9/16/2011

Freedom (John 8:31-32)

Horse

This morning, Lyndon, a member of Philippines UBF, asked me to speak about "freedom." I quoted what I considered the most famous verse in the Bible about freedom--John 8:31-32--which says, "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” (This appealing popular verse has often been quoted out of context.) I also mentioned Galatians 5:1 and 2 Corinthians 3:17. For an hour, these are the points I shared in no particular order:

  1. Freedom is not a matter of the human will. No one can truly free himself no matter much he wants to be freed, especially from vices, such as pornography, addiction, gluttony, greed, infidelity, jealousy, covetousness, etc. Only the truth of the gospel of the grace of God sets us free (John 8:32; Acts 20:24).
  2. Freedom is freedom from the power and influence of sin (John 8:34). Christian or non-Christian, no one can make himself stop sinning or stop his bad habits, even if they want to stop sinning.
  3. Freedom is the power to say "No" to ungodliness (Titus 2:12). But how? Not by human will power (see #1), but only by knowing, reflecting, and applying the grace of God (Titus 2:11).
  4. Freedom enables us to "taste and see" that the grace of God is sweeter than our sins (Psalm 34:8). To "taste" expresses that there is a difference between being told that honey is sweet and tasting that honey is sweet (Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light). When we do not taste and experience how sweet the grace of Jesus is, we cannot stop wanting to taste our sins again and again, even all of our lives.
  5. Freedom leads to the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace... (Galatians 5:22-23). No one knows, tastes and experiences eternal love, joy and peace, who is bound and captured by any sin, "big or small."
  6. Freedom uncovers our ultimate Enemy who wants to master us (Genesis 4:7). Though Cain was a religious man who knew God and made an offering to God, he had no freedom because he was captured by his sin of judging God for not accepting his offering, instead of examining his own wicked heart (Genesis 6:5).
  7. Freedom comes from holding to and learning from the teaching of Jesus (John 8:31). Otherwise, we will be mainly holding on to our own proud ideas (that blames God and blames others) and our sinful feelings.
  8. Freedom comes from knowing that Jesus was completely bound unto death on the Cross to set us free (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christians need to taste the sweetness of the grace of Jesus by willingly dying for us in our place. Otherwise, we will never be freed from bondage to sin.
  9. Freedom is to be able to do whatever you want to do. So the question is: What do you truly want to do? Sin? Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5)? Glorify God in whatever you do (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
  10. Freedom is to know that God wants all of me or none of me. Though Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7-8), a Christian, he kept something back for himself. As a result, unlike Abraham, he was a curse to his wife, his 2 daughters and all of his descendents (Genesis 19:1-38).
Do you have freedom from sin? As a Christian, what teaching are you holding to whereby you experience freedom (John 8:31-32)?

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