TRUE FREEDOM 11-12-17

TRUE FREEDOM

November 12th, 2017

 

                 “Home of the free because of the brave”.  That quote, a revised version of the line in the Star-Spangled Banner “Land of the free and home of the brave”, has been repeated by many people, including President Trump.  And it speaks a profound truth.  As Americans, we enjoy freedoms that many other countries deny their citizens.  And our American soldiers not only defend these freedoms in our country, we have promised to defend them in over 50 other countries as well.  Our national ethos upholds the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

          But true life, liberty, and happiness is not found in a physical country.  It is only found in the Kingdom of God, the kingdom that our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, the kingdom that one only becomes a citizen of through faith in the cleansing power of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead.  But first we must realize that we are indeed slaves to sin until Jesus frees us, and that the sin that holds our spirits prisoner will ultimately bring nothing but misery and death, and then truly desire to be set from that sin, before we can turn to God in faith and ask Him to free us from it. 

          Too many people are being misled today to think that the freedom Christ offers when He said “if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” is only freedom from going to hell when you die.  They forget the part of the verse before that where He said “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” They think that muttering “Jesus please save me” is a one way ticket to heaven, and they can just live the rest of their life completely unchanged, feeling no remorse for sin; and thinking they got a great deal, the best of both worlds – live like the devil now, and then go to heaven! But if you feel no remorse for sin and no desire to be set free from it, not just the eternal consequences of it, you have been deceived.  The truth hasn’t set you free.  The apostle John was very clear about this when he wrote in 1 John 3, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. “

          It is true that we as Christians are free from the obligations set forth in the Old Testament law.  Free from having to shed the blood of animals to temporarily cover our sins.  Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and faith in that sacrifice pays for our sins once and for all.  But you are making a mockery of that supreme sacrifice, made by the Son of God, if you willingly keep on sinning after you turn to Him for salvation.  If sin was no big deal, why would Jesus have had to leave His home in heaven, come to earth to be born in a human body, shed His blood on the cross, and die an agonizingly painful death, be buried for three days, and then resurrected just to pay for those sins?

          There are even so-called Christians today that are preaching that everyone will go to heaven, no matter what they do or what they believe.  If everyone goes to heaven when they die, why would so many Christians over the centuries bravely suffer persecutions, torture, and even execution for proclaiming the Gospel?  Why would we need to print Bibles, have churches, and send out missionaries?  Why would I even be standing here preaching a sermon?  We could all be out at the local bar instead. 

          But Jesus called us to be soldiers of the cross.  We are called to defend the truth.  Not a half-truth, not a lie, but the truth as it is in the Bible.  Not a so-called truth that makes us feel good for a moment, but is like taking a drug or a drink that only ends up making us sink deeper in despair.  The truth sets people free.  And that truth is that sin leads to death, but Christ brings life.  Not just eternal life, but a life here that is filled with real joy, not just temporary pleasure.  Joy even during the worst trials we might have to endure.  Joy that the devil can never take from us.  Joy in knowing that we are loved by God, and that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit we can love others in the same way. True life, true liberty, true happiness. 

          As Americans we defend peoples’ inalienable physical right to these three.  As Christians we are called to defend peoples’ spiritual rights to them as well.  Not only to defend them, but to give everyone opportunity to know that they are available to them.  We are called to share the Gospel with those who are still in bondage.   Those bound by the chains of sin, death, and the devil cannot free themselves.  And we, the true believers, whom Christ has already freed, have the key to release those still imprisoned.  Some day it might become illegal to share the Gospel here.  There are countries today where it already is, where you could be put in prison for telling someone about Jesus and sharing God’s Word with them.  You could even be put to death.  But it is far better to be imprisoned or put to death physically, than to be imprisoned spiritually and suffer eternal death.  So share the good news of Jesus with someone who needs to hear it today, and pray God opens their hearts and mind so that they, too, may be truly set free!  Amen.

 

   CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

    Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine -

   The bravest men the world has seen.

   They fight to keep our country free,

   And safe from every enemy.

   Thank the Lord for them today,

   And remember them when you pray.