|Messages By Ovid Need|
True Freedom - John 8:32-36
Today, I just want to cover something very simple and basic to the Christian faith. This is not much, but it is important to be reminded of this once-in-a-while.
We do indeed live in strange times when freedom is identified with many other things, point of a gun. "Either be free or we will kill you." What is sadder still, is that Christians accept such foolish notions.
Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
The war which won our freedom was waged 2000 years ago upon the cross. This war was waged between the Son of God and the powers of Darkness. The Son of God won, and rose from the dead as proof of His victory. The result was not only freedom but peace. Christ not only provides the only true freedom, but He is now exalted as the Prince of Peace. In His death, burial and resurrection, Isa 9:6 is fulfilled, as He alone is the source of true freedom and peace.
We talked about the New Covenant which was made between God and His people. This covenant involves freedom from the power of sin over our lives. It involves freedom from the eternal penalty of sin. And, more important for us today, it involves freedom from guilt, a free conscience.
Guilt is a hard, as well as a deceptive, thing to define. We could define guilt as the conscious or unconscious feeling that one has violated, either wilfully and intentionally, or unintentionally, a set standard or rule of duty, and that there is a penalty against anyone who violates that standard. That standard could be one set by ourselves, by our society, by our family, our church, or, as it should be, set by the law of God.
And let me say here that when the law of God is our standard, God has given a way to be released from guilt. One of the purposes of humanistic counseling today is to get the person to lower their standard, thereby solving the guilt problem (for a while, anyway).
Because we have been created in the image of the righteous God, the most basic controlling factor of man's being is justice. This is even more basic than his need to love and to be loved.
This is the motive behind Masochism. (Pleasure derived from being dominated, mistreated, or hurt in some way.) Masochism is a humanistic answer for this inborn desire for punishment leading to justice, and is a revolt against God's plan for this justice.
Which leads us to another problem. The more a civilization advances and falls away from God's method of justice, the more of an increase of a desire to pay for that advancement in some way. The result is political enslavement. The prosperous people know down deep inside that they are not right with their Creator, therefore, they allow evil men to rule over them in order to extract from them the perceived punishment for their unrighteousness. They do not feel they deserve prosperity, so they want someone to punish them.
Let us not think for a moment that the enemies of God do not recognize this need in the human spirit. They fan this fire of guilt, then present a humanistic way to appease the guilt.
We are seeing this all around us as the media tells us how guilty we are, then how to pay the penalty for that guilt. The so called "Affirmative Action" is based on this. The purpose is to make us feel guilty for something we had nothing to do with, then we will tolerate all kinds of "Affirmative Action." More commonly known as or sato-masochism, or self-inflicted pain.
The basic problem is sin. Sin is the desire for man to be his own god, able to determine for himself what is right and wrong. His basic problem is his rebellion against God. The result of this rebellion is guilt, as he knows he has fallen short of the glory of God.
Then, as we see in our courts today, rebellious man, burdened with a sense of guilt and unable to enjoy life, confesses his sin, but he pleads guilty to a lesser crime. He seeks to plea-bargain with God and plead guilty to something less than his rebellion against God and His word. I read an article yesterday of a man who got two years suspended sentence. Killed a passenger on his motorcycle.
He may feel guilty over a stolen pencil while he ignores his open rebellion against God. He may plead guilty to the sin of theft, but not to the rebellion, then brag over his humility because he plead guilty to the small theft.
This raises a question in my mind, which, of course, I cannot answer. The abortion protests which we hear so much about. How many are involved in them because of a sense of guilt? They are protesting abortion and this activity makes them feel good, yet they are guilty themselves of gross rebellion against God.
And of course, it does not stop there. All kinds of good activities can be used to cover the deep rebellion against God, as each one of us seek to be our own god in some area.
And sad to say, many times the church has worked to emphasis guilt and shame before God, rather than the peace and joy which is in the finished work of Christ. We urge people to cover their guilt with works rather than take care of the rebellion.
In the OT, Lev. 16, we are given God's answer to the problem of man's sin; The Day of Atonement. On this day two goats were used for one offering. One was sacrificed, the second was sprinkled with the blood of the first which had been sacrificed, then he removed from the camp and set free. This was called the scapegoat and symbolically represented the removal of sin from the people of God through the atoning sacrifice.
Of course, this represents the work of Christ, the atoning sacrifice for sin and the removal of sin from His people. Man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot remove his sin himself. Only God can remove sin and the guilt of that sin, and that is only through the atoning work of Christ, His only begotten Son.
