Freedom, Romans 8:1-10
Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ
May 5, 2002
A couple who has been married for twenty years went to a wedding reception of a close friend’s daughter. During the ring exchange ceremony, the husband started to cry.
The wife, surprised by her husband’s emotional outburst, said, " I didn’t realize that you have so much feeling about your friend’s happiness."
"Twenty years ago, your father threatened that if I don’t marry you, he would put me behind bars for twenty years. the husband said, "If I had just gone to jail, I would’ve been a free man by now.
Freedom has been compelling since the beginning of time. In the book of Genesis we find the people of God being oppressed and abused by another people. In fact the whole book of Exodus is about God’s people leaving a life of slavery, throwing off the chains of tyranny and oppression.
We are no different, as humans it is our desire to be free people. We love to watch stories of freedom It’s why Pearl Harbor was such a hit movie last year. It’s why we remember lines from movies like Brave heart Most of us could repeat or at least remember the famous line from William Wallace “That they may take our lives but they’ll never take our freedom”
But this type of memorabilia was not just for movies or good stories. Some of our most outstanding moments in history tell the story of a freedom that is longed for. Probably the most famous quote in the history of this country concerning freedom was that famous quote from Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or Give me death”
Soon after Sept 11 of last year Paul McCartney wrote a song that describes the basic elements of a life that is not lived under oppression.
This is my right
A right given by God
To live a free life
To live in freedom
While we enjoy political freedom, the kind of freedom that is being addressed today goes a step beyond. We are in Romans 8 this morning where the author is talking about freedom.
The author is talking about a freedom in the spiritual side of life. Which may sound like a myth or mystery to some but the bible reminds us of the reality of the Spiritual world. One day these bodies are going to die and fade into dust but our Spirit will live on long after we are dead. Then we will realize the full reality of the spiritual world.
So though political freedom is a great thing, if we were captured tomorrow and forced to live the rest of our days as slaves we could still know the reality of a spiritual freedom In Christ.
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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, 4 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. 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Free from Sin
Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. But he can’t. His fist is larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and catch him
That’s what sin is like it’s like something that we don’t want to let go of, but in order to find freedom we have to let go and reach out for Jesus. If we don’t then before you know it Satan has you completely captured and living in his cage.
But for some that’s not the issue. For some the issue is entirely different and we either no nothing for spiritual freedom or we do not really care about it
In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed in America. The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolinas, and even into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The headlines read, ’Slavery Legally Abolished!’ However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation. They went on living like they had never been set free. In fact, when one Alabama slave was asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator, whose proclamation had gone into effect, he replied "I don’t know nothing about Abraham Lincoln except they say he set us free. And, I don’t know nothing about that neither." How tragic. A war was being fought. A document had been signed. Slaves were legally set free.
Yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it. They had chosen to remain slaves, though they were legally free. Even though emancipated, they kept serving the same master.
How many times have you heard Jesus asking you if you wanted the cell door unlocked but have decided to stay locked up in your sinful prison of pride.
There are a number of reasons we live in captivity even the Israelites when they were wandering through the desert said “Oh I wish we could co back to being slaves”
That comment didn’t please God or Moses as you recall. Why would, why do people choose slavery over freedom and hope?
The Israelites said “Hey we’re going to die out here” “At least back in Egypt we were fed. Which is translation for “ I know things weren’t perfect but I got 3 squares a day and didn’t hade to worry about the future”
Some of you won’t take your hand out of the melon because you are comfortable and let’s be honest. When you give your life to God you will wonder about your future”
The great news is that Jesus is the one who leads us through the deserts of despair, He is the one who helps us climb the mountain of uncertainty and he is the one who makes us look out at a land that he wants to lead us into. A place flowing with rich friendships and community that keeps on encouraging one another. It is a land that is unfamiliar to all and may contain giant obstacles but the promise of God is this: it’s more rewarding than anything you have ever experienced.
We’ve all heard the story about the man who was too afraid to fly so he never did.
But what God wants to know from you is when will you trust him for your future?
Free from Law
We are not Just set free from Sin, we are also set free from the Law.
Look at how the biblical law is describes in verses 3 and 4
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, 4 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.
It calls the law powerless and weak. The Law still stood in the way of a relationship between us and Jesus. And what happened is that in all of history not one person could keep the whole law. Except Jesus. That’s where the relationship starts, because without Jesus we all have broken the commandments of God. It’s how Jesus described himself as the one the fulfilled the law. Or in other words He is the only one who kept the whole law and because He did, and because of his great Love for people, because of his sacrifice we are able to make him the Lord of our lives.
Now the early church went through this issue and some Christians and some churches today even struggle with this. The issue for a lot of churches was well if Jesus fulfilled the law how should we live? If Jesus completed the law, what do we do with the first 2 thirds of the bible?
The answer to both those questions is this: Look for Jesus?
The Old Testament is designed to show us God’s whole plan for humanity so cherish the history that we can read from. Learn from the lessons of great hero’s of the faith. And look for Jesus in every book. A very popular songwriter talks about how Jesus can be found in every book in the Bible and how we should learn to find him in the Old Testament.
Vs 3 and 4 of this text say the Law was powerless but now we have an opportunity to live according to the Spirit.
What does that mean? What does it mean to live according to the Spirit?
It basically means “look for Jesus”
We are no longer bound by the law but bound by the relationship we have with Jesus.
And in effect that’s what Jesus wanted to do. He made the rigid law of exodus the functional as a standard for our relationships.
He said the Law says don’t commit adultery. That’s the law but if you live by the Spirit it’s about the relationship that you have with God so as part of honoring your relationship with God don’t even look and lust.
He said The law says don’t murder . That’s the law but if you live by the Spirit it’s about the relationship that you have with God so as part of honoring your relationship with God don’t even cause hurt or use the word hate.
We have been set free from the law but if you ask me we are held to a higher point of accountability because of our relationship with Jesus.
Free from Death
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work," he said. "I want to achieve immortality by not dying."
Te reality is that we all will one day pass from this life to the next. It’s not a pleasant issue and nobody likes to talk about it. But the truth is the committed follower of Jesus knows what leis beyond the other side of the grave.
Either way we will experience an incredible real form of spiritual reality. For the Follower of Jesus the Bible promises that we will share heaven with Jesus if we are willing to stand up and confess him before others and live a life true to how he has asked me to live.
Jesus said that there is a way to reach immortality. It doesn’t happen by pretending to follow, It doesn’t happen by staying stuck in our sins, it does not happen by any other way but coming to him. And getting right wit God.
Jesus sets us free from everything in our lives that keeps us from God and the first place we should look to be free from death is in Jesus. Some of you have been imprisoned by death already.
Some of you this morning are shackled to the doorway of the next life.
Oh don’t get me wrong you may not actually pass away for another 50 years or more. But some of you are chained to death as a major fear in your life. Uncertain about your eternal destiny and to those of you who fit this description. Jesus wants to set you free this morning as well.
Start the relationship today. Identify with Christ. Confess His name out loud and tell everybody who he is to you. Allow him to secure your future. There is incredible comfort in Jesus.
The promise that Jesus makes to us is when we stand up and Proclaim him as Savior and Lord He promises to claim us before God.
I don’t know where you are this morning but I can assure you that God knows and he is pleading with you. There is no reason for anyone to live enslaved to that which will destroy you and leave you with no hope. Jesus is asking will you live in freedom. Real freedom begins with Jesus.