THE TRUTH HAS SET US FREE…FROM WHAT?

JESUS SAID TO the believing Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32]

From this passage, as disciples, we must continue in His word, and from this word we will know the truth. Then this truth will set us free. Later on Jesus will say that God’s word is truth. [John 17:17]

The first question you should ask is; “From what are we being set free?”

WE ARE FREE FROM…
  • The curse of the Law of Moses. Galatians 3:10 points out “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” This was referring to the Law of Moses, for in chapter 5v4 Paul then says that a person seeking to return to that law “has fallen from Grace.”
  • The power of the Law. Romans 7:1-7 teaches us that until Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that the Law of Moses was still in effect. It wasn’t until His death were we freed from the power of the Law, “nailing it to his cross.” [Colossians 2:14]
  • The dominion of sin.Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” [Romans 6:17-18] Without the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus, “ye are yet in your sins.” [1Corinthians 15:17]
  • The guilt of sin. The guilt that most people experience is dependent upon a future punishment. In Christ, who paid the debt for our sins, Christians have been made free from the condemnation of sin. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” [Romans 8:33] Does this mean that we can continue to sin? No sir. Rather, we have someone who cleanses us of our sin, but only if we’re in Christ. [1John 1:9]
  • The power of darkness. Because we are His disciples, having obeyed the Gospel, God has “…delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” [Colossians 1:13] Many say that the kingdom will begin sometime later, but this scripture teach that Christians are in His kingdom now and free from the darkness of this world.
  • The fear of man. No longer bound by sin, under the power of darkness of this world, Christians are also free of what man can do to us. The Apostles faced persecution, beatings and imprisonments, even being commanded to stop speaking about Jesus. Yet, they had no fear saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” [Acts 5:29; 4:18-20] Though we may be persecuted or threatened for our faith, no man can ever take away our salvation. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” [Psalm 118:6]
  • The fear of death’s sting. Because we are in Christ, and freed from the bondage of sin, we no longer have the fear of death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” [1Corinthians 15:56,57] Being in Christ, we look forward to a day when we can be with the Lord even if He comes sometime after our life on this Earth. [1Thessalonians 4:14-17]
  • The position of no hope. Becoming a Christian puts us into a living hope. This hope becomes a part of our lives and is demonstrated to the world through our lives. Peter noted that this hope shall be seen by those around us to the point that they may ask us of this hope. [1Peter 3:15]
  • The state of separation from God. Christians become children of God through adoption. Prior to our obedience to the gospel, we are separated from God because of sin, but now we are reconciled to God by the death of His son. [Romans 5:10] What a wonderful thing it is to be called a child of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:26]
WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE IF….

…we become one of His disciples. This begs the next question, How do I become a disciple of Christ? Remember, Jesus said, ““If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32] To become His disciple we must obey the Gospel. Before He ascended into heaven He gave this command, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:” [Mt 28:19 (ASV)]

The Gospel is what calls us [2Thessalonians 2:14]. Leaving sin, we obey the Gospel which shall deliver us [Romans 6:17]. The gospel is about the Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus [1Corinthians 15:1-4]. When Jesus is preached [Acts 8:35], one will conclude the need to be baptized [Acts 8:36].

If you “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:37] then you will also do whatever he commands.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

What saves you?

Forgiveness

EVERY ONE of us have failed another and were in dire need of their forgiveness. We also know the pain of another that has failed us. This is all too clear when we look at our close relationships such as with our spouses, children and the like. Without forgiveness, we could never have lasting relationships. It’s only through forgiving others can we ever expect to receive forgiveness [Matthew 6:14-15].

            We learn from this scripture, that forgiveness is an essential aspect of our walk with God, and we desire He forgive us our trespasses against Him. We also urge folks to forgive others, citing this same passage. This is an easy teaching, that is, until we are the ones that need to forgive. Forgiveness is much more difficult to practice than it is to teach.

            God knows us better than we know ourselves. He left us instructions on how to practice forgiveness, even giving us His Son as the perfect example [Ephesians 4:32 …. forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you]. Jesus is incredibly merciful, having given His life while we were ungodly sinners and enemies [Romans 5:6-10].

Let’s consider the Scriptures regarding how to practice forgiveness.

            First, we need to face the facts that even after we’ve forgiven someone, they very likely will need to be forgiven again. We need look no further than our own mirrors to realize this truth. Jesus was asked how many times one should forgive their brother. His answer, “…up to seventy times seven.” [Matthew 18:22]. Before you start counting down to 490, understand that the lesson is that there’s no limit to the number of times we are to extend forgiveness.

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“I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

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Praise the Lord that there’s no upper limit on the number of times HE WILL FORGIVE YOU. Look again at the command on forgiveness in Matthew 6, there’s no cap. How often will He forgive you? He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1John 1:9] If forgiveness were a number where then is mercy, grace, compassion and kindness?

            Next, we need to show compassion toward the one seeking our forgiveness. Empathy is a part of forgiveness. Looking again at Matthew 6, we see that The Lord is connecting a reminder of your own sin to that of the one we need to forgive.

            Do you recall your sins against Him? How do you feel, guilty? David wrote that, “my sin is ever before me.” [Psalm 51:2] Did you feel that way? How much did you need God’s forgiveness? How long did you desire to return to Joy, knowing that you were out of fellowship with God?

            When someone is seeking your forgiveness, remind yourself of your own shortcomings toward God. YOU MAY FIND THAT YOU NEED FORGIVENESS FROM THE VERY PERSON SEEKING IT FROM YOU!

            Lastly, we need to let it go. Some folks say they forgive but when they’re sinned against again, they will drudge up the past failings. Why do you suppose sayings like, “Bury the hatchet, but remember where you buried it in case you need it” exist? It’s hard to let go when we’ve been wronged.

            The Lord has shown us through His own forgiveness toward us, how we are to complete the process. “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” [Hebrews 10:17] Without this last step, forgiveness hasn’t really occurred. When we hang onto the memory of the wrong, it will fester in our hearts, hardening us against them, preventing forgiveness.

            If we fail to forgive, fully, we are in jeopardy of losing our own salvation. Our very hope of eternal life is dependent upon God forgiving us our own sins, and His forgiveness is contingent upon US FORGIVING OTHERS.

I said that to say this…….

            As a preacher, I am commanded to preach, “…in season, out of season…” [2Timothy 4:2]. This means that I need to teach whether or not it’s liked by the hearer, preaching the truth in love. [Ephesians 4:15]  Paul continues by saying to, “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” People never like to be rebuked (sharp disapproval), nor do they enjoy being reproved (reprimanded), but that is my charge.

            In the process of doing my duty, I’m placed in a very precarious situation, so I follow the example of the early preachers who prayed for boldness [Acts 4:29]. This boldness I request, may come across as arrogance, the rebuke as closed minded and the reproof as downright meanness. I’ve been accused of preaching too negatively by one and rebuked for not enough fire and brimstone by another.

            I beg you therefore, give me the benefit of the doubt. When I preach, I may touch a touchy subject. I may step on your toes (though I was aiming for your heart). Paul struggled with this as well, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.” [2Corintheans 7:8] I may even hurt your feelings. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE forgive me! My brother, please know that I do my job out of a deep love for you, that you and I may go to Heaven.

            As a human being, I may even say something wrong. WHEN I do, please love me and FORGIVE me as I repent of those things. We’ll learn how to do this together, to forgive one another.

spencer