The gospel is the good news. That good news is the remission of sin through the atoning work and saving power of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul could say in Ph. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Heb. 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Here we see that the purpose of the ministry is the salvation of the sinner and his growth in sanctification, that his conscience might be purged from his dead works that he might serve the living God.
1 Tim 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: V. 18, 19 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
Obviously, here we see that bondage is in the conscience and is to sin. Freedom must start here, or there will be no true freedom. When this clear conscience before God is lost, it is just a short time until the outward freedom is lost also.
Only by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ can God's justice be satisfied, the Christian's record and conscience cleared, and the man delivered into true freedom, freedom in both politics and culture. True liberty is Christian liberty, Gal. 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. There is no substitute.
In short, people who are under a guilt trip make passive slaves. And guilt will remain as long as man seeks to establish his own standards, be his own god, and deal with guilt in his own way.
Actual guilt is established under the law of God. Jer 31:29, 30 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. This tells us that each person is responsible for his own actions in relationship to the word of God, and that one generation is not guilty for the sins of its forefathers. Each generation must stand upon its own. Therefore, each individual must stand on their own.
The just punishment for the violation of the law was established in the OT, and once the punishment was administered (restitution, life for a life, eye for a eye), and the offering made then the guilty was free in the eyes of the law. But all of that could not clear the conscience.
Christ did not lessen the since of guilt, rather He increased it. He laid bare our motives and thoughts to the Father by the word of God. In doing this, He now holds us accountable for every word, deed and thought. We are guilty before God, even in our thought life, if it is not according to the word of God.
Guilt is as common as is sin, and both guilt and sin must be in relationship to the law of God.
Sin, and the resulting guilt, if allowed to remain, will destroy our relationship with the Lord; Ph. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It robs us of all peace.
It robs us of our sleep.
It robs us of our health.
It robe us of our power with God and our boldness for right.
It robs us of our relationship with others.
It makes us snap at others.
It makes us short and cranky. Guilt causes us to be extremely discontent and causes us to complaining about everything. Nothing pleases the guilty person.
It makes all things work together against us.
It will not leave our mind alone, thus controlling our mind.
There is a tremendous legal drug market today based upon covering up guilt. Many so called doctors are being made rich off of the guilt trip of suckers. The world's answer to guilt is to transfer it to someone or something out side of our selves. Maybe to our environment, to our parents, to our spouse, to our children, to the pastor, to the church, to our boss or job. There are thousands of places where we can transfuse our guilt and many people are making an excellent living from helping the guilty make this transfer.
The world's answer for guilt maybe escape in drugs, sex, booze, or all kinds of wicked activity. Not only wicked activity, guilt will cause a person to work hard at good activities, even religious activities in order to silence that still, small voice of guilt over sin.
Maybe preaching, teaching, church attendance, giving to the poor, giving to the church, or any one of many things done in the name of Christ. All of these activities can be attempts used to cover over guilt.
Yet no matter how hard one might try these things other than God's way, of dealing with sin, the guilt will remain.
But, as we see here in our text, there is only one source of true freedom, and that has nothing to do with where we live, the system of government we live under, or who we live with. My wife cannot robe me of my freedom, nor can my government. Freedom is found in Christ. He is the One who makes us free, and that freedom only comes after we have faced up to the basic problem; we have attempted to establish our own standard and be our own god, maybe in only one area, or maybe over our total life.
All of this as introudction.
This message only has about 4 simple points which, if followed, are guaranteed to set you free, and once again allow peace to reign within.
I. First of all, recognize we have a problem. And that we are in bondage to sin. There can be no freedom or peace without this realization.
Pro. 19:3 gives us an interesting statement. The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. Here we see that it is a persons own sin which brings about his problems, then he fusses at the Lord over the resulting problems. The sinner makes his own bed, then complains to God over the thorns in it. Blames someone else for the thorns. As we mentioned, when the thorns start sticking us, we attempt to plea-bargain with God. We attempt to plead guilty to a lessor sin, anything except that we have rebelled against Him and established our own standard.
How many have been destroyed because they refused to admit they were the problem?
The problem is that there are none righteous, no not one. When someone feels that they are above the need of aid, they have established their own standard and are on their way to destruction. (Let us not be guilty of sitting here and saying, "Yes, that's right. I know someone like that.)
