Summary: what is true christian freedom
Freedom in the Christian Life
I want you to watch a video clip from the film Braveheart. Freedom is a very precious commodity. We hear a lot about freedom today. There are wars fought over it, legislation enacted to give people freedom, protests marches, freedom of speech, freedom of religion etc. There is a lot said about it, shouted about and you know a lot of it is plain nonsense. Freedom – are you free? This morning I want us together to look at the Freedom we have in the Christian Life.
What am I free from?
What am I free to do?
What am I free from?
Terry Waite in his book ‘Taken on Trust’ describes being chained to the wall and only allowed to go to the bathroom once a day. He was shackled to that radiator for 1763 days, almost four years. We can only imagine the sense of freedom he has now. But imagine that after he was released he was walking past the building where he had been held and one of his captors calls him over. The man says ‘Mr Waite won’t you come back into captivity again? We will give you a new set of handcuffs, a new chain, a new room and a new radiator to be chained to.’ Would Terry Waite go back? No of course he wouldn’t. Would you? Now why would I ask such a question? Simple really – most Christians I know have done exactly that. Paul says in Galatians 5 verse 1 ‘It is for freedom Christ has set you free. Stand firm , then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again with the yoke of slavery.’ Yet when I look around me and observe the lives of many Christians I see slavery and not freedom. I see people burdened with guilt, bound by fear, enslaved to habits which are sinful, shackled with an attitude that is far from Christlike. Yet here Paul says Jesus has set them free. In John 8 verse 32 Jesus says the truth shall set you free and four verses later in verse 36 he says ‘if the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed.’ Friends how come Christ has set us free and yet most Christians are still in chains, still in bondage, still shackled by fear, by sin, by the flesh, the world and the devil.
In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress there is a point at which Christian’s burden, which he has been carrying all his life, falls off his back and rolls away. Do you remember where this happens? It falls off at the foot of the cross and it rolls into an empty tomb. He never again carries that burden on his back – the burden by the way is sin. Friends Christ has set you free from the burden of sin. Listen to the prophet Isaiah, chapter 1 verse 18 and chapter 6 verse 7. Do you understand you are freed from the burden of sin. Let me remind you what Jesus said ‘come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will …’ add more weight to your burden? No, ‘and I will give you rest.’ What was the constant refrain coming from the lips of Jesus to people – come to me and I will remove your burden of sin. Friends we have been freed from the burden of sin.
You see that is why Paul warns the Galatians not to put the yoke of the Law back on themselves again. You see Judaizers had got in amongst them in the church and had started to win them over to the heresy that in order to be saved they need to be circumcised and to obey the Law. You know it seemed so easy to them and almost so obvious that this was right but it was wrong. It was a minor medical procedure but the theological and doctrinal implications were enormous. What Paul says is this – if you believe that circumcision is necessary then you do not believe that Christ’s death on the cross is sufficient to save you from your sins. In fact you have rejected the gospel of grace and you have gone back to the ‘good works’ path. And you all know that all the Law does is convict you of your sin and burden you with guilt.
When Moses came down Mount Sinai with the tablet of commandments and he began to read the law to the people in the desert what was their reaction? Guilt, shame, despondency and desolation. The Law did not spell freedom it spelt condemnation. Why? Because it convicted them of their sin – that is why a sacrificial lamb was provided so that an atonement through the shedding of blood could be made on their behalf. The Law brought condemnation and guilt. It laid a burden on the people. It held them in bondage. But when Christ, the Lamb of God, came he fulfilled the Laws requirement and made atonement for the sins of many. The burden was lifted from off the back of the people because the requirement of the Law had been met and a perfect life was sacrificed in their (and our) place.