Summary: Sermon for nation's celebration of Independence Day and the freedom Christians enjoy from five types of tyranny.
“Freedom from Tyranny”
Text: Galatians 4:28-5:1
Since I have used the word “tyranny” in the title of my sermon, I want to define this term before we get started: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others; oppressive power; a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force; the office, authority and administration of a tyrant; an oppressive, harsh or unjust act. This Saturday, our nation will observe its 239th birthday. Many of you will enjoy family cookouts, fireworks displays and other outdoor activities as well as a Federal holiday on Monday. As you remember, some of the first immigrants to North America were the Pilgrims 150 years beforehand. Some 20,000 immigrants came in the 1630s as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The majority of these people were Puritans seeking freedom for their religious views and escape from governmental tyranny. Freedom from the tyranny of the British king George III and religious persecution formed the cornerstone of this new republic. Let me read a statement by Dr. Joseph Warren who died at the age of 34 in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775: “Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit – appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free.” The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, declared the thirteen American colonies as the United States of America and no longer a part of the British Empire. As Americans, we have long celebrated our freedoms – of religion as well as politics. The Constitution is supposed to keep the three branches of the federal government in check and protect us from governmental tyranny. While we pray that these freedoms continue, many believe that our religious freedom is being eroded and religious persecution is on the horizon. This is certainly a sad possibility but we need to remember where our real citizenship resides. Philippians 3:20–21 – "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." As Christians, we are merely temporary residents on earth. As much as we love our country, we must not lose sight of Who rules our lives. We may celebrate freedom from governmental tyranny on Independence Day and we may anticipate religious persecution in the future but, for the next few minutes, I want us to look at the real “Freedom from Tyranny” we should celebrate. We hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study together. We also beg you to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily to make sure I’ve preached the truth.
The first thing we want to notice this morning may not seem too important to you but it is that we are free from the old law. In our text, the apostle Paul was warning the Galatian Christians not to become entangled again with a yoke of bondage. He wanted them to realize that, when they put on Christ in baptism, they were crucified with Christ and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 2:20; 3:27-29). Christ's death on the cross inaugurated a new covenant and set us free from the old one. Listen to the words of Colossians 2:14 – "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." In Christ Jesus, we have been freed from the tyranny of the old law. Not only that but, those who are in Christ Jesus have been freed from the tyranny of sin. From Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16, we learn that our sins are forgiven or washed away in baptism. After describing baptism as a burial into Christ’s death in Romans 6:3-4, the apostle goes on in Romans 6:22 to declare: "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." This is great news since the next verse reveals that the wages of sin is death. I wish we had time to read the entire sixth chapter of Romans but I do want to go back up to verses 12 and 14 because they point out the tyrannical power of sin: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts…For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." The third thing that those who are in Christ Jesus and children of God are freed from is the tyranny of the devil. Turn with me to 1 John 3:7-10 and let’s read these verses together. However, I’m going to read them out of the ESV because it gives a better sense of verb tenses in these verses: "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." We know that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But, there are two things we need to get from these verses in 1 John 3. First of all, children of God practice a lifestyle of righteousness – doing what is right in God’s sight. Children of the devil, on the other hand, practice a lifestyle of sinning. They are under his tyrannical power. Thankfully, we are not left defenseless against the devil. Remember Ephesians 6:11 – "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." And, then Paul continues in verse 16: "above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one". We know that the devil is our adversary walking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He particularly likes a diet of Christians. But, we can beat him according to James 4:7 – "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." And, 1 Peter 5:9 adds, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” Faith will give us the victory over the devil. As children of God, when our sins are forgiven, we are freed from the tyranny of guilt. This is one that so many wrestle with and are losing the match. I want to suggest several passages that indicate that forgiven sins are forgiven forever by our Father in heaven. Of course, Micah 7:19 is a favorite of mine: