Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Free Men

Free Men

What does it mean to be free?  Being free is a theme that runs through the Bible. 

  • “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

  • “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

  • Peter exhorted Christians, “Act as free men” (1 Peter 2:16).

The Lure of False Freedom

In our culture people often associate freedom with ideas like leaving home, moving to another state or city, being free from parental or family restraints and living for oneself. Often this is romanticized as being able to stay up as late as I want, having a live in boyfriend or girlfriend, a cool inner city apartment, hooking up with as many lovers as I can find, experimenting with various forms of intoxication and not being accountable or having to justify my actions to anyone.  Yet, the Bible actually has a picture like this, but freedom was not the result, rather want and shame resulted (Luke 15:12-15).  The Bible warns us that we will all encounter people who attempt to sell us a false freedom, “promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:19).

Many people when they hear the word “freedom” immediately think of freedom in a negative sense.  “Isaiah Berlin, the great Oxford philosopher, used to remind students repeatedly that although freedom has two parts, many young people never experience the highest freedom because they appreciate only the lower.  Freedom, Berlin stressed, is both negative and positive.  Negative freedom, or ‘freedom from’, has an obvious appeal in the modern world.   Teenagers, for example, are famous for acting as if all freedom is freedom from parents, from teachers, and from supervision.  Many adults make the same mistake….Many Americans equate freedom with privacy…’Nobody disturbs them’…’the right to be let alone’” (Time for Truth, Os Guinness p. 85).  A good modern example of this preoccupation of “freedom from” is how people interpret the American cherished principle of “freedom of speech”.  To many, this means “freedom to offend”, and freedom from restraints on my language.  When the Prodigal Son demanded his share of the inheritance before his father died, he was into “freedom from” (Luke 15:12).

Note to Self

Carefully examine the personal lives of those who are offering you the above form of  freedom.  Being 55 now I run into many people in my age bracket and older who bought into the above idea of freedom years ago and here is what I found.  I see them now as often being alone, suffering from poor health, financially strapped, acting old—yet immature, rather than acting young and wise.  They are experiencing all the downsides of aging without any of the benefits.

John 8:34

“Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin’”.   I am struck by the use of the term everyone.  According to Jesus there are no exceptions to this principle.  Sin always enslaves.  When I was younger I wasn’t so sure about this.  It seemed there were people who could sin and control or manage it, but the older I get I see what Jesus saw.

Freedom and Immaturity

As Christians we have been set free from sin that is clear (Romans 6:18,22 “Having been freed from sin”), yet we must be wise with such freedom.  For example, when some prisoners are released from jail the first thing they think of is going back to the type of things got them into trouble in the first place.  The Bible exhorts us to act like free men, rather than foolishly misusing our freedom (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16).  

Act like a Free Man

I started thinking, “What does acting like a free man look like?”  “What is involved in this process?”  “In what sense am I free as a Christian?”  For the world often looks at Christians and draws the shallow assumption that they are restricted rather than free.  Actually, Jesus was right, if one comes to Him, one will become “free indeed” (John 8:36; Luke 4:18).

Freedom and Anxiety

As a Christian, worry still comes my way, but now I am free to bring it to God in prayer (1 Peter 5:8).  I have the freedom to let go of it.  Of course, if I don’t believe in God or am missing God in my life then I am forced to hold on it to.

Freedom and Greed

  • “Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

God has done something that all the money and possessions in the world could never accomplish, deliver me from sin, give me peace of mind, remove my guilt, soothe my worries, and bring contentment.  Yet without God I am stuck trying to satisfy my soul with material objects.  God has helped me see that material things cannot make me happy (Ecclesiastes 5:11), so I am no longer desperate and try to hold on to earthly things at all cost.  I have Jesus—no need to horde or fight for every last cent.

Freedom from the Fear of Death

  • “And might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15).

Therefore I have been liberated to talk about death, plan my own funeral, come to terms with my own mortality, and look forward to the bright eternal future that awaits me and others (Philippians 1:21-23).  I am no longer desperately trying to maintain the illusion that I will not age or die.  Jesus has liberated me so that I am not afraid to live and I am not afraid to die.

Freedom from the Old Testament Law

  • “And through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).

Having never been under the Law of Moses it is difficult for most of us to appreciate this freedom.  Under the Law life was highly regulated, including specific food laws.  Sinning also hit one immediately in the wallet for sacrifices had to be performed when one sinned.  Various things could affect your social life—such as becoming unclean due to unfortunate situations.  There were yearly appointments in Jerusalem one had to keep and the need to go to the priest with an offering.  But Jesus gave us direct access to God, 24-7, (Hebrews 4:15-16; 7:25).

Another View of Sin

Most of us can see that the alcoholic or drug addict is anything but free (Proverbs 23:29).  Yet the same principle applies to all sins.   In fact, Paul argued that those outside of Christ, albeit religious, were slaves (Galatians 4:25-26).  In fact, when looking at various sins I see the same language associated with slavery.

  • The person who does not control their temper:Proverbs 19:19

  • The adulterer or fornicator is pictured as being led by the nose like an ox to slaughter: Proverbs 7:22

  • The lazy person: Proverbs 6:11

We should not be surprised that we are living in a world where men and women are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex outside of marriage—or in disregard to someone’s present marriage, pornography of various kinds, the use of profanity, prone to temper tantrums, because that is what slaves do. When Timothy was told to keep himself free from sin (1 Timothy 5:22), he was being told to remain a free man in Christ.  Benjamin Franklin observed, “Many of man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself as slave to it”.  He equally noted, “No longer virtuous, no longer free”—and this was true in the lives of private citizens as well as the nation.  Like Franklin, many can see that what is often advertized as freedom and liberty is only bondage, Wilson Mizner observed, “Hollywood’s a trip through a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat”. Mary Wollstonecraft noted, “No man chooses evil because it is evil, he only mistakes it for happiness”.

The Opportunity

Temptation is an opportunity to sin, yet it is equally an opportunity to choose to remain a free man.  Let’s remain free!

Mark Dunagan/