One of the central themes in the Bible is freedom. The nation of Israel came into being by God setting them free from their slavery in Egypt. We read what God says about that in today’s reading:
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
The first question is what exactly do we mean by freedom.
Types of freedom:
Not being able to do what we want – Can you imagine someone saying, “I don’t have to stop at that red light. No one else can tell me what I have to do.” We all recognize that for us to live together in an ordered society there must be restrictions on individual freedom for the sake of the common good.
I am not free to just help myself to a new computer at Best Buy, no matter how much I may want it. I am not free to pitch the next game for the Boston Red Sox, I simply don’t have the necessary skill. We recognize that we are not absolutely free, either because of laws we have established or personal limits. Our freedom can only go so far as it affects someone else.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
Peter Marshall – Senate chaplain, prayer before the U. S. Senate, April 25, 1947
Political freedom –
This is also limited. Just as individuals cannot do whatever they want, neither can nations. The American Revolution did not give us complete freedom, only freedom from England. It ending up replacing England’s rule with our own government. Someone has said that if the founding fathers thought taxation without representation was bad they should see what it is with representation.
All too often people have resorted to violence to achieve freedom, but generally speaking, the use of violence does not produce true freedom, it only leads to more violence. The situation in the middle east is a classic example. On the other hand, India achieved its freedom from British rule through non-violent means. The book of Exodus describes God acting to free the Israelites.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
Psalm 33:16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
Psalm 44:6 I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;
Many groups came to America to escape religious persecution, including the Puritans and the Pilgrims; Sadly, they began to persecute those who were not part of their particular group. Roger Williams and other Baptists were forced to flee Mass. because they disagreed with the authorites.
Baptists in particular were in the forefront of establishing a separation between church and state, since they had experienced what can happen when there is no separation. There is a danger today that those in power will impose their religious beliefs on others:
Supreme Court decision allowing prayer by school officials at school events.
Lauren Boebert’s comment about the church directing the government
The idea which James Madison (known as the Father of the Constitution), Thomas Jefferson, and others wanted to establish was that the government would not do anything which would seem to endorse or establish one religion over another. It was to protect religious groups from government interference. Even here, however, this freedom has limits. I’m pretty sure the government would step in if a religious group decided to practice child sacrifice.
So what do I mean by true freedom? I’m referring to spiritual freedom. I mean the freedom to believe in God and Jesus Christ and to serve as best as the circumstances allow. No one can take that freedom away. We were slaves to sin, but in Jesus God acted to set us free.
We are never completely free, we are either slaves to sin or slaves of God.
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.
Our society places a high value on independence, but in reality we are all dependent on others. The irony is that becoming the most free requires becoming the most dependent on God.
Achieving true freedom
Achieving true freedom
Relying on God, His promises and His power
People of Israel – God acted to set the free
God saw the suffering
God heard the cries
God was concerned about the suffering
God came to rescue them
Did not say raise an army, lead a revolt
God’s people today
Trusting God comes from knowing the truth
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.”
Jesus came to set us free – by teaching us the truth, by dying for our sin.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
Free from sin
Free from guilt
Free from death
These are what constitute true freedom, and they come to us as a gift from God. We cannot attain it by our own efforts. No one can take these away from us.
Did not start a revolt
Rebukes Peter for resorting to violence
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
We will have true freedom when we trust in God alone. As soon as we add anything else, as soon as we say, “God and …”, we are setting up an idol along side of God.
We will be careful not to abuse the freedom we have in Christ.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
Romans 6:16–18 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.