3F: Freedom

This morning, we’re finishing up our message series, “3F”; faith, family, and freedom.

We just celebrated Independence Day remembering the birth of our nation as our founding fathers declared independence from the tyranny of Great Britain.  From the founding of our nation, liberty for its citizens was a great concern.  They felt that the role of government was to be by consent of those being governed and their responsibility was to ensure the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom, or liberty, is also the heart of God for mankind.

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.

Freedom is the ability to act, speak, and think as one desires to.  It is the absence of restraint or coercion from another.  It is the right and ability to do whatever one wants to do.

Freedom is NOT ever, in any way, the ability to act, speak, and think without consequence.  We may have freedom to choose, but we are never exempt from the consequences of those choices.  This is the very nature of God’s creation; action and reaction; cause and effect.

You may have heard of karma which comes from Hinduism and Buddhism regarding people’s actions.  The only reason that this occurs is because God created everything with this principle in motion; you reap what you sow.

Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

When you plant corn, corn grows, and corn can be harvested.  One does not plant a corn seed and then have no idea whether watermelon or tomatoes or pumpkins might grow.  You reap what you sow in the natural world as well as within our lives as well as within the spiritual world.  

Actions result in consequences always.  Some lead to blessing and peace and some lead to destruction and chaos.  By God’s own design, we get to choose!  God created us with absolute freedom.  I cannot continue to cut myself and curse God for not healing me.  I cannot mistreat everyone around me and expect them to be pleasant and generous to me in return.

I can’t choose not to show up for work or to work half-heartedly and expect my employer to prosper nor to promote me.  I can’t choose to spend more money than I make foolishly and expect my needs to be met.  I can’t drive my car without ever changing the oil or tires and expect it to be reliable for me. 

I can’t drive past that local store without ever shopping there and expect it to just be there when I need it.  I can’t show up half of the time, give sparingly, and serve on occasion and expect my local church to survive.

My freedom to make choices still come with consequences.  Using my freedom to sow generously into my marriage, my children, my employer, my community, my church, whatever the case may be is an act done in faith showing our trust in God.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Freedom is a gift of God that enables Him to richly bless us.  Without choice, there can be no reward!  Without choice, there can be no love!

From the very beginning, Adam and Eve gave up their freedom and chose to be slaves to their own sinful desires wondering if perhaps God was withholding something good and desirable from them.  Of course, they quickly learned that God was withholding no good thing and their choices came with consequences that were far from desirable.

Jesus paid a high price, giving up everything; even His own life to purchase our freedom from that sin once again.  It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  Beyond purchasing our freedom, He ensured it and sealed it in our lives by pouring out the Holy Spirit into our lives.

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The Holy Spirit filling our lives grants us freedom!  As we read last week,

John 8:34-36

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

FREEDOM!!!!  We have indeed been set free from sin once and for all.  The Vine’s expository dictionary of New Testament words defines the freedom written about in Galatians 5 that it is for freedom that Christ set us free in this way:  The combination of the noun with the verb stresses the completeness of the act, the point tense indicates both its momentary and comprehensive character; it was done once for all.

The freedom that Jesus gives us is not just freedom from sin the moment we are saved, it enables us to overcome it and remain free from it from that moment forward.  Our freedom was purchased once and for all.  As Jesus said on the cross, it is finished!

Twice, Paul described that we have the right and the freedom to do anything, but not everything is beneficial for us.

We have the right and freedom to run across a field covered in landmines, pits, traps, barbed wire, with people shooting at you.  If you had to do such a thing and were given a map showing you exactly where every one of those things were along with a clear path to safety, how much would you value that map?  Would you review it carefully, memorize it, and even scout out the land to clearly note that path of safety?

God has given us such a map; His word.  God’s word, His principles, His standards are that clear path of safety through this life filled with landmines, pits, traps, barbed wire, and all sorts of attacks of our enemy.  Sure, we’re free and have the right to just run through this life however we see fit.  However, it’s not beneficial.

Jesus will forgive us and set us free when we get hurt or ensnared by our enemy, but why wouldn’t we want to just avoid his schemes altogether?  Life is not about religiously following a code of conduct to earn God’s approval and looking down on all those who refuse to act, talk, and think like them.  Life is about freedom for you to be you; the unique individual that God created you to be.

Following God’s word and the leading of the Holy Spirit is simply about trusting Him and mutually loving one another believing His path to be the best choice to an abundantly full and blessed life.  There is freedom in the word of God.  There is blessing in choosing to obey Him.  There is life in the leading of the Holy Spirit.  It is not slavery, it is freedom!

There is freedom available to you and I today like no other freedom that can be granted by anyone or anything and even greater than any other nation can offer.  It is a freedom that no other can ever steal away.  It is a freedom that can exist even in the most extreme conditions of persecution when people rise up and give it there everything to snuff it out.

It is a freedom that no one can deny.  It is a freedom that can cry out in peace and gratitude even while in chains or behind bars or, as in this case, from within a metal shipping container.

* Helen Berhane testimony video *

How do you and I use our freedom?  Do we live life to it’s full and thank God for it every day or do we often take it for granted?

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.

When we run to Jesus and allow Him to set us free, we are only ever slaves to anything or anyone again by our own choice.  It may seem foolish to ever choose to do that, but once you taste and see the freedom of Jesus, something changes in your life.  All of the sudden, you have a burning desire to set all of the other captives free, too.

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

I’m a firm believer that this prophecy of Isaiah wasn’t just for Jesus.  I believe that after Jesus rose again defeating sin AND death, that the infilling of the Holy Spirit came with this same anointing and calling for you and I as well.  You can read that same prophetic word and declare it about yourself.  Set those captives free, tell those around you some good news, throw off oppression from others and let people know that TODAY is the day of salvation and NOW is the time of God’s favor!

This is why after being set free, those in the early church wrote things like this about their newly found freedom:

1 Peter 2:16

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

1 Corinthians 9:19

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Let the freedom of God flow through your life.  You are free indeed!  Don’t allow anything or anyone to steal your freedom.  Live life to its full; allow it to be filled with the Holy Spirit and with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control that nothing can stop!

Read, study, and memorize God’s word; it is your path to remaining free and away from the pain and setbacks of sin.

While you are on your life journey, use your freedom to set other’s free as well.  Share with them the good news about the salvation you’ve experienced and Invite them to join you on your life journey.

Those whom the Son sets free are free indeed!