Happy Fourth of July weekend! It’s a weekend in which people all over America celebrate Freedom.
Did you? Did you grab a sparkler and spell out the letters ‘F-R-E-E-D-O-M’ in cursive?
Did you throw a bunch of poppers on the ground and yell “freedom”?
Did you launch a bottle rocket and sing?
Everyone celebrates freedom on Fourth of July weekend. Yet throughout most of the year we complain about not being free.
What does freedom entail? What does freedom really mean? Are you really free?
Today we’re going to look at what freedom means to our culture and what it means to God.
I. The Source of Real Freedom
Ever visited ffrg.org? That’s the official website for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It is a website that heralds “free thought” and “free thinkers.” Sounds nice right?
Under the “About FFRF” tab on the website they tell you more about what they mean by free thinking: “The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion...”
In other words – if you want to be really free, you need to be free from religion.
It’s interesting though. Take a look at the first statement again. “…the most moral and social progress has been brought about by persons free from religion.” Isn’t the statement highly subjective – as in – it’s their opinion?
Isn’t it their opinion who the most influential people were in a movement?
Isn’t it their opinion how ‘free of a thinker’ and uninfluenced by religion a certain thinker was?
Isn’t it their opinion what moral and social progress is in the first place?
If all of these opinions must fit within the realm of the “free thinkers” established code of what established free thinking, then what about the thoughts that are free from free thinking?
I wonder what would happen if I sent them an email. “Dear Free thinkers, I have a free thought. It was developed apart from your website. I freely think that there is a God. It’s a freeing thought. Could you please add me into your Foundation? Thanks!”
Hmmm…I’m guessing there’s a reason that all of the people who are members of the organization are declared Atheists.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has become slaves to its own thoughts.
Jesus speaks differently. He says, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” This is such an interesting statement especially if you combine it with something Jesus will say in just a few chapters of John. “I am the Truth.”
Meld those thoughts together for a minute. Understand what’s going on. The Truth sets free. Jesus is the Truth, therefore Jesus sets free. “Then you will know the truth, me, Jesus, and the truth, I, your Lord, will set you free.”
Our world claims true freedom comes apart from all religion –including Jesus. Jesus says true freedom comes from Himself.
Who do you believe?
Let’s make it objective. Let’s objectively look at which one is understand freedom better.
Jesus was not bound by the laws of physics – he walked on water.
I Google searched it. There aren’t any atheists been able to that recently.
Jesus was not bound by the laws of medicine – he healed people of incurable diseases simply by touching them.
You can check scholarly journals. There aren’t any records of doctors able to work outside the realm of medicine.
Jesus was not bound by the laws of the universe – he stopped storms with a wave of his hand.
Scientists can’t even predict them correctly, let alone stop them. They are bound by their inability to control the weather.
Jesus was not bound by death – he died and came back to life!
If you go to the Free Thinker website, you’ll see that many "free thinkers” were unable to free themselves from death. In fact, they’ll freely admit that they aren’t expecting to escape it!
Objectively speaking – Jesus lived in real freedom. He’s the only one who lives in real freedom. So only he can bring real freedom!
II. Freedom from What?
The Pharisees didn’t. When the Pharisees heard Jesus’ claim that true freedom came from him, they immediately started to rebuke him. “We are Abraham’s descendant and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
They didn’t see any chains around their ankles. They weren’t wearing computer chips to let their masters know where they were. They weren’t even slaves to the cruel Egyptians like their forefathers had been at the time of Moses. They didn’t see themselves as slaves. They didn’t see any reason for them to need freedom.
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Think of what Jesus is saying:
If you are a sinner, you are enslaved by sin. Whether you believe sin exists or not, you are a slave to sin. Whether you are religious or not, you are a slave to sin. Whether you are a ‘free thinker’ or not, you are still a slave to sin.
If you were in prison, a good old fashioned, locked down, no TV, behind bars, sleep on a cold metal bed prison, it may seem “freeing” to think that you aren’t in prison. It might seem freeing to imagine yourself only a beautiful Pacific island. It might seem freeing to imagine that you can do whatever you want whenever you want.
But it will only seem freeing. You’ll still be in prison.
If we are honest, being a slave to sin is awful. Have you ever felt it?
I slept with that guy again and I feel so ashamed. I don’t want to do it again, but I feel like the only thing that will make me forget the shame will be to be with him again!
I have a terrible headache. I’ve caused all kinds of friction in my family. I cussed out my wife. I’m dealing with all kinds of guilt. I’d stop doing it, except that’s all there is to cure me of this guilt.
I just got done losing my temper. I don’t like that. I won’t do it again. I hurt people. Except – what’s that? Someone is coming to confront me? I won’t stand for that. I must lose my temper again!
I’m a very proud person. I hear you saying that in order to be saved I have to admit that I’m a sinner, just like anyone else. See I would do it, except the thing is, my pride won't let me do it – literally! It doesn’t want to be destroyed and has too much of a grip on me. My pride rules my life.
I’m trapped in despair. I feel terrible. I feel not good. I can’t get out of this feeling. I hear God coming for me, but I can’t see where He is.
Brothers and sisters, if you are slave to sin – it’s easy to feel like things are out of control and there’s nothing you can do. No matter which sin it is that enslaves you – hear the Good News of Freedom from Jesus himself, “If the Son, if I, set you free, you will be free indeed.”
This makes so much sense. This is like someone from the free world – a jailer – someone with freedom – coming down to your prison cell with a key to unlock the door. Who are you gonna believe knows the way to freedom? The guy who came from freedom? Or the curmudgeonly old prisoner in the back who long ago gave up on freedom being a true thing?
Jesus is free.. Follow him to freedom!
He gives us freedom from sin in three awesome ways:
Free from Sin’s Guilt. Jesus freely came to this earth as no slave of sin. He never let sin take a hold of him either. Not till the cross. And then, it wasn’t his sin. It was yours. It didn’t have a hold of him, he had a hold of it.
Jesus took your sinful slave drivers – addition, sexual immorality, pride, despair, lust, greed, and whatever else might have hold of you – Jesus took those sins captive and he took them to the cross. He forced them to die with him – never to return to God’s sight.
This means you are forgiven. Be free from your guilt. Hear that again. You. Are. Forgiven.
Free from Sin’s Punishment. God punishes only sin and those enslaved to it. You aren’t enslaved anymore. You’ve been set free from sin. You will not be punished by God’s Almighty wrath!
If you were on death row and new evidence came to light exonerating you from all crime, you’d be release. You wouldn’t be punished.
New evidence came to our eternal Father. It’s the perfect life of Jesus. It means you will be set free from punishment in hell. Rather, you will spend eternity in the freedom of God’s peace.
Free from Sin’s Power. This is the part that really affects your day to day living. Before Jesus, sin is your master. It controls you. It tells you what to do.
But after Jesus, it can’t do that anymore. You aren’t a slave. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are a child of God who lives and breathes to serve his father.
Galatians 5:1 empowers us to do just that, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Let us stand firm then and not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I mentioned in the children’s lesson how much my dog loves getting off of his leash. He runs around with his tail wagging and the dumbest dog smile on his face.
That’s what happens – usually.
Every once in awhile I let him off his leash and he lazily lays down by my feet. It’s like he’s still chained up. He won’t move.
Same thing with his kennel. Sometimes he just sits inside. I open the door and he doesn’t move.
“Come on! You’re free!”
That’s what God is frantically urging you this morning. “You’re free! Get out of your sin. Stop your addiction. Turn to me for forgiveness and live apart from that sinful relationship.”
Brothers and sisters, won’t you listen to his beckoning call? Won’t you follow the one who set you free?