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6th Sunday after Pentecost

Slavery Earned – Genesis 3:6, 22-24

Dear friends in Christ, what do you think it would be like?  Fortunately not many of us, if any of us, know what it would be like from experience.  Can you imagine living under an oppressive government, where you couldn’t just do what you wanted, and instead everything you’d do would be for someone else, where you’d always have to do what someone else told you or wanted you to do- and if you even thought about NOT obeying you’d be thrown in jail or punished?  Can you imagine how horrible life would be?  Thank the Lord that He’s given us lots of freedom in the United States, where we are free to live our lives in peace and where we are free to worship our Lord in peace.

God originally created human beings with incredible spiritual freedom: freedom to serve their loving Creator in love and joy.  But then this happened: read text

Adam and Eve turned their back on the incredible freedom God gave them and chose slavery to sin.  As descendents of Adam and Eve, not only did we inherit physically from them, but also spiritually- we inherited their sin.  So guess what…by nature we are slaves to sin, sin is our slave-master, no matter how hard we might try we are bound to sin- we were born with it and we are stuck in it.  By nature, on our own, we couldn’t do one single good thing.

And this slavery that we human beings are stuck in has consequences.  The final consequence of being enslaved in sin is death…eternal death.  Not only are we slaves to sin, by nature we deserve eternal slavery.

But there is good news.  Notice the name God uses for Himself here: the LORD God.  Remember what that name means?  He is the God of faithful love.  And the God of faithful love drove Adam and Eve out of the garden.  God didn’t want them and us to remain in our sin-enslaved condition forever.  No, thank the Lord He had something much better in mind.

Freedom Won – Hebrews 2:14-15

Imagine being a young boy or girl at one of the first July 4th celebrations.  Instead of celebrating the birthday of the king, you’re now celebrating the birthday of your country.  Bells ringing, bonfires, speeches, excitement.  Instead of being subject to a country thousands of miles away and separated by a great ocean, now you’re a citizen of the United States of America.  Imagine the exhilarating feelings!  And…that freedom that is yours and will be the rest of your life…all that…was won for you by other people…they did the work, you reap the benefits.  What a gift!

Thank the Lord we too have someone who fought our battle- the most important battle of all- the spiritual battle against sin, death, and the devil.  The writer to the Hebrews is talking about Jesus when he writes: read text

There’s a huge difference of where we ought to be and where we are.  We ought to be enslaved: enslaved by the devil’s temptations.  We ought to be led to fall ignorantly headlong into each of his deadly pits.  We ought to be enslaved by sin.  Sin ought to force us to make a huge mess of our lives and plague us with unbearable guilt.  And death ought to enslave us, to hold us in the grip of fear and cause us to do everything possible to avoid the inevitable horror of death…that’s where we ought to be.

Praise the Lord that’s not where we are!  Jesus fought our battle in our place.  Jesus released us from our slavery.  Jesus freed us from our oppression.  Jesus used that very thing that the devil thought he could use to enslave us with fear, which is death, Jesus used death in order to free us from the devil’s grip.  Jesus by His death on the cross freed us from our eternal death.  And Jesus not only set us free and released us, but He also “destroyed him who holds the power of death – that is the devil” or better, literally, the Greek says that Jesus “put the devil out of commission, rendered him inoperable.”  No longer is sin your slave-master.  No longer can the devil hold you in his grips.  No longer can death plague you with fear.  Why?  Because Jesus has set you free, Jesus has put the devil out of commission for you.

And the greatest blessing of all, you didn’t do a thing for it, Jesus handed you this awesome gift of freedom completely freely!  What a gift!

Freedom to Serve – Galatians 5:1, 13

What do you think the founding fathers of this country did after 1776?  Do you think they went right back into the same old system of government that they had?  Do you think they kept asking, “I wonder how we can be more like Great Britain?”  Do you think they went right back to the way things used to be?  No, they won their freedom and now they were going to use it, to be different, to live new lives in a new country with new found freedom.  Thankfully they stood firm on their declaration of independence.

In a similar way God encourages us to continue standing firm in the freedom that He has won for us: read text

How do we use this awesome freedom that God has given us?  If God has set us free from anything we have to do in regard to getting to heaven, then why not live it up!  Why not do whatever we want?  Why not enjoy all of the sinful things of this world?  Why care about what is wrong and what is right?  Why bother?  We’re free…right?

God has indeed set us free and given us real freedom.  Freedom from the burden of sin, freedom from the slavery of sin that hung around our necks.  You see, remaining in our sinful habits or continuing in our sin is like saying, “God that’s nice that you’ve freed me, but I don’t want it”,  and then going back to sin, death, and the devil and saying, “Here!  Bind me, enslave me, make me your slave.”  That would be ridiculous!  Why would we want to go back to that slavery from which Jesus freed?  It wouldn’t make sense!

God’s given us incredible freedom TO USE!  And with this freedom is incredible meaning in life.  God’s given us “freedom to serve one another in love.”  No longer is our goal in life “what can I get out of this.”  No, God’s freely given us all we ever need for eternity- eternal life.  So, if God’s given us what we need the most we can freely give ourselves in service to others.

The freedom Jesus won for us also gives us a fulfilling life.  No longer do we look at life with a sin-enslaved mindset and see life from behind the bars of “what I can’t do” or “what I’m restricted from doing”.  No, rather Jesus has truly set us free…and freedom connected with love says, “I am free!  What can I do?  How can I serve others in love?  How can I use my freedom to honor God by serving others? What possibilities of service are in front of me to use?”

That’s an awesome freedom God’s given you to use!  Freedom for a fulfilling life, freedom for a meaningful life, freedom to serve God by serving others in love!  Yes, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”!  Let’s use it!