Sermon: Make the Most of Your Freedom
Summary: We rightly value freedom highly, but must understand and define true freedom in order to maintain and make full use of it. Doing whatever you want without restraint is false freedom and leads to bondage. True freedom is every bit as much freedom "from" bondage as it is freedom "in order to" love and serve God.
Text: 2 Pet 2:17-19; Jn 8:31-36; Gal 5:13-15
Scripture Reading: 1 Pet 2:16-17
1. What is the most highly regarded value in this country?
a. Not sure if it is number one, but is close to the top - Freedom
b. Founding documents: top 3 - Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
c. This country was born as part of an effort to gain freedom
i. People literally laid down their lives for cause of freedom
ii. People still defend freedom from tyranny with their lives
iii. Patrick Henry who said, "Give my liberty, or give me death"
2. Freedom is something that God values highly was well
a. Genesis 3-God gave humans freedom to choose or not choose him
i. Of course, there were natural consequences for their choice
ii. But God did not force them against their will
iii. From beginning, can see God values freedom
b. In Exodus - God frees his people from bondage to Egyptians
i. They were enslaved, harshly treated with intent to destroy
ii. God heard their cries, called Moses to deliver them
c. New Testament - God frees us from bondage to sin through Christ
d. Freedom is something God values highly
3. But - What really is freedom?
a. How do we know if we have it?
b. How do we know if we are losing it?
c. How do we live as free people in Christ?
4. In order to be free, we need to understand what "Freedom in Christ" means
a. Irony is that you can think and feel free, but be in bondage
b. Three understandings we need to have concerning freedom:
I. Freedom is not autonomy to do anything and everything
A. We typically romanticize this notion of freedom
1. Pirate, bandit, outlaw, nomad
a. Here are those with a free spirit, a rebel, wild, free
b. No responsibility to hold them down
c. They capture our imagination, make us grin
2. We see this idea of freedom in our commercials
a. Burger King Commericals - "Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules"
b. Mercedes Benz Commerical - "Sometimes in life, you gotta break the rules…to set yourself free"
c. Old Isuzu Rodeo commercial - "The world is full of obstacles, boundaries, limits…ignore them" (Vehicle drivers over sign that says, "obey rules"
d. Another commercial - class teacher telling student, "Stay in the lines, the lines are our friends" a student scribbles outside the lines
3. Other examples
a. Foster Grant Sunglasses say, "No limits"
b. Outback - "No rules. . . just right"
c. Comedy Central - "See comedy that breaks the rules"
d. Spice Girls - "Rules are for breaking"
4. Advertisers tap into the desire to break the rules - exciting
a. Maybe I am overstating the case?
b. But underlying thought - Rules are too confining, break rules for fun and excitement
c. Real living is to have NO LIMITS
B. 2 Peter 2 - Here is what the Bible says
1. Gives a description of rule breakers.
a. V.2 - Their conduct is depraved (shameless, perverted, lewd)
b. V.3 - They are greedy
c. V.10 - Despise authority, bold, arrogant
d. V.12 - Blaspheme/revile things they don’t understand - they ridicule, laugh at, mock rules
e. V.14 - They seduce the unstable - draw others in to rebel as well - Group grows larger
2. (2 Pet 2:17-19) Describes their TRUE state
a. Springs without water
i Imagine a hot day, really want a drink
ii Open the cooler to get water bottle
iii That cool refreshing water will be so good
iv But, cooler is empty - That is what they are like
b. They promise freedom
i No rules, no limits, no one tell you what to do
ii If you believe like I do, you can be free
iii And it seems as though they are free
iv But they are like springs without water
c. They are slaves to depravity
i Irony - They thing they are free, but are slaves
ii There is no such thing as absolute freedom
3. Autonomy is slavery disguised as freedom
C. ILL: Fredrick Douglas, a former slave, wrote about this
1. Slave owners refused to let slaves read, learn, or get smart
a. If they did read, would learn, give hope
2. Owners buy whisky for them, let them have parties occasionally
a. On that day (or week), they free to do what they like
b. Would be music, dancing, games, and whiskey in abundance
c. Owners strongly encouraged them to drink to excess
3. This made slaves think masters were generous and permissive
a. BUT - all it did was obscure their miserable condition
b. Owners said they were giving some "freedom" to the slaves during these parties
c. When dealing with hangovers, they thought it better to be slave to the owner than to whiskey
d. In this way, they were all too happy to keep working for their generous owners
4. Douglas learned secretly to read and figured it all out
a. This practiced disgusted him
b. He called it the "grossest frauds committed upon the down-trodden slave"
D. Freedom is not freedom to indulge in whatever you want
1. Packaging this as freedom is truly a fraud
2. Bible says, "Do not be deceived. . . " This is NOT freedom
3. The worst kind of slavery is to be slave to your own passions
a. If you are physically a slave, a kind slave owner might let you buy your freedom
