forgiven us up to that point (repeat) of our asking for forgiveness.    

The Bible say “For He (Christ) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  We had, so to speak, by asking forgiveness, emptied the backpack of sins on our back.  Sins we had carried around, or was it a duffle bag full, or maybe it was two duffle bags full or maybe it was a wheelbarrow and a duffle bag.  For me it was a dumpster – not the kind sitting out back, but the kind they drop off at a house getting a demo job. (sins)

Actually we were still enslaved, though forgiven.

Don’t misunderstand me – Christ did forgive us when we asked Him to – no more guilt from all the baggage of sin.  No real change, however, we just started stacking up the whole rotten, stinking load again.  We were still enslaved – saved from our sin of the past but now we are like a totally irresponsible person and our enslavement begins all over again in a life of guilt and shame.

We had prayed – maybe we shed a few crocodile tears, maybe some minor course correction but really still enslaved.  If we are to be Christ-like there should be some change in our life.

The book of Jeremiah is a book of doom in so many ways; a tale of God’s wrath and judgment for man’s failure to follow Him.  But hope is intermingled there.  Jeremiah 29:11 says  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 That scripture is the promise of hope that even in our sin, our turning away, our rejection of Him who loves us, even in the midst of His judgment He offers hope.  He offers us the best that we could ever hope to have.

That’s what Jeremiah is about….that sums it up.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it is wrong.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it means a turning back to God.  God wants these things, but He wants them because, like any good father or husband, he does not want us suffering the consequences of sin.  You may be forgiven from your sin but that sin put a scar on your memory that you may never forget and Satan will taunt you over it even though you are now a follower of Jesus.  Believe me, I know from a personal standpoint and I’m old.  He wants to provide something far more wonderful than our dreams and hopes could imagine.  He wants His people to be in good marriages (remember – we are the Bride of Christ) not just because it is right, but because it is through marriage, through our relationship with Him that He can shower upon us love, security, purpose, hope.  It is where He can demonstrate what the union between god and man is meant to be.  Paul used marriage as a way to explain the church’s relationship with God.  God wants us to avoid sin and turn to Him, because he has been planning since the foundation of the earth to give us good things. 

We turn away from God’s commands out of fear, anger, rebellion, stupidity  and we miss not simply heaven, but in the here and now we miss an abundant life.  There is hope amidst the judgment, joy among the bitterness, grace amidst the sin.  God promises in Jeremiah that “when we get serious about searching for Him and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you are not disappointed.”  God is not a lover that disappoints; He is not a shady salesman or politician.

This passage of hope in Jeremiah comes after he says in the preceding verse that “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years of captivity are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.”  This promise does not negate His judgment of the consequences of sin, but God, knowing the rejection of Israel (and of us) having dealt the punishment we deserve, He gives His people a second chance.  He says He has plans for them, to take care of them, to not abandon them, to give them a future, a hope.  The people who so poorly treated Him are offered the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.  It is proof that God’s wrath and judgment are not enough to extinguish His love or His belief in His people.

Jeremiah is a book of judgment laced with hope.

There is a consequence for sin but we have hope. 

We simply were not free.  We were still enslaved.  We had experienced

Christ’s free gift of grace, but it was like we were – in spite of His grace – bad, bad, bad.

Romans 6:1-4 says “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may more abound.   The answer – No – No – No

Romans 6:3-6 – Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Galatians 5:24 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

We have been set free.  Let us walk in that freedom in obedience to God.

I’m free!

Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

Christ Has Set Us Free

Colossians 2:13-15

And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. Amplified Bible

THE CONDITION OF MAN – SIN AND DEATH

  • Man’s concept of sin is different than God’s as stated in the Bible.  Man does not see sin as a violation of God’s will.  This simply shows how weak man and his ideas and thinking are in comparison to God.  Man looks at sin and calls it
  • Human error
  • Personal slip
  • Moral flaw
  • Physical failure
  • Character defect
  • Shortcoming
  • Immaturity
  • Unpreventable
  • Misunderstanding
  • Mistake
  • Irresponsibility
  • Semantics
  • Labeling sin something other than it is – sin – does not change it in God’s eyes, nor does it change the penalty for sin.  We may blame sin or whatever we choose to call it – the result of our environment, training, heritage, and/or belief or a combination of these.  Whatever we call sin or what ever we blame it on does not really matter.  In God’s eyes sin is sin.  Sin is a violation of God’s law or will.  Sin is also rebellion and insurrection against Him and the way He has told mankind to live. 

