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Summary: Christ has set us free, and we are free to be all that we were meant to be.

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Romans 8:1-11 “Freed”

INTRODUCTION

In 1963 Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. At the very end, he quotes and old African American spiritual and states that he hopes the time will come when everyone—regardless of their race, creed or nationality—will be able to say, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.”

The apostle Paul was nowhere near as eloquent as Dr. King, but Paul is expressing the same thought in Romans chapter 8 when he states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul could have just as easily said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last.”

Martin Luther King spoke of freedom from the chains of bigotry and inequality. The apostle Paul spoke of a different freedom when he wrote about being free in Christ. In chapter eight of Romans, Paul discusses what he means when he says that we are free, and how we experience that freedom in our daily lives.

FREE AT LAST

Two weeks ago, in chapter 6, Paul told his readers that they were free from the old life—a life that was dominated by sin—an uncontrollable spirit of rebellion against God. Our baptism, as Christians, has opened a new life for us—some would say that we have been “born again,” or “born from above.” We have been freed FROM sin, and freed FOR a new life and a new relationship with God.

Last week, in chapter 7, Paul told his readers that we were free from the frustration of thinking that we always needed to do a little bit more in order to be pleasing to God. The cross of Jesus Christ has set us free from a life of “works righteousness,”—of always trying a little bit harder. We have been set free FROM works, and set free FOR a lifetime of experiencing God’s steadfast love, overwhelming grace, and unconditional forgiveness.

Today Paul writes and tells his readers that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No longer do we need to concern ourselves with our eternal destiny and with our relationship with God. All of that is a done deal, which has been taken care of by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We have been set free FROM a life in the flesh, and set free FOR a life in the Spirit.

THE STRUGGLE

I recently read a book entitled, Unbroken. It is the story of Louie Zamparini. Louie was a runner in the 1936 Olympics and thought to possibly be the first man who might break the four minute mile. When World War II broke out he served as a bombardier. He plane crashed in the Pacific. He floated for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese and was a POW for over 2 ½ years. Louie endured horrible conditions and abuse as a POW. When the Japanese surrendered, Louie was set free. He soon realized, though, that even though he was back in the States, he was still imprisoned in Japan. It took several years and encounter with Jesus before he was truly set free.

We Christians talk about being free, but how free do you feel? We stay that Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we could have life and have it abundantly. Do you believe that you are living the abundantly life? Life as a Christian is supposed to be different than a life lived without Jesus. Is your life that much different from your friends, neighbors and co-workers?

Paul writes and tells us that we are a lot like Louie Zamperini. Though we are free, we are stuck in our past life—the life of the flesh and the life of sin and death.

In verse 6 Paul writes, “To set the mind on the flesh is death …“ We certainly know what Paul means. Many of us look at our financial predicament, or our job situation and we feel the life just sucked away from us. Several of us are struggling with health issues or physical limitations. If we focus on that very long we start to be pulled into a pity party of hopelessness and despair. Not finding enough misery in our own lives we begin to look around us and sene the fear of terrorism, the frustration of a decade long war, and the rage of government leaders who haven’t figured out the art of compromise in order to get this nation headed out of the mess that we are in. I have had two members of Desert Streams tell me that they no longer watch the news on television. They say that they don’t want to expose themselves to all of the negativism.

Paul has a way out of our dilemma; a way to experience life in the Spirit.

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