Independence Day 2011

Independence Day

Scripture: John 8:34-36, Romans 8:2
Theme: It is only in Christ Jesus that we find true freedom
Purpose: Help believers to recognize the freedom they have in Christ and motivate seekers to
accept Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.

Tomorrow, on the 4th of July we celebrated our nation’s 235th birthday. It was a little over two and a quarter centuries ago that the United States was born. A nation based on the ideals of liberty, responsibility, Godliness, and the freedom to become what God intended us to become was a new and revolutionary idea.

The celebration of our nation’s birthday is really a celebration of freedom. We celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have because of the price others paid. You see, we must remember that freedom isn’t free. Freedom is very expensive. It has cost some people everything, including their lives. Freedom isn’t free, but it is infinitely valuable.

The ideal of freedom is an ideal that our founding father’s believed valuable enough to risk everything on. They risked their fortunes, their families, their reputations, and their honor. They risked their very lives and many of them paid for our freedom with their blood and the blood of their children.

Today as we worship in security and comfort, we do so because thousands of young men have given their lives and shed their blood on foreign soil. They died in forsaken places with names not remembered so that we could experience the joy and responsibility of freedom. In fact, in the past couple of weeks several young Americans have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we can taste the fruit of freedom that springs from the tree of liberty. In a letter to William Smith dated November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants” No, freedom is not free. The price is always paid in blood.

The blood spilled by young American men in the past few weeks and months is not the first time blood was spilled for freedom. The blood spilled on battlefields called Concord and Charleston and York Town was not the first time blood was spilled for freedom. No, 2,000 years ago a young man’s blood spilled upon the ground so that we could all experience freedom.

Jesus came in order to bring us freedom from a host of human maladies. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In John 8:34-36 Jesus says

34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:34-36

Later, the Apostle Paul wrote these words regarding the work of Jesus in setting us free

The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death
Romans 8:2

This week we have been celebrating our independence from tyranny and bondage to an oppressive government, an independence won over 200 years ago. We celebrate an independence, as a nation, that is temporary. A day will come when we no longer enjoy the freedoms we have. Nonetheless, we celebrate our independence. But should we not, daily, celebrate our independence from the tyranny and bondage of guilt, sin, fear, and death; an independence won over 2,000 years ago? Should we not celebrate and discover the depths of an independence that will last for all of eternity?

If you want to be truly free, free from all that has tied your life down and buried you under a mountainous weight of fear and guilt, then this message is for you.

Today we’ll explore just three of the ways that Jesus sets us free if we will only have the faith to believe him and believe in him.

Freedom from Guilt
our past can’t haunt us

Have you been dragging your past around? You know what I mean. You’ve done things in the past that have hurt others and have hurt you. You’ve failed miserably in the past. You’ve failed at marriage. You’ve failed at parenting. You’ve failed financially because of your own irresponsibility. You’ve failed at religion – it’s just too hard to keep all those rules. You’ve failed and failed and failed and the guilt of your failures and poor choices is dragging around behind you, keeping you from soaring. Your past sins are an anchor that keep you earthbound when your heart longs to be more, to reach to the sky.

How would you like to be free from that guilt?

The key word here is FORGIVEN.

But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three–sin, guilt, death–are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
I Corinthians 15:57

He is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven.
Ephesians 1:7(NLT)

Because of the work Jesus did in winning your freedom, you don’t have to carry your guilt around with you. You can release it and be free.

In the movie The Mission the story is told of Captain Rodrigo Mendoza. Mendoza was a slave trader in the mid 1700’s. Mendoza and his men would enter the jungles of Brazil and Ecuador to raid the Indian villages and take prisoners to sell as slaves. He even went so far as to raid the Catholic missions to take prisoners from the Indians that were there.

In a duel over a woman, Captain Mendoza kills his own brother and falls into a remorse-filled depression, believing God cannot forgive him.

However, one of the priests from the mission San Carlos offers Mendoza a chance to seek penance.

I want you to watch this scene from the movie as Captain Mendoza carries his guilt with him, seeking forgiveness.

[Insert Video Clip Here]

Just as Rodrigo Mendoza found forgiveness at the hands of those he had violated, so we too find forgiveness in the nail scared hands of the one we have violated and betrayed. Just as the people he had sinned against cut his guilt away from him and set him free with forgiveness, so the God we have sinned against cuts our guilt away and sets us free with the forgiveness he offers in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you don’t have to drag your past around with you? Wouldn’t forgiveness be a breath of fresh air?

You can have that forgiveness. Jesus, the Son, offers it to us.

When we come to Jesus, the Son of God, and let him set us free, we are…

Free from guilt.

But there is another freedom that he offers to us.

Freedom from Consequence
Christ died in our place

We all know that when the law is broken there are consequences. Sometimes we escape the legal consequences of our misdeeds, but there are still consequences.

The guilt we just talked about is a consequence of our sin. And there are others as well. But there is one consequence that, no matter how hard our heart and how seared our conscience we must all face. The ultimate consequence for sin is that of death. Not just physical death, but eternal spiritual death.

The Bible teaches that we will all face judgement.

“Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences”
Hebrews 9:27

That verse tells us that there is a consequence for our sin. What is that consequence? Romans 6:23 states it clearly

23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

That’s a severe consequence. According to scripture the ultimate consequence for our sin is one that we cannot pay. But we do not have to. The penalty for our sin has already been paid. Our account has been credited and we are, as we saw a minute ago, no longer guilty.

