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Your Greatest Freedom - 2 - 4th of July service

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"Our Greatest Freedom”  July 4, 2004

 


 

 


v      The celebration of our nation’s birthday is really a celebration of freedom.

v      We celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have because of the price others paid.

v      Freedom is very expensive. It has cost some people everything, including their lives.  

In a letter to William Smith dated November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants”

v      The price is always paid in blood.


34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.    John 8:34-36

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,£ God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  (Romans 8:1-3)


Today we’ll explore just three of the ways that Jesus sets us free if we will only have the faith to believe him and believe in him.

1.  Freedom from Guilt:  Our Past Can’t Haunt Us
Have you been dragging your past around?   Your past sins are an anchor that keep you in port – they keep you from moving out into the life God wants you to experience


How would you like to be free from that guilt?

The key word here is FORGIVEN.

Because of the work Jesus did in winning your freedom, you don’t have to carry your guilt around with you. You can release it and be free.

In the movie The Mission the story is told of Captain Rodrigo Mendoza. Mendoza was a slave trader in the mid 1700’s. Mendoza and his men would enter the jungles of Brazil and Ecuador to raid the Indian villages and take prisoners to sell as slaves. He even went so far as to raid the Catholic missions to take prisoners from the Indians that were there.

In a duel over a woman, Captain Mendoza kills his own brother and falls into a remorse-filled depression, believing God cannot forgive him.

However, one of the priests from the mission San Carlos offers Mendoza a chance to seek penance.  [Now, we don’t believe that we must somehow suffer in order to be forgiven, but watch this scene and notice how powerful the images are.  Day after day, the priest ask the Captain to drag all the implements of his sin – his sword, his heavy armor, they are literally dragged behind him up and down the steep mountains.

 

One day, he is led into the presence of some of the Indians he has harmed.  He doesn’t know how they will react, he only knows he wants the guilt of his past to be swept away.

I want you to watch this scene from the movie as Captain Mendoza carries his guilt with him, seeking forgiveness.

[Insert Video Clip Here]

Just as Rodrigo Mendoza found forgiveness at the hands of those he had violated, so we too find forgiveness in the nail scared hands of the one we have violated and betrayed. Just as the people he had sinned against cut his guilt away from him and set him free with forgiveness, so the God we have sinned against cuts our guilt away and sets us free with the forgiveness he offers in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you don’t have to drag your past around with you? Wouldn’t forgiveness be a breath of fresh air?

You can have that forgiveness. Jesus, the Son, offers it to us.

When we come to Jesus, the Son of God, and let him set us free, we are…

Free from guilt.

But there is another freedom that he offers to us.

2. Freedom from the Ultimate Consequence of Our

Sin:  Christ died in our place

We all know that when the law is broken there are consequences. Sometimes we escape the legal consequences of our misdeeds, but there are still consequences.

The guilt we just talked about is a consequence of our sin. And there are others as well. But there is one consequence that, no matter how hard our heart and how seared our conscience we must all face. The ultimate consequence for sin is that of death. Not just physical death, but eternal spiritual death.

The Bible teaches that we will all face judgment.

“Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences”  (Hebrews 9:27)

”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   (Romans 6:23)

That’s a severe consequence. According to scripture the ultimate consequence for our sin is one that we cannot pay. But we do not have to. The penalty for our sin has already been paid. Our account has been credited and we are, as we saw a minute ago, no longer guilty.

The key word here is VICARIOUS

Vicarious is a big fancy word that means: done by one person substituting for another

Christ has dealt with the consequences for our sin. It’s not that the ultimate consequence isn’t required, it’s that someone else already paid it for you. You see, when Jesus died upon the cross he was receiving the consequences of my sin and of your sin.

In John 19 we read the story of the death of Jesus Christ. At the end, when he died, he called out “It is finished.” At least that is how we translate it in most Bibles today. But "It is finished” is not the most accurate translation. In the original text the word translated "finished" is a commercial word that means, "It is paid, the debt is paid in full!"

When Jesus died upon the cross, he paid our debt in full and thus set us free from the ultimate consequence of our sin.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. There are still consequences for our sin. When we choose to speed or run that red light, we still get the ticket and we still have to pay. When we cheat on our taxes there are still penalties. When we defile our marriage vows and commit adultery, the trust in our relationship is still broken; the marriage may still come to an end. That’s a consequence.

When we sin, there are going to be temporary consequences. That is the nature of life. You cannot set something into motion and expect that there will be no repercussions from it. But when Jesus sets us free, he frees us from the ultimate consequence. We do not have to pay God for our sins. We are made right with him. Eternal death and eternal separation from God are consequences we won’t have to face if Jesus has set us free.

In Jesus Christ we have freedom.
Freedom from guilt: Our past cannot haunt us.
We are free from the ultimate consequence of our sinful lives: Christ paid our debt.

3.  Freedom from ACCUSATION:   We no longer have to live in fear

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”   Colossians 1:22

How nice is it to not have to run and hide? How nice is it to not have to worry about what someone else will find out about you? How nice would it be to be free from all accusations and the fear that your sins are going to be discovered? That would certainly be a freeing experience.

How would it feel to be free from all accusation? Would you have a sense of relief? Would you have a sense of release? Would you feel as though a weight had been lifted from your shoulders? Would you feel free? How would you feel to know that there was no accusation that could be brought against you?

There is a reason that Jesus sets us free from accusation. It is because, when we surrender to him and let him have control of our lives, he makes us blameless. That’s the key word here.

Key Word: BLAMELESS

Because of what Jesus did for us upon the cross, we are blameless before God when we know his Son, Jesus. The word blameless means free of guilt; not subject to blame.

[“Saving Private Ryan is a movie about a group of men in WWII sent on a mission to find and send home a young private who has had several brothers killed in the war.  In the process, many others die, for the sake of the one man.  Tom Hanks plays Capt. John Miller, leading the detail in search of Ryan.  I want you to watch that scene where Capt. Miller says final words to the young Pvt. Ryan and see how they stayed with him for the rest of his life.

 

CLIP

Please understand the difference in being told you should spend your life “earning” what people did to save your life and what the Bible says about the subject.  When it comes to eternal life, we can’t earn it.  We’ll never live so well that God will say, now that’s what I’ve been after – now you deserve what I did for you.

Bible speaks to us about grace!  A gift from God!]


As I said a minute ago, Jesus took care of the eternal consequences of our sin. But he did more than that. He also took care of our guilt. He satisfied the requirements of the law. When the law is broken a death was required and he paid that penalty for us. Therefore, not on our own – but through him, we are found free of guilt and not subject to blame. Thus, we are free from accusation and when a man is free from accusation, he is free from a great deal of the fear that this life offers.

We can stand before God and our fellow man and not fear accusation. Now, being free of accusation does not mean that no accusation will come. We will certainly face accusations of all sorts in this life. Many are well deserved because of what we have done in our past. People have seen our sins and our mistakes and they want to know why we now claim to be different. This shouldn’t threaten us. It should be an opportunity to share with them the transformation that Jesus brings to our lives.

But we need not fear accusation. We are now free of guilt. We are no longer subject to blame. The account has been laid to rest and we can live without fear of a hidden past being brought to light. It has already been brought to light and dealt with.

 
You see, when we don’t turn to Jesus and confess our sins and allow him to cleanse us, we are slaves to our past and to our guilt and we are susceptible to accusation. But once we come clean, we are free from accusation. We are no longer a slave.

When we come to Jesus, the Son of God and let the Son set us free, we are…

Free from guilt.
Free from the ultimate consequence of our sinful lives.
Free from accusation.

Application: This week we have celebrated the freedom of our nation. More than that, we have celebrated the sacrifice necessary to give us the freedom we so deeply love. But there is a greater freedom than that of political freedom. There is a freedom we can have in Jesus Christ if we will place our trust in him, if we will surrender to him.

Jesus bled and died; he gave his life, so that you and I could be free. If you have not accepted his sacrifice and the freedom it brings, will you do so today?

[Close in prayer]

The Greatest Threat to Your Freedom is not the Taliban or Al-Queda.  Your

greatest threat to personal freedom is Saddam Hussein or Bin-Laden.  Those forces pose grave dangers and they must be dealt with.

But you and I have another enemy.  Like in any war, intelligence is essential to victory.  I want you to listen & watch what some people on the streets of Atlanta had to say about the enemy of true freedom.

VIDEO SEGMENT

The greatest freedom of all is SPIRITUAL FREEDOM.  The reason I say that is that spiritual freedom is the source of all other freedoms, including political freedom!

Until people are set free spiritually, there will be little grasp of what God intends them to experience in life.  If a man is in spiritual bondage, he may assume that political or economic bondage is just another part of his oppressed life.

But people who are set free in God, can all of a sudden see the vastness of life as God meant it to be lived!

What keeps us in spiritual bondage?  SIN.  And  ignorance of what God has made possible through His Son, Jesus.

John Ashcroft, US Attorney General, was roundly criticized for his comments about the Bible and Christians and Islam.  He said, “One faith teaches people that they must send their sons to die as martyrs in hopes of attaining Paradise.  The other faith (Christianity) teaches that God has already sent His Son to die so that we don’t have to.”

WHAT IS SIN?  Anything I do that comes between me and God.  Also anything I fail to do that God wanted me to do.

CONSEQUENCES OF MY SIN?   Rom 6:23 says it is death.

             (Romans 6:1-8 TLB)  "Well then, shall we keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness? {2} Of course not! Should we keep on sinning when we don't have to? {3} For sin's power over us was broken when we became Christians and were baptized to become a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered. {4} Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father, with glorious power, brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy. {5} For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him, so to speak, when he died; and now you share his new life and shall rise as he did. {6} Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin's control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; {7} for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you. {8} And since your old sin-loving nature "died" with Christ, we know that you will share his new life."

*You don’t have to be a slave

            à Dead people have no physical responses

            à Paul says Christians are “dead” to sin!

*Freedom is found in Jesus

*Have you ever placed your faith in Jesus Christ and simply prayed for Him to come into your heart, take over, and save you?

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