John 8. I want us to consider a question together this morning. The question is this: what is the main mission of the Messiah? Why did Jesus Christ come to this earth? Well we get some help from Jesus very first sermon where He reads from Isaiah 61 saying, “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, 19 ” He came to bring freedom. That’s the main mission of the Messiah. Today we are going to notice how He does it.
We’re in John chapter 8, vs 36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We can see that Jesus is referring to freedom from 2 specific things. In verses 34-38 He is speaking of freedom from sin: freedom from lifestyles that we, ourselves cannot overcome. The world calls this “addiction”, and Jesus calls it slavery, you can see that in verse 34, “anyone who sins is a slave of sin.” But secondly, the freedom referred to is a freedom from Satan’s kingdom, you can see that in verses 42-47. Freedom from sin and freedom from Satan’s kingdom is what Jesus has in mind here.
Today I want us to see 3 truths about our condition by birth so that we might understand why we are slaves to sin and to Satan, and so that we can see how Jesus frees us. These 3 things are true of every person ever born. 1. All human beings are born under a curse. 2. All human beings are born under the guilt of sin. 3. All human beings are born into Satan’s kingdom. The devil is the god of this world, and we are all born into this world, into his kingdom. Now that’s the problem, we’re born cursed, guilty and captive to Satan. Let’s notice these one by one, so that we can see how Jesus frees us.
First, look with me at Genesis chapter 3. In Genesis 3 we have the record of the serpent tempting Adam and Eve, and then they ate from the forbidden tree, and sin now entered into the world. And with sin came a curse. And I want us to notice this curse by noting some of the new words that came with sin. These are words that were not in the Bible before sin entered the world. Notice them with me:
Pain. Vs. 16. God says to Eve “with pain you will give birth to children.” The word “pain” is new, there was no pain before there was sin. Pain is part of the curse. He says it again, this time to Adam, in verse 17 when He says “through painful toil you will eat of the ground.” The curse that sin brought included pain: pain for women giving birth and pain for men working. Next, look at verse 18: thorns and thistles. As a result of sin the ground would now produce thorns and thistles. There were no thorns before sin entered this world, thorns are a result of the curse. Notice vs. 19. Sweat is a new word. Adam would work hard and would sweat. And again in vs. 19: death. God tells Adam he would return to the ground. He would die. Then notice vs. 23 the word “banished”, that’s a new word. Part of the curse is that Adam and Eve were banished from paradise. And finally in vs. 24 you have a new word “sword”. That’s a new word. Angels were given a sword to keep Adam and Eve out of paradise. So this is the curse that we are all born into. We have pain and hard work and thorns and thistles, we work by the sweat of our brow, then we die and are banished from God’s presence.
This curse is further highlighted at the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. The Law said “all who do not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law are under a curse.” So now we are cursed because of Adam’s sin and we are cursed because of our own sin. Now certainly no human being can be free who is under a curse.
Problem is that the majority of people do not know they are under the curse. I remember reading a fable about an old witch, who would brew up a curse in her cauldron, and she would pronounce this curse on people but they would not know anything about it. They would go about their day as usual, until one by one they started dropping dead. Well that’s an old fable, but listen, in a very real way, you and I are under a curse like that. We go about our day as usual but we are all going to drop dead, one by one, as proof of the curse we are all under. Noone can be free who is cursed.
Secondly we’re born under the guilt of sin. We inherited this guilt from Adam because he was our representative in the garden. He sinned for us, we sinned in Him. His guilt is our guilt. Romans 3:19 (KJV) 19 …that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be guilty before God. James 2:10 (NIV) 10 whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Some people say, “But I didn’t know I was breaking God’s law.” Leviticus 4:13 (NIV) 13 "’If someone sins unintentionally, even though they are unaware of the matter, they are guilty. John 16:8 (NIV) 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. Not one of us could stand in God’s presence and hear anything from Him but “guilty, guilty, guilty”.
“The Mission,” Robert DeNiro kills his brother in a fit of jealous rage. And he feels so bad because of what he has done, and so he ties himself to a several-hundred pound net of items that represents his sinful life. He drags this sack of sin around with him as a way to do penance for what he has done. Several times he slips under the burden of his past, with the rope choking the very life out of him. Listen, in a very real way, all people are dragging around the guilt of their sins. Sometimes we slip under the weight of it, and it threatens to choke out our life. No person can ever be free who is dragging around the guilt of our past. Guilt demoralizes us. Guilt paralyzes us.
And finally, we are all born in Satan’s kingdom. Look with me at Luke chapter 11, and I want us to notice this description of the devil. Luke 11 tells us several things about Satan. 21 "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.” Now Jesus here is referring to Satan, you can see that from verses 18-20. Satan is strong, he is powerful, he is formidable, and by contrast we are weaklings. Next he is fully armed to guard his house. He’s got Oozi’s, he’s got hand grenades, he’s got shoulder launched missile rockets. Nobody can steal his possessions, notice it says “his possessions are safe.” People are his possessions, and he guards us so that nobody can break in and steal us. Nobody can be free while they’re captive to Satan.
So here we are in our miserable condition. We are born under a curse, the curse of pain and death and banishment from God. We’re cursed. And we’re guilty. And finally we are born in Satan’s kingdom, in the devil’s house, and he is strong and fully armed, and able to keep us captive. There we are. Cursed, guilty, captives.
