FREEEEEEEEDOM! The cry of the human heart. We all love to watch Braveheart and feel the quest for personal freedom in our own breast when we hear William Wallace cry out. It is part and parcel of our nation and the sole basis of many a patriot’s call to action. What is freedom? How do we get it? Where does it come from?
Freedom is really a relative term. We are all free in some sense and bound in another. Can there be such a thing as total freedom? Freedom carries with it obligation, the need to act a certain way in order to preserve that freedom, the need to preserve the freedom of others so that my freedom will not be infringed. But this is political freedom.
As we consider the idea of FREEDOM today, on the 4th of July, let us consider what true freedom is. Our country, as great as it is, is just a country. It may be a symbol of freedom to many in the world, but it is also a symbol of vice and corruption to many others. This is because we, even as Americans, do not understand what freedom is. Freedom is not being able to do whatever I want. That is a huge error. Freedom is being free to act as God has created me to act, according to TRUTH, which is His Word. In John 8, Jesus is talking to the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is much like our 4th of July; a celebration of their deliverance as they lived in tents in the wilderness following their emancipation from Egypt. The feast is coupled with the ingathering of their fall crops in order to tie their prosperity to God’s deliverance. Jesus is teaching at this feast and telling the Jews that He is the source of the water that gives life, that He is from heaven, that His words are the words of God and that ultimately He is God Himself. The Jews reject Him completely saying that He is a Samaritan (the ultimate derogatory remark for a Jew) and that He is demon possessed.
As they celebrate their independence (while under foreign domination by Rome) they scoff at Jesus and His words. They reject the true Deliverer while celebrating their deliverance! Jesus tells them: John 8:31 “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 make 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.”
The Jews of Jesus’ day, much like the rest of us have a wrong idea of what freedom is. We think in terms of political freedom or personal freedom. The Apostle Paul tells the Romans that this is not the way Christians are to live, Romans 6:19 “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 in regard to 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.” Autonomy (i.e. self-rule) is not freedom, it is bondage to desire, culture and sin. Autonomy is what true freedom is free from! True freedom is freedom from sin’s power and penalty. This is only had through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we are free from the performance trap of other religions and the pull of sin that comes from our fallen nature we are FREE to serve God with our whole heart, with body, soul and mind. This is where and only where, true freedom can be experienced. This was the desire of the pilgrim’s that first came to the American continent, to be a “City on a Hill” for the Gospel. Certainly they sought the freedom to worship God according to their conscience. This came from a wholehearted commitment to the Gospel.
Celebrate your freedom today! But remember as you watch the fireworks and listen to the National Anthem that the freedom that you have, political or spiritual, is a gift of the God of Heaven. Thank Him for it and use it to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! Ahhhh TRUTH, that is another matter altogether. We will talk about that next time!
You can hear audio of this message by clicking on the link below.
Freedom and Truth – John 8:31-36