And it is amazing indeed how blinding sin can by. David, the man after God's own heart, committed the most obvious of sins; took another man's wife, got her pregnant, then killed her husband. It did not sink in that he had committed the most horrible of sins until Nathan pointed to him and said, Thou art the man.
David knew immediately that Nathan was telling the truth. But for all these months, he was blinded to his sin. "How can that be?" All we can say is that sin blinds and binds. We could almost call this the miracle of blindness.
Here is where many fail. They absolutely refuse to recognize that there is a problem. Us men have a particular problem here. Maybe we feel this is a threat to our manhood to admit that there is something holding us.
Some people might say if they had been in David's place when Nathan pointed at him: "You're kidding. I did not do anything wrong. It was her fault, she paraded around naked in front of me. What do you expect when a beautiful woman does that?"
I have known people who would rather drown and pull everyone around them down than admit they had a problem. Their problem is obvious, but when confronted with it, they absolutely refused to admit to it.
When someone close to us warns us, we had better pay attention. And the closer they are, the more attention we should pay to their warning.
Of course, the sin does not have to be out in the open. It can be well hidden in the heart and emotions. It can be obvious only to the Lord and us.
How do we know that we are in bondage?
We mentioned one part of a passage, Ph. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The next verse will further describe the situation, v. 8, 9. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
When we lose control of our minds and cannot think upon these things, that is a good sign that we are in bondage to something else.
In fact, what does our mind dwell upon? That thing may not be sin in itself, but it lays and lingers in our mind. It controls our thoughts. It makes us depressed and discouraged. It causes us to lose our freedom and peace in Christ.
So, the first thing here in this path to freedom, is to face up to what ever it is that is holding us. This may take some prayer that we can see it. Maybe it is pride, lust, doubt, hatred, hard feelings toward someone, love of money, desire for praise. The list is endless, and, as we said, maybe not sin in itself.
Now, maybe we realize that something is robbing us of our freedom and peace, but we just cannot put our finger on it. Let us beware of pleas-bargaining with God. We need to get to the root sin. Ph. 3:15 gives us the answer. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Pray that the Lord would show us what it is that has separated us from the peace which has been promised to us in Christ.
II. This brings us to the second step. God has shown us what it is that has robbed us of our freedom and peace that is to be ours in Christ. Now what do we do with it?
This step is obvious, and should be old ground to every one in here.
I Jn 1:9 & Pro. 28:13, 14, 15 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
This step is confession of the sin that has crept between us and the Lord. If nothing else, the sin of the mind out of control. As we have said, sin is basically that we have established the standard in that area, instead of allowing the word of God establish the standard. We have attempted to be our own god.
In this should also be included RESTITUTION if this is needed. Did we rob from someone, lie to or about them, misuse a trust they had in us, rail on them? Did our sin involve someone else? If so, it needs to be made right.
III Now, the admitting that there is a problem sometimes is not the difficult thing. This is especially true if the situation is strictly an inner attitude or emotional problem that has crept between us and the Lord.
This is a key point in gaining the peace and freedom from that thing, even emotion, which would seek to rob us of our peace and freedom from guilt. Once we have faced up to the sin, made it right with those who we have harmed, and right with the Lord, what do we do if it still will not leave us alone? What do we do if that thing still dominates our mind, thoughts and emotions?
Eph 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The answer here is to admit that we can do nothing about the situation, yet we know that it is sin. We cannot bring our emotions under control, we cannot bring our mind under control. We cannot do anything to change the thing that is robbing us of our peace and freedom.
Admit that only the Lord through His Holy Spirit alone can make any changes in us. Admit that He alone can bring that sin under control by his grace and power.
IV. This fourth point would be actually with the third. Be willing to turn and cast ourselves totally upon Him to change us.
This is Ps. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. It is the Spirit of God working in us that must change that thing which seeks to control us contrary to the plan and peace of God.
As I said, this is a very simple outline which every one in here should be familiar with, but is overlooked far too often.
The main point that I have found which is needed for this true freedom and peace, is the casting ourselves upon the Lord in total hopelessness and dependance upon Him to change those things within us that are displeasing to Him.
We cannot control our emotions, but they must be controlled.
We cannot control our thoughts, but they must be controlled.
We cannot control our inner man, but he must be controlled.
Only when we reach the point that we realize that we cannot control him, that we cannot control that sin, and if we don't desire for it to be controlled, we can pray for Him to change that desire, but that he must be controlled and we desire for it to be controlled, then we cast our selves upon the Lord to do this within us, then there can be victory. Then we can have the clear conscience which gives us boldness for the Lord.
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