Summary: To be saved by Jesus is to be set free.
SPECIAL DAY: INDEPENDENCE DAY
“FREEDOM IN CHRIST”
Tomorrow, we celebrate the founding of our nation. There will be picnics and fireworks and other activities happening across our country. It’s a celebration of freedom called Independence Day. The words of Patrick Henry ring in our ears and our hearts: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to announce and declare that they would accept nothing less than absolute freedom from England. Two days later, the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was ratified and signed by those present. And so we celebrate the 4th of July as our day of freedom.
Freedom is a great Christian word. Abraham Lincoln is known as the “Great Emancipator.” But the greatest emancipator that ever lived was Jesus Christ. An emancipator is a liberator and that’s what it means to say that Jesus is our Savior, Deliverer, and Redeemer. To be saved by Jesus is to be set free.
Jesus introduced Himself in His first recorded public sermon as the One whom God had sent to bring freedom. Following His baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus went to Galilee and taught in the synagogues. At one point He returned to His hometown of Nazareth and went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Lk. 4:17-21 – The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: [Is.61:1-2] “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
If Christ is our liberator, our emancipator, then from what do we need to be released, liberated, set free? Sin. Jesus says in Jn. 8:34 – “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Paul puts it this way in Rom. 7:21-25 – So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. And with those words, Paul introduces his proposition about freedom in Christ.
FREEDOM FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
Rom. 8:1-4 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 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, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Whenever you see the word “therefore” in Scripture, it always points you back to something the writer has already said. It also points you forward to something the writer is going to say.
“Condemnation” is a concept that Paul used throughout the entire letter up to this point. Rom. 1:18 – The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Condemnation.
Rom. 2:12 – All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. What’s going to happen to those who don’t hear the law? They will die without the law. Condemnation. What about those who receive the law? They’ll be judged by the law. Condemnation.
Rom. 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Condemnation.
Rom. 4 stresses that we cannot gain forgiveness of sin – that we can’t win our own freedom – through our own efforts. Condemnation.