Every July fourth our nation celebrates its birthday. Only July 4th 1776, 56 men signed the document known as the Declaration of Independence, declaring freedom from a tyrannical government in England. It read in part: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We, therefore, the Representative of the United States of America ... solemnly publish and declare, That these United colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and independent states ... And for the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives our fortunes and our Sacred Honor."
Many of the 56 did not survive the fight for freedom. Five were captured by the British and died in captivity. Twelve had their homes ransacked, burned, and destroyed. Two lost sons in the army, and 9 of the 56 were killed during the war. They gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor because they knew that it was the price of freedom.
The Bible also talks a lot about freedom: It talks about the freedom we think we have verses the freedom we really have in Christ.
I. STRIVING TO BECOME FREE, MEN BECOME SLAVES
- freedom is a valued commodity
- Thomas Jefferson said, "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."
- our founding fathers saw liberty as a natural right
- natural rights are not rights granted by one group of men to another, but rights granted to all men by nature’s God
- they believed they had the inalienable right to live as free men in a free society
- to that end they declared independence of the colonies from the mother country
- it was something that had never been done before in the history of the world
A. AMERICANS LOVE FREEDOM
- I suppose that more than any country on earth, America value freedom above all else
- our founding fathers believed that quality of life is more than simply having something to eat and a place to call home
- in many place of the world, citizens settle for those things and care about little else
- but we believe that a full life requires more than just the physical things we need to survive
- Americans have recognized that we must have freedom: Freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness
- Americans believe that if you have some “tyrant'' trying to run your life, or some government agency peering over your shoulder all the time, that our freedom and the pursuit of happiness is threatened
- like our fore-fathers we demand freedom
- ILLUS. Patrick Henry really did say, "Give me liberty or give me death!" And millions of American men and women have gone to battle for the precious cause of liberty. And not just our own, but the for the freedom of other nations and other peoples.
- their sacrifices have guaranteed our liberty
- many Americans have confused liberty with licence
- self-sacrifice was the attribute that made our country great
- self-indulgence is the attribute that will probably be our downfall
B. FREEDOM DOES NOT MEAN LICENCE
- ILLUS. Charles Kingsley, the one-time personal chaplain to Queen Victoria, once wrote: "There are two freedoms: the false, where man is free to do what he likes; and the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.”
- too many Americans—including too many believers—have confused these two freedoms
- they think freedom is doing what you want, when you want, how you want, to whom you want with absolutely no interference
- but Kingsley is right—real freedom is found in doing what you ought
- ILLUS. 1 - Recently a scuffle took place in the stands during a match of the U.S. Tennis Open. Joseph Pedevill, a belligerent, foul-mouthed 27-year-old jerk, kept shouting the F-word and other obscenities during the tennis match, offending many of the people around him. When a 75-year-old man, and his daughter confronted him about his language, Pedevill escalated the situation by hurling antagonizing language toward the father and daughter who then assaulted him. During the confrontation— caught on video tape and put on Youtube for all the world to see—Pedevill insisted that he had the absolute right to use whatever language he wanted. Pedevill confused freedom and licence.
- ILLUS. 2 - The purveyors of pornography think freedom gives them the right to distribute their sordid material to anyone they please, whenever they please, wherever they please regardless of how many lives are destroyed in the process. They have confused freedom and licence.
ILLUS. 3 - For many activist homosexuals, freedom means the right to engage in “Gay Rights Parades” where decadent behavior without restraint is publically flaunted. They have confused freedom and licence.
- the moment anyone opposes the moral decadence which permeates our society, they're called bigoted, or homophobic, or fundamentalist, or a censorists, or intolerant
- freedom does not mean I can do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it, however I want to do it
- that's actually the worst kind of bondage there is
- liberty means I have been set free in Christ to become all that God wants me to be, to achieve all that God wants me to achieve, to enjoy all that God wants me to enjoy
- there are many in our culture today who—believing they are free to do whatever they desire—have in reality become slaves to sin
- the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome that without Christ in one's life the lost man becomes a slave to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness
- sadly, the word freedom in our culture today, has become a synonym for self-indulgence where "anything goes" and usually does
- what's the answer?
II. STRIVING TO BECOME SLAVES, MEN BECOME FREE
- in Jesus Christ there is absolute freedom and liberty
- “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.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
- now some of you are going to say, "Walt a minute pastor. How can we become free and know true liberty if we commit ourselves to be 'slaves of Christ?'"
