Freedom

Posted on 07/15/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning and welcome to the gathering of the saints in the virtual world. I hope you've come ready to meet with God, for he is here with us, and our purpose for being here is to seek his face, to listen for his voice, to find his heart, and to walk closer with him.

Let's all stand to our feet and start this service with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to us so that we can have unbroken fellowship with you. We invite you into this place, into this corporate gathering and into the physical spaces where each of us are.

Draw us into your presence. May all we do glorify and magnify your hold name, and may we be pleasing you.

Lord, we bring before you the requests of our brothers and sisters.

We pray for Allie, who says she wants to feel alive again. Lord, it is the enemy who comes to steal life, joy, and peace from us, but you came to give us life in overflowing abundance. So we ask that you would breath on Allie right now Holy Spirit. Breath upon her your breath of life. May she see Jesus as never before, and may you bring to new life in her the joy of your Salvation.

We pray for Melissa's father-in-law who is in the fourth stage of colon and liver cancer. She believes you work miracles, and is asking you to work one in her father-in-law's life. We join with Melissa in this request Lord, and ask that you make your glory known through him, in Jesus' name.

We pray for Maggie J. You see the situation with her heart and liver, and know what the doctors are saying about an operation on one risking the failure of the other. But you are our Great Physician, and you never fail. So we ask that your hands, the same ones that formed Maggie J in her mother's womb, would reach down and mend her heart and liver. We speak healing into Maggie J's body, in the name of Jesus!

We pray for Landis. You see the doubts that are trying to keep him from following whole-heartedly after you, and we speak against those doubts in Jesus' name. Holy Spirit, shine your light on those doubts, and give Landis the strength and boldness to run after you with his whole heart regardless of what doubts the enemy, the world, and his own mind might bring against him. May his choices and his life reflect the fact that the power of your Word and your Holy Spirit will give us the power we need to overcome all doubt when we step forward anyway, walking on the path of your Word.

And now Lord I pray for each one here and each one listening to or reading these words later. Pour out your Spirit upon us. Accept our songs of worship, and feed us by your Word.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen!

Remain standing and click-touch the pulpit or follow along with the overhead as we sing songs of freedom and praise.


JESUS SET ME FREE

I'm so glad Jesus set me free (x3)

Singing Glory, Hallelujah
     Jesus set me free!

I'm so glad...
Satan had me bound...
Religion had me bound...
I'm so glad...


SET FREE TO WORSHIP

I'm Set free to worship
I'm set free to praise him
I'm set free to rejoice
     around God's throne
I'll laugh, I'll dance,
     I'll shout, I'll sing
Hallelujah, praise the Lord,
     let the heavens ring
Set free to worship
     I'm set free


FREEDOM

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

There is peace, there is love
There is joy (there is joy)

It is for freedom He's set us free
It is for freedom He's set us free

I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free

We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty
We will walk, Lord
We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty

We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty
We will dance, Lord
We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty

We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty
We will jump, Lord
We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    THERE IS FREEDOM!!
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    THERE IS FREEDOM!


Thank you Lord that where your Spirit is, there is freedom! Thank you that you came to set us free from the law of sin and of death, and that in you, we have life everlasting!

I ask that you bring freedom here today, as we reach out to you through our worship, and as we seek to hear your voice by looking into your Word.

May none of us leave here the same way we came. We ask this in Jesus' name.

Amen.


You may be seated.


The title of today's message is "Freedom." There are many ideas of what true freedom is, just as there are countless ideas surrounding every basic issue about our lives.

Unless we define our view of life according to God's Word, we will just have opinions and ideas.

If we want to see life through a collidascope and accept any false thing that looks pretty and makes us feel good, then we'll look to the teachings of another person or the ramblings of our own carnal reasoning.

But if we want to see life as it is and if we want to know the truth,  then we can look nowhere else besides the Word of God. After all, it was by his Word that he created the life we live, and it is only by that same Word that we can understand that life and live it to the fullest.

Jesus says in John 10:10, "The thief comes for nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that they might have life in overflowing abundance."


Let's take a moment to ponder, what comes to your mind when I ask this question: "What is Freedom?"

Most people today would tell you something such as, "Freedom is the ability to make your own decisions and choose your road in life. It's the right to do as you please without having others suppress that right. Freedom is the power of free choice."

