Summary: Four marks which clarify whether a person has been set free --- or not.
I’VE BEEN SET FREE
* Please turn with me to Romans 8 and let’s begin the chapter which is the “heart” of the Roman letter. Paul’s letter to Rome is “God’s Glorious Gospel” because it gives us hope and help. Let’s read.
* Years ago, Albert Brumley wrote a gospel song which has now become a standard in gospel music. It is entitled “He set me free”.
Once like a bird in prison I dwelled,
No freedom from my sorrow I felt,
But Jesus came and listened to me,
And glory to God, He set me freeHe set me free
Yes, He set me free
He broke the bars of prison for me
I’m glory bound my Jesus to see
Praise the Lord, He set me free!* When I reflect on those words, I am reminded of a time when the people of God were excited about being set free! The same joy and excitement was sensed in the songs of that day. Another song said, “I saw the light, I saw the light, no more in darkness, no more night. Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the Light!” It is written that Hank Williams wrote this song about his personal religious convictions even though he struggle with the demon of alcohol. Yet, by his own words he felt set free.
* Verse 2 says in part, “Jesus Christ has set you free.” Think about this with me; can you think of a time when you were set free? You were lock up, tied to, or even addicted to something & got free.
* In New York City is the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church led by Pastor Jim Cymbala. To attend that church, you get the sense that people earnestly seek God in their lives because God has set them free. They have been set free from drugs, prostitution, pornography, and more. When a person has been set free, he is excited.
* Did you realize that “being set free” is what happens when we come to Christ. Remember that all have sinned and that sin brings the penalty of death. Outside of Christ we are prisoners to sin, self, and Satan. We are “chained” to our nature and desires. It is only IN CHRIST that we can be set free. This is the good news of Jesus.
* Remember the words of John, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” May I give you a personal translation of that verse, “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free.” However, keep in mind the Biblical meaning of word KNOW. When we embrace the truth (Jesus), freedom is the result.
* From our text let’s consider four marks or checkpoints for being set free. These will help bring into focus what it means, how we know, and actually how it is that we are set free.
* Let’s not forget the first seven chapters of this letter. Paul has told us about sin, the payment for sin, and the power of sin, the condition of man’s soul, God’s wrath, judgment, and death. He has painted us a picture showing the depravity of mankind. But he also has told us about how to be set free through Jesus Christ.
1. The Confidence –Verse one says in essence, “Therefore (For all the reasons I have stated), there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ.” The words “no condemnation” speaks of the ultimate victory and the triumph found “in Christ.” Ultimately, because of our relationship to Christ we do not have to face eternal punishment, we have been released from the shackles of sin and shame, and we can look forward to eternity knowing that “greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.” If Jesus died (& He did), If He was buried (& He was), & If He rose from the dead (& He did), no enemy is left because death, the last enemy, has been defeated. In Christ we have the victory.
* That being said, theologian Matthew Henry reminds us that “this does not say, “There is no accusation against them,” for there is; but the accusation is thrown out, and the indictment quashed. He does not say, "There is nothing in them that deserves condemnation," for this there is, and they see it, and own it, and mourn over it, and condemn themselves for it; but it shall not be their ruin. He does not say, "There is no cross, no affliction to them or no displeasure in the affliction," for this there may be; but no condemnation. They may be chastened of the Lord, but not condemned with the world.
* Confidence is a great thing. The story is told of old Bishop Warren Chandler, after whom the school of theology at Emory University was named. As he lay on his death bed, a friend inquired as to whether or not he was afraid. "Please tell me frankly," he said, "do you fear crossing over the river of death?" "Why?" replied Chandler, "I belong to a Father who owns the land on both sides of the river." What a testimony!