We want freedom from early on in life. My kids express often their desire for independence from us, from getting dressed to getting their own milk. This is the “My Do It” stage, as I wrote about in January. Freedom is celebrated because it frees us to live and not be controlled by something else. As a youth pastor, freedom bothers me because I see so many teenagers love the Lord in one moment, only to freely walk away in the very next moment. I struggle all the time with helping middle and high school students see the excellence of Christ and the freedom He has to offer, over any appeal that the world has. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to their freedom is their own self.
The reason freedom can be such a challenge, isn’t because it is something people don’t want, but because there is a misunderstanding as to what it actually means. So, as today is Good Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to stop and consider what Jesus really accomplished for us on the cross.
Freedom from Sin’s Rule
“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you have been entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18
Before Jesus Christ, wherever sin led, mankind followed. This didn’t have to be the way things were. People needed to be willing to obey the truth that was entrusted to them; obedience is a choice. This only works when people are fully engaged with the truth of scripture for themselves. If the Bible is never being opened, how will anyone even know whether they are obeying God or not? When God is obeyed, the chains of sin come off.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
God gives the gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus; in Christ is freedom from the rule of sin.
Freedom from Sin’s Power
Sin not only has a direction on what is said and done, but it also has with it some power. This power has a condemning hold on humanity.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1
So many people feel condemned by sin, but scripture is clear that when someone trusts Jesus Christ as Savior, there is no condemnation.
“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
The law was never intended to be a means to a relationship. The law pointed out all the errors and the reality that the list of requirements was so long it could never be done. This is the reason a perfect sacrifice for sin was necessary. The former sin offering was never 100% pure, highlighting the need for an offering that was not touched by sin. This would provide a way to forgiveness once and for all.
Sin aims to separate man from God, but there is a Savior in Jesus Christ who aims to bring man back to a relationship with Him. Sin breaks apart peace with God, but God brings that together through His Son Jesus Christ.
Be Free Already!
God has made a way – Going back to the beginning, God gave Adam a choice. What was it? “If you eat the fruit from this tree you will die.” What happened? Adam ate the fruit. So, what was God to do? Would God say, “oh well, better luck next time?” No. God had set up parameters to follow and man had rebelled. This was never God’s fault, even though people sometimes blame God for this. God did not sin, mankind did.
But, in the middle of that all, even though His creation had turned on Him, He made a way to be reconciled to Himself. He did not want anyone to perish and spend eternity away from Him in the punishment of hell. He also could not just allow sin to go unpunished; He made a way to Himself through Jesus Christ.
The World is Watching – All of life, what is done, how one acts, how people treat each other, how people talk and what people spend time on, speaks to the world. There are a lot of things people do that they know they shouldn’t do. God does care about how you live now. The strength of your witness to the world depends on your actions right now. People desperately need to know the truth about Jesus Christ.
This is what God accomplished through Jesus Christ on the cross. This is what makes “Good Friday” so good. The death of Jesus Christ was the sacrifice needed to free mankind from sin’s rule and power. Freedom is only found in obedience to Him. May God show Himself to all who gather this weekend that each person might give up the obsession with the world and experience true freedom in Jesus Christ.
“O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. You have been here and I have not known it. I have been blind to your presence. Open my eyes that I may behold you in and around me. Amen.” — AW Tozer