Summary: Three obstacles you must overcome if you are to experience genuine freedom in Christ.
Freedom in Christ
Woodlawn Baptist Church
May 30, 2004
As we begin I want you to think back with me to what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden, to the time after God completed His Creation, but before Adam plunged mankind into sin through the Fall. What must it have been like to walk and talk face to face with God? To enjoy every pleasure imaginable, to pursue your heart’s desires, not because you had nothing else to do, but because you took great delight in doing them and great delight in the God who gave you those desires? What must it have been like to live in absolute harmony with all created things, including your spouse? To live in an environment of perfect peace, perfect love and acceptance, with perfect relationships? What must it have been like to be free to give, to share, to be yourself with absolutely no fear of being hurt or rejected? Or to live the life that you were created to live?
When I think back to the Garden, I am instantly reminded that although we talk much about it, we really know very little about what it must be like to be free. I am going to speak on the subject of freedom this morning, particularly Freedom in Christ, because according to the Bible, there is no other kind of freedom. It is only when Christ is present, whether in the life of an individual, a family, a church, or a nation that they experience genuine and lasting freedom, but even that freedom is something most believers will never experience because of three obstacles that we face. Let’s read Luke 8:26-39, then I want to share with you these obstacles that you must overcome if you are to be free in Christ.
“And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.”
I wonder what it must have been like for this man. I imagine a young man growing up in this region of the Sea of Galilee, a fine young man; perhaps at one time a respectable citizen in town. Was he married? Did he have children? I wonder what circumstances led to his running around naked, half-naked at best if someone had pity on him and had tried to dress him. As he roamed through the housing districts, people must have avoided him at all costs, none daring to take the risk to put him up for the night, so he lived out by the water in the tombs among the dead. For fear of their safety and perhaps for his own good, people had tried to chain the poor man up, putting shackles on his hands and wrists, but he kept breaking them, displaying a superhuman strength. Mark’s gospel tells us that he lived a miserable life out here in the mountains, separated from everyone by his madness; and he even hated it himself. Had you walked those hills in that day you would have heard him weeping, crying throughout the day and night. He wailed as he cut himself with the stones that he picked up among the caves.