Summary: A Time of Freedom 1. We are free from sin’s condemnation 2. We are free from sin’s control
Perhaps you saw last weekend that the serial killer known as BTK was finally caught after eluding police since the 1970’s. His three-letter name was one that he had given himself, those letters standing for what he did to his victims, “Bind, Torture, Kill.” Now that he’s in custody, this story has been broadcast quite a bit during this past week. Why do you suppose he’s gotten so much attention? Murderers are caught by the police all the time. We don’t hear about each of them on the news. I suppose one reason that BTK is getting so much press is because of the length of time he was able to stay ahead of the law. But I also think there’s another reason, and it’s in his self-given name. It’s a horrible enough crime to murder another human being. But to do the things that he did to his victims, to bind them up and torture them, takes what he did to an entirely different level of cruelty. What he really did before taking the victim’s lives was he took away every bit of freedom away from them first.
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s another BTK out there that the police haven’t gotten. And the law enforcement will never catch this murderer. It gets even scarier. This serial killer was last seen in Orlando. He’s at your place of work; he’s in the school you go to; he comes to your neighborhood and even into your home often. This murderer is sin, who binds, tortures, and kills victims each day. This BTK enslaves people everywhere, tortures them with guilt and pain, and finally kills them in the fires of hell. And as I said, the police will never catch him. No amount of detective work will stop sin.
This morning, we are going to see that Jesus Christ has freed us from the murderous clutches of sin. As we continue our series on “A Time of…,” we will learn this morning that we live in A Time of Freedom. 1. We are free from sin’s condemnation. 2. We are free from sin’s control.
Our synod used to have a prep high school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. This was a campus that was purchased from the Catholic church in the 1970’s. For many years, it has been a Jesuit school…but for reasons it had been forced to close down. There all these empty buildings stood until we bought the campus and made those structures into classrooms, dormitories, libraries, and other things. But the biggest building on that campus was never used. It was a beautiful, huge, old three-story building…it looked kind of like a mansion. But it wasn’t used because it had been condemned. When a building is condemned, that means that it doesn’t measure up to safety requirements, and because of that, it is condemned to be destroyed.
We could think of God as a code-enforcer, not for buildings, but for people. The Lord has some requirements that human beings have to attain. We have to always be kind to our fellow people. We can’t take a day or a minute off from this. That means we cannot ever say a nasty word to or about someone, because if we do, we don’t measure up to God’s code and we are on the slate to be condemned. Another thing God’s building code says is that we have to love God more than anything else…even more than we love ourselves. And if a person loves God totally, they will never miss church; they will pray to him often; they will always delight in studying his Word. God’s standard even states that our thoughts need to be pure; we can’t even think about sins that we’d like to do. It doesn’t work for people to look at someone like BTK and think, “well, at least I didn’t do the horrible things that he did.” We human beings stand condemned before God by the first sin we commit. Sin sneaks into our homes and binds us up and takes away our freedom, our freedom to be able to stand in front of God and expect him to let us go to heaven.
There we stand, ugly, crumbling buildings, scheduled to be demolished by hell’s wrecking ball. But before the destruction, comes the news that God has decided to renovate us. He’s going to fix us up. He’s going to bring us all up to code. Look at the first verse of our text, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Imagine you are looking at a map of a city. All the buildings of the city are condemned. But then the mayor takes out a compass, draws a circle on the map, and announces, “all the buildings within this circle will be fixed up to code and spared by the city’s expense.” That’s what God is saying in this first verse. All who are in Christ’s circle are spared sin’s condemnation. Where did God get the resources to be able to fix up so many deteriorating buildings? Verses 3-4 have the answer, “For 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. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us.” What St. Paul is saying is God’s building code, the law, is good. But all that code can do is show us what is wrong with us. God’s law makes it very clear that we deserve hell, but that same law is powerless to show us a solution. And so comes Christ, God’s Son, condemned on the cross as our sin offering, who in turn condemns sin itself. Jesus commands sin, “Get away from my people! You no longer can lay claim to them. I suffered and died for the sins of the whole world. The world is free from your condemnation, sin.” We live in a Time of Freedom. We are in Christ’s radius, and so we are free from sin’s condemnation.