Freedom & Dependence


Today, July 4, 2010, we are celebrating Independence Day here in the U.S.  234 years ago the Declaration of Independence was signed and we declared ourselves separate from the rule of the British Empire.  Many things in this nation have changed since that day, but through it all we remain a sovereign, independent nation.  So, I would like to wish America a “Happy Birthday”.

In keeping with the theme of this celebration I would like to talk about freedom and liberty. Freedom and liberty and discussed in depth in the scriptures.  Jesus himself spoke of freedom and liberty:

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:34-36)

The Apostle Paul speaks of freedom:

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. (Galatians 5:1)

Jesus Christ came to set humanity free from the bondage of sin and death.  Because of God’s gift of salvation man is no longer bound to receive is just wages; instead we may receive grace.

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

It is a powerful thing for us to contemplate.  God paid our debt by sacrificing His life as payment for the sins we have committed.  We are redeemed.  We are justified.  We are free.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

Our freedom from sin has not produced independence in our lives but rather a dependence upon Jesus.  As Christians, we cannot separate our need from Christ from the forgiveness and freedom from sin provided by Christ.  Simply put, we need him.

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:1-8)

As a Christian, we cannot obey the law through the strength of our resolve, enlightenment or religious fervor.  If we could, there would have been no need for Christ to die upon the cross.  The Holy Spirit living within us provides us the strength, guidance and wisdom to live the way God desires. 

Our freedom requires dependence.  The New Testament (KJV) uses the word servant.  We are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are not slaves who have been purchased and now live under a mandated theocratic domination by our master in the heavens.  We are free men and women who have chosen to give our lives to Jesus Christ.

We have traded our burden for His yoke:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We have traded our paternity for adoption into His family:

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

We have traded our independence for membership in the body of Christ:

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30)

We traded the individual rights to our body so that His Spirit could live in us:

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

We have traded our righteousness for His righteousness:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:23-24)

We have traded our earthly citizenship for heavenly citizenship:

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20)

We are no longer trying to become who we want to be but rather become like Him.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

We are free from the bondage of sin.  We are free from the destiny of sin.  We are free from curse of the law.  We are completely dependent upon Jesus Christ for this freedom.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Freedom is an amazing thing.  Here is the dictionary definition of freedom:

free·dom –noun

  1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.
  2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
  3. the power to determine action without restraint.
  4. political or national independence.
  5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
  6. exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually fol. by from ): freedom from fear.
  7. the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.
  8. ease or facility of movement or action: to enjoy the freedom of living in the country.
  9. frankness of manner or speech.
  10. general exemption or immunity: freedom from taxation.
  11. the absence of ceremony or reserve.
  12. a liberty taken.
  13. a particular immunity or privilege enjoyed, as by a city or corporation: freedom to levy taxes.
  14. civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.
  15. the right to enjoy all the privileges or special rights of citizenship, membership, etc., in a community or the like.
  16. the right to frequent, enjoy, or use at will: to have the freedom of a friend’s library.
  17. Philosophy . the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.

 

The power of our freedom

  • We have the right to choose. 
  • We have the right to determine. 
  • We have the right to speak. 
  • We have the right to do. 

The freedom that Christ has given us allows us each of these freedoms and more.  We also have the responsibility to live in a manner worthy of these freedoms. 

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

In conclusion

Christians are the freest people on the planet, regardless of the nation they live in or the natural circumstance surrounding their lives.  Our freedom comes from Jesus Christ setting us free from the bondage of sin and death.  This freedom from sin allows us to live life as God intended.  This freedom is not possible independent of a relationship with God but rather, is dependent upon a relationship with Him.

  • Do not let fear or timidity bind you
  • Do not let religious tradition bind you
  • Do not let the opinions of man bind you
  • Do not let the devices of the Adversary bind you
  • Do not let the desires of your flesh, eyes or pride bind you

You are free because Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead and alive forevermore.  May your freedom make those around you hungry for the Lord Jesus who has set you free.

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