Reading: John 8:28-36
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
The politicians tell us that we entered the war on Iraq in order to bring freedom from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein!
In the process of gaining this, so called, freedom, many tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children have died, with many more being horribly maimed.
Many of our soldiers have lost their lives
Even now, in this so called ‘freedom’, hardly a day passes in which we don’t hear of people being slaughtered on the streets.
FREEDOM IS ONE OF OUR MOST CHERISHED POSSESSIONS!
[a] Over the past few years, the world has undergone great changes.
[b] Hard line communist governments have crumbled and fallen, as people have fought for their freedom!
[c] Countries which were once renowned for persecuting those who professed the Name of Christ, have been crying out for Bibles - with a desperate thirst for the things of God!! There is still of course, terrible persecution elsewhere!
[d] As we have seen yet again in recent times, freedom is a hard won thing, and can often cost many lives, in order to bring it to pass.
[e] Our young people today are crying out for more and more freedom!
Unfortunately for many of them, they haven't a clue what they want!
It reminds me of something spoken in the middle of a pop record a many years ago!
“I want to be free.” says the singer, and the question is asked, what he wants to be free to do. He answers, “I wanna be free to do what I want to do.” He just as well may have said - “I haven’t a clue!”
[f] That is the story of so many people’s lives today. They make a great song and dance about being free! and yet they are slaves to fashion, to cigarettes, to drink, to sex - you name it, and they are under it’s controlling force. THEY DON’T CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF THEIR LIVES, -IT DOES!!
[g] They just follow along like little puppy dogs, wagging their tails, and shouting about how free they are! To those of us who have been enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can see, how the devil pulls the strings, while they behave like puppets! FREEDOM?? WHAT A JOKE!!
[a] When we think of someone obtaining freedom, one of the first to come to mind in recent times might be Terry Waite's and his experience as a hostage for 1,763 days, before his release in November 1991. I wonder, does it remind us of the freedom that is the possession of every true Christian.
[b] Jesus said, in our text, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!”
[c] FREEDOM FROM THE POWER OF SIN is of course what springs immediately to mind.
How often have we heard people testify as to how they felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from them, and they’d been set free! Hallelujah!
[d] Because we’ve been set free from our sin, we also have FREEDOM FROM THE PENALTY OF THAT SIN, which Jesus took on Himself on Calvary’s cross. As the Apostle Peter puts it in his First Epistle chapter 2 and verse 24, “Who His Own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”
[e] One day thank God, we shall be FREE, EVEN FROM THE VERY PRESENCE OF SIN, when we enter the immediate presence of Christ in Heaven’s glory!
[*] A relative of mine, in her young days, went to sing in a prison. Her choice of song must have caused great consternation in the prison. She sang, "Bless this house O Lord we pray, make it safe by night and day. Bless it's walls, so strong and stout, keeping want and trouble out."
[*] I remember when I was taking a service in Saughton Prison in Edinburgh, I was told, "Be careful how you talk about forgiveness, or some of these men might think they should be let out, because God has forgiven them."
[a] In recent times, unfortunately we have seen a number of hostages taken - some for a short time, others, like Terry Waite, for much longer - and some unfortunately who have died in their captivity. Can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like for a hostage, when someone came, and said, “I have come to give you your freedom!”
[b] I’m sure they immediately jumped at the chance of freedom - and what rejoicing there would have been!
[c] Jesus said, in Luke 4:18,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the
broken-hearted, to preach DELIVERANCE to the CAPTIVES, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
[d] Jesus was reading from the Book of Isaiah chapter 61:1, and if you look it up you will find that the last line is translated, “the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
[e] What a lovely illustration of being SET FREE THROUGH CHRIST!
[a] There are so many today who seem to prefer the CAPTIVITY OF THE DEVIL to the FREEDOM OF CHRIST.
The devil has so blinded them that they actually believe they are free!
[b] They are bound hand and foot with the chains of sin - and don’t even know it!!
[c] The Apostle Paul gives a description of this condition when he says in Phillip’s translation of Romans 7:14-15 “It is I who am carnal, and have sold my soul to sin! My own behaviour baffles me. For I find myself doing what I really loathe, but not doing what I really want to do.”
Then down in verse 25, he says, “It is an agonising situation, and who can set me free from the prison of this mortal body?
I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
[d] So many today are prisoners of sin, and are chained as surely as if they were in the darkest deepest dungeon.
(i) They know they cannot help themselves!
(ii) They know if they die without Christ they will be in Hell!
(iii) They even know that by their example they are taking others with them!
(iv) They know that Christ could return at any moment! YET THEY REMAIN CHAINED IN THEIR SIN!!
WHAT SENSE IS THERE IN THAT???
[a] Christ waits to release them and give them freedom - all they must do is come to Him.
[b] He Himself, is the only One with the power of deliverance for the sinner!
[c] Yet He can do nothing without our firstly accepting our hopeless condition, and secondly receiving Him as our personal Saviour and deliverer!
[d] HE IT IS, WHO, (as we read earlier) CAME TO DELIVER THE CAPTIVE!
[c] I was speaking to someone about their soul, and I had to remind them, that with this freedom, also comes responsibility!
It is not freedom to do as we like!
It is not freedom, to jump back into sin!
We are, similarly to the terrorists in Northern Ireland, under the peace agreement, 'freed on licence'. They have been told, that if they get mixed up in terrorism again, then they will immediately lose their freedom!
[d] I have often met those who think that their freedom in Christ, gives them licence to do as they want without any repercussions!
Professor Hugh Black, in "Christ's Service of Love," says: "A young Jewish woman who is now a Christian asked a lady who had instructed her in the Gospel to read history with her, 'Because,' said she, 'I have been reading the Gospels and I am puzzled. I want to know when Christians began to be so different from Christ.'"
Salvation Army Song Book
Song 233 Tune 573
Chorus - Jesus breaks every fetter
Song 64 Tune 125
Song 283 Tune 488