Jesus Sets You Free

broken-chains

Jesus brings truth serum to challenge the self-deception and to deliver you from your bondage. The reality, Jesus says, is that everyone who commits sin (which means all of us since we are all sinners) is a slave or in bondage to sin. It doesn’t matter who your parents are or how far back you may trace your spiritual lineage, you are responsible for your own life and your own sin. You have no righteous insulation from sin because your parents were good people or because Abraham is your ancestor.

The act of committing sin reveals that the one doing the act is under the power and authority of sin. The word “commits” is a present tense verb. In Greek, the written language of the New Testament, a present tense verb describes current and continual action. It could be translated, “keeps on committing.” Jesus is describing a person who continues to commit sin without regret or repentance. The Pharisees thought themselves to be free, but they were in spiritual bondage to sin.

When you are in bondage to sin you are living under the influence of your rebellious human nature. Your worldview is affected by human intuition apart from the truth of God. Your way of responding to the world is determined by selfish motives, not by the fruit of the Spirit. Your reaction to crisis situations and conflict is defensive and focused on self-preservation instead of with godly wisdom and humility. A person who is in bondage to sin doesn’t realize they are held prisoner. You act as everyone around you acts. You respond based on the advice of your peers. Their actions are accepted and endorsed by others because all are in slavery to sin, so everyone around you is living the same way.

But this is not the condition of the believer. Jesus delivers you from sin and by His truth He sets you free from the slavery of sin. In verse 35 Jesus presents the opportunity to become a child of God as opposed to living as a slave to sin.

Jesus sets you free by changing your identity. This change of identity is monumental. You do not have to remain as a slave to sin; you can become a child of God!

As a son of God, you are no longer under the sole influence of your rebellious human nature. You are free to resist sin and to cling to truth, integrity and joy. Your worldview is transformed as you begin seeing the world through His eyes. The fruit of the Spirit works outward in your life and you respond to the world differently. You react to conflict with grace and patience, exhibiting wisdom and humility, knowing that God is in control of your life. You don’t worry about being rejected by your peers if you don’t act like them because you know you have been fully accepted by God through Christ. You don’t have to protect your reputation or save face by conforming to the world, because you are secure in your place with Christ.

Your history doesn’t have to be altered or hidden. It is what it is and it is forgiven. You are free from your history. Rahab was a prostitute, but now is forgiven. Thomas doubted, but now is with Jesus. The thief deserved death, but now has life eternal. The woman was caught in adultery, but now is free from all the stain of sin.

“Therefore if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” John 8:36

This freedom is not circumstantial, based on what you have done. It is not based on your actions or your inherent value or worth to God. This freedom is based completely on the grace of God on your behalf in sending His Son to the cross.

Once again you see the moment and the process in this verse. Jesus Christ sets you free – this is the moment you receive by faith His forgiveness offered through grace. Then you really will be free – through this process you come to understand and live in freedom. This is justification and sanctification. You need to be set free, that is to be made a child of God; so that you can become free, experience knowing Jesus in all His glory.

Freedom from sin, darkness, ignorance, superstition, good and bad expectations, past mistakes, wrong thinking can only be known after Jesus sets you free. This freedom can only be experienced by spending time with God’s word, worshipping Him, praying with Him and following Jesus day after day, year after year.

As you commit yourself to the process of being set free, you come to understand that your identity doesn’t have to come from where you were born, what family you come from, who your friends are, your past failures or others expectations. Your identity can come from the work of God on your behalf. You can be His child and be free.

There is a new way to live, a new way to see yourself and a new path to walk. You are free. This is who you are. So live free.

 

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Barriers to Experiencing Freedom in Your Walk with Christ

The greatest barrier to real freedom is that most don’t think it is needed. In John 8 the non-believing Jews respond to Jesus with what many think as they come to Christ. Three phrases in their statement in John 8:33 reveal great barriers to the experience of true freedom.

“We are descendants of Abraham” – The Jews who spoke to Jesus claimed a heritage that did not require outside intervention. They saw themselves through the lens of their ancestors, not just their parents, but they traced their heritage back to Abraham! For these Jews, this heritage was their identity and there was neither way nor reason to deny it. Proud of their ancestry, they were unwilling to accept the freedom offered by Jesus.

Sometimes you can be so caught up in your family identity, who your parents are and how important they are or how important that makes you, that you deny the opportunity to follow Jesus wherever He leads. More than one person has wrecked their own spiritual opportunities because they were intent on protecting their family name or station in life. More than one church has been wrecked by a family or individual who is trying to hold on to an inherited position in the church and community. I am not saying that you should disavow your family, but certainly you should not choose anything over the clear call of Christ. Several times Jesus challenged his followers to do that very thing (Matthew 4:21-22; 8:21-22; 19:28-29; Mark 1:19-20; 10:28-30; Luke 9:59-60; 14:26). Jesus’ promise of freedom is powerful because he opens the door for you to break free from the hold of generations.

“We have never been enslaved to anyone.” – The Jews make a claim that on its face is preposterous. The most important festival of the Jewish calendar is Passover, a celebration of God’s deliverance of the nation from Egyptian slavery. The northern kingdom of Israel disappeared during Assyrian slavery. The southern kingdom was taken into slavery for 70 years by the Babylonians. As they spoke the nation of Israel was under the thumb of the Romans, subject to their laws and the whims of their governors.

There is a deceitfulness of denial that leaves you with a false view of your own circumstance. Most teenagers claim a deep need to not be stereotyped, to be treated as individuals, yet they dress like their peers, talk like them and think like them. They may reject their parents, but they will conform to a group in school and defying that group is deemed social suicide. Adults bend under the same pressures adapting to a work culture or a social setting to “fit in.” This is one reason that advertising works so well. There is a deep hunger to be an individual, but to not stand out too much. The worst kind of bondage is when a prisoner thinks himself to be free, yet he is a slave.

“How can you say ‘You will become free’?” – The Jews utter the frustration so many voice: “I can’t change.” The sense of helplessness you feel, trapped in your life with no way out. Often I’ve heard people say things like this: “This is just how I am.” “I can’t help it.” “I don’t know why I do it.” “I’ve always been like this.” The trap of believing that your past must be your future keeps many from walking through the process of being set free, even though they may have made a decision to follow Christ.

One of the great tragedies of this generation is that so many have fallen for the lie that a genetic predisposition means there are no options in life. That is to say, too many think because “you are born this way” you must live “this way.” It’s easy to understand why you might believe that a lifestyle, life choices and values, that have been ingrained for so many years could never be abandoned or transformed. This is part of what makes the claim of Jesus so amazing. How could He promise freedom from something so deeply ingrained in your identity?

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