SAY NO TO SIN AND YES TO GOD!!

  • Man’s view of death, the penalty for sin, also varies according to a person’s background and beliefs.  Some of the views of death that man has come up with are
  • Ceasing to exist
  • Passing into oblivion
  • A semi-conscious state
  • A deep sleep
  • Reincarnation into another form of life
  • Moving into another dimension
  • Most of men’s ideas about death involve either denial of a life hereafter or else another chance to work oneself into the favor of God.  All of man’s ideas and concepts of sin and death are based on man’s knowledge, man’s ability, man’s energy, and man’s power to somehow make himself acceptable to God.  If mankind could make himself acceptable to God, then Christ died in vain.  But He did die and we cannot make ourselves acceptable.
  • If there was something I could do on my own, there was no reason for Christ to go to the cross.  But He did go to the cross and we cannot atone for our sins.
  • There would have been no need for the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ to give of Himself on the cross for our sins.  But He did!
  • There would have been no need for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to give of His blood for the redemption of fallen man.  But He did!
  • There would have been no need for our precious Lord, our Healer to take upon Himself stripes on His back for our healing.  But He did!
  • There would have been no need for our provider, Jesus Christ the Righteous, to cry out to the Father in heaven asking pardon for you and I.  But He did!
  • There would have been no need for our Savior, Jesus Christ, to suffer pain and torment at the hands of wicked men so that we might have everlasting freedom.  But He did!
  • We cannot help ourselves so Christ gave Himself on the cross.

THE CONDITION OF MAN BECAUSE OF THE SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS

  • Man has a chance for new life because of the cross.
  • Man has a chance for new life because of Christ’s sacrifice.
  • Man has a chance if he will repent of his sins and change his way of living.
  • Man has a chance if he will surrender to God.
  • Man has a chance if he will throw himself on the mercy of God.
  • Man has a chance if he will submit to God.
  • Because of the cross I
  • Have new life
  • Hope eternal
  • Forgiveness
  • I am free

John 5:24 – Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 

Ephesians 2:1-8 – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once con-ducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.

Romans 8:6 – To be carnally (fleshly) (worldly) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

CHRIST IS OUR HOPE

  • All requirements of the Law were fulfilled in Jesus Christ
  • 613 laws of Moses
  • 248 prohibitions – “Thou shall not”
  • 365 affirmations – “Thou shall”
  • There is no need for us to go back to the Law of Moses and try to follow all those requirements, holidays, holy days, dietary laws, purification laws, sacrificing laws.  The Pharisees tried to keep the Law.  They could not!  The Law pointed toward Jesus Christ and since He has appeared these laws are no longer needed.  It is just like you receive a gift at Christmas or a birthday or for some other day or occasion.   After the gift is opened and you have taken it for yourself and begin to enjoy it, you no longer keep the package or the wrapping paper that it came in.  That is not the important part of the gift.  The gift came in the package.  The gift was not the package.  Christ is now here.  He was and is God’s gift to fallen man.  He is our Hope; our only Hope. 
  • All the guilt charges, all the condemnation, all the crimes heaped against you and I, and all mankind from the beginning of creation were nailed to the cross.  He was saying my blood is enough to do away with them all.  The sacrificial lambs all pointed toward this day but they could only cover the sin.  I’m cleansing it; I’m washing it away for all time.  Just receive it.  It is finished.  He conquered it all…He made a public display of the fact that your sins and mine were nailed to the cross, triumphing over all principalities, powers, evil forces, demonic foes that might come against you.  Christ conquered all that.  So why do we feel defeated?   There is no need.  You are set free in Jesus Christ.  Just receive it.  Just believe it. 

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:37 – I am more than a conqueror through Him (Christ Jesus) who loved us (me). 

John 12:31-32 – Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

Hebrews 3:14-15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 

1 John 3:8b – For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world (me, you, all mankind), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (me, you, all mankind that will receive) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.