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Have You Discovered Your Freedom in Christ?

 

Luke 4:16-21

 

Jim Davis

 

Have you noticed the condemning nature of our world? Personally, I believe you see this when you watch the news or read the papers. Do you notice how quickly they are to pounce on what they perceive as wrong? They may not believe in sin, but they believe in right and wrong.

 

The world is quick to bring condemnation. I use a laundry mat to wash clothes. I have found that many who use the laundry mat in mobile home parks are quick to condemn those who don’t live by their rules. I have discovered that you are not to use but two washing machines at a time—even though there are four in the laundry mat. You are supposed to leave a couple unused just in case someone else wants to wash clothes. I have gotten a couple of tongue lashings for not adhering to the rules. It is hard for me to accept their rules. I don’t want to stand around the laundry mat twice as long because someone may walk in fifteen minutes after I do. In my thinking laundry mats are first come first serve. But they sure are quick to make you feel their condemnation when you fail to abide by their rules.

 

Ironically the world doesn’t want us to preach about the condemnation sin brings, but it is fast to preach condemnation when we violate its rules. The nature of this world is to breed condemnation and guilt, but it doesn’t want us to look to God for relief. The world offers no relief—well maybe it does offer some pills to overcome the depression its guilt and condemnation bring. The world seeks to deal with the symptom rather than the cause.

 

Christians Filled with Condemnation and Fear

 

I am convinced that many in the church are burdened down with the world’s guilt and condemnation. The church is filled with fear and anxiety. Many in the church are so afraid of doing something wrong they don’t do anything right. Christians in the church must realize they are not living under the condemnation of sin—although they are not free from sin. They are living under the blood of Christ and they are forgiven of sin’s condemnation. This is the case even when we live less than perfect lives. Jesus came to set us free from the condemnation of sin.

 

Romans 7:21-8:4

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

 

Romans 8

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. NIV

 

Many Christians are feeling such condemnation they wonder if they really can be saved. They have sinned against the Lord—grieved the Holy Spirit—they feel as though they are fighting an overpowering losing battle with the sin in their lives. They have lost sight of the freedom from sin’s condemnation Jesus has given them.

 

Satan wants to turn our temporary defeats into a living hell—he can only do it if we give him permission.

 

Jesus Proclaims Our Freedom

 

Jesus came to proclaim freedom from condemnation—this is the message of salvation.   

 

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 

 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." NIV

 

The good news is that Christ was anointed to preach the good news of salvation—the forgiveness of sins—to the poor. When you see this word “poor” in this context you must realize that Jesus is referring to the poor in spirit. Moses was poor in spirit when he said, “Lord, who am, how can I make a difference in Egypt.” I believe Moses’ attitude was the direct result of his failures forty years earlier—the result of his sin was still hounding him. It wasn’t that what Moses was trying to do was wrong when he killed the Egyptian and fled to Midian. He used worldly thinking to accomplish what he believed needed to be done. He failed and his failure haunted him for forty years as he worked as a shepherd.

 

Gideon was a man who was poor in spirit when he said, “Lord I am the least of all the children of Israel, and how can I win against such tremendous odds.” He was burdened by the failures of his people to the point where he felt hopeless. Do you know why I believe these stories—its is because they are true to our human nature—these are the ways we react when we face our sin and failures

 

David was poor in spirit when he cried out with a broken and contrite heart, “cleanse me from my iniquities, create in me a clean heart.”

 

The publican stood afar off from God crying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

 

Jesus spoke to the adulterous woman the Pharisees wanted to stone saying, “Neither do I condemn you, go your way and leave your life of sin.”  This is the gospel to the poor of whom Jesus was speaking. It is no accident that this is recurring theme throughout the Bible.

 

Luke 7:36-48

36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

 

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner."

 

40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

 

"Tell me, teacher," he said.

 

41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

 

43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

 

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

 

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.   46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

 

48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." NIV

 

When Mark tells this story in his gospel, he says it must be told wherever the gospel is preached. He doesn’t want us to forget that salvation is about forgiveness.

 

Mark 14:9

9 I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." NIV

 

Jesus knew how easy it would be for those who are saved to start pointing accusing fingers at the sinful. He knows the condemning nature of sin. He wants to remind us of the attitude we must maintain toward the sinful.

 

If the Scripture teaches anything at all—it teaches us not to allow our failures, whether small or great to keep us from pressing forward in the cause of Christ. When we look at our failures we may think about giving up on ourselves because we think God has given up on us. Satan convinces us that we are not good enough, or strong enough. He convinces us that God is too holy, and you are too sinful to come back to him. This is not the case.

