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Free Indeed

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

It is good to be tougher again as we look into the Word of God and can understand the Word of God and apply it to our lives.  The title for the lesson is, “Free, Indeed” and the text is in the New Testament in the gospel of John chapter eight verses 31 through 36. Listen to the Word of God.

To the Jews who had believed him Jesus said: If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. They answered him: We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?  Jesus replied: I tell you the truth. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed.  This is the Word of God.

To be free and freedom has many meanings to different people. Again, we as Americans can recelebrate our Declaration of Independence and our precious freedoms that we have enjoyed now for some 240 years running. Freedom still draws the oppressed from all corners of the earth to our shores and heartland. America today is the sole superpower on earth, great in natural resources, powerful militarily with economic prowess advanced in science and technology. But a nation is only as great as its people, as its citizens. Many super powers of the past don’t or barely persist and prosper today. Consider, for example, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and even the imperial Roman Empire made up of so many peoples disintegrated and eventually collapsed.
Certainly there were external enemies, but the worst enemy of any nation, of any empire is an internal enemy.  Corruption, moral degradation, immoral and ethical decay of a society of the majority of its people destroys its soul.  Freedom is precious. But we are not free to do whatever we want.

Consider the fate of nations and empires. Evil systems and societies even in relatively recent modern history like the Fascists, the Nazis, the Communists and the Imperialists are all today primarily in the dust pale of history.  When a people become so depraved without moral discipline, a downward spiral inevitably follows.  As Bible believing Christians we believe morality and ethics are based on the Bible from God of divine origin and not man’s standard, but God’s standard.  The soul of any society is progressively, morally bankrupt and can only be changed one at a time individual today in Christ Jesus and by the power, persuasion and presence of the Holy Spirit of God.  A society is made up of individuals who need our moral vacuum to be filled by the Holy Spirit of God, to be indwelt of God, illuminated to follow and to obey God’s moral law according to God’s Scriptures.

During the debates on the adoption of our United States Constitution, many argued that the Constitution alone failed to protect and provide basic principles of moral human freedoms and rights, rights to ensure the federal government would not infringe on the most basic of civil, moral rights into the future. And so we had and have the Bill of Rights, which was passed and which are the first 10 Amendments to our United States Constitution. So still today as American citizens, we enjoy, for example, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of petition, freedom of a free press, all of which are especially dear to us as Bible believing Christians in this July in the year of our Lord 2016.  Yet our minds and our hearts and our wills still need to follow God’s principle set in Acts chapter five and verse 29 that says, in part:  We must obey God rather than men. We must stand for God’s truth, God’s standard in love, in decency and in order. God’s moral, ethical standard. Regardless of the changing societal popularity polls or pressure, we should not sidestep Scripture for so-called freedoms that become our society’s changing standards.  God’s moral standards do not change with time.  As God’s character does not change.

Frequently mankind’s standards constantly, generally change in a downward fashion as people become more liberal in their moral and ethical beliefs. Ultimately human laws or courts cannot legislate or adjudicate morality, certainly not God’s morality. And so ultimately only God can change people from corrupted minds to becoming more of the mind of Christ. Individuals that make up a society must decide. Is it going to be God’s way or man’s way?  Persevering faith in Christ Jesus alone can really make us free indeed. TO follow in the steps of Jesus concerning our moral and ethical standards, what would Jesus do? Is what we must ask ourselves.

And Bible believing Christians have freedom of choice to follow our consciences based on God’s moral law in the Bible, in the Scriptures. We believe that God is supreme above every court on earth, above every legislature, above every executive and so we should not be surprised at the moral morass that we are witnessing even in America and across the planet in nation after nation which is a stark sign of the continuing and growing apostasy and apathy toward the one true God and his moral standards. All of which is pointing us toward the second coming of Christ, predicted in Scripture.

And so, again, the Scripture serves as our moral compass to guide us, to direct us, to point us in the right direction. Freedom is a gift, not available automatically to all. America’s freedom took the blood of her patriots. The believer’s freedom took the blood of God’s Son.  Jesus Christ, God’s Son, revealed insights regarding his true disciples, those who are really his disciples who he set free even free indeed.

Consider our text in John chapter eight and verse 31. It says, in part: Jesus said: If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.  And so to claim to be Christ’s disciple which means learner or follower, we must hold to, obey, abide in his teachings as revealed and recorded and preserved in Scripture. Well, how much of his teachings, one third, one half of his teachings? Well, no, of course not.  All of Christ’s teaching. All Scripture to which all is inspired of God, God breathed, useful for training in righteousness.

In John chapter eight and verse 32 it says: Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And so we believe as Bible believing Christians, that Scripture equals truth, God’s truth. And God cannot lie, nor deceive us or he wouldn’t be God. He would deny himself. God’s truth is also timeless, unchangeable regarding his moral teachings.  Believers are set free not just by knowing about facts, but set free by the savior himself. Of course we need knowledge of the Savior before we can put our faith, our trust, our reliance in the Savior. He himself, God, Jesus Christ is the truth. He is the way and the life.  He is our truth.  He embodies truth. Jesus Christ is the personification of truth, ultimate truth, absolute and pure truth. The Savior frees us from the stain of sin that separates us from God.  Our obedience is fruit, is evidence, is a verification, is a validation of our saving faith as we have a pattern of obedience in our lives.  Spiritual freedom, eternal versus secular freedom which is merely temporary.

In verse 36 it says: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed.  Believers in Christ Jesus are really free, free from the bondage of sin, free from Satan and separation from God. We should not allow sin to have dominion in our lives, not allow it to have control of our lives.

In Romans chapter eight and verses one through two it says, in part: There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. This basically means that though we are yet sinners we have been declared not guilty by God’s grace, but only by the blood of Christ and through our saving faith and obedience in him and Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf.  We are saved by God’s grace that we don’t deserve.  The Spirit of life is the Holy Spirit that regenerates us, that has the power to change us on the inside that we can be born again, born from above, born anew. The Holy Spirit indwells us in our minds and our hearts and our wills that thereby can replace the law that produced only sin and separation from God due to our moral weakness, to our sin nature.

In Galatians chapter five and verse one it says: 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. No one can be saved by keeping God’s law. That amounted to slavery, bondage, not that God’s law wasn’t good. It is good.  Even perfect. The problem is that a depraved mankind that has inherited the sin nature cannot perfectly keep God’s law. Therefore, we need God’s grace and the blood of Christ and faith in him as our redeemer to be free, indeed. One sin separates us from an absolutely holy God. And so that is why we need Jesus.  He alone in his divinity and in his humanity was absolutely sinless.  He never sinned. He knew not sin.  And therefore as the second Adam he took our place and took the wrath of God in full on the cross as our substitute. What we deserved he took as he became sin, as he became the sin offering on our behalf.  And so his righteousness is credited, is imputed, is transferred to us through faith in him and his work on the cross on our behalf.

Now this does not mean that we are therefore free to do whatever we want, to follow the flesh or worldly freedoms that are against God’s standards. Genuine believers are faithful to the Savior and the Scriptures, which do not change.  The real test of our faith is not our work for the Lord. It is not our activities in the kingdom or even doctrinal purity.  The real test of our faith as saving faith is obedience to Jesus Christ and his Word.

 

                   David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33