The key word here is VICARIOUS

Vicarious is a big fancy word that means: done by one person substituting for another

Christ has dealt with the consequences for our sin. It’s not that the ultimate consequence isn’t required, it’s that someone else already paid it for you. You see, when Jesus died upon the cross he was receiving the consequences of my sin and of your sin.

In John 19 we read the story of the death of Jesus Christ. At the end, when he died, he called out “It is finished.” At least that is how we translate it in most Bibles today. But “It is finished” is not the most accurate translation. In the original text the word translated “finished” is a commercial word that means, “It is paid, the debt is paid in full!”

When Jesus died upon the cross, he paid our debt in full and thus set us free from the ultimate consequence of our sin.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. There are still consequences for our sin. When we choose to speed or run that red light, we still get the ticket and we still have to pay. When we cheat on our taxes there are still penalties. When we defile our marriage vows and commit adultery, the trust in our relationship is still broken; the marriage may still come to an end. That’s a consequence.

When we sin, there are going to be temporal consequences. That is the nature of life. You cannot set something into motion and expect that there will be no repercussions from it. But when Jesus sets us free, he frees us from the ultimate consequence. We do not have to pay God for our sins. We are made right with him. Eternal death and eternal separation from God are consequences we won’t have to face if Jesus has set us free.

In Jesus Christ we have freedom.
Freedom from guilt: Our past cannot haunt us.
We are free from the ultimate consequence of our sinful lives: Christ paid our debt.

Freedom from ACCUSATION
We no longer have to live in fear

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”
Colossians 1:22

How nice is it to not have to run and hide? How nice is it to not have to worry about what someone else will find out about you? How nice would it be to be free from all accusations and the fear that your sins are going to be discovered?
That would certainly be a freeing experience.

How would it feel to be free from all accusation? Would you have a sense of relief? Would you have a sense of release? Would you feel as though a weight had been lifted from your shoulders? Would you feel free? How would you feel to know that there was no accusation that could be brought against you?

There is a reason that Jesus sets us free from accusation. It is because, when we surrender to him and let him have control of our lives, he makes us blameless. That’s the key word here.

Key Word: BLAMELESS

Because of what Jesus did for us upon the cross, we are blameless before God when we know his Son, Jesus. The word blameless means free of guilt; not subject to blame.

As I said a minute ago, Jesus took care of the eternal consequences of our sin. But he did more than that. He also took care of our guilt. He satisfied the requirements of the law. When the law is broken a death was required and he paid that penalty for us. Therefore, not on our own – but through him, we are found free of guilt and not subject to blame. Thus, we are free from accusation and when a man is free from accusation, he is free from a great deal of the fear that this life offers.

We can stand before God and our fellow man and not fear accusation. Now, being free of accusation does not mean that no accusation will come. We will certainly face accusations of all sorts in this life. Many are well deserved because of what we have done in our past. People have seen our sins and our mistakes and they want to know why we now claim to be different. This shouldn’t threaten us. It should be an opportunity to share with them the transformation that Jesus brings to our lives.

But we need not fear accusation. We are now free of guilt. We are no longer subject to blame. The account has been laid to rest and we can live without fear of a hidden past being brought to light. It has already been brought to light and dealt with.

I can best illustrate this concept with a story on once read

There once was a boy named Billy. His grandfather had a sling shot. One day he asked his grandfather if he would teach him how to shoot the sling shot.

His grandfather took into the back woods and began to teach the boy. The grandfather told Billy to go and practice for a while. Billy was in the woods, alone, and kept missing everything he shot at.

Billy, on his way back to the house, saw his grandfather’s duck and decided to try his aim with the sling shot once more. Billy took aim and shot at the duck and hit his mark! The duck fell over dead!

Billy took the duck, buried it in the ground. As he looked up he saw his sister, sally standing there watching him attempting to hide his deeds. Sally and Billy went back into their grandparents’ house. As they did so, Billy told Sally not to say anything. Sally said, sure, no problem. The kids’ grandfather told Sally to go into the kitchen and help her grandmother wash the dishes. Sally said, “Billy is the best dish washer in the family, he would love to wash the dishes. Remember the duck?’ Billy washed the dishes that night.

The next day Billy’s grandfather said, “Billy, lets go fishing today. Sally, your grandmother needs your help around the house, so stay here and help her out.”

Sally responded,” Billy hates fishing but loves Isn’t that right Billy?” Billy stayed at home that day while Sally went fishing.

This went on for several days. Sally blackmailed Billy into every unpleasant chore around the farm and out of every enjoyable opportunity.

Finally Billy had had enough and he decided to confess his crime. Much to his surprise, his grandfather said, “I know you killed the duck. I saw you through the window. I also saw your sister standing there watching you. I forgave you when it happened because I love you. I just wanted to know how long you would let yourself be your sisters slave.”

You see, when we don’t turn to Jesus and confess our sins and allow him to cleanse us, we are slaves to our past and to our guilt and we are susceptible to accusation. But once we come clean, we are free from accusation. We are no longer a slave.

When we come to Jesus, the Son of God and let the Son set us free, we are…

Free from guilt.
Free from the ultimate consequence of our sinful lives.
Free from accusation.

Application: This week we have celebrated the freedom of our nation. More than that, we have celebrated the sacrifice necessary to give us the freedom we so deeply love. But there is a greater freedom than that of political freedom. There is a freedom we can have in Jesus Christ if we will place our trust in him, if we will surrender to him.

Jesus bled and died; he gave his life, so that you and I could be free. If you have not accepted his sacrifice and the freedom it brings, will you do so today?

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