And now let's ask ourselves this question: "Are they right?"

In fact, here's a better idea: let's ask God, and see what he says in his Word.

In John chapter eight, beginning with verse thirty-one, we read:

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say,  'You will be made free'?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.


We see several truths concerning freedom in this passage, and the first I'd like to talk about is this:

1. Freedom is Knowing Jesus

Jesus says here, "You shall know the truth, and truth shall set you free." Did not Jesus also say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life?" He then makes this even more clear in verse 36 when he says, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

So if freedom is knowing Jesus, then those of us who do not know Jesus do not know freedom. Those still outside of the family of God who think they are free because they can do as they please, have not experienced the true liberty that comes only from knowing Jesus -- not knowing ABOUT Jesus, but having a living, personal, intimate relationship and daily walk with him.

And beginning that knowing is simple. We try to make it complicated, adding all sorts of rituals, traditions, and other man-made junk.

But Jesus tells us that if we do not enter the kingdom of God in the manner of a child, we cannot enter it at all. It's so simple and pure that our complicated, critical, grown-up minds won't fit. We just can't seem to grasp it and make it fit into our hardened ideas of how things are.

And because of this, we remain bound. We remain bound to man-made traditions, religions, and perceptions and ideas.

Because we will not humble ourselves before God and admit that we know nothing, that we cannot save ourselves, that we are not all that mature and knowing as we imagine ourselves to be, and because we will not let go of our imagined greatness and our pride, we stay outside of the kingdom, not understanding those who have entered in, and becoming a stumbling block to those who would enter.

So humble yourself before God, admitting that even in this endeavor you are inadequate, and just like a child, you need God's help to come to him as a child.

And we ask God now together, "God, lead me to you. I want my heart to be softened, or even broken, so I can come to know you, to serve you, to love and follow you, to be your son or daughter, and to truly be free."


So we see that true freedom is knowing Jesus, as we know the Truth and the Truth sets us free.


There's a second thing we can learn from this passage, and that second truth concerning freedom is this:


2. Freedom is Obeying Jesus

Let's read our passage from John chapter eight again.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say,  'You will be made free'?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

You see, the people sitting in the temple listening to Jesus speak that day had the same ideas about freedom as we do today. They believed freedom was being out from under the opressive Roman government, and in their case, they believed freedom was in being a Jew and following a certain set of rules.

And they had good reason to believe that following the Old Testament laws was freedom, for we read this in Psalm chapter 119, verses 44 through 46:

 44 So shall I keep Your law continually,
         Forever and ever.
 45 And I will walk at liberty,
         For I seek Your precepts.
 46 I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
         And will not be ashamed.

What they failed to realize was the truth of what Jesus taught when he said, "The law says not to murder, but I say that if you hold anger toward someone, you are murdering in your heart; the law says not to commit adultery, but I say that if you lust after someone, you are committing adultery in your heart."

It is true that keeping the laws of God is indeed true freedom, IF you keep them in spirit, and obey God not just in form but in heart.

Jesus told his disciples, "You are my friends if you do as I say." And he could say that, being God, being the one who created them and who created the universe as their home. In fact, Scripture tells us that compromise with the world, friendliness with the carnal ways of living, is enmity with God.

If you, by compromising or being friendly with the world's ways of doing things, make yourself an enemy of God, how can you know him?

And if you, by making yourself an enemy of God, do not have that daily, knowing relationship with him, how can you be free?

Some who do not truly know God might say, "What kind of God would call you his enemy just because you don't do what he wants?" And yet such a statement is evidence of a lack of understanding the results of sin, the effect their own actions, both external and hidden on the inside, have on others, and of how incredibly great is the love of God.

So what is it to God if I choose to practice a lifestyle which Scripture condemns?

First of all, that lifestyle is destroying me and separating me from an uncompromisingly holy God, otherwise God would not hate that thought or action and would not call it sin.

Second of all, that lifestyle is destroying those around me. It's been correctly stated that "No man is an island unto himself." To think you can do anything that will not effect anyone besides yourself is just plain wrong.

If you draw close to God, others will follow.

If you separate yourself from God, others will follow.

So by choosing compromise with sin, you are destroying others who God loves and for whom he sent his only begotten Son to ransom.