b. Your passions will not be so kind
c. Your passions will deceive you into thinking you are free
d. Your passions will hold you in bondage and not let you go
4. So, if this is not freedom, then what is freedom?
II. True Freedom is Freedom From Bondage
A. Not just freedom in general, but freedom "from" bondage
B. (Jn 8:31-36)
1. He who commits sin is a slave to sin
a. When you sin, you can't "un-sin"
b. ILL: Had problem with critters in back yard in Leavenworth
i Humane society, got a trap. Trapped groundhog
ii Once trap was sprung, not getting out. Could be sorry, think will never do it again, but still stuck
iii Only hope - Someone who is not trapped to set him free - We set him free in Missouri
iv That is how it is with sin
c. He who commits sin - slave to sin
2. But - Pharisees did not recognize they were enslaved
a. Jesus opened the door of the trap, but they not leave
i They refused the truth - the truth set free
ii Who is the truth? Jesus is way, truth, life
c. If the son makes you free, will be truly free
d. But Pharisees refused
C. ILL: Like the Pharisees, many today do not recognize they are enslaved
1. "Sin" has been redefined
a. Fornication, homosexuality, adultery, divorce for something other than adultery - No longer sin
b. Drunkeness, lying, dishonesty - No longer regarded as seriously as it used to be
c. Solving matters with the fist, violence - celebrated
2. If this is what you think, then you cannot even see the trap
a. Satan will decorate your cage to not look like one
b. In fact, he will make the cage look like freedom
c. This is the worst kind of slavery
3. ILL: How many legs does a dog have?
a. What if you called the tail a leg? Now how many legs?
b. Still has 4 legs
c. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg
d. Redefining or jettisoning notion of sin does not eliminate it
i All this does it make you think you are free
ii But in fact, you are in bondage
D. If the son makes you free, you will be truly free
1. If you have sinned, you are a slave to sin
a. Whether you "feel" in bondage or not
b. Sin will ultimately bring eternal death
2. Only Jesus can free you from bondage to sin
a. He never sinned, so he can open the trap
b. He did so by offering his blood as the key
3. Nothing else can free you
a. Not psychology, government, family, friend
b. If the son makes you free, you will be free indeed
4. But freedom is not just freedom "from" but also freedom "to…"
III. True Freedom is Freedom to Love and Serve God and Others
A. This is the only true freedom
B. (Gal 5:13-15)
1. We were called to freedom
a. Free from bondage to sin
b. Instead of serving the flesh, we now serve God
2. Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh
a. Many think that this is freedom
i No limits, no rules, do what you want
ii This is false freedom - it is bondage
b. You can turn freedom into slavery -- through indulgence
c. Freedom is not JUST freedom from, but also freedom to
3. We are freed so that we can serve others humbly out of love
a. This is the fulfillment of the love
b. We do not live a life without rules
c. We have rules to be free
4. The founders of our country understood this - most were Christian
C. ILL: Some examples from our early history
1. In 1774, Nathan Niles, lawyer, politician, and minister, wrote - "By neglecting to embrace the Gospel, we convert civil liberty, which is in itself a delicious kind of food, into a slow poison"
a. He understood freedom without limits will destroy you
b. Our forefathers understood freedom in the context of personal responsibility - can't have one without the other
2. 1607 - Colonists founded 1st successful English colony on the James River - Jamestown
a. Things did not go well at first
i Indian attacks, disease, starvation
ii People were described as riotous, profane, contentious, given to barbarism in untamed land
iii All of this threatened to wipe out the colony
b. Robert Hunt, one of the first ministers, helped remedy this
i Quote from a leader - "Many were the mischiefs that daily sprang from their ignorant yet ambitious spirits, but the good doctrine and exhortation of our preacher, Mr. Hunt, reconciled them."
ii Capt. John Smith wrote that the courageous chaplain quenched those flames of envy and dissension
c. The unwillingness to serve and work among many of the people was a contributing factor to starvation
i Some of the artisans and gentry refused to do the work - clearing trees, planting, weeding, building
a) Maybe this kind of work was beneath them
b) This was the land of the free!
ii Everyone received rations from a common storehouse
iii Eventually the food ran out - They resorted to dogs, cats, rats, mice, cannibalism. 2/3 of people died
d. Finally, Capt. Smith enacted a work program based on the New Testament - "If any not work, he does not eat"
i If wanted to draw rations, you had to work
ii By 1619, colony was relatively stable
iii Quote from a leader: "When our people were fed out of the common store, glad was he who could slip from his labor, slumber over his task . . . the most honest among them would hardly take so much true pains in a week, as now for themselves they will do in a day.
iv Result - Colony went from desperation to development
3. From "from" without freedom "to" is deadly
a. Freedom without responsibility is no freedom at all
b. Freedom and responsibility are inseparably connected
D. True freedom means freedom to love and serve God and others
1. Without limits, freedom becomes deadly and oppressive
a. Freedom to love becomes fornication
b. Freedom to worship becomes idolatry
c. Freedom to discuss becomes quarrels and dissension
d. Freedom to disagree becomes fighting and violence
e. Freedom to thrive becomes oppression
2. Truly, freedom without godly limits is oppressive
3. To love and to serve - This is how we make the most of freedom
1. How do you make the most of your freedom?
2. More basic question - Are you free? If not in Christ, you are in bondage
a. Jesus died to offer you freedom from sin
b. If believe, ready to repent, ready for baptism (inv)
3. Quote: Phillip Brookes in 19th century - "No man in this world attains freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude."
a. Free people are those who have chosen to be servants of Christ
b. How do you make the most of your freedom?
i. Do good, honest work at your job
ii. Support children's home, missionary, disaster victims
iii. Volunteer to participate in civic activity in name of Christ
1. Participate in big brothers, big sisters
2. Be a foster parent
3. Meals on wheels
iv. Be available to be a good, godly friend
v. Most of all, share the good news of the Gospel