Summary: #1 of a 6 part summer series from the Book of Philippians on how we are free in Christ
Free to Love Others
Freedom Series #1
INTRODUCTION: (Intro video: True Freedom - 2:06 from www.sermonspice.com)
“As we cherish our country’s freedom let us not forget that it is through Jesus that we can claim freedom from sin and darkness.” That video lays the groundwork for our new series. For you see it does not matter how free you are nationally, or geographically if you are not spiritually free then you are in the greatest bondage. There are those who are in prisons or live under tyrannical rule but because they have Jesus enjoy true freedom. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings… then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 - NIV) So, for the next six weeks we are going to look at some of the teachings of the Bible and look at some ways we are set free spiritually. Certainly Jesus has set us free from sin and so we can claim forgiveness and He has delivered us from the bondage of death so we can claim heaven, but one of the great things about the bible is that we learn that Jesus has set us free in so many practical ways too.
To discuss some of our freedoms in Christ I want us to look at the small book of Philippians. This little book is a letter written to people going through hard times. The Church at Philippi was being persecuted for their faith from the outside and having some unity problems on the inside. So Paul writes a very personal and practical book to help them. But most of all Philippians is what I call “a + book.” That is, it concentrates on the positive. Paul tells them again and again to rejoice, no matter what their circumstances. In fact, some 16 times in these four chapters he uses the word joy or rejoice. And what he told the Christians in Philippi in about 60 AD applies to us in 2007 - we have been given the freedom to enjoy life. Oh, not with a fake smile and false frivolity but with the freedom and joy that only Jesus Christ can offer. So, I am really excited about studying true “Freedom” from this book and see how it applies to us in this life. Paul begins by showing us how we are free to love people, even those who may be unlovable.
Before he addresses that he begins with a special greeting. Let’s start by reading the first two verses from Philippians 1. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice he addresses his letter "to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi..." Many people think of a saint as men and women who are especially holy or who have been canonized by an official church body. Usually only those who have been long dead and have extraordinary religious accomplishments to their credit qualify for "sainthood." God however, through His Word, has a different perspective. Paul uses the Greek word "agios" for saint. This word literally means, "the set-apart ones." So, a saint, is one who has been set apart, or is different. Set apart or different from what? In the Bible it is those who have been set-apart from the world.
The story is told of a little girl who was touring a large, ornate cathedral which had "saints" pictured in the elaborate stained glass windows. She asked her father, "Daddy, who are those people?" And he responded, "Honey, those are saints, do you know what a saint is?" She thought for a moment and then said, "Why they must be people who let the light shine through." And while she was wrong, she was rather right wasn’t she? Saints are simply Christians who by their lifestyle, let the light of Jesus Christ shine into the world. Sainthood is not reserved just for the spiritually elite. If you have responded to Jesus and have accepted His grace through faith, than you are a saint. That might come as a surprise to those who know you best, but it’s true nonetheless!
That brings us to a very important principle. God cares much more about your spiritual life than He does your success in life. You see, being a Christian isn’t simply a belief system- it is a whole new identity. And God is more interested in who you are than what you are. Our society is success oriented.. but God is not impressed by "The lifestyles of the rich and famous." He looks instead for the faithfulness. If you want to be truly free then the first step is to set yourself apart by establishing a personal relationship with Jesus, to be "in Christ." That personal relationship contains the only path to true freedom and lasting joy.