But the Bible says “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” So I want us to notice what Jesus did about the condition of mankind, and how He frees us. Look with me at Galatians chapter 3. While you’re turning listen to Deut. 21:22-23:22” If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” In other words, Jesus was cursed that we might have the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Do you remember all the new words of the Bible that sin brought in? All the words connected with the curse. Jesus took those on Himself. The first word is pain. Jesus Christ was beaten beyond recognition, His hands and feet were nailed to the cross and then He was hung on that cursed tree. Then we have thorns. As the soldiers made a crown of thorns and put it on His head, Jesus actually wore the curse so that you and I could have the blessing. Sweat is a new word, and in Gethsemane Jesus sweat drops of blood, the Innocent Man working hard to clear the guilty. And then there was death. Jesus became a curse for us, died in our place, and He was put in the ground. Then we have the word “banished” and Jesus, full of our sin was banished from the presence of God, that we might live with Him forever.” The Righteous Man was banished, that sinful people might be received. And finally you have the word “sword”. When a sword was used in Adam’s case it was barring access to God. When the sword was used in Jesus’ heart it wasn’t barring access to God He was buying access to God for us. What Love!
Do you see how Jesus dealt with the curse of man’s sin? He took it all on Himself, becoming a curse for us, that we might inherit the blessing of the Spirit. And where the Spirit of God is there is freedom.
But then there’s this matter of guilt. But you see that’s the very reason for the cross. Back in the Old Testament when someone sinned, they had to bring a lamb to the priest, and they would put their hand on the lamb, symbolically transferring their sin and their guilt to the lamb, and then the lamb’s throat would be slit in payment, and the person would be free from guilt. Jesus is the Lamb of God, and did you know that by faith we can stand there at Golgotha, and we can reach out and put our hands on the Lamb of God as God transfers all our guilt to His innocent Son.
As Jesus hangs there on that tree He hears nothing from God but “guilty, guilty, guilty guilty.” Remember the man who drug the guilt of his sin around with a huge net? God figuratively speaking cut that net of trash and junk off of our necks and hung it on Jesus. And He sunk under the weight of it, and it choked out His very life. What irresistible love! Jesus hears “guilty.” And as we stand there at the cross we hear these words, “33 Who can lay any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Just as Adam’s guilt was ours, so Jesus’ death is ours. There’s a song that speaks of Adam and Eve and goes, “the guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son too win. His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.” Those who are no longer guilty are free from condemnation, free from the penalty of sin and free from the burden of guilt. Free, free, free.
And finally note what Jesus did for us who were captives of the devil. Luke 11. Let’s finish the story. We saw the devil was strong, fully armed and guards his house. 21 "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. Luke 11:21-22 (NIV)
Ah, this tells us Jesus is stronger than the devil, that He overpowered him and took the spoils of the battle as His possession. When did He do that? Look at Isaiah 53: “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12 (NIV) Through Jesus death He overpowered the devil, He defeated the devil and set free all those who were trapped in his kingdom.
The Son sets us free by becoming a curse for us and thereby removing the curse from us, by taking all our guilt on Himself thereby clearing us of guilt, and by "binding the Strongman" through His death, thereby setting us free from Satan’s kingdom. Oh what a cross!
Alexander Whyte “It is the picture of violence, yet the key to peace. It is a picture of suffering, yet the key to healing. It is a picture of utter weakness, yet the key to power. It is a picture of capital punishment, yet the key to mercy and forgiveness. It is a picture of supreme shame, yet the Christian’s supreme boast. It is a picture of death, yet the key to life. It is a picture of vicious hatred, yet the key to love.” What irresistible love.
You know what our response is? It’s what Brian preached last week in that powerful sermon from Colossians 3, on putting to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. We are to do with sin what God did, crucify it, nail it to a cross bury it in a tomb. One of my friends grew up on a farm and one day he was riding to town with his dad in their pickup truck when they spotted a ground hog on the road. Now you and I would probably swerve to miss it, but farmers feel differently about ground hogs because ground hogs dig holes, farmer’s horses step in these holes and break their legs. So my friend’s dad saw this ground hog, and he gets this grin on his face and he steps on the gas and runs right over the ground hog. Thump thump. But that’s not enough. He stops the car, and with the same grin he puts it in reverse, slams on the gas, and backs up over the ground hog. Thump thump. He wanted to make sure that thing was dead. You know what happens when we focus on the cross, when we kneel there at Calvary and are forgiven of our sins? We want to crucify our bitterness and unforgiveness we want to kill our greed and envy, we want to run over our and our lying, lusts and passions.
William Wallace was the leader of the Scottish resistance forces during the struggle to free Scotland from English rule. On August 5 1305 he was captured by English soldiers near Glasgow and transported to London. He was tried for treason, declared guilty, taken from the hall, stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse. He was strangled by hanging but released while still alive, his bowels were cut out and burned before him. He was tortured. But the very last word that he shouts as he is dying, he lets out a loud cry of “freedom!” Wallace’s gruesome death inspired the people and shortly thereafter they won their freedom. Likewise, Jesus was tortured beyond belief, and after the shedding of his blood, He shouted out, “It is finished.” He had not just inspired but actually purchased our freedom. Freedom from the curse. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from Satan’s kingdom.
Pray and sing