This shows us that God hates sin because sin hates us. It enslaves us, the people God loves with a love that is so great, we cannot even begin to truly grasp. It destroys us, mocks us, and builds walls that keep us away from God and away from freedom.


We see this clearly stated in the sixth chapter of Romans. Let's read this together.


1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by  the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of  His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we  should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as  being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
  
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey,  whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to  which you were delivered.
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves  of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of  righteousness for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and  the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


This tells us that we serve a master, every single one of us. We serve either sin or righteousness. We are either a slave to sin or a servant of the Most High God and his righteousness.

We also see that being a servant to sin is bondage, and both the duration and the end of our prison sentence is death. On the other hand, being a servant to righteousness is freedom and liberty, and the gift of God is everlasting life filled with freedom, peace, and joy.

Verses fifteen and sixteen say, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey,  whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?"

Just remember this next time you hear someone twist Scripture and tell you that it's okay to compromise with sin, "because we've been set free from the law." In fact, people who believe and teach this are warned about very clearly in Scripture.

We read this strong warning in Second Peter chapter two, starting with verse twelve:

12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not  understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They  are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you,
14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart  trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.
15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the  wages of unrighteousness;
16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the  prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness  forever.
  
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through  lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome,  by him also he is brought into bondage.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus  Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to  turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow,  having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."


So to say, "God loves me even if I live a lifestyle Scripture presents as wrong," is like a child saying, "My parents will still love me even if I play in the evil lord's toxic land fill on the other side of a one-way gate." Both will destroy you, and keep you away from the one who loves you, along with all who follow your example, and both are lies from the pit of hell.

Those who present such falsehood often use, as this passage says, "great swelling words," but they are empty and false. They sound good, they sound true, they might even strike a resonant chord inside of us, but deception always sounds good and it always contains truth.

It's easy to buy into the lie that living righteous, holy lives is a burden; but such a thing is true only when we attempt to do so in our own strength, and how many of us know that Scripture says our own righteousness is as filthy rags. So creating our own righteousness and holiness is no righteousness or holiness at all.

On the other hand, living righteous, holy lives in the strength of the Holy Spirit as an outflowing of a personal, intimate relationship and daily walk with God is true freedom and true liberty.


The third thing I'd like for us to ponder today is expressed in Luke chapter four, verses eighteen through nineteen, where Jesus quotes a passage from the Old Testament which he said many years before through the mouth of the prophet.

18  The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.

The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus because God anointed him.

And he was anointed to preach the Good News to those acknowledging their need.

Jesus was anointed to heal those with broken hearts.

Jesus was anointed to proclaim liberty to those held in captivity.

Jesus was anointed to bring sight to blind eyes.

Jesus was anointed to set free those who are opressed.

And Jesus was anointed to proclaim the time of Salvation.

So we see here a package Jesus was anointed to minister to others, and that package contains healing, liberty, sight, freedom, and Salvation.

No where in the list of Jesus' anointing do we see bondage, sickness, blindness, captivity, or the possibility that he could fail to save us. All these things come apart from him. But within him is life in overflowing abundance.

We see this illustrated in John chapter fifteen, beginning with verse one, where Jeus says,

1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
  
9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Fatherís commandments and abide in His love.
11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."


This relates back to our last point, that freedom is obeying Jesus. We so often quote parts of this verse out of context, and then wonder why those parts of Scripture don't seem to work for us.

We say, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." But are we keeping his commandments and walking in his love? And are we staying in daily, ever-deepening fellowship with him by daily picking up our cross of death to the flesh and following hard after him?

So true freedom and liberty flow out of Jesus' anointing, and they flow to and through those who are abiding, consistently and faithfully staying, in the Vine, Christ Jesus, by obeying from the heart the Word of God and who are walking in daily fellowship with him.

And this does not leave room for turning again to legalism under the guise of liberty. To say we are free to sin because Jesus does not specifically mention that sin by name, is legalism.

Just as an example, we might say that Jesus does not condemn homosexuality because he does not mention it by name, but instead he tells us to love one another.

But to hold on to such a belief is to ignore his Words which say, "For in the beginning, God created them male and female, and for THAT reason, a man shall leave his mother and father and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

What are the principles of God's Word? And are we redefining those principles to make them support what we want to do? If so, we are holding on to the letter of the law, often claiming that legalism to be the spirit of the law, and accusing those who disagree of being legalistic.