 

The most amazing story of the Bible is the life story of Jacob. His life was filled with glaring failures, yet God never gave up on him. As he was in the midst of reaping the consequences of his own sin, God was right there with him seeking to help Jacob bear up under the load Jacob had created for himself. Jacob finally faced his sins as he was reunited with his brother. He reached new heights of victory.

 

This is not just the story of one man’s life; it is the story of the entire Bible. The Pharisees had lost sight of the good news of salvation, that’s why Jesus to preach to the lost.

 

Too often, Christians are supersensitive about their failures.

 

A young man called me feeling excessive guilt about borrowing a dollar off of his college counselor. He thought he had sinned a grievous sin. He was thinking that he shouldn’t have asked him for the dollar. Such a minor, but the condemnation seemed so real. Sometimes I think sincere Christians are so hard on themselives that they are driven further into sin. Small things create such a burden for us so that when the bottom drops out of our lives and we face the greater sins we are driven away from God. We can’t believe God could save such a sinner.

 

Free from Condemnation not Free of Sin

 

I believe that there is a real danger that super sensitive immature Christians may lose sight of what salvation is all about. In the Pharisees eyes there was no hope for tax collectors, prostitutes, or adulterers. They were driven away from their presence. Paul labored under the pretense of religion, but he realized that sin was at work in his body. He could find no relief from condemnation until he found Christ. Salvation is about saving sinners from the condemnation of sin. It is not about saving good people, for no one is good.

 

We must keep in mind that we are saved from the condemnation of sin, but freedom of condemnation does not mean our lives are free of sin. The following verses continue to be true about our lives even though we are in Christ.

 

Romans 7:21-8:4

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

The only difference is that we are free of condemnation.

 

Romans 8 :1-4

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. NIV

 

God has removed our condemnation, but we will never be free of sin.

 

1 John 1:6-10

6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. NIV

 

We must be saved from the accusing finger of Satan because the flesh is too weak to completely overrule the power of the sinful nature. However, the power of God has overruled sin’s condemnation. Our best efforts of living a sin free life are not good enough to make us pure in God’s sight—only Christ can make us pure through his atoning sacrifice. This is what atonement is about. If we could live above sin we would need no atonement.

 

Show me the saintliest person on earth and I will show you one who battles temptation as much as any other Christian alive. If we want to cure ourselves from being judgmental toward sinners all we have to do is look within ourselves and be honest about our own personal struggles. This inward look ought to make us more sympathetic to the lost ones of the world. If we battle sin, think of the battles they face. 

 

Our faith in Christ’s sacrifice allows us to approach God with freedom and confidence—not sinless. His sacrifice allows us to approach God’s throne with boldness because he has saved from condemnation. He has received sin’s condemnation for us. We have been freely justified in Christ—but we are still sinners.

 

Ephesians 3:12-13

12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. NIV

 

Super sensitivity to sin is a sign of immaturity—it is a sign of a weak conscience. Too often the weak and immature think it is a sign of maturity.

 

1 Corinthians 8:9-10

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? NIV

 

Too often freedom from sin leaves some Christians believing they can willfully continue in sin.

 

Romans 6:1-4

6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. NIV

 

Galatians 5:13

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

While Christians are super sensitive, the world may have no sensitivity to sin at all.  They may be using an entirely different standard to measure themselves by.

 

The world is a frustrating place to live. Sin made it so. God chose to make life frustrating. Without frustration there would be no seeking to be better. Sadly many use their frustration as an excuse to give up, but it was meant to motivate us to be liberated from sin’s grip.

 

Romans 8:18-21

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. NIV

 

Raising the world’s level of reality about sin is becoming more and more difficult. The world today, as in the day of the judges seeks to do what is right in its own eyes. This makes it more and more difficult to preach the message of salvation effectively. If they don’t sense they are lost, they feel they have no need of salvation.

 

Conclusion:

 

You may not be a Christian, but you have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. Your sense of right and wrong must be governed by God. I can assure you that if you have a sense of right and wrong, but do not know God, you sense some things are wrong when they really aren’t. And you also sense some things are right, when they really aren’t.

 

The only way to come to a true knowledge of what is right or wrong is through understanding God’s plan for your life. His plan is that you die to sin, but before you can die to sin you must understand what sin is.

 

Everyone suffers from condemnation but true condemnation only comes as a result of violating God’s law.

 

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