- a paradox is a statement composed of two parts where one part seems to contradict the other, but when put together they are true nevertheless
- “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:20–22, NIV)
- God is looking for a people who serve Him freely; who worship Him voluntarily; who and love Him as a reflex of the heart
- not because we cannot choose anything else but because He has chosen us and our desire is to glorify Him through holiness of life
- only believers have the ability to live righteously
- everything the unbeliever does only leads to death—physical death and spiritual death
- it is a word that illustrates our deliverance from the enslavement of sin, our captivity to the Law and our bondage to the fear of death
- this liberty comes at a high price
- our freedom from these things was purchased at the expense of another
- His name is Jesus Christ and He died on a cross
- long before it had a religious meaning the word 'redemption' had a definite secular reference
- it was the word used to describe the purchase of a captive from the slave-market with the express purpose of setting that individual free
- ILLUS. In the ancient world slavery was commonplace. A person could become a slave in several ways. You could be born a slave. You could be made a slave if your army was defeated and you became a prisoner of war. Or you might be kidnaped by slave traders. Once you were a slave, your children would also be slaves. Your only hope for true freedom was if a person or a group paid a ransom and redeemed you.
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NIV)
A. WHO'S BOND-SERVANT DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE?
- you have the choice this morning as to who you want your master to be
- if you choose the self-indulgent licence that passes for liberty in today's culture, you are choosing a master that leads to death and hell
- like the Prodigal Son don't be surprised when you lose your freedom and find yourself enslaved by your passions
- if you choose to willingly become a bond-servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ you will know true freedom
- ILLUS. Fifty-six men pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor because they knew that it was the price of freedom. Fourteen of those men actually gave their lives so that they might win their liberty.
- to have true freedom in Christ, you too must give up your right to your own life.
- He is the one who has paid the price to ransom you out of the slave market of sin and grants redemption
- he offers you freedom from the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and the penalty of death
- it's a gift that comes without strings attached
- ILLUS. Robert E. Lee is perhaps best known as the daring commander of the Army of Northern Virginia during our American Civil War. What most do not know is that he was a Christian gentleman who despised slavery. During a visit to New Orleans shortly before the war, Lee happened to pass a slave market. On the block was a young man, naked and fearful. Lee's heart went out to the him. He entered the bidding and bought him. To the young black man's astonishment, Lee then set him free. As Lee went out to stride his horse he noticed that the young man to whom he had just granted freedom was following him. Lee began riding down the street, still the former slave followed. Finally, Lee stopped, turned to the man and said, "Don't you understand, I bought you to give you your freedom." "I understand." replied the man. "Then why do you keep following me as if I were your owner?" Lee asked. The man replied, "When you set me free, was when I became your servant."
- only the most callous, unappreciative, and back-slidden of believers would not willing become a bond-servant to the one who has bought you and set you free
- LLUS. Considering that the Hebrews spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt, it’s hard for us to comprehend, that they Jews allowed for slavery within their culture. But under Jewish law, it was very different. There was written into Jewish legal code the opportunity for freedom. Suppose you’re a Jewish business owner, and your business for some reason fails. You’ve got debts to pay, and groceries to buy, but you’ve got no money. Worse still, there is no social safety net for such instances. There’s a very real possibility that your family could starve. But Jewish law allowed for you to sell yourself into slavery in order to pay off your debts and have a new start. However, once you’ve labored for six years you have to be set free at the beginning of your 7th year of servitude. Unless, that is, your choose to become a bondslave. Exodus 21:5 reads, "But if the servant declares, 'I love my master... and do not want to go free, 'then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life." Those whose ears were pierced become known as "bond-servants" because they had "bonded" themselves to their master. This ear piercing was not the kind you get at the mall so that you can put a small earring in your ears. It was a type of spike that left a gaping hole, easily seen. They were earmarked for life as a slave.
- the answer is found in verse 5, "If the servant plainly says, 'I love my master..."
- a person volunteers for slavery because of love
- I have made my choice ...
- I have declared my love ...
- I have acknowledged my debt ...
- I have announced my commitment ...
- I have yielded my obedience ...
- I am a bondslave of Jesus Christ
- are you?
The spiritual application for Christians here this morning is this-Jesus does not coerce even His followers to obey him or measure up to some religious code of conduct. He gives you the choice of whether you will be born again and live for self or whether you will be born again and follow him as a bond-servant.
Two hundred years ago, and American named Abraham Bininger felt called by God to be a missionary to the slaves of St. Thomas Island in the Caribbean. When he arrived at the island he discovered a law that said only slaves could preach to slaves. So he volunteered to give up his freedom and become a slave so that he could preach.
I hear that story and it makes me wonder how much I love God. Do I love God enough to give up my freedom and volunteer to be His slave for life?
Let me suggest a prayer for you to pray this morning: "Lord, pierce my ear. Through Jesus Christ you have set me free, but Lord, I don't want to go. Pierce my ear, Lord. I want to serve you in a world that needs your love. I want to feed those who are hungry., I want to comfort those who are sad, I want to speak to those who are lonely. Lord, I will go wherever you tell me to go. Lord, pierce my ear."