Was it not the religious people of Jesus' day who he condemned, in part, for finding loopholes in the law to excuse their sins? Let's be very careful to not think ourselves free from religion and thereby be relying upon the religion of the letter of the law disguised as the spirit of the law.


I used homosexuality as an example because I see that supported by a number of people bearing the name of Christ here in the virtual world. But there are many sins with which we do the same thing.

And it is only by growing uncompromisingly deeper and deeper into the Vine that we can begin to know the heart of God as expressed throughout the fullness of both the New and Old Testaments, and it is only then that we will begin to walk in true freedom.


And finally, the fourth thing I'd like for us to consider concerning freedom is this:


4. Freedom is a Process of Transformation

2 Corinthians 3

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the  same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.


Notice the connection here between freedom and transformation. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; and as we fix our eyes upon the glory of the Lord, we are transformed in his image by the Spirit.

So the Spirit brings freedom, and transformation comes by the Spirit. If we are not being transformed into the image of God's glory, the image of God's holiness, the image of God's righteousness, and the image of God's true love which loves us unconditionally and despises our sin uncompromisingly, if we are not being transformed into that image, then there is something between us and the Spirit of the Lord, and there is something between us and the freedom that only he can bring.

Verse eighteen says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the  same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

This veil could be religion. This veil could be sin. This veil could be pride. This veil could be compromise. This veil could be apathy. This veil could be the cares of this world. But God is calling us to throw aside our veils and, with pure hearts and child-like faith and teachability, to gaze upon his glory, allowing his Holy Spirit to transform us into his image and thereby set us free.


So...
     Freedom is Knowing Jesus,
     Freedom is Obeying Jesus,
     Freedom Comes by Jesus' Anointing, and
     Freedom is a Process of Transformation


The altar workers can come to the front now, as we close this service with an invitation from the Spirit of the Lord.

And the first invitation is this: Freedom is Knowing Jesus.

Do you know Jesus? You cannot know or understand freedom until you do. And you are here for a reason. You are hearing or reading this message for a reason. And that reason is because God is calling you to himself. He is reaching out with open arms, inviting you to come in to his family through Jesus.

Answer this invitation today. Pray with me right now. Say from your heart, "Jesus, I ask you to set me free. Forgive me for my sins, and set me free from them. I don't want to live in slavery to sin any longer, but want you to set me free to walk with you in righteouesness, joy, and peace. Come into my heart. Make me a brand new creation. Wipe my sins and my past completely off my record with you, and give me a clean slate. Teach me to walk with you and to walk in your ways. Thank you Jesus. Amen."


The second invitation is this: Freedom is Obeying Jesus.

Have you been walking in uncompromised obedience to the Word of God and obeying his voice as he directs your paths? If not, then you are not walking in true freedom.

But God isn't finished with you, no matter how far you might have strayed or how long you've been walking in disobedience, or how hopelessly bound you think you are.

Pray this with me from your heart. Say, "Jesus, I have not been staying on the straight and narrow path. I have compromised, and have not sought to please you but to please myself and others. Forgive me, and change me. I lay on the fire my sins and compromises, and I turn away from and renounce them. I realize I can't live a holy life in my own strength, so I ask you to fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit. Set me back on the right path, Lord, and I choose to walk daily and intimately with you."


The third invitation today is this: Freedom Comes by Jesus' Anointing.

Lord, let your anointing fall on us today! We choose to seek after you with all that is within us, and we desire your anointing which breaks the yoke of sin and brings us healing, freedom, sight, liberty, and Salvation. We accept your invitation by turning our backs on everything else and turning permanently and steadfastly toward you.


Finally, the fourth invitation is this: Freedom is a Process of Transformation.

Lord, we submit to your refiner's fire! We submit to your hand as you shape us on your potter's wheel. Transform us into the image of your glory, as we keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon you and you alone.


If you have answered any of the Spirit's invitations to you today, come to the front, come to the altar, as an outward proclamation of your inward decision.

If you've made a decision to know Jesus today or if you would like prayer or ministry for anything else, please instant message anyone on the ministry team.

In a few minutes we'll all meet in the room to your left for a time of fellowship, and you're all invited. Feel free to make your way over there after you have sought the Lord and have let his Holy Spirit finish ministering with you.

Answer the call of the Lord to you today, and let him set you free.

If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed!